What happens when Tobey Maguire doesn’t wear tights or when Paul Walker is neither fast nor furious? Last week Walker found out the hard way that he isn’t yet an A-list movie star: The very picture on which he could have proven he can open a film — Universal’s romantic drama “Heart of a Soldier” — was scuttled when his managers apparently made one too many demands on U, and the studio turned thumbs down.
The incident echoes a similar fracas at Sony two months ago, when an edgy Maguire was fired, then replaced, then rehired as the star of “Spider-Man 2.” When Sony slapped his wrists, Maguire responded by firing his reps at the Gersh Agency, sparking a signing frenzy.
William Morris Agency CEO Jim Wiatt chartered a jet to New York to meet Maguire during a latenight break on the set of “Spider-Man 2.” UTA partner and talent head Nick Stevens also flew to Gotham to court Maguire, who rewarded them both by signing with CAA.
Why the big crush?
Ostensibly, because up-and-comers like Walker and Maguire command mega-salaries in megabudget pictures.
Indeed, Walker recently turned down $10 million to appear in Columbia’s police thriller “Static” and declined to appear as the next “Superman.”
And the studios themselves are partly to blame, emphasizing franchise brands over franchise talent.
Befuddled studio execs find themselves making eight-figure offers to unseasoned talent because there simply are no under-30 stars to inherit the mantle of Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.
Still, some execs are wising up, wishing a younger crop of true stars would emerge so that every chisel-chested pretty boy in a blockbuster won’t expect $12 million for his next film.