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Taylor Swift: How film stars faded, and pop stars took over the planet

Artists writing from personal experience is nothing new, but “Taylor Swift has taken that to another level,” Ford says, “singing about vulnerable moments and relationships.

“It creates this illusion of accessibility to her private life, and that lends itself to abnormal levels of popularity, because it feels like you know this pop star on a personal level.

“And that’s just not quite the case with movie stars. We can’t feel like we know a film star when they’re never playing themselves the way pop stars appear to do, or at least a pseudo-version of themselves.”

None of this is to say there aren’t successful movies anymore. There are. But what links them is generally not the bankable box office star, but the intellectual property (IP) attached to the film.

Timothée Chalamet, for example, is hugely popular – but his most recent hits have been Dune and Wonka, which had their own existing fanbases and mythologies. For Tom Holland, there’s Spider-Man. For Margot Robbie, Barbie.

Many of today’s movie stars also appear in original, creative projects, but these often flop. Six months before Barbie became a phenomenon, Robbie starred opposite Brad Pitt in Babylon, which bombed at the box office.

The Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt and adapted from the 1980s TV series, was widely considered a surprise flop, external when it was released earlier this month.

The film was well reviewed, and Gosling and Blunt has great chemistry both in the film and on the promotional trail. But two hugely popular leads weren’t enough to make it a hit. It also had a tiny theatrical window, external before being released digitally, giving fans even less of an incentive to venture out.

Other recent star vehicles such as Challengers (starring Zendaya) have enjoyed some limited success, but today’s biggest hits are almost all character and franchise driven.

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