Arnold at the Crossroads.Which Way to Go?
Breslau, Karen, Smith, Sean M., Newsweek
Byline: Karen Breslau, Sean M. Smith
PRO: Although ticket sales for his movies have flagged in the United States, he's still a powerful draw overseas. Since 1990, Arnold Schwarzenegger's films have grossed more than $1.4 billion in foreign markets and, with the exception of last year's "Collateral Damage," every single one of his movies has made more money abroad than it has stateside. "He has become iconic," says Phoenix Pictures chairman Mike Medavoy, who produced "Terminator" and released "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," when he ran TriStar Pictures. "Once that happens, stars hang around longer in foreign markets than they do in the domestic market. That's true for every iconic star you can think of." If Schwarzenegger keeps playing the characters he made famous, such as the Terminator or Conan the Barbarian, he remains bankable. Why give up a sure thing?
CON : What sure thing? He's no spring chicken. At 55, his action-hero status has been eclipsed by the likes of Vin Diesel, The Rock, even Ben Affleck. And despite his success overseas, he hasn't starred in a movie that grossed more than $100 million in the United States since "Eraser" in 1996. And he knows it. "Arnold doesn't live in a delusional state," says one producer who has worked with him. "When you get to be Arnold's age, you are, as an action hero, reaching the upper limits of what strains credibility. I'd find a transitional part for him where there was no action. He'd be very believable as an ex-military guy mentoring somebody through a situation. …