With Larry Crowne a Major Flop, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts Cement Their Former Box-Office Champs Club Membership

In the run-up to the release of Larry Crowne, Tom Hanks kissed just about every hand and shook just about every baby on the planet. And he did it beautifully.

In the run-up to the release of Larry Crowne, Tom Hanks kissed just about every hand and shook just about every baby on the planet. And he did it beautifully.

Whether dancing like a drunk dad on TV with Despierta America's weather girl, or simply just charming the beejazus out of yet another starstruck chatshow host, Hanks clearly knows how to sell himself.

It's just when it comes to his movie choices that Hanks seems to have lost his touch. Which is not good when you're the star. And you're producing.

The trouble started in 2004, with the double-whammy of The Ladykillers and The Terminal. The former was a step into the dark side, as the Coens took on the 1955 Ealing black comedy classic whilst the latter - directed by Hanks' good buddy, Steven Spielberg - was a Capra-esque heart-warmer inspired by the true story of the 18-year no-man's-land stay of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri in Paris' Charles de Gaulle International Airport.

On paper, it was a smart double-bill for an established player, nice guy Hanks getting to push the boat out a little as an eccentric baddie in The Ladykillers and playing to his box-office strengths in The Terminal as yet another loveable, huggable, innocent outsider.

When it came to box-office receipts though, both films proved a lot less smart. With audiences far from impressed, Hanks was suddenly on the ropes.

I'm sure Meg Ryan - his old romantic comedy sparring partner, and once America's #1 Sweetheart - sent him a sympathy card.

Take away the two Teflon-coated Da Vinci Code movies (basically Harry Potter for the crushingly middle-aged), and Hanks has had nothing but flops ever since. Hands up who saw 2008's The Great Buck Howard? Co-starring the likes of John Malkovich, Emily Blunt and Hanks' son, Colin, this star-heavy comedy grossed $900,689 at the global box-office.

That's still $99,311 short of a measly $1million.

Hanks is far from alone, of course, when it comes to the sudden switch from Hollywood hero to box-office zero.

Colin Farrell had a similar career-derailing double-whammy in 2006, with Oliver Stone's Alexander and Michael Mann's Miami Vice. Shortly after, the jaded, faded playboy was in rehab, and so was his career.

Hollywood was no longer interested in putting his face front and centre on a poster, and so, Farrell has been slowly rebuilding his worth through small, independent movies and supporting roles.

Ditto Hanks' co-star in Larry Crowne, Julia Roberts, for so long the undisputed queen of the multiplexes. The ultra-sweet Georgia peach with the mile-wide smile must be finding it increasingly hard to grin and bear it as yet another new movie has cinema-goers staying away in their millions.

Yep, Hanks and Roberts have now secured their membership to The Former Box-Office Champs Club, joining such low-watt luminaries as Nicole Kidman, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Halle Berry, John Travolta, Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Charlize Theron and - depending on whether or not the upcoming fourth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise can resuscitate his career - Tom Cruise.

My guess is, Sharon Stone is Club President, For Life, given how she's managed to actually make a career out of being a former box-office champ. It's been 16 years since Casino, 19 since her only true box-office smash, Basic Instinct, and yet, the woman can still nab a magazine cover. And a lucrative product endorsement gig. Despite the fact that she doesn't actually do anything these days.

Without Stone, there'd be no Paris Hilton, no Kim Kardashian. So, you know, thanks for that, Sharon.

When Michael Bay finally gets around to remaking Sunset Boulevard (come on, it's such a natural fit!), it's clear that they're going to need a much bigger bridge table.

Not that Bay would have anything to do with any boring old card games. It'll be a Sink My Battleship marathon. With real explosives.


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