Me and My Nine Iron

September 9, 2010

Gauging Michael Cera’s marketability

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 4:28 pm

I thought of this because a) Michael Cera was probably tops on my list to play the lead role in my screenplay and b) critically-acclaimed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World bombed at the box office, leaving me to wonder if I could do just as much on my own. This is all long and far from now, but I can think, can’t I? After all, one bomb can affect future work for the actor, director and even the screenwriter.

First, a long look at Scott Pilgrim. The $60 million movie spent just two weeks in the Top 10 and was outgrossed in the U.S. by the $20 million parody, Vampires Suck, which looks like the dumbest movie ever made, despite having the same imdB rating (8.1) and cool appeal as Kick-Ass, which was just short of being a $100 million movie.

Then, the reports that Cera, who has experienced box-office success, isn’t so appealing anymore and finally, my friends telling me they don’t like him. Some never found his awkward humor funny, even in Superbad, and now, others are just tired of the same ol’ role we’re accustomed to seeing him playing, which is tough for comics because you name any of ’em, and I’m sure they’re typecast (Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Vince Vaughn, to name a few).

For the record, I like Cera, and while I never caught on to Arrested Development, I’ve seen every wide-release movie of his since Superbad, save Scott Pilgrim. I thought every one of those five movies was quality, and hell, Superbad snatched the vacant title as my favorite comedy of all-time.

All that being said, like sports, the entertainment industry ultimately is a business. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good movie if you lose money. It’s the reason why producers are willing to pay top dollar to Johnny Depp and Ben Stiller because they bring the crowds. I was buying into the notion that Cera was just another character actor not able to carry a movie and definitely not deserving of a big budget movie. So I had to check the numbers.

Michael Cera Filmography 2007-Present
Movie Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
Superbad 20 170
Juno 7 231
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist 10 34
Year One 60 62
Youth in Revolt 18 19
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 60 39+

Okay, maybe he’s not deserving of a big budget movie, but everyone else needs to lay down. Scott Pilgrim is his first movie not to break even against its production budget, which still gives him a solid record. It happens to the best of them, and it wouldn’t be a disappointing career if he never starred in a movie that made as much as Superbad or Juno again. That’s expecting way too much.

If anything can be learned from this, quite simply, don’t throw him in a movie with a budget over $10 million, which makes him perfect for my low budget flick. It seems as though a big sidekick helps too, as Jonah Hill, Ellen Page and Jack Black have helped him reach his highest grosses.

It’s not that he or his movies have dropped off; only one of those movies got worse than a 6.7 imdB rating (I still liked Year One). I think the crowds aren’t willing to come out anymore for someone whose humor isn’t as loud as a comic like Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell. I hope producers catch on before tossing Cera in another big budget movie, unlike how they never figured out Eddie Murphy‘s abysmal track record, who hasn’t made a live-action movie better than Cera’s worst 11 years running. All is laid to rest.




  1. This is great. Nice analysis.

    I’m curious about Cera’s quota. Despite his success, I can’t imagine it being over $5 million considering how young he is. Which is probably why, in 2009, Forbes ranked him third on their list of best actors for the buck ( Cera’s movies earned $102 for every dollar he was paid (Shia LaBeouf was no. 1, as he is this year, with $160 on the dollar). Cera is out of 2010’s top 10.

    I’m beginning to tire — just a bit — of Cera’s static acting. I still love his awkwardness, but cuddly and harmless can be endearing for only so long. He’s talented but is usually at his best with another talented actor with whom he can improvise. I’m confident he can be a leading actor, but I wouldn’t bank on him carrying a movie as its sole marquee name. This, of course, will not stop me from seeing his movies, but I’d think twice if I were a studio executive.

    And, dude, you have to start watching “Arrested Development.”

    Comment by Chris Le — September 12, 2010 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  2. Baldelli plans to keep playing…

    I found your entry interesting to I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by Score Board — September 10, 2010 @ 6:02 am | Reply

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