We are pleased to have Jackie from popheadlines.wordpress.com joining us as a guest blogger with her look at how movies that cast kin fare at the box office.
“I know who would be perfect to play my son,” the A-list star says as he tosses a handful of head shots aside. “And, the best part is, he looks exactly like me.” If said star also has a son, chances are you know where this conversation is going.
Mini-me versions of actor Mom, Dad or older brother (I’m looking at you Culkin kids) pop up in films all the time. However, this gimmick is often used in small doses – a quick flashback to Mom’s embarrassing moment in elementary school or the slow reveal of a traumatic moment in Dad’s childhood. It’s the type of cameo that makes the last few minutes of Access Hollywood or shows up as a line item in the review. No big deal.
It’s when the kin of the star win a larger role that people seem to care. But, what’s even more interesting is that people only seem to play the nepotism card when the film has bombed at the box office. If the film does well, the review warmly heralds the casting of the real-life mother-daughter team.
After Earth, a sci-fi film about life on another planet, ahem, after Earth, opened in third place at the box office earlier this summer. It took in about $28 million for the weekend, about half of what star Will Smith’s box office standard openings had previously been. When it comes to summer box office, Will Smith up until this point could seemingly do no wrong. Mr. July brought in hit after hit. To date, the film has only brought in a disappointing $60 million domestic on a $130 million budget. So what went wrong? For one, the film was big time panned by critics who slammed not only the actors but also the not-so-hot anymore director M. Night Shyamalan. Critics also slammed real-life father-son co-stars Will and Jaden Smith.
What’s interesting is that this is not the first time that Will and Jaden have co-starred together. In their last foray into nepotism, Jaden was praised for his role as Will’s son in The Pursuit of Happyness. I’m sure they thought teaming up again would be a win-win for their careers. Does the difference lie in the fact that The Pursuit of Happyness was critically stamped “a good movie” while After Earth is considered the opposite? Or do viewers have a single serving appetite when it comes to nepotism? Yes, you can cast your kid once, but a second time? Maybe it’s time to give another actor a shot.
That being said, Judd Apatow has cast his wife Leslie Mann in a handful of flicks and no one minds, because those movies have all done well at the box office. If he had cast her for a fifth time in a movie that critics and audiences alike rejected, you can bet his casting choice would have been a topic point in the reviews. Not only does he cast his wife, his two daughters have both appeared as Mann’s fictitious children in three Apatow movies – Knocked Up, Funny People and This is 40. Again, this seems to fall under the “isn’t this cute” category of Hollywood, because the films fared quite well.
Nepotism in film will surely be standard fare for years to come. All we can hope is that there aren’t too many film scripts kicking around seeking three generations of a family. The last thing we need is another It Runs in the Family. Kirk Douglas, yes. Michael Douglas, yes. Cameron Douglas? Now that’s a stretch.