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Are movie characters more important than plot for box office success?

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Movie character money

What do Ron Burgundy, Les Grossman, James Carter and Captain Jack Sparrow have in common? They are all larger than life characters portrayed by some of Hollywood’s biggest actors, but on top of that, they might just be the biggest moneymaker at the box office.

Captain Jack Sparrow

What made ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ so successful? Was it the big adventure, was it Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s romantic sub-story? No. It was Johnny Depp’s iconic character. Sparrow made that franchise work, and that character is what’s driven the box office success of those movies.

James Carter

Then if we go over to James Carter played by Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour movies, we can clearly see this funny, comedic detective is just the right kind of character to bounce off a serious uptight Asian cop played by Jackie Chan (sorry for the implied cliché, but that’s in the script) Carter makes the Rush Hour movies come to life.

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His character is why I certainly went to see the movies, and I enjoyed all his ridiculous antics. The plot, although important, was secondary, and I think perhaps that’s why the standard of the plot-lines in these bigger films are lower than say, the indie art-house release. The money is definitely in the characters.

Ron Burgundy

Furthermore, a character like Ron Burgundy can certainly drive hysteria and laughs. ‘The Anchorman’ films are not exactly masterpieces, but we love to see that ridiculous character.

Les Grossman

Then if we move on to Les Grossman, that character practically made ‘Tropic Thunder’ the classic that it is. I can’t envisage that film being made into a sequel but I can certainly see a potential franchise being made solely based on following Tom Cruise’s unbelievably awesome, rage filled movie producer character.

PS Special thanks to the real Les Grossman for keeping up his antics while Cruise works on the new script.

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