Russell Crowe continues to endure one of the movie business' more notable box-office slumps.
In the 10 years and in 10 wide releases since he starred in Ridley Scott's global hit "Gladiator," the 46-year-old Aussie has been in only one film that's grossed serious first-run profit, Ron Howard's 2001 biopic "A Beautiful Mind," which grossed more than $313 million worldwide on a negative cost of under $60 million.
His most recent flop: Paul Haggis' under-performing family prison-break film "The Next Three Days," opened to just $6.5 million — which was even less than its soft $7-$10 million pre-release projection.
Included in the one-time A-list actor's disappointments:
>> Howard's 2005 box-themed "Cinderella Man" grossed only $108.5 million worldwide — not nearly enough ticket revenue to offset $88 million in negative costs, plus the well over $100 million it costs to print and market a film globally.
>> Scott's 2006 romantic drama "A Good Year" (pictured right), which grossed $42.1 million globally but cost $35 million to make.
>> Scott's 2008 R-rated Warner Bros. thriller "Body of Lies" co-starred Leonardo DiCaprio and grossed only $115.1 million worldwide on a $70 million production spend. Debuting to only $12.9 million, its premiere was beaten at the box office by Disney's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua."
>> "State of Play," a 2009 Tony Gilroy-penned Universal thriller, co-starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, grossed $87.8 million on a $60 million negative cost. Stepping in for Brad Pitt right before production started with little preparation, Crowe received ample praise from critics for his take on a frumpy investigative newspaper reporter (the film scored an 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but the film debuted to only $14.1 million and was beaten soundly out of the gate by Zac Efron's "17 Again."
Some in the business are wondering if Crowe should take a little break from leading-man status.
"I think he needs to go away for a little while and come back as Alec Baldwin," said one studio executive, noting that a self-deprecating comedic role might re-energize Crowe's onscreen brand.
So might a side role as the bad guy, not the hero.
"How great would it be to see Russell Crowe as a 'Bond' villain," the studio official wondered.
The fact that Crowe's leading-man status is only now being challenged is curious, given that even some of his more notable performances have rendered only middling box-office success.
For example, despite commanding ample awards attention back in 2003, Disney's "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," commanded only $212 million worldwide, but ran around $150 million to produce.
In 2007, he co-starred in Scott's "American Gangster," a film that cleared $266 million globally on a $100 negative spend … but it could be argued that the film was carried by its leading man, Denzel Washington, who has as many hits as Crowe has misses over the last decade.
Meanwhile, his most recent epic, Universal's Scott-directed "Robin Hood," pulled in an impressive $311.6 million worldwide earlier this year, but also carried a hefty negative price well north of $150 million.