The Weekend Warrior

The Career Analyst: Channing Tatum

Source: Edward Douglas
November 1, 2011

Here's one of the more experimental aspects of the new direction we're taking with the Weekend Warrior Blog, which as promised, will still involve some of the things we did in the column, only a little more focused and diverse and spread out over the week.

The idea of "The Career Analyst" is the same concept as the analysis we used to do on a weekly basis in the column where we'd look at the career of an actor or actress and how their decisions shape whether people may want to go see their latest movie. The idea now is to do something strictly focused on one actor and looking not only at whether they should be considered a bankable star but also whether they're career decisions are pointing to further success or impending career doom.

Normally, we would pick someone from one of the major releases this week, but we're going to try to change it up from time to time and this week we're going to analyze the career of 31-year-old Channing Tatum, an actor who has risen through the ranks fairly quickly, scoring a leading role in a major hit fairly early in his career and building upon that with a number of subsequent hits. This week, Tatum stars in the police drama The Son of No One his third go-round with New Yorker Dito Montiel, and though it's only getting a limited release, it's showing the actor to be one who stands by his long-time collaborators.

If you look at Channing Tatum By The-Numbers, you'll see that his movies have grossed nearly $1.8 billion worldwide in the six years since he came onto the scene, which isn't bad at all. Looking at Rotten Tomatoes, Tatum only has starred in four movies that critics have liked, and one of them (Michael Mann's Public Enemies) was only a tiny role.

The first time we saw Tatum on screen was playing a high school student being trained by Samuel L. Jackson in 2005's sports drama Coach Carter, followed by roles in Supercross and playing the hunky heartthrob in Amanda Bynes' She's the Man, essentially paying his dues.

The real turning point for Tatum was when he was cast in Disney's dance movie Step Up, which gave him similar exposure as Julia Styles in Save the Last Dance, but it also is where he met his beautiful wife Jenna Dewan. Channing Tatum took on a key role in Dito Montiel's debut, the semi-autobiographical indie A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, which starred both Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey Jr. before they blew up with Transformers and Iron Man, respectively. The critical acclaim the film received led to Montiel doing his first studio movie, the Mixed Martial Arts drama Fighting, again starring Tatum, who now had enough leverage and starpower to get the movie a wide release.

Tatum scored a plum role in Kimberly Peirce's wartime drama Stop-Loss, which received a fair amount of critical raves and also was his first teaming with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Their second movie together was Stephen Sommers' G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which is currently Tatum's highest-grossing movie with nearly $150 million, and it moved Tatum firmly into the role of action star, something that he could pull off with his build.

In 2010, Tatum was cast opposite Amanda Seyfried, hot off her starring role in Mama Mia!, in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation Dear John, and that also exploded with a $30 million opening and $80 million total box office.

This year has been fairly quiet for Tatum, as he had a small role in the comedy The Dilemma, an uncharacteristic bomb for Kevin James and Vince Vaughn, and starring in Kevin Macdonald's period war epic The Eagle.

2012 is going to a very busy year with Tatum appearing in two movies directed by Steven Soderbergh - a small role in Haywire (Jan. 20) and a bigger role in Magic Mike (June 29), a movie that originated from his own bio similar to Eminem's 8 Mile. In between, he stars opposite The Notebook star Rachel McAdams in another romantic drama called The Vow (Feb. 10), which should keep Tatum in favor with the ladies, and then he appears in his second franchise sequel, G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation (out the same day as Magic Mike!), which should keep the guys happy. That's partially what's so interesting about Tatum is that he's going back and forth between movies for guys and movies for ladies, similar to the likes of Matthew McConaughey. He's also giving his try at doing another comedy, appearing opposite Jonah Hill in his reworking of 21 Jump Street (March 16), which means Tatum will be appearing in three movies in the first three months of the year.

The question will be whether the fans of Tatum's major studio releases will even take notice of a movie like The Son of No One or even be aware of it. It's certainly a movie with similar elements as other major studio police dramas, which means that in theory, it could have gotten a wider release if not made independently and then released by Anchor Bay. Chances are more people will see the movie on Netflix or DVD than in theaters, and it will end Tatum's year on a low note before things

However it does, we think Tatum is on a good steady climb in his career, and as long as he maintains his visibility but not overextending himself and being selective of project, we see no reason why Tatum couldn't be a less nutty version of Tom Cruise by the time he's in his 40s. He still needs to find his Magnolia and Jerry Maguire, a movie that proves he's more than just a good-looking dude. Tatum's definitely moved beyond the point where he has to keep returning to the "Step Up" movies to keep his presence

The quality of the movies may be questioned, depending on whether or not you like the work of Dito Montiel, but working with Soderbergh is a good way to improve his status among critics and fans of quality films, and Tatum just needs a few more movies to gross over $100 million for him to be considered bankable. With that in mind, we think Tatum should continue his upwards trajectory, combining romantic leads and action roles to great success, but also showing that he can branch out a bit by working with directors like Soderbergh who can hopefully push him to improve his acting and be more of a force on a dramatic level as he goes into his 30s and starts playing more serious roles.

The Career Analyst's Rating for Channing Tatum:

B+

You can read more stuff like this and regular box office, awards and festival coverage in the new Weekend Warrior Blog.

(Photo Credit: Dominic Chan/ WENN.com)




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