5 Times Directors Blamed Fans for Their Movies' Flops
“Denial is the river in Egypt!”
Filmmakers and audiences often have a complicated relationship, with the latter in fact being the major players in determining the destiny of the film. And when a movie fails to live up to fans' expectations, tensions can run high.
Sometimes directors will point the finger at the audience, which can be confusing, especially when the fans had no role in the production of the movie. Here are 5 times directors have laid the blame at the feet of fans for their films' lackluster box office performance.
1. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, Jennifer's Body boasted a strong cast with Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in the lead roles, but despite its potential, it failed to resonate with audiences in 2009, opening to just $7 million domestically.
Diablo Cody then blamed the film's marketing strategy and audience expectations, arguing that the film's initial promotion may have attracted the wrong audience, with a marketing campaign primarily targeting a male demographic instead of teenage girls.
Nearly 15 years later, however, Jennifer's Body has achieved the cult classic status it deserved from the very beginning.
2. The Last Duel (2021)
Ridley Scott's historical drama The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon and Adam Driver, may have been critically acclaimed, but it stumbled at the box office, earning just $27 million against a $100 million budget. But it's Scott's controversial comments about the film's performance that have raised eyebrows, with the director suggesting that younger audiences are to blame.
By blaming millennials and their "f**king cell phones," Scott overlooked other critical factors such as the pandemic's impact on theaters and the film's rapid transition to streaming. While there was some truth to his comment, such a narrow attribution feels oversimplified and bitter compared to the real situation (via Independent).
3. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Numerous production problems, including the replacement of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller with Ron Howard midway through filming, resulted in the Star Wars prequel being a box office disappointment. Earning less than $400 million, Solo: A Star Wars Story became the worst flop of the entire franchise, making $100 million less than the next lowest grossing film in the series, Return of the Jedi.
Ron Howard attributed Solo's lukewarm reception to audience backlash from The Last Jedi, released just six months earlier, as well as possible Star Wars fatigue and online trolling. However, blaming these factors alone for the film's flop seems overly simplistic, considering that the director's chair was not the only thing undergoing massive changes.
4. Charlie's Angels (2019)
Elizabeth Banks directed and starred in the 2019 reboot of Charlie's Angels, a movie that aimed to put a modern spin on the classic TV series and 2000 action comedy film of the same name. However, while Banks intended to make an action-packed film, the marketing campaign portrayed the film as a feminist statement, leading to mixed reviews and poor box office performance.
While Banks acknowledges the marketing missteps, she suggests that the film's feminist message may have alienated male audiences, partially blaming them for the film's underwhelming performance.
However, this perspective overlooks the success of other films with female protagonists, such as Wonder Woman or the hugely popular The Hunger Games franchise.
While issues like sexism and toxic masculinity do affect the industry, reducing a movie's failure to these factors alone seems too convenient.
5. Brothers (2009)
Jim Sheridan's drama Brothers, starring Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, tackled heavy themes of war and PTSD, but despite a modest $26 million budget, the movie only grossed $43 million worldwide, which was disappointing but not entirely unexpected. However, even before the film's release, Sheridan was critical of the film's lack of exposure to potential audiences.
A month before the film's debut, the director chastised the American public for being oblivious to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which he said was affecting the film's performance. Sheridan voiced his frustration with the audience, stating that viewers may not have been ready for a war drama that deviated from typical Hollywood tropes (via SFGate).