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New York City of Movie Flops

There are few things sadder than walking through beautiful Manhattan and seeing billboards for movies that have already flopped.

In fact, if an alien film buff came to our planet, he might think Manhattan's aesthetic was to cover the city with countless images of recent movies that tanked.

It has to be demoralizing for a studio head or producer or filmmaker or actor to wander the city and everywhere he or she turns--a phone booth! a bus stop! a billboard!--is a reminder of the shitty fucking movie they spent the last year on.  (And movie fans spent hardly a weekend on.)

You'd think studios would just produce high-tech billboards and posters that somehow know to self-destruct once a movie's opening weekend gross is less than $20 million or fares worse than 70% fresh on the Tomatometer.

Or, perhaps, they could just start making good movies.  Movies they'd be proud of seeing posters of in ubiquity for perpetuity.

Just a few months ago, every free spot of New York started getting wallpapered with posters for "Arthur" featuring Russell Brand's ghastly visage.  I don't believe I heard a single person in town go, "Oooh, I'm excited for that."  But, you didn't really know.  The original 1981 version of "Arthur" was a comedic masterpiece with Dudley Moore as the lovable drunk.  Did it really merit a remake?  It didn't seem likely but it was hard to be sure.

As release date neared, critics offered the resounding opinion NO and then the few schmucks that actually went to investigate for themselves came to the same conclusion.

Now, we have a city still covered with Russell Brand's smirking puss.

I like to think of Russell wandering the streets unable to escape his massive failure.

In fact, that would be the best creative prison sentence possible for filmmakers who continue to just phone it in:  Put them in a city wallpapered with his or her failures.

Nic Cage would surely make better movies if during a walk through the East Village he turned to the left and saw "Windtalkers" on a phonebooth, turned to the right and spied "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" on a bus stop, looked up and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" on a roof, ducked into a cab with "National Treasure 3" atop it, before sprinting into a skyscraper plastered with a 25 story poster of "Ghost Rider."

Or, perhaps artists could just start trying a little harder.  Start making product they're actually proud of so when it's still hanging in the city months if not years after its release, people will look fondly upon it and go:  "Now that was a great movie."

Naw, they'll just keep making shit.

Whoa!  A bus just blew by with a "Drive Angry" billboard on top of it.  Man that movie fucking sucked.


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  1. Has a movie poster ever convinced you to see a movie?

  2. Good question. No. Not 100% convinced. But quality posters can certainly generate excitement. You?

  3. Do they care, though? I honestly don’t know. Do exec’s get a percentage of the take or are they salaried and therefore indifferent to the short-term performance of the flicks?

  4. Phil, you’re right, everyone is more focused on short term success than long. Slow drip successes like “Office Space” don’t seem to benefit any one. Even the creator! Mike Judge’s follow-up “Idiocracy” didn’t even get a wide-release. Hollywood is so fucked up.

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