An ensemble cast is made up of cast members in which the principal actors and performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. This contrasts with productions which develop and focus on certain main characters more than others.
This kind of casting became more popular in television series because it allows flexibility for writers to focus on different characters in different episodes. In addition, the departure of players is less disruptive to the premise than it would be if the star of a production with a regularly structured cast were to leave the series. Ensemble casts of 20 or more actors are common in soap operas.
In Hollywood, the term has recently begun to be misused as a replacement for the old term "all-star cast"; just meaning a film with many well-known actors, even if most of them only have minor roles, sometimes just cameo appearances.
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