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Americans Evaluate Movie Stars

Four in 10 say they make effort to see Tom Hanks' movies

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Along with gift giving and family get-togethers, major movie releases are becoming a growing holiday tradition. This year is no exception, as several movies involving some of the biggest names in Hollywood are set to hit theaters during this holiday season. Gallup recently asked the public for its views about several of the stars appearing in upcoming films, as well as a number of other prominent actors. The results show that Tom Hanks receives a strongly positive reaction from the public, while Tom Cruise receives the most negative response. There is a more positive than negative response to Mel Gibson, despite his recent controversies.

The Nov. 27-29, 2006, Gallup Panel poll asked Americans how they approach movies starring each of 13 different actors with the following question:

Next, for each of the following movie actors, please say whether you make a special effort to see movies they appear in, if you would consider seeing a movie they appeared in, or if you would try to avoid seeing a movie they appeared in.

Though it is not a comprehensive list, Tom Hanks is the favored actor among the 13 tested, with more than 4 in 10 Americans saying they make a special effort to see his movies. One in three Americans make an effort to see Robert DeNiro films. DeNiro directs and co-stars with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie in a film about the CIA entitled The Good Shepherd, which is scheduled for release Dec. 22. At least one in four Americans say they make a special effort to see movies featuring Julia Roberts (29%, featured in Charlotte's Web), Will Smith (27%, The Pursuit of Happyness), Sandra Bullock (27%), and Mel Gibson (26%, director of Apocalypto).

Make
special
effort

Would
consider
seeing

Would
avoid
seeing

NOT
FAMILIAR
(vol.)


No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

Tom Hanks

44

48

5

2

1

Robert DeNiro

33

56

6

3

1

Julia Roberts

29

58

10

1

1

Will Smith

27

57

9

6

1

Sandra Bullock

27

58

8

6

1

Mel Gibson

26

57

15

1

1

Reese Witherspoon

20

57

10

11

2

Matthew McConaughey

19

57

9

13

1

Matt Damon

17

63

10

9

1

Leonardo DiCaprio

13

67

14

4

2

Tom Cruise

12

51

34

1

1

Angelina Jolie

11

63

18

7

1

Cameron Diaz

9

65

15

10

1

(vol.) = Volunteered response

Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey (We Are Marshall), and Matt Damon (The Good Shepherd) form a middle tier, with between 17% and 20% of Americans saying they make a special effort to see their movies.

Of the actors tested in the poll, Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond), Cruise, Jolie (The Good Shepherd), and Cameron Diaz (Holiday) have the least appeal to this broad sample of American adults, with between 9% and 13% of Americans making it a priority to see these actors' films. In fact, in all four cases, the same or greater percentage of Americans say they avoid seeing these actors' movies as say they make a special effort to see them, though a majority of Americans say they would consider seeing each of these actors' films.

The reaction to Cruise is the most negative: While 12% say they make an effort to see his movies, nearly three times that many (34%) say they avoid seeing his films. No other star tested in the poll came close to the negative reaction to Cruise -- Jolie had the next highest "avoid seeing" score, at 18%. Cruise has become a controversial figure in recent years with his Scientology-based statements and personal behavior on national talk shows and in the media.

Only 15% say they avoid movies featuring Gibson, even though he has been the subject of controversy following his anti-Semitic remarks during a traffic stop -- remarks he attributed to a battle with alcoholism. The percentage who say they avoid seeing Gibson films is similar to that for less controversial actors such as DiCaprio and Diaz. 

Demographic Differences

Some of the actors tested in the poll have more appeal to men than to women, including DeNiro (39% of men make an effort to see his films, compared with 28% of women), Damon (22% compared with 12%), and Diaz (12% versus 6%). Roberts and McConaughey appeal more to women than to men -- 35% of women and 23% of men make an effort to see Roberts' movies, while 23% of women and 14% of men do the same for McConaughey's films.

The top three actors according to men are Hanks (44%), DeNiro (39%), and Smith (29%), while the top three according to women are Hanks (44%), Roberts (35%), and Bullock (30%).

Make Effort to See Actors' Movies
by Gender

Men

Women

Tom Hanks

44%

Tom Hanks

44%

Robert DeNiro

39%

Julia Roberts

35%

Will Smith

29%

Sandra Bullock

30%

Mel Gibson

26%

Robert DeNiro

28%

Sandra Bullock

24%

Mel Gibson

26%

Julia Roberts

23%

Will Smith

26%

Matt Damon

22%

Matthew McConaughey

23%

Reese Witherspoon

17%

Reese Witherspoon

23%

Tom Cruise

15%

Leonardo DiCaprio

14%

Matthew McConaughey

14%

Matt Damon

12%

Leonardo DiCaprio

13%

Angelina Jolie

10%

Angelina Jolie

12%

Tom Cruise

10%

Cameron Diaz

12%

Cameron Diaz

6%

Aside from gender, there are relatively few differences in actor appeal by subgroup. However, Gibson, who produced the controversial film The Passion of the Christ, appeals much more to self-identified conservatives than to liberals. Thirty percent of conservatives (as well as 29% of moderates) make an effort to see his films, compared with just 16% of liberals. Thirty-three percent of liberals say they avoid seeing Gibson's films.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,003 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 27-29, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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