Today's NYT has an article
that basically lays the blame for the suffering of the film industry on the lithe, hairless shoulders of Orlando Bloom. Which might be slightly unfair. Let's look at this.
IT was months before the cameras were set to roll on one of 20th Century Fox's most ambitious projects for 2005, a $140 million historic epic about the Crusades by the director Ridley Scott. And still there was no one to play the leading role of Balian. Mr. Scott had at first envisioned Russell Crowe, the scowling, muscled star of his "Gladiator" hit, to play the role of a blacksmith and reluctant Crusader in the Holy Land. But Mr. Crowe had other projects on his slate, and would not alter them to fit the director's timetable.
It took four more months of searching by casting agents and Mr. Scott to settle on Orlando Bloom, the long-haired, doe-eyed young British actor who was high on Hollywood's list of hot new stars in the making. Mr. Bloom, who had won a fan base of teenage girls with his performance in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and who was fresh off the set of another historical epic, Warner Brothers' "Troy," was the favored choice of Fox executives.
But as it turned out, "Troy" did not catch fire with the audience (not even the teenage girls), or with critics. And Mr. Bloom's next major outing, in Mr. Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven," was a bust, taking in just $211 million in ticket sales around the world, hardly enough to justify its production and marketing costs.
Okay, I like looking at hot men as much as the next girl. But if you think I'm going to find a theatre that's playing (Troy/Kingdom of Heaven), show up at the time of the theatre's choosing, pay $12, sit in a theatre where I have to focus solely on the movie and not multitask, with no escape, for up to three hours, without a compelling story to show for it, you're crazy. I mean, yes, I love Lord of the Rings
, and it's an epic, but it's an epic with a great story and rich, compelling, heartfelt characters. My general impression of Troy
was that they had lots of hot men and lots of CGI ships. Which is great and all, but see above line of crazy.
And Kingdom of Heaven
looked similar, except that there was only one hot man, which was Orlando Bloom, and he was all matted and bearded and mangy looking, and no CGI ships.
See, here's the problem Orlando Bloom's facing, and getting blamed for: Women, especially women under the age of about 25, find Orlando Bloom hot. Men don't get it. At all. But they put Orlando Bloom in big epic dirty sword-slashing war movies, which men enjoy. And women don't get them. At all. It's not really his fault that he can't draw bazillions of people into the theatres -- men don't like him and women don't like the movie. Bad casting.
Next came the lead in Cameron Crowe's comic romance, "Elizabethtown," which pancaked at the box office when Paramount released it in the fall, and exposed Mr. Bloom to a withering verdict by movie critics.
sucked. Badly. Which was not strictly speaking his fault. I mean, can anyone tell me what it was about? Or the general idea? Or why the hell Susan Sarandon tapdanced at a funeral? Or why it felt like the longest, most wandering two hours of my life. I mean, yes, his acting was limited. But the writing wasn't helping. And I REALLY could have forgiven the bad acting if someone had attempted to tell some sort of coherent story.
A Broadway writer who I know and respect once said that 90% of the time, when you have to fire an actor because it's not working, it's the fault of the writing. Sometimes, yes, it's a mismatch, but most of the time, it's the writing.
The fact of the matter is, we're not all shallow. If you tell a reasonable story, we'll come see it. If you put someone hot in it, we might see it twice. And if you put Johnny Depp in it, well then...