Like many “TV shows” of the streaming era, the biggest problem with Antoine Fuqua The list of terminals, arriving on Amazon Prime today, is that the eight-part, 7.5-hour (counting credits) military conspiracy actor should have been a 135-minute movie. Unlike, say, Amazon is awesome Reach where Netflix is great Lincoln’s lawyer, The list of terminals, starring Chris Pratt as a Navy Seal who uncovers an evil plot regarding an overseas mission gone wrong, doesn’t feel like episodic television. It’s an exceptionally long film divided into eight parts because that’s how it goes today. Anyway, beyond the core issues (heavy storytelling, almost total lack of humor, dull colors, etc.), it marks a reappearance of Constance Wu. She plays a stubborn journalist who ends up losing her align with Pratt’s quest for truth, and it’s as good as the hardware will allow. It’s also a reminder that she was on her way to becoming a movie star before Covid turned the world upside down.
We got variations of the “Who’s Still a Movie Star?” set. conversation for at least the last decade. When it comes to drawing audiences to theaters without franchises or branded personas, Leonardo DiCaprio qualifies, as do Sandra Bullock and (in some circumstances) Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Tom Cruise, Gerard Butler and presumably Kevin Hart. I say “presumably” because while comic book stars like Will Ferrell and Melissa McCarthy stopped being able to open a movie before Covid, Hart was eliminating $20m+ openers like evening school and upside downas well as the “not quite the same” tastes of The secret life of pets 2 and Jumanji: the next level. Since Covid, Paternity and The man from Toronto went to Netflix, and who knows when we’ll get another non-franchise (sorry, Borderlands) Hart theatrical again. However, the Fresh off the boat star was on a 2/2 run (boobies rich asian and Hustlers) before the pandemic stifled the cinema market.
There are variables tied to the resounding success of Warner Bros. boobies rich asian ($174 million domestic and $235 million worldwide on a budget of $35 million as of summer 2018) and STX’s Hustlers ($104 million domestic and $157.5 million worldwide on a $20 million budget as of fall 2019). Jon M. Chu’s acclaimed and animated adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel was sold and welcomed as a generational event both for Asian American audiences and for all moviegoers who longed for the return of the romantic comedy to old school big budget. Hustlers, written and directed by Lorene Scafaria and based on a true story about strippers who scammed, drugged and otherwise defrauded their corporate clientele, boasted showy (and Oscar-snubbed) support from Jennifer Lopez , added value from Keke Palmer, Cardi B. , Lizzo and Lili Reinhart and plenty of critically acclaimed, guilt-free “sex sells” calls. Nonetheless, Constance Wu’s first two star vehicles earned an opening weekend of $35 million Wednesday-Sunday and $33 million Friday-Sunday.
We don’t know how much Wu’s popularity and/or added value made these films bigger hits than they otherwise might have been. Of course, many people watched Nahnatchka Khan Fresh off the boat over its six seasons on ABC, and Jessica Huang was definitely the show’s main character (though Wu inexplicably never even got a single Emmy nomination for the role, which says a lot about the obsession Emmys for cable and streaming on the conventional television network). However, it’s not like every TV star becomes the next George Clooney. Sometimes they are (at best) the next Jon Hamm. However, here is one thing I am sure of. If the first two non-franchise, non-character-specific white man star vehicles had opened for $26 million (in the midst of a $35 million Wednesday-Sunday launch) and $33 million, it would have been crowned the next Tom Cruise. He would have gotten his own shiny franchise, $10 million for his next star vehicle, a life of second chances and an eternal presumption of bankability.
Despite his talent, Russell Crowe continues to ride GladiatorThe Oscar-winning, blockbuster hit from 22 years ago, while the various Chriss (Pine, Pratt, Hemsworth, Evans, etc.) are treated as A-listers despite most of their hits being in explicit franchise movies. Heck, Twitter likes to claim Pratt is the ‘worst Chris,’ but he and Jennifer Lawrence at least pushed Passengers, a $300 million worldwide original adult sci-fi romance. That’s not counting the likes of Taylor Kitsch (an excellent actor who blew up John Carter and Battleship ten years ago and is still treated as prestige in the likes of real detective season two and, hey, The list of terminals), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taron Egerton, Charlie Hunnam, Josh Lucas, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Josh Duhamel, Tye Sheridan or Alden Ehrenreich who get plum roles and are treated like stars for no reason. Armie Hammer was treated like an A-lister for a decade until his off-screen allegations sank him despite not starring in a single blockbuster movie.
None of this is shocking to anyone following the industry. It should be noted that Melissa McCarthy has been constantly discussed in terms of needing to rebrand her career, even as original studio comedies like Tammy, the boss and the life of the party were hitting $17-24 million on Friday-Sunday weekends (Tammie nabbed $33 million during the Wednesday July 4 holiday in 2014 and would make $100 million worldwide on a $20 million budget). Although I’m wrong that Constance Wu is a major driver in getting people to show up in theaters to see boobies rich asian and Hustlers. However, before Covid, there were at least as many reasons to give him the benefit of the doubt as there would be to credit Timothée Chalamet for Dunes or Tom Holland for Unexplored. Alas, due to the pandemic and the current (even pre-Covid) challenges facing non-franchise theaters in a streaming-focused market, Wu didn’t get his third at-bat in a major studio feature. public in 2020, 2021 or 2022.
She plays second fiddle on Amazon The list of terminals and in the family targeted by Sony Crocodile Lyle Lyle (opening in theaters in October). It’s not shade. A big-budget streaming action show is likely to get high viewership as Steve Carell did one of the best jobs of his film career in Alexander and the horrible, terrible, not good, very bad day. Plus, it’s nice to see Wu play characters in mainstream movies and shows that don’t require a non-white actress. However, I’d like to see Wu get a third chance to prove she’s a real movie star. After all, if she was a “he” and/or “she” was a white actress starring in a rom-com or adult hit, Wu would probably already be treated as “one of the last movie stars.” After its first two extremely successful star vehicles, Wu was arguably a sure shot away from being officially declared a movie star. I hope she will have one more chance to prove me right (or wrong).