TV killed the movie star

Jennifer Cooke explains why film stars are flocking to TV

Jennifer Cooke
25th February 2019
Image- Twitter- @RWitherspoon

It’s been undeniable that major movies stars are slowly but surely making their way onto our television screens. It started off slow- BBC miniseries or limited runs on Amazon Prime; but with the rise in streaming comes the persistent move of beloved film actors and actresses onto long format shows, but why?

The easy answer would be stability. As much as a larger film paycheque would be great, actors are essentially contractors. Once a film ends they have to start thinking about the next one for fear of losing steam, or worse, relevancy. TV offers an easy solution to that: the long running format of successful shows allows the actors or actresses to stay in the limelight for a much longer time. In terms of exposure, it increases their overall screen-time, and although for limited series the paycheck might be smaller (in line with TV being the ‘small screen’), for those series that end up taking off, it can mean more money, and more stability.

Speaking of exposure, although it might not seem like it, television probably has more reach. With movies being passed around the cinemas then waiting a few months before being available online or on DVD, there’s gaps where the film isn’t available and the producers are just hoping enough people still care about it when it hits general availability to give the film a second life. Meanwhile, especially with the rise of streaming and binge culture, television stays relevant longer. People can either binge them and see more content in a short space of time, or space them out, waiting for new episode releases. Either way, the format means that fans can and will watch the actor more, meaning more exposure for them.

The long running format of successful shows allows the actors or actresses to stay in the limelight for a much longer time


Television shows tend to cultivate more dedicated fanbases too, which helps an actors fame maintain itself just by a switch to TV. Especially when going to the cinema can be such an event and staying home to watch a television show on Netflix or Amazon Prime is easy. The rise of streaming has also changed the game a lot, since television and film all coexist on one platform. With all the benefits that come with a longer run, and the fact that most of the content ends up appearing on the same platform anyway, is it any wonder that movies stars are moving to television?

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