×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Seth Rogen, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton Should Attract Fall Auds, Survey Finds (EXCLUSIVE)

Matching the right actor with the perfect project is a tricky (but tested) formula for box office success.

Take “The Interview.” The upcoming story of two newsmen tapped to assassinate a ruthless military dictator didn’t really move the needle with moviegoers until they found out that the film starred James Franco and Seth Rogen, a comic duo who previously headlined “Pineapple Express” and “This Is The End.”

That’s the takeaway from Piedmont Media Research, after the consumer testing firm polled 1,500 people about “The Interview” and other upcoming fall releases in order to gauge how an actor’s presence in a particular film impacts audiences’ enthusiasm. The people surveyed were selected to be demographically representative of the movie-going public in terms of age, gender, ticket-buying behavior and ethnicity. The results indicate that while star power may not shine as brightly as it did in Hollywood’s golden age, the name above the title still matters.

“We wanted to see how people respond to certain actors and how much value they add to projects,” said Joshua Lynn, president of Piedmont Media Research, which counts a number of studios and production companies as clients.

Nowhere was that value more evident than with “The Interview,” which saw its consumer engagement score rise 53.7% after survey participants found out the film would offer up a Franco and Rogen reunion. Also enjoying a boost were “Birdman” with Michael Keaton (consumer engagement hike of 43.3%), “The Equalizer” with Denzel Washington (+32.9%), “Fury” with Brad Pitt (+27.9%), “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon (+9.3%) and “The Judge” with Robert Downey Jr. (+28.6%).

And evidence of the McConaissance was on full display. Matching newly minted Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey with “Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan for “Interstellar” saw consumer engagement scores for the space adventure soar 24.1%.

There’s one value-added MVP among the actors headlining fall movies. With hits like “Training Day” and “Safe House” on his resume, Washington has been a reliable force in film for years and his enduring appeal is evident in Piedmont’s research. His last four movies have increased in score anywhere from 32% to 39% when Piedmont attached his name to a concept.

Denzel Washington starring in a period romance set in 1600 might score differently,” said Lynn. “I’m not sure if he’s just picking the right projects, but he’s consistently the highest value added of any actor.”

Other stars are not as lucky. Ryan Reynolds, who has suffered a string of box office misses such as “R.I.P.D.” and “Green Lantern” of late, saw scores drop when his name was matched with a concept for two of his last three projects. The same is true for a handful of upcoming films such as “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” which saw numbers remain essentially flat, dipping 0.76% when Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner’s names were brought up in conjunction with the family film.

“Dracula Undead” and “Annabelle” fared worse. The horror films saw their scores fall 9.51% and 8.24%, respectively, when concepts were linked with stars. It may not be a knock on the popularity of “Dracula Undead” star Luke Evans or “Annabelle” actors Annabelle Wallis or Ward Horton. Moviegoers may just be unfamiliar with them or not like the idea of seeing these performers in this kind of a film.

“If you’re a studio you could actually model how much money an actor is going to bring to a project,” said Lynn. “You can make smarter decisions.”

More Film

  • Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s ‘The Kindness

    Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s Berlin Opener ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

    Munich-based Alamode has taken German and Austrian rights to Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” ahead of the picture’s opening-night gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival next month. Alamode acquired the rights from London-based HanWay Films, which is handling worldwide sales. Entertainment One is distributing the film in Canada and SF Studios in Scandinavia. [...]

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content