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, 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.
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, Celebrity Voice Actor, and Dream Team. Contrast Amateur Cast. See also Supergroup (a music band formed from several members who were already famous for their musical ability).
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.)
- A New York production of The Seagull featured Meryl Streep as Irina, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Konstantin, Natalie Portman as Nina, Kevin Kline as Trigorin, Christopher Walken as Sorin, Marcia Gay Harden as Masha, Stephen Spinella as Medviedenko, Debra Monk as Polina, John Goodman as Shamraev and Morena Baccarin was Nina's understudy.
- 8, a play which recreates the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial about the legality of gay marriage in California, features an incredible cast of George Clooney, Martin Sheen, Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Christine Lahti, Jamie Lee Curtis, Yeardley Smith, John C. Reilly, George Takei, Jane Lynch and more.
- Cranium Command, an attraction at EPCOT's Wonders of Life Pavillion, revolved around a "Cranium Commando" trying to pilot the brain of a twelve-year-old boy while balancing the demands of the various body parts. Said parts were played by an assortment of TV and film stars from The '90s, including Bobcat Goldthwait as the adrenal gland, Charles Grodin as the Left Brain, Jon Lovitz as the Right Brain, and George Wendt as the stomach.
- Corpse Party has the following: Hiro Shimono, Rina Sato, Yuuichi Nakamura, Asami Imai, Eri Kitamura, Miyuki Sawashiro, Tomokazu Sugita, Satomi Arai, Ikue Otani and more.
- Kanon's English dub has Chris Patton, Brittney Karbowski, Jessica Boone, Melissa Davis, Maggie Flecknoe, Tiffany Terrell, Greg Ayres, Natalie Arneson, Joanne Bonasso, Caitlin Glass and Colleen Clinkenbeard. The latter two being Funimation actors certainly surprised people that they would be featured in an ADV Films release.
- Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! has an All Star Cast of Japanese seiyuu working together on an Eroge and its subsequent anime adaptation.
- Umineko: When They Cry: The cast is huge, but is filled with famous and experienced seiyuu. It features the talents of Sayaka Ohara, Yuu Kobayashi, Rie Kugimiya, Yui Horie, Daisuke Ono, Kenichi Suzumura, Marina Inoue, Rina Sato, Rikiya Koyama, Atsuko Tanaka, Yukari Tamura, Kikuko Inoue, Tomokazu Sugita, Minori Chihara, Yoko Hikasa, Aki Toyosaki, Eri Kitamura, Miki Ito, Ami Koshimizu, and Emi Shinohara. The PS3 version of Chiru adds Miyuki Sawashiro, Natsuko Kuwatani, Shizuka Ito, Mitsuki Saiga, Michiko Neya and Ayako Kawasumi for good measure.
- gen:LOCK features the following actors in major roles: Michael B. Jordan (who's also producing in tandem with Rooster Teeth), Dakota Fanning, Kōichi Yamadera, Maisie Williams, David Tennant, Monica Rial, Golshifteh Farahani and Asia Kate Dillon. Additionally, several well-known Rooster Teeth personalities (such as Miles Luna and Gray Haddock) also star in the show.
- 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.