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The business of baseball and the business of movies: not all that different

May 31, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

Shia LaBoeuf

I don’t know enough about the movie industry in order to know when the baseball GM/movie producer analogy in this story breaks down, but it’s an interesting read anyway:

In baseball, as in the movie business, everyone wants to develop younger, cheaper talent. GMs do it either by trading established players for young prospects or through an annual draft that stocks their farm system with players that can be paid far less money than the stars available through free agency. Studios do the same thing, either by restocking their franchises with inexpensive actors – think Chris Pine in the reboot of “Star Trek” or Shia LaBeouf in “Indiana Jones” – or by buying low-budget movies at film festivals.

Question: do movie fans do with their young stars what baseball fans do with prospects and say stuff like “really, Shia LaBeouf just needs more roles before you can write him off. They’re just not giving him a chance!”

Because if they do, we baseball fanatics probably need to take a closer look at the things we believe.

  1. mattraw - May 31, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Given the number of chances he’s been given and what he’s done with them, I think Shia LaBeouf is Jeff Francoeur in this metaphor.

    • nps6724 - May 31, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      Disturbia – $20 mil budget, $117 mil gross
      Eagle Eye – $80 mil budget, $178 mil gross
      Wall Street 2 – $70 mil budget, $134 mil gross

      That’s not including either Transformer film or Indy 4 ($535 mil total budget, $2.3 bil total gross).

      You may not like the kid, but comparing him to Francoeur is just uncalled for.

      • Pierre Cruzatte - May 31, 2011 at 4:47 PM

        You’ve got sampling size problems there, friend.

  2. pestiesti - May 31, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Craig, can you add a link to the original story?

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 31, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      Sorry about that. Link is there now.

  3. halladaysbicepts - May 31, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    I always said back in the 80’s, if given the chance, Gary Coleman would have been the finest American actor ever. Unfortunately, it never panned out due to the actor’s small size.

    But, he had Dick Allen type talent….

  4. nps6724 - May 31, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    The analogy doesn’t really work because the problem isn’t so much the experienced actors being expensive, it’s they are too old to continue the role. Harrison Ford is no longer really believable as Indiana Jones so they need a new character to continue the franchise. The original Star Trek actors are too old to continue their roles (and isn’t one of them dead?) so they restock the characters and reboot the franchise.

    • halladaysbicepts - May 31, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      Actually, Nimoy came back as Spock in the new Star Trek reboot. My guess is that Nimoy could continue playing the role of Spock even when he’s in a wheelchair wearing a pair of Depends.

      Speaking of Spock, they could probably dig up DeForest Kelly and James Doohan and do another movie…

      • nps6724 - May 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        While Nimoy came back, it was an extended cameo to 1) connect the new films to the originals, and 2) lend credence to these new films by getting the “blessing” of the old guard.

    • rebarratige - May 31, 2011 at 1:57 PM

      “The analogy doesn’t really work because the problem isn’t so much the experienced actors being expensive, it’s they are too old to continue the role.”

      I think it’s both. The problem is a combination of free-agent stars demanding high salaries and free-agent stars representing more of an injury/age-decline risk. That is, they want too much money, and they’re often too old (or getting to old) to perform as they used to.

  5. cur68 - May 31, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Hey Craig; speaking of actors, did you see Timothy Busfield was visiting the Jay’s broadcast booth? Did a great Lancaster impression from Field of Dreams.

    • halladaysbicepts - May 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      Field of Dreams is my favorite baseball movie of all times. Is there any video of Busfield’s visit to the Jay’s booth?

      • cur68 - May 31, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        hb; Google has forsaken us. No vid. Hey, try watching Jay’s games if you wanna see some offense and some funny actors. Cutest chick you ever saw in tiny t-shirt in a direct line behind the umpire, too, in last night’s game. Plenty to make you happy.

  6. amhendrick - May 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Shia LaBeouf is in the best shape of his life.

    • halladaysbicepts - May 31, 2011 at 11:07 AM

      According to Actor’s Prospectus, Shia LaBeouf’s WAR is 1/4 of what Gary Coleman’s WAR was. Shia is no Gary Coleman.

  7. Charles Gates - May 31, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Making movies is a business. Running a baseball team is a business. With the exception of Star Wars, Indiana Jones or even the Saw movies and the like, movies are a singular, one time form of entertainment and therefore fans do not get the chance to form allegience towards a particular group. Contrast this with Seinfeld, Friends, Sex and the City etc where people tuned in every week, had their favorite characters and were extraordinarily loyal. Baseball is more like a sitcom where fans get emotionally invested in the daily transgressions of their favorite teams and players.

    I would think that with minor characters on a tv show, many viewers would think that if X got a few more lines in time their role would grow and they could evolve as a cinematic talent. Can’t think of his name off the top of my head, but the refurbisher dude on Pawn Stars just got his own tv show as a result of multiple, yet limited, appearances on the show. Cinematic talent, perhaps not. But I think he’s a pretty solid example of someone getting a larger role before you can write them off.

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