You know how we just did that piece about how studios are looking to tighten their budgets and deliver cheapie movies that pay off big? Don't let the currently hot found-footage genre mislead you -- both audiences and moviemakers still want big stars, and a trio of actors have been tapped in the last week or so as talent that studios are hoping will bring them big dividends.
Over at Warner Bros., they are seeing a bright future for two of their franchise stars -- Tom Hardy and Bradley Cooper -- signing them up for first-look deals. Of course, the former takes the villain role in this summer's "The Dark Knight Rises" and won a new batch of fans thanks to his turn in "Inception." Everyone is expecting the superhero movie to push Hardy into star status, a bit of a gamble considering the dismal results of both "Warrior" and "This Means War" at the box office. But WB are hoping for the best, because they're already in the early stages of building a franchise around him with the gangster tale "Cicero" that would be a potential trilogy with 'Harry Potter' helmer David Yates directing. And of course, there is "Mad Max: Fury Road" which is aiming to shoot this spring. Meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein even bumped the release date of "The Wettest County" to accomodate the Batman movie, with hopes that he can swoop in with a new film featuring the star of the moment.
As for Cooper, he's already made bank for WB with "The Hangover" films -- with a third in the works -- and last year with "Limitless" he proved he can be viable leading man. The studio did have him toplining "Paradise Lost" before the cord was pulled, but with a helluva year coming up with "The Place Beyond the Pines" and "The Silver Linings Playbook" on the way, his stock is only going to rise.
Meanwhile, Paramount are staying in the Sacha Baron Cohen business, inking him for a 3-year deal, with plans to take on the comic actor's next unnamed original project. It's pretty clear that the studio believe they have a big winner on their hands with "The Dictator" -- the Oscar red carpet stunt was one of the most talked about moments of the evening. In addition, Cohen is being given development funds to help find rising U.K. talent as well, so it seems the studio are not only hoping Cohen can keep bringing the laughs, but that he will find fresh blood for them as well. [Variety/THR/Deadline]