The last action heroes: Have Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Brad Pitt lost their mojo?

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, speaking recently at the University of Southern California, predicted that there would be an “implosion” in the film industry and only big-budget superhero movies would make it to the cinemas and cost $50 to see, while low-budget dramas would be made for ever smaller budgets and go straight to the small screen.

Independence Day director Roland Emmerich sent shockwaves through Hollywood when he declared that the film’s star Will Smith was “too expensive and too much of a marquee name” to star in the sequel, scheduled to come out in 2015. Emmerich had previously declared that it would be impossible to do a sequel without Smith. The about-turn, announced while Emmerich was promoting his new film, White House Down, this week, is part of a changing of the guard in Hollywood that has seen Smith, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt lose some of their cachet. The announcement also comes just as Hollywood has seemingly deemed it no longer needs its three biggest male stars to launch blockbuster movies.

The knives had been sharpened for Pitt when zombie thriller World War Z was being designated a megaflop even before it hit cinemas. With a budget rumoured to be in excess of $400m (£260m) including marketing, it was being touted as this year’s John Carter. When the sci-fi adventure bombed last summer Disney boss Rich Ross resigned from his post; the film reputedly lost $200m. The worry was that Pitt’s name alone could not sell the picture. In the end, the opening weekend saw the Pitt film take home more than $60m at the American box office and $117m worldwide. The dire pre-release predictions meant that what were in modern blockbuster terms quite ordinary numbers were painted as a success, with suggestions there might be a sequel.


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