From Rihanna in Battleship to Will Smith in Men In Black III: Some Notable Music-to-Movie Mistakes
Last week, Battleship, a movie based on the movies based on Transformers and a board game starring a bunch of plastic pegs that really suck to step on by accident and Rihanna, opened to $25 million. This week, Men in Black 3, starring noted pop-rapper Will Smith, will open to significantly more than that.
Starring Rihanna as Optimus Prime.
Making the leap from music royalty to respected blockbuster-opener is difficult. Here are some other recent attempts that turned out somewhere between Rihanna and the Fresh Prince. (Note: I've decided not to talk about DJ Jazzy Jeff's ill-advised star vehicle, Black-Suit Wearing Guys.)
Here's how deep we are into Hollywood's transformation from slick, sophisticated mover-and-shaker to desperate, bedraggled roulette player: A movie can open to $25 million and be an enormous bomb, because somebody spent $200 million making a movie about plastic pegs and The Collected Movie Posters of Michael Bay. That's not really Rihanna's fault, but early reviews of her work are a little less than encouraging. This one is going to lose John Carter money, and possibly even endanger the Star Wars: Escape From The Death Star: The Board Game pitch I sold to Universal last month.
Britney Spears, Vanilla Ice, et al: To Rihanna's credit, she didn't make her acting debut in the type of as-herself-kind-of novelty project that other pop stars have somehow convinced themselves is a good idea. A movie like Spears's Crossroads or, uh, Ice's Cool as Ice isn't so much a play at mainstream credibility as the sequel to the graphic design in your first album's liner notes, starring a character you play in press releases.
Of course it remains to be seen whether Rihanna will ever steal a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with her performance of the "Ninja 80s-Eurotrash-Knockoff."
Madonna: The next step up--and, so far as I can tell, Rihanna's best-case scenario. Madonna's appeared in some truly awful movies as the main draw, but she was fine in A League of Their Own and the Warren Beatty Dick Tracy, which you're free to make fun of me for enjoying. Half stunt-casting, half playing off an established pop cultural role--that's where someone with limited acting talent or off-stage charisma can end up.
Import Note: If you're as crazy as David Bowie, you can appear in a film as crazy as Labyrinth wearing tights and, so far as I can tell, nothing underneath them without it being among the top 10 crazy things you've done. This is worth considering as an acting sideline, but only if you're David Bowie. (For an example of it not working, because someone wasn't David Bowie, watch Sting in Dune.)
Just imagine the words "Forget about the baby, Sarah," in Rihanna's voice.