Blockbusters have been sweeping the nation since the silent film era, causing a stir every time they hit the theaters. However, these crowd pleasers aren’t always a straightforward hit out of the park for the film studio. Some movies rake in ticket dollars even as critics turn their noses up. Others had controversial themes or casting choices, sparking arguments among the viewing public. Finally, there are the movies groomed for blockbuster status, but it turns out a huge budget doesn’t always guarantee success.
Movie critics like to ‘speak for the people’ when they post their film reviews, but they don’t always understand what movie-lovers want. Look at films like ‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Transformers,’ and the Twilight Series. These were pretty universally panned … by everyone who didn’t count. Critics looked on in horror as these CG-heavy, plot-lite summer flicks dominated the charts worldwide.
For instance, ‘Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1’ received a brutal 25% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This didn’t stop the film from grossing over 700 billion worldwide. That’s about the GDP of the Netherlands, making this one film the critics loved to hate but had to respect anyway.
Next up, we have blockbusters that led to clutched pearls, heated arguments around the Thanksgiving table, and even angry demonstrations. One prime example is the movie versions of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy. Some portions of the audience denounced the racy themes. Others attacked the quality (or lack of quality) of the plot. However, despite all the haters, these films have been studio rainmakers.
Rolling back in time, we have studios who took a risk by taking a beloved franchise in a new direction. Does anyone here remember the uproar that accompanied 1989’s ‘Batman?’ The previously light-hearted and adorably campy series got a new, much darker twist. Critics also wondered if Michael Keaton, previously known for comedic roles, could pull off this grimdark movie. However, it turns out that films which dare to be dangerous are often the most interesting. Now, many fans believe ‘Batman’ is the best installment in the long-running series.
Finally, it makes sense for studios to back movies that they think have great earning potential. Audiences are treated (or suffer through) months of ad campaigns, shameless product placement, and huge theater roll-outs. But it turns out money can’t always turn a stinker into a blockbuster gem. Some films just flop.
One recent film disaster is 2015s ‘Fantastic Four,’ which crashed and burned so hard that even non superhero fans have probably heard about this. Everything about the movie, from an incoherent plot to poor acting to ridiculous special effects infuriated audiences. Superhero nerds were incensed, regular audiences just looking for lighthearted summer entertainment were bored, and the film crashed and burned. Badly.
For an older flop, look no further than 1995’s ‘Waterworld’. Kevin Costner’s film, starred in and directed by himself, seemed cursed from the start. It was plagued by major budget problems, conflicts between Costner and the former director, and its meandering plotline just didn’t hit the spot for audiences. Kevin Costner’s losing streak continued a few years later with ‘The Postman,’ proving that blockbuster flops harm both careers and the audience’s eyes.
So how well do you know your blockbuster films? Grab a cup of coffee and see how you rank against this challenge!