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The Hollywood star system is shrinking. As the movie business forges deeper into the comic book can...

How ‘Iron Man’ and Superhero Movies Are Causing Headaches at Cannes

By 17:57:00

The Hollywood star system is shrinking. As the movie business forges deeper into the comic book canon, it matters less and less whose face is behind the mask. There remain a few exceptions. Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lawrence, Will Smith, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Affleck still guarantee a certain level of box office success in the right kind of project. They still have the clout to guarantee that movies — even smaller, more challenging projects that give bottom-line-oriented executives agita — actually make it to screens.

But with true stars becoming an endangered species, there’s a talent grab taking place that’s causing heartache and delays for companies hoping to package films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“A lot scripts are all going out to the same list of actors,” said Peter Kujawski, Focus Features managing director. “You need to give them a chance to read the material and engage in the process, and it takes time.”

The problem has been exacerbated by scheduling difficulties. Downey, for example, has appeared in an Avengers movie or a spinoff in four of the last five years, and he has three more stints as Iron Man slated in 2017 and 2018. And now that Affleck’s joined the Justice League as Batman, donning the cape and cowl will become essentially an annual occurrence for the actor. As these comic book universes expand, so do the demands on the time of top-tier actors.

“Those big Marvel type movies all come with big multi-picture commitments and promotional commitments,” said Marc Schaberg, co-president and COO of Sierra/Affinity. “It adds up to a lot of time.”

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