In the active thread Things that almost always ruin a movie I listed several things including
and I have been wondering if I wasn’t a little conservative there.
I had in mind all those disaster movies with a huge cast, many of whom had brief on-screen time and managed to get killed off in inglorious fashion. Those movies, in my opinion, were ruined by the top-heavy cast.
These days, when you have large casts (Ocean’s Bigger-than-ten as cases in point) it’s not all A-List but some smaller number with a bunch of no-names or hard-to-remember-names to round out the gang.
The Longest Day is one I’m willing to concede is a good flick in spite of a bodacious cast.
But, citing whatever examples you care to, what do you feel is the maximum number of A-List types before the movie gets to a tipping point from “okay” to “weak”?
Woody Allen manages large casts pretty well, but even his movies have an upper limit of Name Stars. Comedies and lighter dramas seem to manage the Big Stars issue better than the more serious movies, or at least it seems that way to me.
What are your thoughts here?
I don’t think there is necessarily a limit on the number, but there is a limit on screen time and billing. Take the later Batman movies under Schumaker - too many stars trying to fit their names onto the poster. More than 3 (and even 3 is really pushing it), and you run into trying to give everyone a time or two to really show off and do the actor’s equivalent of a solo. But a movie like Saving Private Ryan utilizes a number of stars, and relegates many of them to minor and subdued roles or even cameos. (Now, I wouldn’t call Ted Danson an A-List star, but I think he blends in fairly seemlessly in his 45 seconds of screen time.)
Good points, Munch, and at the time some older movies were made with large casts of actors who have gone on to become A-List types, those people were just getting started in their careers. The Brat Pack, Diner, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, and on and on, serve as examples. In fact, it’s fun to look at moves 15 years old or older to try to find the ones who have become Big Stars since then.
I think - with nothing else than a gut feeling - that about 3 big name stars would be maximum, unless it’s an ensemble movie like Saving Private Ryan, where the big stars accept small roles. But I agree with the explanation in the other thread: why would you need so many big-name stars? Most likely, the studio is collecting big names first and then does a crappy script with the change left in the bottom drawer after handing out millions for big names. And what kind of story do you tell where you need so many main characters? (And if the big names are for minor appearances, why hire big stars?) So I can’t think of a good reason to hire many good actors for one movie.