With critics and sofa kings churning out their lists for best and worst films of 2007 like Jonah Hill drawing dicks, let’s take a look at the movies that failed to reach general expectations, whether at the box office, creatively, or both. Some of these films carry repercussions for big stars in 2008 (Lions for Lambs), some seem like odd flukes (Walk Hard), and some underperformed with such dreadful flair they helped usher in a new mega franchise from Peter Jackson and New Line (The Golden Compass, natch!). As Bill Murray might put it, “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!” This is what happens when major films drop, flop and roll.
Why: When I walked into the theater with a few friends and a flask in my jacket pocket, two truths hit me: Grindhouse was going to flop super hard, and the Internet had not yet crossed over to being “the new flesh,” to reference Videodrome. There were ten people at a nine o’clock showing, and the audience wasn’t even made up of geeks – replace junkies and sketchy pervs with face-hugging teen couples, old farts and jocks and the turnout was equal to a Shaw Brothers triple-feature in suburbia. Clearly, these people didn’t know what they were about to watch, and I soon realized that, well, neither did I. Shock, horror. Planet Terror didn’t come close to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ 1996 collabo From Dusk Till Dawn in terms of humor, scares, originality or raunch. A scantly clad, one-legged Rose McGowan does not equal Salma Hayek’s fully exposed stripper-vampire fun bags. Before the three trailers started, more than half the crowd had exited with actual boo’s. It says a lot that the directors behind the trailers understood Grindhouse far more than either director. After months and months of QT sweating balls and coke chills over Death Proof and hours spent observing a poster that promised “a white hot juggernaut at 200 mph!” we got teased with a clothed lap dance, a few classy kills, and more vapid chatter from vapid chicks than The Hills. I actually felt sorry for Kurt Russell! You only get one shot with QT, so make sure it’s a biggie (call up and ask Michael Keaton). The entire project was a $70 million cheat, and even worse, the web’s united defenders of Death Proof (U.D.D.P) were informing the majority of bummed QT fans that it was “supposed to be chatty” and “That’s how grindhouse pictures are! It’s genius!” Did they forget all of QT’s “Hard R” and “This film will be what the cool posters promised but never delivered!” rah-rahing beforehand? Even worse was reading Harvey Weinstein’s interview with Nikki Finke (oh, the power of a flop!) where he spouted that his company might separate the two movies and re-release them, which they later did…on DVD. Has the world gone mad?
Why: David Fincher and serial killer movies go together like Woody Harrelson and weed, but even with solid actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Ironman and arguably its most famous, titular star, Zodiac eked by at the box office with $33 million total. The film’s trailers lacked Se7en-ish scares to hook mainstream audiences (as did the actual film), and most critics didn’t push “four star” and “classic” blurbs until, uh, last week (weak dudes!). One of cinema’s definitive police procedurals, even those of us who were stoked on Zodiac couldn’t recommend it to everyone. A dopey friend of mine compared it to reading a newspaper in a theater, pointed to the beloved Fight Club poster on his wall and frowned. You know the type. And the (false) rumors that Fincher’s desired cut would add yet another hour to the lengthy running time made many fans question (and swoon over) the director’s incurable obsession (and sanity).
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