'White House Down': Pairing Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx is no accident

Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum portray President James Sawyer and John Cale in 'White House Down.'

It’s summer, which means it’s movie season. Hollywood’s already released a number of action films that are jam-packed with stars. But what’s missing in all those releases -- including two action films to be released this weekend, “White House Down” and “The Heat” --  is the singular action star.

“I don’t think the model really holds anymore,” says Wesley Morris, film critic at Grantland. “And I think what’s actually happening is you have these team-ups.” Thus, Channing Tatum is paired with Jamie Foxx in the action thriller “White House Down” and action comedy “The Heat” combines Sandra Bullock with Melissa McCarthy.

Morris says studios might be afraid an actor can’t shoulder an action franchise alone --  and that in a way, it’s not the leading actor that audiences want to see.“The stars are no longer the people themselves. It’s the genre -- so you know, the zombie movie or the vampire movie or the super hero movie. These things are sort of the attractions now. You can put anybody into these movies and people will still go, is the thinking.”

The pairings have “gotta be smart too.” "The Heat" stars “two people America likes individually, working together.” He thinks that movie will do well at the box office.

Morris uses "World War Z” as another example. Brad Pitt may be the headliner, but the zombies are certainly his co-star. “The point is, it’s easier to sell something like zombies or vampires because there’s a built-in audience for that sort of thing.”

Bruce Willis may still be able to star in installments of “Die Hard,” but there aren’t more lone action heroes like him in the studio pipeline.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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