From Alison Brie to Zach Randolph, and everything in between.
After her big win at the Oscars in February, Bill Simmons asked Chris Connelly on his podcast (11 minute mark) if Jennifer Lawrence,22, was at the beginning of a career we hoped Scarlett Johansson,28, should have had. On paper, the similarities are clear: both have unimaginative nicknames (ScarJo & JLaw), broke out at a young age with award-nominated roles (Lost in Translation, Winter’s Bone), and look fantastic in red. But do the parallels end there? Here’s a look at the movie careers and trajectory of both of these talented young actresses. These 2 graphs show their movie resumes paired with Rotten Tomatoes scores, from earliest to most recent.
To the surprise of no one, Jennifer Lawrence’s chart affirms she’s had a fantastic start to her career, complete with two Oscar nominations and one win. Both of these young actresses tried to cash in on their breakout roles with big-budget blockbusters. Unfortunately for Johansson, her money grab was The Island by Michael Bay, an infamous bust that grossed only $36M domestically despite a hefty $126M budget. Her resume from age 19-22 below (parallel to Jennifer Lawrence after her breakout role) indicates she went for quantity over quality, averaging only 53% on RT after Translation (11 films) compared to 68% (6 films) for J-Law after Winter’s Bone.
Lawrence, on the other hand, blue herself (sic) into a $146M domestic blockbuster, X-Men: First Class and then Orlando Bloom-ed into a bona fide leading lady with Hunger Games. Scarlett seemed to stray from blockbuster films after the Michael Bay affair, going for smaller dramas like Woody Allen’s Match Point & Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Black Dahlia, The Other Boleyn Girl and even The Prestige (Only a $40M budget, for comparison sake, Little Man somehow had a $54M budget that same year). She then dipped her toe back in the big-budget waters with… The Spirit. Ouch.
Similarly to Scarlett with The Perfect Score, Jennifer Lawrence’s only stinker, House at the End of the Street, was filmed before Hunger Games – classic scenario of a studio buying low on a potential star. The same thing happened when Sony released PREMIUM RUSH two years after it was filmed, cashing in on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Inception/ 50/50 / Dark Knight Rises momentum. That kind of manipulation sounds fishy, but it’s a move Billy Beane would be proud of – snatching up an undervalued player and cashing in at the right time. Maybe if there was some sort of metric to measure an actor’s “Star Power”, a studio could target undervalued actors in order to execute a similar strategy? Nah, that sounds ridiculous.
Here are their movies by adjusted gross domestic box office receipts:
The slope of the 2 predictive trend lines tells an interesting story: Jennifer Lawrence’s experience at the box office, small sample size and all, average nearly 5x as much success as Scarlett’s. So far, as far as their film careers go, Jennifer Lawrence has eclipsed where Scarlett Johansson was at this point in her still-budding career. Let’s not discount Scarlett at all- she started her career at a much earlier age, released an album in 2008, and won a Tony in 2010 for Best Actress in Arthur Miller’s A View From a Bridge. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence did the Bill Engvall Show. Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence has chosen her film projects more shrewdly than Scarlett did in her younger years, but these two American actresses should be vying for similar roles for years to come in an interesting battle for our hearts and wallets.