Friday, February 11, 2011

When Movie Screens Ran Red (With Ink)

And just to bookend Daniel's post about the most profitable films of all time, CNBC posted a slideshow of the 15 biggest box-office bombs of all time. Being CNBC, these are the ones that represented the highest loss per investment, as opposed to artistic failures or low-budget bombs-- which is good, because that would be one long, long slideshow.

Three of these films were so financially disastrous they brought down the studios that made them. Square Pictures, associated with the video game company of the same name, was brought low by Final Fantasy (2001) and a fundamental misunderstanding of the uncanny valley. The venerable Carolco shingle (who brought us the Terminator movies) was undone by Cutthroat Island (1995), Renny Harland's pirate-themed love letter to his then-wife Geena Davis. And United Artists Pictures, which was founded by Charlie Chaplin and co. in the early silent era, was destroyed by the failure of the infamous Heaven's Gate (1980).

For reasons that are either obvious or fortuitous, I've only seen two of these films, Soldier and Speed Racer. I'm quite surprised Soldier cost so much money, as it appeared to have been shot entirely in a junkyard. On the other hand, every single CGI-related penny they spent on Speed Racer us up there on the screen, in eye-smarting color and action sequences so incoherently blurry and fast it overwhelmed my cable connection-- the physics-defying car races fractured on my HD flatscreen into data-failure macroblocks.

Crazy, risky business, movies. Thank god.

1 comment:

  1. Soldier is a kind of hobby horse of mine. Dopey though it may have been in terms of story, Kurt Russel turned in a really savvy performance. Watch it again and notice how he is always on the edge of bursting into tears. And like a good soldier, he never does.

    William Goldman, if he is remembered for anything, can be noted as the author of the quote "nobody knows anything". It refers to to studio executives and the reason why they occaisionally greenlight colossal failures like these.