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All-Star Cast

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Most people will hardly find someone they have never seen before in this movie.

"Would it have been faster to say who isn't in this movie? Jesus, it's like the Super Smash Bros. of Hollywood!"

Any show, movie, etc., where the majority of the lead roles are played by big-name actors. They don't have to be A list. B, C, and even D will do, although in that case, relying on their talents is preferable to relying on their names. If the character list is really big, this can spill over into supporting roles as well.

In the days of the studio system, this was easy to do, but once actors' salaries started rising — which coincided with major advances in visual effects technology, meaning that the effects, rather than the cast, soon became the most expensive part of a film's production — this practice gradually declined. Compare the casts at the beginning of the Disaster Movie Era with those at the end of it.

These days, you'd either need a lot of money to pull this off, convince the actors that this is just a fun breather film or be willing to settle for loads of cameos. The exception is animated films, where stars are willing to get paid a lot less just to do voice work and the logistics and scheduling are easier.

It also happens fairly frequently in smaller countries simply by virtue of there being less actors to choose your cast from, leading to many faces being well-known; thus a much larger proportion of the overall acting population can be considered (local) stars.

A good way of being able to tell if it is an all star cast is by an examination of the theatrical poster, if it has more than five names listed on it it is usually big names.

Roger Ebert referred to films with All-Star Casts as "Box Pictures" due to the tendency (at least in the '70s) to display head shots of the cast in little boxes on the poster.

Compare Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Dream Team and Celebrity Voice Actor. Contrast Amateur Cast, when a work is predominantly comprised of unknown and obscure actors. See also Supergroup (a music band formed from several members who were already famous for their musical ability). Expect an Establishing Team Shot to show off the actors.

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Other examples:

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     Comic Books 
  • Elvis Shrugged: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Sinéad O'Connor, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Roy Orbison, John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, Mojo Nixon, Sammy Davis Jr., Axl Rose, Spike Lee, Paul Schaffer, Regis Philbin, James Brown, Paul Simon, Jodie Foster, Sean Penn, Mary Hart and John Tesh, Sean Young, Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric... And the disembodied, animate heads of Cole Porter and Col. Tom Parker.
  • Superman: When Superman line editor Julius Schwartz declared he wanted an absolutely stellar list of artists for the milestone Superman 1939 #400: The Living Legends Of Superman issue and started listing names, writer Elliot S! Maggin wondered whether his boss had lost his mind. Did he really think he could get Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko— Jim Steranko? Seriously? Oh, and a prologue written by Ray Bradbury. Events proved that Maggin was severely underestimating Schwartz's capabilities...
    "I want to get all sorts of artists in on this," Julie Schwartz growled. Julie does not talk; he growls. He growled that he wanted artists who had never done a Superman story before, who could reinterpret Superman according to their own peculiar styles. "Joe Orlando," he said, and I said now he'd be great, and he's just down the hall. "Jack Kirby," he said, and I said really? You really think we can get him to do something? "Frank Miller, Will Eisner, Berni Wrightson, Terry Austin, Marshall Rogers, Wendy Pini, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Mike Kaluta, Klaus Janson, Moebius, John Byrne, Jack Davis, Leonard Starr, Brian Bolland, Walt Simonson, Mike Grell, Steve Ditko, Jerry Robinson, Bill Sienkiewicz - plus a literary salute from Ray Bradbury," he said, and I started thinking the old bugger's brain was getting buggy. "Steranko," Julie said, and I laughed. Now I knew he was joking.
    Never underestimate the moral power of a megalomaniacal editor with forty years of experience behind him at badgering, buttering, and blowing off steam. Never underestimate the emotional power of the greatest fantasy legend the American culture has yet produced.
  • Ultimate Marvel: Mark Pannicia described the post-Ultimatum artists of Ultimate Marvel as such. Bendis, Hickman and Spencer were described as "three amazing writers", and Esad Ribic, Sara Pichelli and Paco Medina were described as "some of the best artists in the industry".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This was both a strength and a weakness of Super World Of Sports. It had several of the most popular wrestlers from New Japan Pro-Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling, but not all of their fans were necessarily willing to jump ship, because they viewed Super World Of Sport's parent company, eyeglass manufacturer Megane Super, as a raider who was "stealing" talent and derailing shows they were enjoying. Despite overflowing with what should have been guaranteed draws, it only lasted two years.
  • WCW is an oddly downplayed example, as it had the single greatest roster in the entire history of pro wrestling - only Super World Of Sports even came close - but it was dedicated to doing so little with the large majority of the wrestlers it contracted that having them all ultimately ended up being a colossal waste of money. There were at several points over 200 wrestlers on the roster, with at least half of them having no planned television role or even house show bookings, but still getting paid to not only sit on their hands and do nothing, but get flown around the country/world while doing nothing when WCW traveled.
  • This was Ring of Honor's original business model. While it did have some contracted wrestlers, said contracts were very unprofessional to encourage an open door system. It was modeled after All Pro Wrestling's King Of Indies tournament, which similarly brought in wrestlers from all over the independent circuit, but to be on a monthly basis rather than an annual one. While a no-show without notice from Ric Flair led to ROH toning down this approach in favor of a larger, more tightly contracted roster of regulars, sister promotion SHIMMER stuck to the model, which Dave Prazak noted during Kimber Lee's entrance on volume 80.
    "I sound like a broken record, everyone's one of the best in the world, but it's true!"
  • This is perhaps the main reason Fighting Opera HUSTLE had a reputation for losing money despite being a very popular promotion. Quite a lot of that money was spent on all those world renowned professional wrestlers. (The other reason, of course, was HUSTLE's special effects.)

    Puppet Shows 
  • Many Muppet films from The Muppet Movie onwards have a variation: The Muppets themselves are the stars, but most of the human supporting characters and cameos are name performers. And the first three films even work in cameos from Sesame Street characters!


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    Web Original 
  • Lindsay Ellis analyzes this in her video essay about the movie adaptation of Cats. She notes that this was probably a misguided attempt of making the movie into Oscar Bait, but this actually worked against the movie. Because famous actors were in the movie, they needed to get their own solos from songs that were originally not solos, demanding the songs to be re-arranged, and they're not necessarily good singers (Rebel Wilson's singing particularly attracted criticism). Furthermore, the actor's packed schedule demanded that they could only record for a brief period of time, requiring a story reason for these characters to be off-screen for most of the movie, vastly differing from the play where all characters are on the stage more or less all the time. Contrast this with the original play, which had no known actors, and that facilitated cast changes.
  • Web Video/Jacksfilms gathered a roster of over 50 other YouTubers for Your Grammar Sucks #100. While not all of them were huge names, most had at least decent sized followings, and the cast featured huge creators like Tobuscus, Vsauce, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, Shane Dawson, Ryan Higa, Jenna Marbles, HowToBasic, PewDiePie, Lilly Singh, Filthy Frank, Matthew Santoro, Tom Ska, and Bart Baker among others.
  • Half the point of YouTube Rewind is bringing together the biggest stars on the website for one video.


Video Example(s):


The "Don't Look Up" ensemble

The trailer for Don't Look Up lists its big-name cast, including all their Oscar credentials, to help sell the movie.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

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Main / AllStarCast

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