Originally, the comparison was to be “First Movies,” but that didn’t seem very fair, as Martin’s first film was a 7-minute short, The Absent-Minded Waiter. Murray’s first big screen role came two years later, when he starred as Tripper in a little film called Meatballs. Comparing a big-budget full-length to an independent short seemed a bit uneven. So, I just rounded up to 1979.
So in one corner, we have Bill Murray in Meatballs. That film grossed $43 million and carried a 5.8 user rating on IMDB (71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It was two Genie Awards (the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars).
In the other corner is Steve Martin, who starred in two films in 1979: The Jerk and The Muppet Movie. The Jerk, Martin’s “break-out” film, grossed $73 million and carries a 6.9 user rating on IMDB (83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). The Muppet Movie grossed $76 million and carries a 7.6 user rating on IMDB (89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes). The Muppet Movie was also nominated (but did not win) for two Oscar awards.
In addition, The Absent-Minded Waiter, the 1977 independent short mentioned earlier, was nominated for an Oscar in that year.
Winner: Steve Martin, proving that 3 Oscar nominations is better than two Genies.
Score: Martin 1, Murray 1. (Round 1)