The Fame Game: Do Stars' Personal Lives Affect Their Earning Power?
Today it seems that the personal lives of stars only enhance their professional careers. With a tabloid press creating an entire industry out of gossip and rumors about celebrities, any press has become good press for Hollywood stars.
Angelina Jolie appeared on the October cover of "W" magazine breastfeeding one of her twins. This caused a stir among her fans but it hasn't seemed to help her new film "The Changeling" at the box office. Although it is considered a small film and it has been nursing a tiered opening, to date it has earned only $20.6 million.
Jolie has had a long history of making headlines and money for movie studios. She is currently the only woman able to open a film profitably with her name solo above the title. But it wasn't always smooth sailing for Ms. Jolie's personal life. She married Billy Bob Thornton, wore his blood around her neck, collected knives and thought about suicide. Yet her film, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" brought in $47.7 million on it's opening weekend in the same year as her controversial personal choices were splattered all over the tabloids.
Now seen as something of a saint, she has adopted several children from all over the world, given millions to charities and foundations, acted as a Goodwill Ambassador on behalf of refugee women and children across the world and started a family with heartthrob Brad Pitt. Although the road to happiness was paved with rumors and innuendoes about how Jolie and Pitt started their affair. Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston while filming "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The chemistry between Jolie and Pitt was undeniable on the big screen, but all reports indicated they were friends and nothing more off screen. After Pitt divorced Aniston he began a relationship with Jolie.
Their relationship proved to be profitable on screen, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" brought in $428 million and counting. And off screen, they have six children and donated millions of dollars donated to their respective favorite charities.
Then there's Vanessa Anne Hudgens, star of "High School Musical," who took a personal hit after taking pictures of herself in the nude and emailing them to her boyfriend and co-star of "HSM," Zac Efron
. The incident did not put even a ding in her career track, nor did it deter her success with "HSM." Now with her first major big screen film, "High School Musical 3" bowing to the tune of $42 million in its opening weekend, Hudgens looks poised for greatness.
Compare this to Miley Cyrus, star of Disney's "Hannah Montana" series. She agreed to be photographed by Annie Liebovitz in sultry poses for Vanity Fair magazine. Her fans took offense, deciding she was too young for such sexual exposure. Cyrus decided it was Liebovitz fault for pressuring her into compromising positions in front of the lens. Her decision to blame Liebovitz backfired and created a scare that her actions might hurt her concert sales. No such problems ever came to fruition. By the time her 3D concert film came out on DVD the controversy had died down and fans returned in droves making the DVD a massive hit.
And then there was Tom Cruise. He declared his love of Katie Holmes by jumping on Oprah Winfrey couch. Then engaged in a public feud with Brooke Shields about the state of psychiatry and prescription drugs in America. But neither his belief in Scientology nor his erratic behavior of late has hurt his overall box office earning power. His last major film release with his name above the title, "Mission Impossible 3" made $47.7 million on its first weekend of release during the zenith of Cruise's controversial outbursts.
Then there are the celebutaunts. People like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian have created their celebrity out of nothing more than sex tapes, reality shows and appearances in front of paparazzi. Hilton's latest attempt at movie stardom, "Repo! The Genetic Opera," opened last Friday on eight screens to a not-so-impressive $51,000. Thankfully, to date, producers are not beating down Kardashian's door to give her roles in their movies after her debut in "Disaster Movie."
One thing is for sure in today's media driven, internet connected, tabloid saturated culture: Andy Warhol was right, everyone is getting their 15 minutes of fame. Whether that 15 minutes turns into a successful film career depends upon the celebrity involved.
Story by Erin MacMillan-Ramirez
Starpulse contributing writer
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