House of the Rising Sun / Heavy Young Heathens
The CWF Charismometer: Test One Continued:
Measuring Star Power / Charisma / Casting
“So far, so good.”
In a lot of ways a re-make of M7 1960 was a no win scenario. Except of one way: Money. In this, Fuqua knew his formula of Denzel Washington and Action Film couldn’t miss. Though he knew his movie couldn’t match the Original Western as a Western Classic, it was bullet proof as a money maker. Just as Director Sydney Pollack knew that Robert Redford’s Star Power guaranteed Box Office success in the 7 movies he Directed Redford (including Western Classic Jeremiah Johnson – over $50 Million profit), the Box Office take for the previous 2 Washington/Fuqua Action movies: Training Day (2001) ($57 million), and The Equalizer (2014) ($137 million) guaranteed that M7 2016 would be a success. The current Box Office for M7 2016 shows a profit of $46 million – and climbing. Combining all 3 Fuqua/Washington movies, we get about $240 Million profit. So far. Pretty good business. M7 2016 isn’t a Western Classic, but it’s sure going to pay the bills.
Amazingly Wikipedia claims the original Magnificent Seven (1960) was not initially well received in the US – but did well overseas. And despite unclear statistics on it’s overall Box Office, it’s a safe bet that it made it’s money back many times over – and it’s still selling well today on DVD and Blue Ray.
“Once You’ve Met Them …You’ll Never Forget Them”
– A tagline from the original M7 1960
Large ensemble Casts in a movie are a problem. Writers and Directors know how important Character Development is. Because if we don’t connect with the people in the movie, what exactly are you doing? And the larger the Cast, the harder this is. With M7 (1960) however, most of the Actors had been around for quite a while – they weren’t unknown. They just weren’t Stars yet. We knew Brynner very well; McQueen was known from the TV series Wanted Dead of Alive; Bronson had been kicking around in support roles for years; Coburn had been in several Westerns already; Vaughn had done a ton of TV work; Dexter had also done a lot of TV work – and several movies; even Buchholz had been in about 17 movies by 1960; Eli Wallach had also done extensive TV and movie work.
The point is, we had seen them before. And it’s a lot easier to do movies with ensemble casts if the audience has some familiarity with the Actors.
Frankly, in that sense, the Casting M7 1960 was brilliant.
If you get 4 of those guys, I’ll send you a Tootsie Roll and a box of popcorn.
In M7 2016 we have less familiarity with the Cast. We would definitely know Washington, and likely Pratt, Hawke, and D’Onofrio – though D’Onofrio is so heavily made up, I doubt most people recognized him.
Most everybody else in the movie we are unlikely to know.
This puts M7 2016 at a definite disadvantage as far as the audience (us) is able connect with the Characters – and care about them – not a good thing for a movie.
Back when Tom Cruise started this whole M7 re-make debate,
I proposed my own Cast:
Tom Cruise, Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce, Willem Dafoe, Benedict Cumberbach, Brenden Fraser, Aaron Paul, Antonio Banderas.
This would have been a hell of a Cast …
but it also would have broke the bank.
Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 3