At 63, Richard Gere is still a bankable global film star. But that means his presence in a project helps to get it made–not that he'll make serious dough. Those days are over, as they have been for most movie actors for some time. In a way, that's a good thing, if not for them, for the movies. If actors aren't tempted to star in studio drek, they're forced to consider the quality of a given role.
That's how "Arbitrage" wound up the number one movie on iTunes on its opening weekend–and still opened to over $2 million on 197 screens. (Gere talks about this and his well-reviewed "Arbitrage" role as a Wall Street tycoon in trouble with both money and family in our video interview below.)
Point is, backing a wide release in theaters costs serious coin–AMC and Regal-owned Open Road will spend more than $20 million to open Toronto hit "End of Watch" on 2800 screens next weekend–but opening VOD does not. And where stardom can be hit-or-miss when it comes to pulling audiences into theaters, it works on VOD. By that measure, Gere is a major draw.
Last year, Roadside Attractions took another Wall Street drama with a strong ensemble cast, "Margin Call," and made it work on VOD and theaters, which did not steal viewers from each other. Rookie filmmaker J.C. Chandor earned an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. Could his first Oscar nomination be in Gere's future? It's early days. But having a hit doesn't hurt.