CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—Noting that the 37-year-old does not possess the looks, charisma, talent, or name recognition of a successful leading man, Hollywood insiders agreed Thursday that local account manager Dennis Kerning’s star power is not sufficient to carry a major motion picture.
Studio executives, talent agents, and film critics alike spoke candidly to reporters about the Plano resident and father of one, explaining that Kerning is simply not an A-list celebrity, and in order to make a film bankable and worth a studio’s investment, you need an A-lister with a proven track record of hits, which sources reiterated Kerning does not have.
“Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine Dennis ever being cast in a big-budget film, let alone carrying one on his own,” Paramount Pictures executive Roger Hammond said of Kerning, who has reportedly spent his entire career in pharmaceutical marketing and enjoys his work. “It takes someone with the whole package—the right skills, style, and sex appeal—to connect with a mass audience, and let’s be honest here, Dennis Kerning has none of that.”
“And I’m sorry, I just don’t think there’s enough buzz around this guy to line up tens of millions of dollars in financing,” he added. “From what I can tell, there isn’t any buzz at all.”
Dozens of industry experts echoed Hammond’s assessment, arguing that it would be completely impossible to secure a distribution deal with wide release on the strength of the name Dennis Kerning. They also confirmed they had absolutely no reason to believe Kerning would be capable of generating attention at Sundance, Cannes, or Comic-Con, regardless of the role he played or the genre of movie he appeared in.
While acknowledging that Kerning may be a great dad, a dedicated youth soccer coach, and an active member of his community, New York–based film producer Sarah Wilmington said that doesn’t mean audiences are ready to go on a two-hour action-packed journey with him.
“Movies are competing with a variety of media today, and I honestly don’t see people shelling out 12 bucks just to see the new Dennis Kerning flick, you know?” said Wilmington, predicting that a film with Kerning in the lead role would not perform well domestically and would fare even worse in key foreign markets like China and Japan. “He hasn’t been in a single blockbuster. Even Shia LaBeouf was cast in some supporting roles before he started playing the lead in $200 million installments of valuable franchise properties.”
“Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Dennis Kerning—I’d say it’s pretty obvious who doesn’t belong on that list,” Wilmington continued. “Let’s be realistic.”
Other media experts pointed to Kerning’s negative ratings in focus groups, in which more than 90 percent of participants agreed with the statements “Dennis Kerning doesn’t have what it takes to be a commanding presence on screen,” “I can’t see myself taking my family or friends to a Dennis Kerning movie,” and “I probably wouldn’t even notice Dennis Kerning if he played any role in any movie.”
“If you attach the name Dennis Quaid to a picture, maybe it gets somewhere; if you attach the name Dennis Kerning, it means nothing,” said Variety columnist Walter Rubin, adding that Kerning’s media profile is so low he wonders if the 37-year-old is even trying to court publicity in Hollywood. “When people see Dennis Kerning, they don’t see a movie star. They just don’t.”
“Now, is it possible that Dennis could someday carry a TV show? Yeah, maybe,” Rubin continued. “But even then, I just don’t think he could make the transition from television to film.”
Many high-profile directors expressed their reluctance to cast Kerning in a leading role, saying that while they could perhaps look past his lack of commitment to the film industry, they couldn’t ignore his lack of star power.
“I’m in preproduction on a new movie right now, and I’m not even thinking about casting Dennis Kerning in the lead,” director Tim Burton said. “His name hasn’t once come up. This man is not on my radar. I’ve never had a meeting with him. I don’t even know who represents him.”
“That being said, if Johnny Depp isn’t available, I have no idea what I’m going to do,” Burton added.