Blaming Critics and Audiences for Movie Flops

It makes me cringe when I hear Hollywood professionals blame everyone and everything except themselves when their high-profile movies fail. Actors Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer are the latest to point the finger of accusation at someone else for the flop known as The Lone Ranger by arguing that early negative reviews by film critics started a tidal wave of bad buzz that was impossible to overcome.

We've all heard that defensive chant before, "If only audiences had given it a chance!" Apparently, all the critics and moviegoers who also bashed the remake after they saw the final version were tainted as well by those early misguided comments.

It happened with the John Carter bomb too -- the fault lay with everything under the sun except for the most obvious explanation: maybe it just wasn't a very good movie after all.

I was rooting for The Lone Ranger, and the production certainly had an uphill battle on its path to the big screen, but none of the trailers impressed me and much of the criticisms I heard for it had a kernel of truth to them.  There have been examples where the critics were wrong and it hurt the box office performance of a movie, but often positive word of mouth turns it into a cult classic. Often, a good movie that can't attract an audience still manages to garner positive reviews.

When all is said and done, I think history will prove that The Lone Ranger had a multitude of flaws with its writing, directing, acting, and, yes, marketing, and those were the reasons for its failure. Don't blame the public. This isn't an example of the critics not recognizing gold when they see it. Sometimes when an expected blockbuster fizzles, the real reason is that it just wasn't very good.


Debbie Vega said…
The comment that really stood out for me was when Depp said he didn't expect a blockbuster--he never does.

Well, then he should stop making movies with blockbuster budgets. The STUDIOS certainly expect his movies to be blockbusters when they cost over $400 million including marketing costs. In that case a movie has to be a blockbuster or have no good reason to exist.

It's fine to tweak Hollywood execs for being a bunch of bean counters, but expecting them to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to gratify an actor's vanity is a bit much. Depp needs to own his part in the movie's failure.
Nick said…
Totally agree. He's been taking these big splashy roles -- if he doesn't think they'll be hits, he shouldn't do them. He should then still to the low-budget stuff with lesser expectations, such as his earlier work.