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When Do "Flops" Become "Classics..."?

 
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When Do "Flops" Become "Classics..."? - 29/8/2012 7:24:38 PM   
chris kilby

 

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I was just watching The Blues Brothers again for the first time in years and apart from being one of the most quotable movies of all time, something really struck me.

Like Blade Runner, The Blues Brothers was a critical and commercial failure at the time, albeit a "flop" which still made it into the Top Ten box office earners of the year - go figure. The critics panned it, Pauline Kael famously complaining that Aretha Franklin was only in the movie for 5 minutes. Yeah, but what a 5 minutes! A classic piece of wrong-headed criticism from one of the supposed greats - the film wasn't about Aretha Franklin and like most of the musos involved, she clearly couldn't act!

Yet as no less an authority than Time Out begrudgingly puts it now: "It became a cult hit and must now be counted a popular classic." (My italics.) And Time Out HATED The Blues Brothers at the time. By the same token, I distinctly remember Barry Norman saying in 1992 that Blade Runner: The Director's Cut (which wasn't) was "the classic it always was." Which is funny, cos I also distinctly remember him slagging it off in 1982.

John Carpenter's The Thing is another one. Universally despised by the critics (the mainstream critics, certainly) and hopelessly out-of-step with popular taste in The Summer of ET, The Thing is now widely acknowledged as the classic it always was and rightly regarded by many as Carpenter's best movie.

Even cast-iron classics aren't immune to this phenomenon. Pick a classic, any classic (Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, It's A Wonderful Life and, dare I say?, The Godfather) and guaranteed there were jaded critics at the time who were far from impressed. Which is unsurprising. We all like different things after all and 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. It seems hard to believe now, but at the time some killjoy critics (perhaps irked by all the hype) dismissed Jaws as: "a bore, awkwardly staged and lumpily written." Stanley Kauffmann (who also slated The Godfather) notoriously said: "The ads show a gaping shark's mouth. If sharks can yawn, that's presumably what this one is doing. It's certainly what I was doing all through this picture... Spielberg has progressed almost to the level of a stock director of the 30s." (Love that "almost"!) Whoops! Talk about tomorrow's chip paper... Legendary grump, Leslie Halliwell similarly accused Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom of being "slow starting." Slow starting...!?!

Now we are allowed to change our minds and reassess our opinions - it what separates from the fanboys. But what I want to know is... When do "flops" become "Classics"? At what point do the critics realise they were hopelessly out-of-touch, admit they were wrong and jump on the "It Was A Classic All Along" bandwagon?
Post #: 1
RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 7:40:27 PM   
directorscut


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The Blues Brothers was far from a flop. It grossed almost four times its budget.

Also, adjusted for inflation The Thing made $53 million in the US. You'd have to ask if released today would it make any more than that, or if it would even make that. Judging by the $16 million gross of the prequel, probably not.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 7:41:14 PM   
elab49


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Isn't there a difference between a general re-evaluation and a couple of contemporary critics out of the loop though? That'll never change, and unless those specific opinions changed it's not much of anything.

But the 20:20 hindsight on films possibly not well received? THat's maybe more interesting. Do people follow a new crowd? It seems sometimes a critic might just 're-evaluate' something to be out there and controversial and get noticed (controversial being the in-thing in so many disciplines).




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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 7:43:59 PM   
chris kilby

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

The Blues Brothers was far from a flop. It grossed almost four times its budget.




I know. Yet to this day, The Blues Brothers is routinely dismissed as "a flop." As is OHMSS, even though it too squeaked into the Top Ten for 1969. Sure, it wasn't as big as Thunderball commercially, but it was anything but the "flop" it is still lazily regarded as.

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 29/8/2012 7:46:12 PM >

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 7:49:22 PM   
elab49


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But it's in context - OHMSS was a Bond film. There are expectations relating to that. A film can still make a profit and be a flop, money in isolation needs to be looked at in terms of expectation.

Tim Burton's Alice was generally reviled but was nearly the biggest worldwide moneymaker of the year. Massive money-maker. But it's considered, rightly, a failure for Burton and another in a long line of disappointing films.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 7:57:24 PM   
directorscut


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Calling Alice in Wonderland a faillure is absurd. It's Burton's biggest success since Batman and gave him carte blanche for his next project. Which is why he was able to get $150 million to remake a cult TV soap opera from the 60s that no one remembers.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 8:07:55 PM   
elab49


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Isn't that perilously close to suggesting a linear relationship between quality and cash? 

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ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 8:14:03 PM   
chris kilby

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

Calling Alice in Wonderland a faillure is absurd. It's Burton's biggest success since Batman and gave him carte blanche for his next project. Which is why he was able to get $150 million to remake a cult TV soap opera from the 60s that no one remembers.


I encountered a rather irate American chap who remembered Dark Shadows so well he almost spontaneously combusted with indignation at the very idea of Tim Burton making "a travesty" of what is generally regarded to be the daytime soap equivalent of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Needless to say, this was about six months before the thing was even released...

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 8:48:31 PM   
directorscut


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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Isn't that perilously close to suggesting a linear relationship between quality and cash? 


Aren't you periously close to suggesting that because some people may not like a movie that other people who liked the movie are wrong? Alice in Wonderland sold over 100 million tickets worldwide. Based on the 51% it holds on RT and the 6.5 it holds on IMDB I would say at least 50% liked the films (of course being a kids film they probably liked it a whole lot more than adults and are virutally ignored in these polls). These are also websites for critics and more serious film-viewers. The film got an A- CinemaScore which means the general punter was more than happy with it. So that's at least 50 million people who liked the movie. I would say that's a success by anyone's standards, no?




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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:08:22 PM   
Prophet_of_Doom

 

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I think first of all you have to differentiate between flop and cult.  Isn't box office largely irrelevant in terms of a cult film.  I thought a cult film was essentially something that appealed only to a small, particular demographic - so has limited appeal - for whatever reason that may be.  And is perhaps slightly subversive.  The Room is considered a cult film, but it's a pile of turd.  Okay, it's never going to become a classic, but it's an example of a film that is considered cult - in the same way that Plan 9 is.  The Evil Dead. Clerks. Brazil. These are cult.  Whereas The Blues Brothers ... well, it may have been slightly subversive, but it was certainly targeted at a broad audience.  So can it really be considered a 'cult classic'?  Because at its heart is a very populist movie.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:15:14 PM   
elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut


quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Isn't that perilously close to suggesting a linear relationship between quality and cash? 


Aren't you periously close to suggesting that because some people may not like a movie that other people who liked the movie are wrong? Alice in Wonderland sold over 100 million tickets worldwide. Based on the 51% it holds on RT and the 6.5 it holds on IMDB I would say at least 50% liked the films (of course being a kids film they probably liked it a whole lot more than adults and are virutally ignored in these polls). These are also websites for critics and more serious film-viewers. The film got an A- CinemaScore which means the general punter was more than happy with it. So that's at least 50 million people who liked the movie. I would say that's a success by anyone's standards, no?





No, I'm not. That's a fairly extreme twist on what I said. I've never heard of Cinemascore, but if you think Burton is happy with barely cracking 50% on Metacritic well - I'd be surprised. It's normally people like Uwe Boll that justify their crap by bums on seats. Directors like Burton surely aspire to a bit more than that?

All of which is irrelevant - are you disputing that there's a perception that it is a bum note in Burton's career? (leaving aside that whoever thought of that bloody jig should be removed from creative filmmaking permanently anyway ).


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:29:11 PM   
directorscut


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Prophet_of_Doom

I think first of all you have to differentiate between flop and cult.  Isn't box office largely irrelevant in terms of a cult film.  I thought a cult film was essentially something that appealed only to a small, particular demographic - so has limited appeal - for whatever reason that may be.  And is perhaps slightly subversive.  The Room is considered a cult film, but it's a pile of turd.  Okay, it's never going to become a classic, but it's an example of a film that is considered cult - in the same way that Plan 9 is.  The Evil Dead. Clerks. Brazil. These are cult.  Whereas The Blues Brothers ... well, it may have been slightly subversive, but it was certainly targeted at a broad audience.  So can it really be considered a 'cult classic'?  Because at its heart is a very populist movie.



Rocky Horror Picture Show is probably the definitive cult movie and it was a massive box office success - $440 million (adjusted) in the US alone.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:33:30 PM   
Prophet_of_Doom

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut


quote:

ORIGINAL: Prophet_of_Doom

I think first of all you have to differentiate between flop and cult.  Isn't box office largely irrelevant in terms of a cult film.  I thought a cult film was essentially something that appealed only to a small, particular demographic - so has limited appeal - for whatever reason that may be.  And is perhaps slightly subversive.  The Room is considered a cult film, but it's a pile of turd.  Okay, it's never going to become a classic, but it's an example of a film that is considered cult - in the same way that Plan 9 is.  The Evil Dead. Clerks. Brazil. These are cult.  Whereas The Blues Brothers ... well, it may have been slightly subversive, but it was certainly targeted at a broad audience.  So can it really be considered a 'cult classic'?  Because at its heart is a very populist movie.



Rocky Horror Picture Show is probably the definitive cult movie and it was a massive box office success - $440 million (adjusted) in the US alone.


Exactly.  As I say, that would suggest that BO is irrelevant.  Because Rocky Horror definitely is cult ... it has limited appeal, is subversive ... so its position as a cult movie is assured.  The fact that it became very successful doesn't change that.  (Or at least this is how I'm perceiving cult ...I just assumed this was the generally accepted use of the term).  It seems to be one of those terms that are bandied about (like footballers being called 'world class' just how do you define it?)  I recall Shawshank being referred to as a cult movie a while back and I'd completely disagree with that.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:38:41 PM   
directorscut


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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut


quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Isn't that perilously close to suggesting a linear relationship between quality and cash? 


Aren't you periously close to suggesting that because some people may not like a movie that other people who liked the movie are wrong? Alice in Wonderland sold over 100 million tickets worldwide. Based on the 51% it holds on RT and the 6.5 it holds on IMDB I would say at least 50% liked the films (of course being a kids film they probably liked it a whole lot more than adults and are virutally ignored in these polls). These are also websites for critics and more serious film-viewers. The film got an A- CinemaScore which means the general punter was more than happy with it. So that's at least 50 million people who liked the movie. I would say that's a success by anyone's standards, no?





No, I'm not. That's a fairly extreme twist on what I said. I've never heard of Cinemascore, but if you think Burton is happy with barely cracking 50% on Metacritic well - I'd be surprised.



CinemaScore is the widest cinema exit poll in the US and is used by the industry to determine word of mouth.

Something tells me Tim Burton isn't the type of director who gives two figs what critics think about his movies.

quote:

It's normally people like Uwe Boll that justify their crap by bums on seats. Directors like Burton surely aspire to a bit more than that?


Are you ignoring that fact that 50 million people LIKED the film? Uwe Boll would would be living in wonderland if 5 people liked his movie.

quote:

All of which is irrelevant - are you disputing that there's a perception that it is a bum note in Burton's career?


By who? If I asked twenty 12 year old girls "Is Alice in Wonderland a bum not in Burton's career?" I'd probably be told "NO! Get away from us you creep."

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:41:34 PM   
vad3r


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Flop is to do with BO and a classic is quality. BO and quality are unrelated. You can have a flop that becomes a classic the following day.

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quote:

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 9:47:44 PM   
elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut


quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut


quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

Isn't that perilously close to suggesting a linear relationship between quality and cash? 


Aren't you periously close to suggesting that because some people may not like a movie that other people who liked the movie are wrong? Alice in Wonderland sold over 100 million tickets worldwide. Based on the 51% it holds on RT and the 6.5 it holds on IMDB I would say at least 50% liked the films (of course being a kids film they probably liked it a whole lot more than adults and are virutally ignored in these polls). These are also websites for critics and more serious film-viewers. The film got an A- CinemaScore which means the general punter was more than happy with it. So that's at least 50 million people who liked the movie. I would say that's a success by anyone's standards, no?





No, I'm not. That's a fairly extreme twist on what I said. I've never heard of Cinemascore, but if you think Burton is happy with barely cracking 50% on Metacritic well - I'd be surprised.



CinemaScore is the widest cinema exit poll in the US and is used by the industry to determine word of mouth.

Something tells me Tim Burton isn't the type of director who gives two figs what critics think about his movies.

quote:

It's normally people like Uwe Boll that justify their crap by bums on seats. Directors like Burton surely aspire to a bit more than that?


Are you ignoring that fact that 50 million people LIKED the film? Uwe Boll would would be living in wonderland if 5 people liked his movie.

quote:

All of which is irrelevant - are you disputing that there's a perception that it is a bum note in Burton's career?


By who? If I asked twenty 12 year old girls "Is Alice in Wonderland a bum not in Burton's career?" I'd probably be told "NO! Get away from us you creep."


I just realised you didn't disagree with my original question - if you see flops as almost entirely based on people going to see it then I respectfully disagree.

Also, looking at Cinemascore? The founder acknowledges there's a bias, the process using opening nights is inherently biased to those keen to see it, and the entire scoring is self-selecting. As an objective or reliable system to tie general views of a film it's not a particularly good one, somewhat akin to IMDB but even more positive. It's social survey stats at its most basic. I wouldn't recommend it as a basis for any argument tbh.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 29/8/2012 10:08:13 PM   
directorscut


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I thought you never heard of CinemaScore? It is as accurate as possible which is why the studios use it. They wouldn't use something that gives them widely inaccurate information. Films that have high CinemaScore scores generally have strong legs at the box office. Films that don't generally die on their arse.

quote:

wouldn't recommend it as a basis for any argument tbh.


Well obviously not if it contradicts your argument.

You haven't presented any evidence that the film is as "generally reviled" as you claim it is. I think you're allowing your bias against the film to shine through.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 30/8/2012 12:02:24 AM   
elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: directorscut

Well obviously not if it contradicts your argument.


That's unfair.

quote:

I thought you never heard of CinemaScore?


I said 'looking at Cinemascore' - ie you'd mentioned it, I looked it up. That's just pissy point-scoring. I was looking at the process itself irrespective of film - stats and surveys being part of my background. I'm sorry if you saw it as more shallow than that - it wasn't.

I thought Alice would be an easy example for this discussion, clearly not. No matter anything else I still am happy with the statement that, for Burton, that 50% odd rating can't be something the director would look happily at, no matter bums on seats. He's not Bay.

< Message edited by elab49 -- 30/8/2012 12:04:52 AM >


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 1/9/2012 12:54:26 AM   
rich


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I think the real question would be "when do critical failures become cult classics"

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 1/9/2012 2:43:53 AM   
chris kilby

 

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Yeah, it's the same thing really. Although I'm talking more about eventual mainstream popularity outside of the cult film "ghetto." Repo Man is a cult film down to its LA punk roots. But I think Blade Runner has long since graduated to the mainstream. It continues to be imitated to this day, it has inspired an entire generation of filmmakers from Fincher to Nolan, and is set to finally receive the ultimate mainstream accolade - a sequel.

But then that raises the whole contentious issue of just what is and what isn't a cult film. Can we even tell the difference any more? Repo Man was one of the first examples of that 80s sub-genre - the "designer" cult film which was intended to be a cult from the beginning. Blade Runner became a cult film by the more traditional route - the big-budget blockbuster which failed to find a mainstream audience.

For decades The Ultimate Cult Film had to be Night of the Living Dead - micro-budget, subversive, transgressive, a genre movie, had something to say. Who'd have thunk at the time it would spawn its own sub-genre which, almost 50 years later, would lead to a huge mainstream TV success like The Walking Dead? On the same prestige network as Mad Men, no less!

"Cult" is the mainstream now.

(Discuss.)

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 2/9/2012 1:48:40 AM   
max314


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Blade Runner was a commercial and critical failure.

But there are films that linger in the collective consciousness, that certain groups will cling to, that will inspire individuals and collectives and perhaps, eventually, inspire mainstream culture itself.

In the case of Blade Runner, we're dealing with a blockbuster that's really an art house film. I can guarantee you that Ridley Scott did not intend to make an art house film, but he made an art house film. A very good art house film, in fact. And, when you make something as good as Blade Runner, there's a chance it'll get noticed after its cinematic death—which is exactly what happened.

But every film has its own journey. Not every unfair failure is going to be revered in time by the masses who once turned their noses up at it. Fate's kinda funny like that.



< Message edited by max314 -- 2/9/2012 1:49:42 AM >


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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 2/9/2012 9:26:48 PM   
actionmike

 

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There are some 1 star films that still do well. Take the Watch some people may think its adolescent but some people may remember the burbs and really like it.

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 5/9/2012 5:07:23 PM   
mclane1


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serenity

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RE: When Do "Flops" Become "Classics...&... - 6/9/2012 2:06:54 AM   
chris kilby

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: max314

Blade Runner was a commercial and critical failure.

But there are films that linger in the collective consciousness, that certain groups will cling to, that will inspire individuals and collectives and perhaps, eventually, inspire mainstream culture itself.

In the case of Blade Runner, we're dealing with a blockbuster that's really an art house film. I can guarantee you that Ridley Scott did not intend to make an art house film, but he made an art house film. A very good art house film, in fact. And, when you make something as good as Blade Runner, there's a chance it'll get noticed after its cinematic death—which is exactly what happened.

But every film has its own journey. Not every unfair failure is going to be revered in time by the masses who once turned their noses up at it. Fate's kinda funny like that.




Nah. Quality will out eventually. Critical opinion is finally coming round to the fact that On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the best (if not THE best) Bond movie of all. I think the success of the heavily OHMSS-influenced Casino Royale and high-profile champions like Christopher Nolan (Inception is a virtual love letter to OHMSS) and EMPIRE have contributed to this. It only took 40 years!


< Message edited by chris kilby -- 6/9/2012 2:07:46 AM >

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