BoxOffice Insider: And The Winner is…: Pop Stars Dance With Tinseltown

Marc Biggins / Liaison
– Cher
Cher, here with her Oscar in 1988 for her role in the film “Moonstruck,” is one example of artists combining film and touring careers successfully.

All of us invent ourselves. Some of us just have more imagination than others” – a famous quote from award-winning singer/actress Cher, one of the artists for whom “more imagination” meant a career on the big screen as well as in the recording studio and on the concert stage.

The marriage between a musical artist and critically acclaimed film work has worked gloriously at times, as it did for Cher when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1987’s “Moonstruck” – or for Barbra Streisand, Jared Leto, Jennifer Hudson, Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Jones, Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews – Oscar-winning actors who have balanced their film roles with a famed singing career.

Obviously, the journey from popular singer to actor is not always paved with stars. There are probably more instances where the Earth, in fact, did not move. But there are great success stories of when pop stardom brilliantly crossed paths with Hollywood.

For a film producer, it’s a no-brainer to imagine that adding a pop superstar – say, Harry Styles – to the cast of a summer blockbuster – say, 2017’s “Dunkirk” – can potentially add more sold tickets to a film’s overall worldwide box office. A successful turn on the big screen can add an extra layer of prestige, peer respect and legacy to the career of a pop star.

Styles may not have needed a movie role in his back pocket to draw fans to his first solo concert tour that kicked off in September 2017, but critical acclaim for contribution to the film is icing on the cake. Regardless, he brought more than 800,000 fans to concert venues on five continents, grossing $62.5 million at 71 reported performances for his first foray on the road apart from One Direction. 

Among the artists who have spanned both industries, the aforementioned Cher is one who is still a vibrant presence in the world of concert touring. In September, she launched her seventh solo tour, “Here We Go Again,” with shows booked in Oceania and North America through next May. Based on seven shows reported so far from Australia and New Zealand, her tour is averaging $1.4 million per show with an average 12,586 tickets sold.

Although Cher’s long entertainment career launched in the 1960s, she took it to the next level as a concert performer after the 1998 release of “Believe,” the dance-pop recording that expanded her fanbase and reinforced her as a top draw in arena touring. Her historical box office counts since the 1990s show a staggering 730 reported concerts with $457 million in sales and 5.9 million total tickets from her tours and concert residencies.

Streisand has also remained significant as an active concert performer, although her tours are shorter and less frequent. Like Cher, she also saw a resurgence with her participation in live performing in the 1990s after years away from the stage. According to Pollstar’s Boxoffice archives, her overall concert grosses since the 1990s total $356.7 million from more than 1.2 million tickets sold at 91 performances. Her latest touring effort was a 16-show arena trek dubbed “Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic.” Between Aug. 2, 2016, and May 6, 2017, she moved 202,933 tickets at 14 venues, racking up $52.8 million in revenue. 

Among the Oscar winners on the road, Thirty Seconds to Mars lead vocalist Jared Leto, who won Best Supporting Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2013, recently wrapped his band’s Monolith tour that ran from March through October. With concerts staged in Europe and the Americas, the group averaged $416,562 per show in grosses, with an average attendance of 7,602. (Note: 50 shows have been reported from the Monolith tour. Stats from those performances show a gross of $20.8 million and 380,117 sold tickets.)

Greg Allen /
– 30 Seconds To Mars
Another Oscar winner who was big on the road this year is Thirty Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto, seen here playing Madison Square Garden June 20 on the band’s Monolith Tour.

Not all of the musical headliners who have won Oscars arrived there as an actor. Far more have won the award with their songwriting or – for Prince, The Beatles, jazz great Herbie Hancock, or Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails – film scoring.

The most recent popular singer to win the Best Original Song category is Sam Smith, who captured the prize for the 2015 James Bond film “Spectre.” He just completed the 2018 leg of his “The Thrill of It All” tour that covered markets in North America, Oceania and Europe this year. From 66 reported concerts, his tour surpassed $57.4 million at the box office with 802,366 tickets sold. He will hit the road again in March 2019.

Former Best Original Song winner Phil Collins returned to live touring this year following a 2011 retirement from his long career that included an Oscar win for Disney’s 1999 animated film “Tarzan.” The tour grosses for his ongoing “Not Dead Yet” tour, set to run through February, are currently at $101.4 million based on 48 reported performances with 791,009 sold tickets.

Elton John who claimed the songwriting Oscar for 1994’s “The Lion King” recently kicked off his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour that is currently booked through December 2020. Among the highlights of the trk that launched on Sept. 8 is a two-night engagement at New York City’s Madison Square Garden that hit $4.8 million in revenue from 29,435 sold seats on Oct. 18-19. 

Overall sales from the tour already total $24.7 million from the 12 shows that have been reported. The number of sold tickets is currently at 175,627.