If anyone doubted Scarlett Johansson’s box office might, the summer film Lucy silenced them once and for all.
Not only does Johansson stand tall in The Avengers and Captain America, she can carry an action movie on her slender shoulders. Lucy, an original story with no brand tie-in, earned $125 million.
Now, the starlet is taking her skills to … the small screen.
She’ll star and executive produce an eight-episode series based on the 1913 Edith Wharton novel The Custom of the Country, according to Deadline.com.
The deal shouldn’t tie down her schedule too much. She’ll still have time to shoot films before and after the production. Yet having a star of her caliber pursuing a television project would have been unheard of years ago.
Remember how quickly Bruce Willis left TV behind for film roles when Moonlighting made him a sensation? That’s how the system worked. TV stars were big. Movie stars were far bigger, and film represented the highest rung on the show business ladder.
Actors typically returned to TV fare only when the flow of big screen roles dried up.
That hardly seems the case today, what with stars like Johansson, Matthew McConaughey and Colin Farrell eager to work on television series.
Why else would Adam Sandler, who still commands box office respect despite declining ticket sales, align with Netflix to star in four comedies to be seen in our living rooms, not a darkened movie house?
The theatrical experience is facing a crisis period, what with the summer’s tepid box office figures, heightened competition from TV-based content and the rise of streaming devices. It doesn’t help that artists are given freer range to tell the stories they want to tell via TV-based outlets without test screenings or notes from a studio.
That’s likely why Johansson opted to work on a television series rather than line up yet another film role. It’s also why we’ll keep seeing major movie stars give TV a try. Maybe Willis would benefit from a 13-episode cable series, too?