While Angelina Jolie was busy promoting her new action film “Salt” amid the craze of Comic-Con in San Diego last week, her longtime partner Brad Pitt was nowhere to be found. Even though press lines were happening just a few doors down for his upcoming animation film “Megamind,” co-stars Will Ferrell and Tina Fey were the only ones available for fans and media.
“Where is Brad? He’s supposed to be here! He couldn’t get through security at the airport is what I heard,” Ferrell joked to Pop Tarts.
A source told us that Pitt initially intended to attend the “Megamind” press panel (which is why it was scheduled so close to Jolie’s press duties), but his “Moneyball” shooting agenda prohibited him from making an appearance in San Diego.
But this isn't the first time Pitt has bagged on promoting a film alongside his co-stars.
Pitt appeared in a large portion of the marketing materials for last year’s Quentin Tarantino hit “Inglourious Basterds,” yet he didn’t participate in the press weekend. However, Pop Tarts spies spotted the A-list actor chatting with Tarantino and the distributor Harvey Weinstein while they were on their breaks, so it wasn’t as if he wasn’t available.
“Inglourious Basterds” also had a prominent presence during this year’s awards season and even snagged an Academy Award nomination for “Best Motion Picture,” yet Pitt didn’t step out in support the movie at any award shows.
“He (Pitt) is probably running the 18 kids he has or whatever he’s up to right now,” Eli Roth said with a smile at the Critics Choice Awards this year, when we questioned the whereabouts of his high-profile co-star.
The 46-year-old also did very little “awards season campaigning” for his own personal “Best Actor” nomination for the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008. In fact, most entertainment journalists and critics concur that the last time Pitt really devoted himself to hardcore film promotion was probably back in 2005 ahead of the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” release – and that experience may have been the final straw.
“It's possible that the glaring spotlight that was focused on Brad and Angelina during ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ – having covered it I can say it was an absolute frenzy like I've never seen before or since - may have either scared him away from interviews or just generally made them more distasteful,” entertainment journalist Scott Huver told Pop Tarts. “Brad may also not want the intense media interest in his personal life to overshadow his films themselves, with outlets being more interested in getting personal tidbits over talking about the film itself. I think this is a growing concern for many actors and their handlers in the age of the 24/7 online news cycle and the rush to break any personal news on a select group of celebrities.”
Matt Atchity, Editor-in-Chief of film review site Rotten Tomatoes, agreed that "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" spawned such an onslaught of public engrossment (the tabloid covers still havent' stopped fiveyears later!) that Pitt most likely felt compelled to step away at that point, and pretty much stay away.
“There was just so much attention on his relationship with Angelina, and the film did so well that he probably figured he was at a point where he didn’t have to do all that much press anymore,” Atchity said. “After all, you can’t interview Brad Pitt and not ask about his personal life. I’m sure he’s well aware of that, giving him even more ammunition to avoid promotion when possible.”
According to several experts, in recent years Pitt has joined the ranks of a very select group of AAA-list males in Hollywood, which includes Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn and Robert Redford, who no longer have to talk to media or really go out of their way to plug a film in order for it to blitz the box office.
“Brad has reached a level of superstardom that very few Hollywood actors can ever attain, and at this point his movies do somewhat sell themselves without him really needing to make the media rounds in a traditional way,” Huver explained. “Brad’s one of a handful of stars at the moment who could get away with bypassing traditional promotion for his movies.”
Pitt did do interviews at the Los Angeles premiere of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and seemed very open and relaxed. Nonetheless he didn’t participate in the pre-release media schedule, and the film still managed to gross an impressive $127,509,326 domestically, according to Box Office Mojo. He also made himself available at the “Inglorious Basterds” premiere for a few brief words, but even without Pitt’s participation in a the long-haul press circuit, the film earned $120,540,719 while in the theaters.
On the flip side, even Hollywood’s crème of the crop actresses such as Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren don’t have the star power that their male cohorts have in being able to omit themselves from promotional tours.
In contrast to Pitt, Jolie not only hit up Comic-Con to talk up her role as a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy in “Salt,” but she also spent a weekend doing back-to-back interviews for the film in Washington D.C a few weeks ago, and is now jetting across the world to attend a string of premieres. In doing so, the savvy starlet knows precisely what reporters and fans yearn to hear, and thus she hasn't shielded away from answering questions about her personal life.
“Despite the level of stardom Angelina shares with Brad, her films haven’t achieved quite the same commercial success as his over the past few years, and may currently be in her best interest to add her superstar luster to the promotional efforts,” Huver said. “The box office for A-list ladies is traditionally less than what the guys seem to generate, and they probably feel compelled to beat the drum a little louder. Even Meryl Streep, who most people say they would pay to watch recite the phone book, has to face the press to get audiences into her films.”
It looks like Pitt's next project may not get any pre-release love from its stars at all!
“Brad’s next film due for release is ‘Tree of Life,’ which also stars Sean Penn, who doesn’t really do press these days either. This could be interesting – they may not have anybody promoting the film at all,” Atchity said. “But when Brad attaches himself to a film that has a very deep and personal connection to him, something he’s really behind, I’d suspect he’ll be back pushing it the best he can.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay