Zac Efron is being recognized by movie theater owners as the breakthrough performer of the year. This is a new award from ShoWest which bills itself as "the most prestigious and longest running convention and trade show for the cinema exhibition and distribution community." While Zac Efron first came to fame on TV's "High School Musical," he was featured in the big-screen third installment of this franchise last fall. And now Zac Efron is about to carry his first film with the time-traveling comedy "17 Again."
The trade fair has been handing out various kudos to stars since 1978 when it named Henry Winkler as male star of the year and Mark Hamill as the male star of tomorrow. While Winkler was a hot TV commodity as the Fonz on No. 1-rated "Happy Days," his film career failed to flourish. Neither "Heroes," a 1977 road movie with Sally Field, nor 1978's "The One and Only," a Carl Reiner comedy about wrestling, made much money. And Hamill never escaped the stigma of "Star Wars" much like 2005 honoree Hayden Christensen.
ShoWest has had mixed success at predicting which up-and-comers will have staying power. This year Chris Pine, who plays Captain Kirk in the new "Star Trek" reboot from J.J. Abrams, is being honored. Among the male stars of tomorrow who succeeded were: Johnny Depp (1990); Brad Pitt (1992); Will Smith (1995); and Matt Damon (1998). And those that did not live up to their potential include: David Keith (1983); Stephen Dorff (1992); Giovanni Ribisi (1999), and Brandon Routh (2006).