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Who Gets Your Butt in the Seat?


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#1 Jim Keller

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 01:30 PM

The primary job of the leading man (and, to a lesser extent, the leading lady) in mass-market entertainment is to put butts in the seats. Not to give a good performance. Not to be right for the role. To put butts in the seats.

That's why Jim Carrey is worth $25 million. The studio will sell $25 million worth of tickets just to people who will see the movie because he's in it. Jackie Chan has this effect on me. I don't need to know anything more than "It's a Jackie Chan film" to be talked into going to see it.

But, as I intimated in the first sentence, this is widely regarded as the role of the leading man. The leading lady is regarded as the one who wins over the reluctant male companions. That's why Angelina Jolie is only worth $10 million. On her own, she'll only sell $10 million worth of tickets, while Brad Pitt will sell $20 million worth of tickets. Conventional wisdom says that it's OK for a man to like a leading man, but if he's going to see a movie for the leading lady, his female companion will be jealous and veto the moviegoing experience; contrariwise, it's OK for a woman to like a leading man, because that means her male companion will see a movie he enjoys instead of a so-called "chick flick."

Now, I don't buy the conventional wisdom. Because, frankly, if I'm on the fence about a movie, but I see it's got Sigourney Weaver in it, that's enough to put me over the edge and get my butt in the seat. And she's only worth $2 million in the eyes of Hollywood. I think there are plenty of women that are box-office draws on their own, not as second-fiddle to a leading man.

So I have a lazyweb question for everyone, in three parts:
  • Are there any actresses out there that you will go see a movie just to see her?
  • If so, which of them are (and look) over 40?
  • Of those, how many aren't white?

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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:08 PM

I will go to movies just because Scarlet Johanson, Dame Judy Dench, Rachel Weiss, or Natalie Portman are in them.

Judy Dench is over 40 and looks it. I don't know about Rachel Weiss, I guess she's probably in her 30s now.
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#3 Jim Keller

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:57 PM

I will go to movies just because Scarlet Johanson, Dame Judy Dench, Rachel Weiss, or Natalie Portman are in them.

Judy Dench is over 40 and looks it. I don't know about Rachel Weiss, I guess she's probably in her 30s now.


I asked this question in a couple of other venues, and Judi Dench is coming up a lot...
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:08 PM

I second Keith's sentiments especially about Scarlet.
Also would have to add in there probably, Nicole Kidman.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 09:19 PM

I second Keith's sentiments especially about Scarlet.
Also would have to add in there probably, Nicole Kidman.


Who is this Keith you're talking about? He surely isn't me since my name doesn't have an "I." ;)
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 09:27 PM

Ahh my mistake. I blame the auto correct, though honestly I shouldn've used "Chris." My apologies.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:41 PM

Natalie Portman and Liv Tyler. I guess you now know my favorite line from Idiocracy, "Go away. I'm 'batin'."
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#8 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:50 PM

Ahh my mistake. I blame the auto correct, though honestly I shouldn've used "Chris." My apologies.


No problem. Everyone does it. :P
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#9 George Ebersole

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 12:13 PM

The primary job of the leading man (and, to a lesser extent, the leading lady) in mass-market entertainment is to put butts in the seats. Not to give a good performance. Not to be right for the role. To put butts in the seats.

That's why Jim Carrey is worth $25 million. The studio will sell $25 million worth of tickets just to people who will see the movie because he's in it. Jackie Chan has this effect on me. I don't need to know anything more than "It's a Jackie Chan film" to be talked into going to see it.

But, as I intimated in the first sentence, this is widely regarded as the role of the leading man. The leading lady is regarded as the one who wins over the reluctant male companions. That's why Angelina Jolie is only worth $10 million. On her own, she'll only sell $10 million worth of tickets, while Brad Pitt will sell $20 million worth of tickets. Conventional wisdom says that it's OK for a man to like a leading man, but if he's going to see a movie for the leading lady, his female companion will be jealous and veto the moviegoing experience; contrariwise, it's OK for a woman to like a leading man, because that means her male companion will see a movie he enjoys instead of a so-called "chick flick."

Now, I don't buy the conventional wisdom. Because, frankly, if I'm on the fence about a movie, but I see it's got Sigourney Weaver in it, that's enough to put me over the edge and get my butt in the seat. And she's only worth $2 million in the eyes of Hollywood. I think there are plenty of women that are box-office draws on their own, not as second-fiddle to a leading man.

So I have a lazyweb question for everyone, in three parts:

  • Are there any actresses out there that you will go see a movie just to see her?
  • If so, which of them are (and look) over 40?
  • Of those, how many aren't white?

For me it's always the company; i.e. Touchstone, Merchant Ivory and so forth. I never go because an actor or actress is staring. A well known and known-capable actor will help bolster the reputation of a film, but it isn't the deciding factor for me. If I know a company makes good films, then I'm more likely to buy a ticket or rent/buy their DVD.

The closest I've ever come to letting a name urge me to see a film was Sean Connery when he was doing the Bond films.
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#10 David Auner aac

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 12:19 PM

Used to be Rene Russo. Or Milla Jovovich. Not anymore because my gf is very jealous!

Cheers, Dave
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#11 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 01:32 PM

I must be weird because I don't go to movies based on leading actors/ actresses. I usually go to see them based on who is directing them, or the buzz around it.

When I worked on a movie that starred John Travolta, it never ceased to amaze me how many rational women would go gaga at the very sight of him, they just had to get as close to him as possible, and they were really hard to keep off the set. One of them told me, "If a movie production starring Carmen Electra came to town, would you not go to see her?"

My answer: "NO"
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#12 David Auner aac

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 03:21 PM

One of them told me, "If a movie production starring Carmen Electra came to town, would you not go to see her?"

My answer: "NO"


Hehe I can really relate to that, example and general idea, but if asked the question of this thread my answer is the above. Not that that really ever affected my choice of films. It's just that I enjoy looking at some people more than others... ;)

Cheers, Dave
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#13 Chris Keth

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 08:16 PM

Hehe I can really relate to that, example and general idea, but if asked the question of this thread my answer is the above. Not that that really ever affected my choice of films. It's just that I enjoy looking at some people more than others... ;)

Cheers, Dave


There are also people who tend to choose projects that I just like. For example, I can usually count on a movie with Johnny Depp to be a pretty entertaining one.
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#14 George Ebersole

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:01 AM

I must be weird because I don't go to movies based on leading actors/ actresses. I usually go to see them based on who is directing them, or the buzz around it.

When I worked on a movie that starred John Travolta, it never ceased to amaze me how many rational women would go gaga at the very sight of him, they just had to get as close to him as possible, and they were really hard to keep off the set. One of them told me, "If a movie production starring Carmen Electra came to town, would you not go to see her?"

My answer: "NO"

Heh, there isn't a single "hot" actress that lures me to the theatre. I guess that includes Carmen Electra. I like Nicole Kidman as a performer. I think she's a great actress, but I've never bought a ticket because she was in something.

I can name actors and actresses that I think are exceptional, but I really go to see the film and not the people in it.

When I went and saw Indy Jones 4 a few weeks ago, I saw a huge line in the theatre foyer. It was all women (well, 99% women... one or two males). I didn't think it was for Indy4. I mean, I can't imagine all these women wanting to see an aging Harrison Ford on the big screen... but maybe they did.

It turns out they were all lined up for "Sex in the City". What's even more interesting is that all these women were dressed up like they were going out for a night of clubbing. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but that movie wasn't billed because there was some hunk acting in it. It was about the women, not the guys.

Anyway, I thought it was really weird. I guess Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Catrell draw women into the movie houses. But not guys. Truth is, I kind of wanted to see it, just to see what all these women were going to see, but I held off. I'll rent it or something.
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#15 Paul Bruening

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:40 PM

The psychological and sociological dynamic between stardom and a culture is really fascinating. Each of us could write a book on the subject and still come up with broadly differing observations and conclusions. Personally, it can include issues of trust. A well made movie can bring up some powerful thoughts and feelings. There are performers that I trust with these feelings and will easily choose to subjugate my psychological processes to for an hour or two.
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#16 Joe Giambrone

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 08:17 PM

Funny take on this concept in Simone (sim-one). "I Am Pig" is worth the price of the rental.
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#17 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 11:25 AM

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Salma Hayek yet.

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#18 George Ebersole

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 04:23 AM

Call me crazy, but she doesn't "do it" for me. That verse Marilyn Monroe who was no only attractive but was also an excellent actress. You don't see that with a lot of actors these days.
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#19 Chris Burke

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 09:25 PM

Call me crazy, but she doesn't "do it" for me. That verse Marilyn Monroe who was no only attractive but was also an excellent actress. You don't see that with a lot of actors these days.



She is beautiful, but yes, not much of an actress. Ruth Negga does it for me. Hope she gets better and more roles to see her in
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#20 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 07 August 2008 - 06:35 AM

She was nominated for best leading actress in '02, so that does speak some of her acting ability. ;)
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