Jackson not Nick Fury? Ensemble superhero films dying?
Could this be the wind down of the big named ensemble casts for superhero films for some time? The latest character and big name to be hit could be Samuel L. Jackson who we saw as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man (Filmstalker review).
It seems that his agents are telling him there are no more negotiations on the role, and there could be a number of reasons for that, but I think it's part of a cost cutting trend on the ensemble cast films, and perhaps even a cut back on the ensemble films themselves.
Superhero films such as The Dark Knight (Filmstalker review) aren't too bad because although they have a big named ensemble cast, it's kept relatively small, focusing on one or two, and not trying to give a huge amount of screen time to them all, they have one or two clear leads and they know that one of them is probably only going to last for a film. Christian Bale will always continue on from film to film but the bad guys will fall to the wayside and the other big name appearances aren't getting the screen time to warrant huge pay drains on the film.
However it's with characters who are hinting at either multiple returns who are already played by big names and requesting large salaries for small appearances (check Terrence Howard in Iron Man) or the more relevant, stars who are requesting large salaries for roles which are leading to something much bigger (check Samuel L. Jackson).
Of course we have no idea what he was asking for his pay, but you can imagine with being such a big star it was a fair amount. However the desire for the hugely cast ensemble is waning, not from the audience, but from the studios who are losing confidence in the ability to make them work, and that's making them think on cutting back the cast list.
"I saw ['Iron Man' and 'Iron Man 2' director] Jon Favreau at the Scream Awards and we had a conversation. He said, 'I hope things are working out for you because we're writing stuff for you.' Then all of a sudden last week I talked to my agents and manager and things aren't really working that well."
It's not definite from that comment alone, but I have to say it's looking more and more likely that these ensemble films are being paired back in budget, either to make sure that when they happen they can afford the big names currently playing the roles, or that they are just smaller budgets anyway.
Or, there's another reason. Perhaps they are cutting back the films because they just aren't going to happen?
I've been saying for a little while now that the ensemble films like The Avengers are going to struggle to work unless each, or almost all, of the major characters have been established in their own films already. If they haven't then this film is going to have to spend time introducing each of them and explaining their origin, taking time away from the real task in hand, introducing them as a team, explaining their coming together and starting them on their journey.
I wonder if the studios are starting to realise that they can't make the ensemble films like this with a huge cast list of mega stars all vying for screen time and that the film isn't going to be a huge success unless they've all had their own introduction - either way they are looking at a heavy investment, and doing it properly means a fair number of films to be invested in for each of the stars.