Five directorial apologies for previous flops
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Sometimes flowers and chocolates just won't do the trick...
Have you ever seen a director so completely abandon his trademarks as M. Knight Shyamalan has for The Last Airbender? Gone the eerie settings and inevitable twist (unless the entire film should prove the hallucination of a comatose patient) for the saleable stylings of Eastern mysticism, very young heroes and Harry Potter-style wizardry.
And all this to redeem himself from the global drubbing that 2008's The Happening brought upon his head. He's not the first to make a celluloid apology either...
John Carpenter apologised for the commercial failure of The Thing (1982), arguably his best movie, both with the guaranteed box-office Stephen King adaptation Christine (1983), but most especially with the following year's Starman, a gentle romance and Christ-parable that presents aliens as loving and morally superior, E.T.-style. Little did Carpenter know that AIDS was around the corner to make The Thing a prescient fable of the 1980s, or that James Cameron would shortly return extra-terrestrials to their proper character - vicious enemies - in his sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien (1979).
Anything Francis Ford Coppola made after One From The Heart (1982)
...especially Peggy Sue Got Married, Godfather Part III and Dracula. It took the Godfather director over fifteen years to pay off the debts from the collapse of Zoetrope studios and the utter box-office failiure of his whimsical poem to Las Vegas and neon (which you can read more about here). Coppola himself admits as much in his numerous commentaries for the various re-editions of his movies (that in themselves have helped to get him back on his financial feet). In his commentary for Youth Without Youth, the director vows to never return to 'big movies', preferring smaller films, crews and budgets, and the financial cushion of his winery business, a visit to which will let see a few examples of memorabilia from his movies.
Grossing $2 million less than its $34 million budget, Scorsese's radical departure into period drama The Age of Innocence (1993) was a nasty dip in a pretty successful career-graph. The director returned immediately to the more lucrative field of mobsters, and most of his old favourite themes and actors from the smash-hit mobster-flick Goodfellas (1990), including screenwriter and novelist Nicolas Pileggi. The violence was harder, the editing even more rapid-fire, and Casino proved a spiritual sequel to Goodfellas, most distinct from that film in the acclaimed performance of Sharon Stone.
Clint was getting to be shit out of luck in the late 1980s - with Arnie and Bruce dominating the action genres, efforts like the Dirty Harry sequel The Dead Pool, Pink Cadillac and the strange obscurity of White Hunter, Black Heart, were slowly edging a Hollywood great out of the 'A'-list. But like his most famous character in the Sergio Leone movies, Eastwood had been holding a secret weapon in hand for some time. About twelve years. When David Peoples' Unforgiven was making the rounds in the late 1970s, Eastwood knew that this was material for him. He also knew that he would not only need to age into the part a little, but should not pull it out of the hat until a desperate moment might come. With the critical and box-office failure of The Rookie (1990), it came - and it was time to reveal the Oscar-winning hand that he had held in secret for over a decade.
Terminator II: Judgement Day (1991)
Hollywood had sloooowly been letting the reins out on James Cameron ever since Piranha 2 - a foot here, a yard there...his directorship of Aliens was ultimately dependent on how The Terminator did at the box office, and Fox actually took the unprecedented step of putting the Alien sequel on hold until Terminator proved itself (or didn't) in theatres. It did. Let loose with a so-so budget and huge visual ambition, Cameron proved that he could carve convincing sci-fi worlds out on the cheap (after all, he had learnt the hardest way there was, under the iron wallet of Roger Corman). Aliens was a smash. What, then, could this man come up with if you really just cut the reins? He came up with the continually underrated The Abyss, the waterlogged sci-fi film whose cold-war theme was unfortunately timed. Not only had the movie made back only two-thirds of its budget after seven weeks at the box-office, but it had arrived to very mixed critical reviews. Result? Arnie was back, pronto.
So don't worry, Mr. Shyamalan - it worked for these guys, and they all slowly crept back to what they really loved doing too...
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