Casting an A-list star is always a smart move when it comes to selling your movie. These are the big names whose face on the poster brings in the punters.
Sometimes, though, in defiance of all redshirt logic, the first name on the call sheet might also be the first of the movie's body count.
Yes, killing off your headline star can have a lot of benefits (provided you avoid enraging everyone who bought a ticket on the basis of a favourite actor whose role turns out to be no more than "Victim Number 1").
It's simultaneously a tension-building rug pull moment that tells the audience that nobody is safe and that any one of the less starry survivors could be the next to die, and a cost effective way to avoid paying your highest salaried cast member for the full length of the shoot.
If done well, the early death of a major star can be a movie's defining iconic twist. Done badly it just seems a waste of talent and leaves the audience feeling cheated.
It's a risky game to play, but here are twelve movies that tried casting a big name star with the sole intention of killing them off.
12. Ben Affleck - Smokin' Aces
This knockabout hitman actioner was always marketed as an ensemble about the array of colourful characters out to kill, catch or protect the titular Vegas magician/gangster. Nevertheless, Affleck (then on the verge of a career renaissance that would lead to a Best Picture Oscar) was the big name amongst an impressive list of up-and-comers.
In a cast involving torture lovers who have chewed off their own fingertips and latex mask wearing masters of disguise, Affleck's world-weary bail bondsman felt like the more grounded character we were supposed to root for.
Sure enough, the early scenes presented Affleck as a sort of viewpoint character to establish the setup. Then he was summarily bumped off by Nazi skinhead Chris Pine and his equally psychotic brothers before the main body of the movie's action really got going.
Instead the movie ultimately fixes on Ryan Reynolds's FBI agent as the de facto hero. These days Reynolds heading up such an ensemble would not be out of the ordinary, but back in 2006 he hadn't yet even played the bad version of Deadpool. His signature role was still frat boy Van Wilder.
Still, getting rid of the movie's biggest name in the first act certainly helped establish Smokin' Aces's chaotic energy.