The Endangered Lone Ranger

July 7, 2013

It’s clear to see just how strongly Disney believed in the potential of adapting the classic radio and TV show of The Lone Ranger into a box office hit. They stuffed every super-charged resource they had into the action-packed western including a $225 million budget, a tried-and-true Hollywood A-list actor, the ever-bankable Johnny Depp as Tonto, and they procured the proven Pirates of the Caribbean producer and director, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski–in hopes of recreating the kind of magical success seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Sounds like the definitive recipe for success; kind of like adding butter, sugar, cream, and flour to a dessert recipe…it’s bound to taste good. How could it not?

But over the five-day 4th of July weekend, its box office debut will have brought in about $49 million, approximately $20 million under analysts’ projections. In comparison, Universal and Illuminations  Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 brought in nearly $90 million over the holiday weekend. Also, The Lone Ranger could cause a major financial blow to Disney in the long run because westerns rarely play strongly in oversea markets.

Disney’s head of distribution, Dave Hollis told TheWrap Sunday, “The frustrating part for us is that we had all the ingredients here. You take a classic franchise, team the world’s most successful producer, an award-winning director and the biggest movie star in the world and you think your chances of success are pretty good. But we just didn’t make it work.”

While executives, critics, and bloggers can voice their opinions about why the film missed the mark, this is just another Hollywood tale reminding us that no one holds the answers to the ever-elusive movie magic we all treasure. No budget, no star, no proven director or producer holds the key. Indeed, that magic can strike in micro-budgeted films or mega-budgeted ones. The trick is, as an actor, to not allow the white noise of “This is going to be huge!” or “This is going to bomb!” influence your efforts or your performance. While no one knows which movie will succeed or fail in the public arena, an actor needs to approach each project with keen focus on his or her performance. While a flopped film is certainly a humbling experience, it can sharpen one’s sense of responsibility, and illuminate the challenge you face each time you step in front of the camera. And it is an inspired and profound performance that can turn a box-office dud into a huge success in a heartbeat. That is where an actor’s power lies.


Supportive Friendships Can Boost Your Acting Career

April 6, 2012

“A friend is someone who many years ago offered you his last $300 when you broke your pelvis. That friend is Gene Hackman.” –Robert Duvall

Think of your acting buddies. Are they solid? Do they get it? You know what I’m talking about. Pursuing the dream of a successful acting career can be a tough road to hoe. It’s not for the faint of heart, and only a select few reach the highest levels in the industry. If this is the dream to which you aspire, you’re going to need all the support you can get.

But how much do quality friendships really matter when you’re pursuing a career in acting?

Consider Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Close friends since childhood, they co-wrote and starred in Good Will Hunting, and since have gone on to appear in many films together. Affleck says their friendship is now as strong as it’s ever been, and they have a slate of films they plan on developing together.

The films of the seventies had a raw, violent quality, but they were also heartfelt, and spiritually intense. Films like The French Connection, Marathon Man, and The Godfather dealt with the bonds of friendship and the importance of loyalty. Three actors who worked constantly in that revolutionary decade of filmmaking are also close friends and comrades in arms. Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, and Dustin Hoffman were honing their crafts and looking for work in the highly competitive New York film scene when they met and became fast friends. Duvall and Hackman actually roomed together at one point when money was tight. The three encouraged and helped one another, and often participated in elaborate practical jokes to keep their spirits light.

While playing Monopoly, Nicholas Cage encouraged his friend and struggling musician Johnny Depp to become an actor. Cage introduced Johnny to his agent; the next day, Depp auditioned and got a part.

In your career, you may discover that finding such supportive friends is not always so easy. Somewhere along the line, you might notice that you avoid telling a certain friend about your awesome auditions or when you land choice roles because you sense he or she might not be entirely happy with the news. Indeed, if you are really serious about your acting career, there will likely be times you’ll want to consider avoiding certain counter-productive people and colleagues–and instead surround yourself with people you admire, who motivate you, and with whom you can talk openly about the sacrifices you’re making in pursuit of your dream.

Having good friends who share your values is important in any career. Some would argue they’re especially valuable when pursuing acting because the field is based on raw emotions and expressing vulnerability. Sometimes simply having someone to read your lines with, or someone to drive you to an audition can make all the difference. And when someone refers you for a part or to an agent, that can make a real impact. When you find such friends, it’s something to appreciate fully.

Most importantly, do your best to be a genuinely supportive, encouraging friend to other aspiring actors as well. Celebrate when they book a role. Share helpful acting advice. Don’t hesitate to make the first move toward friendship. Despite the competitive nature of the entertainment industry, it is ultimately a people business chock full of collaboration. The quality of your relationships are of utmost importance–and they enrich your life.