Right now Hollywood has been kicked in the head by the audience. The last two weeks of October have contained more bombs than Curtis LeMay's Christmas wish list. Even fairly reliable box-office stalwarts like Sandra Bullock have seen their pictures crash and burn.
Now all of these films have flopped for different reasons, and I will lay out some of those reasons for some of those failed films in a wonderful little listicle!
Let's get started:
OUR BRAND IS CRISIS: The main thing this film had going for it was the star power of Sandra Bullock. Sounds like it should have worked, so why did it fail?
Not any specific politics, just the simple fact that the audience has about as much trust in Hollywood handling political subjects as they would trust a hungry dog with a t-bone. Tell the audience that Hollywood is going to tell them a political story and they're going to assume that it will be a joyless lecture about how wrong they are in all facets of life by people who think they are right about everything because they're rich, famous, and read the Huffington Post when one of their friends is in it, and will finally finish that Howard Zinn book someday.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER: Here's what people saw from the trailers and advertisements for this movie: Lots of weightless CGI and lots of Vin Diesel telling every other character how he's better at everything than they are.
What did they NOT see in the trailers and advertisements for this movie?
The campy, goofy, sense of fun, and quirky family values of the Fast & Furious movies. Which is the chief reason of seeing a Vin Diesel movie.
STEVE JOBS: The first thing is that everyone had already heard so damn much about Steve Jobs in the months leading up to, and after his death. The second thing is that it lacked the sort of star power that can sell tickets to anything, which is rare. And the third thing is that the ad campaign seemed to strive to make Jobs look not only unlikable, but uninteresting as well. Audiences will pay to see an unlikable person, but that person has to be way more interesting than a guy who occasionally drinks Dos Equis.
BURNT: The whole of a guy trying to overcome his own stupidity and arrogance to sell overpriced food to rich snobs just doesn't really appeal to audiences no matter how popular celebrity chefs are on television.
SCOUT'S GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: The whole thing looked like it had been written for and by thirteen year old boys. Folks like zombie stories, but they appear to want QUALITY zombie stories. If it doesn't look like you've got more than gross out and genital jokes, they'll just stay home and probably catch it on Netflix, if they're high enough.
PAN: This movie reeked of desperation from the first frame of the first trailer. It looked like it had been composed by marketing gurus for maximum pandering. Audiences saw the ads, and thought: "Hmmm... the original animated Peter Pan still looks better."
CRIMSON PEAK: The buzz over this film among critics and those who actually took the effort to see it, tell me that this film could have a long life on video and television. I don't think the general movie going audience could get past the Victorian frippery and emphasis on boo-scares and special effects in the ad campaign.
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS: This project could only be a flop. It's a franchise based on a property that's barely remembered by Gen-Xers, and only for being really cheesy, sold to tweens who don't remember it at all, and using music and dialogue that makes Hannah Montana look like a collaboration between Kurt Cobain and David Mamet. There's no way it could succeed outside of some marketing gurus nonsensical imagination.
TRUTH: It was sold as the untold story of a story that was actually told very loudly and in great detail.
In case you can't remember recent history, Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes ran a story that they hoped would cost George W. Bush the 2004 election. In it they claimed to have letters from Bush's time in the National Guard that they claimed proved all sorts of derelictions and near-desertions.
However, there was a problem.
The letters weren't written on an early 70s military issue typewriter, they were written much more recently on a computer using Microsoft Word. Also, deeper investigations into the documents by bloggers found more and more evidence of fakery, and no evidence to back up the documents or what they claimed to prove.
As the "facts" of the story fell apart, Rather and Mapes defended it by saying the documents were "fake, but accurate."
Naturally, Rather and Mapes were eased out of their jobs, shockingly gently for how badly they embarrassed the once August CBS News organization, and they stand by their story to this day, no matter what evidence is given to them.
The movie Truth, failed because it was political, and as I said before, the audience doesn't trust Hollywood with political topics anymore, but that wasn't the only reason. The main reason was that the film, starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, was sold on the premise that the fake documents were somehow real, and that Rather and Mapes weren't raging egoists who were so eager to take down a Republican president they deliberately refused to do the proper due diligence on their so-called "evidence."
It came across as vain, self-serving, tripe with the insulting audacity to call itself Truth. That's the marketing equivalent as pissing in the audience's ear, and telling them it's raining.
Audiences don't mind dumb movies as long as their entertaining, but they won't go see a movie that acts like they're the dumb ones.