The world wasn't ready for these pop star movies.

Britney. Mariah. Whitney. Christina

These icons don't need much of an introduction. They're four of the biggest pop stars of the nineties and noughties who dominated the charts and built empires with throngs of adoring fans following their every move. 

At a certain point, Hollywood came knocking on their doors ready to capitalise on their star power in hopes that their fame would parlay into blockbuster big bucks.

The pop star movie phenomenon was an incredibly smart marketing tactic in theory. Take an incredibly famous singer who had a loyal fan base with disposable cash to spend, write them a lead role in a movie (about a singer) and watch the dollars roll in at the box office. 

Watch the trailer for Britney Spears' movie Crossroads. Post continues below.

Video via Paramount Pictures.

In the lead-up to their big Hollywood debuts though, much fanfare surrounded the release of their films only to be widely panned when reviewers and punters alike started to critique the performances. 

Crossroads (Britney Spears), Glitter (Mariah Carey), The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston) and Burlesque (Christina Aguilera), each received their fair share of criticism.


However, as time went on there was a cultural shift and the perception of these pop star movies changed. A new level of appreciation was unlocked and all of a sudden they were a source of comfort for viewers. These movies are now considered seriously ICONIC.

Sure, the acting wasn't suddenly Oscar-worthy, but fans could find nuance and warmth in these 'silly little movies' about road trips, soppy love stories, New York club scenes and a plight for superstardom. And perhaps over time a little grace was given to these pop stars as we began to learn more about what was going on in their lives – from Britney's harassment by the media to Whitney's journey through addiction.

Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, 1992.

Image: Warner Bros.


Of the four pop star movies The Bodyguard is arguably the most acclaimed of the bunch. The central focus of the film was Rachel Marron (played by Whitney), a world-famous singer who is in need of a bodyguard to protect her from a creepy stalker. Enter Frank Farmer (played by Kevin Costner) a straight-talking former Secret Service agent who begrudgingly takes an unlikely job protecting Rachel. 

Very quickly they fall in love and then just as quickly it gets messy.

When it was released in the early '90s, Houston was at the height of her singing career and Costner was one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. With this in mind, it was assumed the movie would knock it out of the park. 

Upon release the cheesy storyline was panned by critics. The reviews were grim. But sure enough, fans flocked to see it and it became an accessible hit to a wider audience.  

"Just about everything that can go wrong with this film does, and yet it's compulsively watchable," wrote Los Angeles Times journalist, Peter Rainer. 

Sure, it wasn't the most highbrow piece of art but seeing Houston sing on screen (cue 'I Will Always Love You') was a sheer delight. And the chemistry between the two actors was pretty good as well. Following Houston's death in 2012, the movie gained an even greater cult status among fans. 


Mariah Carey in Glitter, 2001.

Image: 20th Century Studios.

Throughout the '90s Mariah Carey emerged as one of the biggest pop stars on the scene – especially after the release of her hit studio albums, Emotions and Butterfly

Towards the end of 1997, it was announced that Carey was working on a film and album both titled, All That Glitters. However, due to some reshuffling the project was pushed back a few years to make way for a festive album (hello, 'All I Want For Christmas').


In 2001 the newly named Glitter hit cinemas with Carey as the lead role in a story that is so bonkers it has turned into a pop culture favourite. Carey plays Billie, a nightclub singer with big plans to become a big-time pop star (are we starting to see a trend here?) only to get mixed up with dodgy industry insiders and New York underworld figures.

While the film was positively ripped to shreds by critics (it has a six per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the controversy surrounding the release was the bigger story. Both production and the release of the film were fraught with multiple pushbacks and schedule changes. In the final weeks before it was released, Carey was hospitalised for extreme exhaustion amid a physical and emotional breakdown.

Despite the delayed positive response to the film, Carey looks back on the film with difficult emotions.

"It was a horrible couple of years (after the film's release) and then I had to get my momentum back for people to let it go," she said in an interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.

Britney Spears in Crossroads, 2002.

Image: Paramount Pictures.


By the turn of the century, Britney Spears was one of the biggest celebrities in the world. 

After the release of her debut single 'Baby One More Time' in 1999, she was shot into superstardom and the pop star movie phenomenon came knocking at her door. In 2002 producer Shonda Rhimes (of Grey's Anatomy and Bridgerton fame) penned the film Crossroads with Spears in the lead role.

Playing the role of Lucy – a girl with dreams to become a singer – she embarks on a road trip with her childhood best friends in a coming-of-age romp which was once again laughed off by critics. Spears' performance was ridiculed and it seemed to mark the end of her acting career.


But did we write it off too soon? This week the Internet was abuzz with the release of her memoir The Woman In Me. Amongst the frenzy, old footage came to light showing Spears auditioning for the role of Allie in The Notebook. By all accounts, she was captivating and showing off real acting chops. 

Despite the box office and critical failure of Crossroads, many years later it is still a beloved comfort film for many millennials. 

As The Guardian journalist Pamela Hutchinson so perfectly wrote: "Crossroads was designed to represent what Britney Spears meant to her young fans, a hand to hold through the minefield of growing up. That's why her endearing earnestness shines through every deliberately unironic scene."

Christina Aguleira in Burlesque, 2010.

Image: Sony Pictures Releasing.


The last of the pop star movie phenomenon was Christina Aguilera's Burlesque which was released in 2010. 

Aguilera gave acting a go in the film starring opposite Cher, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci.

The premise of Burlesque tells the story of Ali, a young waitress who dreams of being a dancer. There's sabotage, drama, campness, backstabbing, cheating and dancing – what more could you want? Well, critics wanted a lot more apparently. Despite a positively star-studded supporting cast, it didn't save them from copping a lot of negative reviews.

But like all of these pop star movies the pipeline follows a very similar trajectory – panned upon release and finds a beloved audience many years later. Even though we may never see Aguilera on our movie screens again we'll always have Burlesque to keep us warm at night. 

Plus, she is currently producing a musical based on the movie. So the interest and relevancy remains. 

Feature Image: Sony Pictures Releasing/Paramount Pictures/ 20th Century Studios/Warner Bros/Mamamia.

It can be tricky raising little humans and that’s why we want to hear from all parents in this short survey. Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!