Originally Posted by vaticanplum
Are we talking about quality movies or movies that do well at the box office? "Flopping" implies to me that the movies didn't perform well. Will Ferrell's movies, by and large, make a flip ton of money. I can think of two offhand that really underperformed (Bewitched and Stranger Than Fiction), but that's it. Clooney's movies tend to perform well relative to what they cost to make, as chili points out, and most of Jim Carrey's movies have made a lot of money, as Mr Cinatit points out.
Yes, we see the same actors over and over again, but that's either because a) they're good (Clooney, Blanchett), or b) they're a good bet at the box office (Ferrell, Will Smith) and studios want something of a good bet when they're forking over billions of dollars to make a movie. Because we see the same actors a lot, odds are that there's bound to be a flop once in a while, but it doesn't really hurt an actor of that magnitude and draw unless s/he makes a ton in a row (I don't think any actor mentioned in this thread qualifies).
There are lots of independent films out there that showcase lesser known actors and at least these have a chance to be made. Things were far worse under the studio actor-contract system of decades ago.
Stranger Than Fiction still follows the trend, too, as it was a huge critic's darling and got an Oscar buzz last year (FYI, I liked that movie...as well as Talladega Nights).
Smith follows the trend, as well - while he was doing fluff like Independence Day, Bad Boys and Men In Black (all hot sellers), he was sprinkling those with respectable films such as Ali and The Pursuit of Happiness, though Pursuit surprised many at the box office.
Some opt for the Cameron Diaz career path. She used The Mask to break in - then for four years, worked in the Indy film arena to hone her acting skills (no, she did not turn herself in the a Streep, but at least somewhat improved), along with making a name for herself as an actress instead of a face.
And with that, not only was she able to do smashes like There's Something About Mary and the Shrek franchise, but chose rolls she wanted in In Her Shoes and The Holiday.
Unassisted has a very good point, too - sometimes an actor will slow down after earning enough money to spend time with their families, occasionally peaking from retirement a la Gwenyth Paltrow.