One Spielberg Film is So Boring, Even His Kids Can't Sit Through It (Hint: It's Not E.T.)
The highest-grossing director of all time by about $2 billion, Steven Spielberg is truly a jack-of-all-trades filmmaker.
Whether it's adventure films (Indiana Jones ), sci-fi epics (War of the Worlds), war movies (Saving Private Ryan), or thrillers (Jaws), Spielberg has a movie for any type of audience.
Maybe his most renowned genre is that of historical drama – all three of his Academy Awards came from historical pieces. Though one particular entry from 1997 was so boring, his own children can't stand to watch it.
Released in the midst of Spielberg's apex – a decade that included Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan – he directed a film called Amistad, based on true events.
It was set in 1839, depicting the revolt aboard the slave ship La Amistad. Producer Debbie Allen had read a book on the subject years earlier and immediately thought of Spielberg when she decided to turn it into a movie.
Despite the master cast of Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and a young Matthew McConaughey, Amistad struggled to find a proper audience. It only earned $44 million on a $36 million budget. Spielberg said in Ian Freer's book, The Complete Spielberg, that the movie "became too much of a history lesson."
While history buffs and cinephiles appreciated Amistad, apparently his kids weren't in the target audience. Speaking with legendary film critic Roger Ebert after the release of 2002's Catch Me if You Can, Spielberg was asked which of his films his children didn't like. "They walked out of Amistad," he replied. "I lost my whole family."
He pointed out that his kids were younger at the time, so he censored parts of the movie from them. The film features incredibly graphic violence toward slaves, and he didn't let the kids see those scenes. What they were stuck with was strictly dialogue-heavy scenes, and Spielberg said that "they were bored by the legal stuff."
Spielberg was originally hesitant to work on Amistad, given that he'd just done another historical drama in 1993 – the black-and-white epic Schindler's List. Schindler's List won seven Oscars, including Spielberg's first for directing. He feared that any other historical drama would face negative comparisons to arguably his most critically acclaimed movie.
Ultimately, he took on the project, which eventually earned four Oscar nominations. But that doesn't change the fact that his most important critics – his own family – couldn't even sit through it.