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‘Argylle’ Is a Star-Studded Box Office Bomb, Here’s Why That’s a Surprise | Chart

A cast packed with A-list actors has always been viewed by studios as a sign that a movie is headed for box office success. “Barbie” is just one recent, highly lucrative example of why that might be. But for every “Barbie,” there’s also a “Babylon,” an epic movie with an ensemble cast also led by Margot Robbie that proved to be one of 2022’s biggest box office bombs.

Apple’s big-budget new spy movie “Argylle” seems to have landed closer to the “Babylon” end of the spectrum than the “Barbie.” Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the movie stars Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Bryan Cranston, Dua Lipa, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, and, improbably, more. Even so, the film flopped in its opening weekend.

Once again, we’re learning that a strong cast can’t guarantee a film’s success — were there signs from the beginning that “Argylle’s” star-studded roster wasn’t the kind that can reliably bring people into theaters?

In Hollywood, an actor is only as good as their last movie — or, more generously, as their last five movies. Using that logic, we’re looking at Ranker Insights to measure the popularity of the last five movies starring the most prominent cast members in “Argylle,” as well as the last five films from director Matthew Vaughn. The data gives us a sense of how effective each of these people has been in drawing large audiences, a factor that could explain why “Argylle” fell short of its blockbuster expectations.

We calculated the ratio of total votes for recent movies from four of the stars of “Argylle” indicating positive sentiment against those indicating negative sentiment — a metric called a “sentiment score,” very similar to an approval rating. The results were varied, but they generally point the way toward a strong performance for “Argylle,” making its disappointing performance all the more baffling.

Just looking at the averages, it’s Henry Cavill whose films and TV shows have been getting the highest sentiment scores. Much of his high average is owed to “The Witcher,” for which a remarkable 70% of all votes on Ranker have conveyed positive sentiment since it premiered in 2019. But his other four most-recent titles, which include “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” and both “Enola Holmes” movies, also get high scores. The lowest rated movie of his most recent work is the Canadian thriller “Night Hunter,” which got a more than modest 64%.

Meanwhile, the work of director Matthew Vaughn has also been quite popular. The three movies of the “Kingsman” franchise, X-Men origin story “First Class,” and his breakout “Kick-ass” all average 59%, a solidly positive score. Include the two other feature-length films Vaughn has directed — ”Stardust” and his debut “Layer Cake” — and the score goes up to 60%. At least in the eyes of Ranker voters, Vaughn is something close to invincible.

The lower points in the chart belong to Bryce Dallas Howard and Bryan Cranston, each of whom have average sentiment scores lower than 50% for their last five movies and shows. But the data suggests that both actors are trending upward.

The first movie from Bryce Dallas Howard we looked at was the 2016 reboot “Pete’s Dragon,” a movie that earned favorable reviews from critics but got a notably low 30% sentiment score from our readers. Over the last five years, however, her movies have been earning higher scores, peaking with “Jurassic World Dominion,” which has a score of 60%.

Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston started from a similar lowpoint: his “Last Flag Flying” (which earned a 31% score) gave way to Paramount+ movie “Jerry & Marge Go Large” (56%), which gave way to his Showtime series “Your Honor” (60%). Each of these actors’ titles have been improving their sentiment scores by an average of 7.25 points or more, suggesting that “Argylle” could get a rating from our viewers as high as 67%.

There’s certainly more to predicting a movie’s success than its stars — marketing, for one thing, is hugely important. But if production company Apple is behind the online controversy surrounding the identity of “Argylle” novels Elly Conway, this movie can certainly be said to have covered that base. With a critically lauded, but unprofitable movies like “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Napoleon” behind it, “Argylle” looks to be another baffling chapter in the story of Apple’s ongoing cinematic strategy.

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