What’s it like to have your film flop at the box office?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

When you work “above the line” on a movie (writer, director, actor, producer, etc.), Sean Hood says, watching it flop at the box office is devastating:

I had such an experience during the opening weekend of Conan the Barbarian 3D.

It’s hard to feel bad for someone who co-wrote the new Conan flick:

You make light of it, of course. You joke and shrug. But the blow to your ego and reputation can’t be brushed off. Reviewers, even when they were positive, mocked Conan The Barbarian for its lack of story, lack of characterization, and lack of wit. This doesn’t speak well of the screenwriting — and any filmmaker who tells you s/he “doesn’t read reviews” just doesn’t want to admit how much they sting.

Unfortunately, the work I do as a script doctor is hard to defend if the movie flops. I know that those who have read my Conan shooting script agree that much of the work I did on story and character never made it to screen. I myself know that given the difficulties of rewriting a script in the middle of production, I did work that I can be proud of. But its still much like doing great work on a losing campaign. All anyone in the general public knows, all anyone in the industry remembers, is the flop. A loss is a loss.

He says that a movie’s opening day is analogous to a political election night, and naturally another screenwriter knows exactly what that’s like:

Sean compared this to being a part of a losing Presidential campaign and as someone who has done both, I can say that that is exactly what it is like. I had the wonderful opportunity to work for John Kerry in 2004 and experience the horrific feeling that comes with losing to George W. Bush and actually believing in my candidate. Watching the election returns was like a never ending math test that just kept going for what seemed to be the purpose of dragging out my misery. I had the best possible outcome in 2008, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling that came with the 2004 election results.

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