Will Oscar noms goose star's pic presence?

A lot can happen in an actor’s career in the time it takes to make and then release a movie.

Take “Stealth,” the next picture from helmer Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious,”), due to open July 29.

When the pic — which stars Josh Lucas in the lead role, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx as a trio of futuristic fighter pilots — was announced in fall 2003, the biggest credits of Foxx’s career were as star of the eponymous WB skein “The Jamie Foxx Show” and as Muhammad Ali‘s corner man in the Will Smith starrer “Ali.”

But after highly lauded perfs in “Ray” and “Collateral,” both of which are Oscar-nominated, Foxx is arguably now the biggest star in “Stealth.”

While it’s the sort problem studios wish they had, Foxx’s meteoric rise over the last year puts Sony in a delicate situation: Do they sell the film as a Foxx pic even if he isn’t the main character? And if they do, does it create ill will with Lucas (who writes on his personal Web site “a lot of pressure rides on me as the lead”) and Biel?

Billing order is negotiated into actors’ contracts, so it may be a moot point.

But a Sony spokesman sidestepped the question of billing altogether, saying simply, “Jamie was a big name when he was cast and his star continues to rise, but that has not had any effect on the billing of our film.”

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