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Like “The Lone Ranger” or “Battleship,” “Ben-Hur” is one of those massive box appointment wipe-outs that defies accessible comprehension. How could article go this disastrously wrong?
After all, 1959’s “Ben-Hur” was an Oscar-winning accident that charcoal beloved. Posters for the Charlton Heston ballsy proclaimed that the blur offered “An ball acquaintance of a lifetime,” and its agent contest are still advised to be a high-point in activity choreography.
In contrast, the new “Ben-Hur” wasn’t alike the “entertainment acquaintance of the third weekend of August.” Afterwards debuting to a paltry $11.4 million, it is assertive to go bottomward as one of the summer’s bigger flops. “The BFG” aloof breathed a huge blow of relief.
It’s not for abridgement of trying. Back it came to “Ben-Hur,” Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer didn’t assignment on spectacle. The ally shelled out $100 actor to charm the amphitheatre and accompany admirers aback in time to back the Roman Empire was at its zenith. However, the blur bootless to accomplish the aforementioned affectionate of activity as the Heston epic. The filmmakers had some success alluring faith-based consumers, but couldn’t abound the admirers above the devout. Kids backward away, critics lobbed bombs, and civil consumers took a adamantine pass.
As always, there are acquaint to be gleaned from the carnage. Here are bristles affidavit that “Ben-Hur” comatose and burned.
1.) Critics Hated It
Reviewers remembered William Wyler’s 1959 adaptation affectionately and begin Timur Bekmambetov’s attempts to “Fast & Furious”-ize the activity to be absurd and ailing conceived.
The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan dismissed the latest “Ben-Hur” as a “dull and apathetic allotment of work” that had little acumen to exist. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman labeled it “sludgy and plodding,” black that brilliant Jack Huston paled in allegory to Heston. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy asked simply, “what were they thinking?” And those were some of the nicer ones. It all amounted to a abject 29% “rotten” appraisement on critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and a beggarly 37% on Metacritic.
Movies like this charge acceptable reviews to catechumen the analytical into consumers — these affectionate of notices rang anxiety bells, instead of confined as invitations.
2.) The Kids Didn’t Show Up
“Ben-Hur” is your grandparent’s epic. It’s a bequest to a time back “The Robe,” “The Ten Commandments” and added belief from the Bible were the hottest things on cine screens. A simpler time, afore Vietnam and Watergate, iPhones and eReaders, Zika and #Lochtegate.
Still, business abstracts for the time accolade valiantly to acquisition the aspects of the adventure that wouldn’t aloof adventure geriatrics. Television spots approved to comedy up “Ben-Hur’s” agent races, baiter crashes and aggressive armies. But clashing legions and antagonistic activity can’t bout the comic-book movies and special-effects spectacles that address to adolescent moviegoers. It’s aloof not a cine that plays in the Instagram age. Indeed, “Ben-Hur” had a negligible attendance on amusing media casework such as Facebook and Twitter, affirmation that it could not abscess bottomward its angle in a way that translated into brand and retweets.
In the end, 94% of the aperture weekend admirers for the blur was over the age of 25, a arresting that the blur bootless to draw abounding Millennials. In contrast, 54% of the aperture weekend for “Suicide Squad” was beneath 25, bisected of “Sausage Party’s” admission army clocked in beneath that beginning and alike “Jason Bourne,” a blur with earlier appeal, boasted an aperture weekend admirers that was 40% beneath the age of 35.
3.) Swords and Sandals Epics Are Falling Flat
The toga brand has accomplished its cessation date. It’s been 16 years back “Gladiator” stormed cine theaters, cutting up $457.6 actor globally and nabbing a best picture Oscar. At the time it seemed as admitting Maximus and aggregation ability activate renewed absorption in the apparel epic, but attempts to charm the abracadabra of the Colosseum accept bootless to affix with audiences.
“It’s array of like the Western,” said Paul Dergarabedian, chief media analyst at comScore. “It has its fans, but it’s aloof too baby a accumulation of fans.”
“Kingdom of Heaven,” “Exodus: Gods & Kings,” “Gods of Egypt,” “Noah,” “Seventh Son” and “The Immortals” are aloof a few of the actual activity flicks or costumed book that accept landed with a bang or struggled to about-face a profit. There accept been a few hits, to be sure. Yet the brand of “300” or “Clash of the Titans” aren’t acknowledged abundant to cardboard over all that red ink. Plus, recreating the Ancient World doesn’t appear cheap. Missing the mark can aftereffect in a big write-down.
4.) Muddled Marketing
“Ben-Hur” fabricated a concerted accomplishment to allure religious moviegoers, hosting taste-maker screenings for faith-based leaders and crafting commercials that talked up the film’s affiliation to Biblical teachings. Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer additionally leaned heavily on producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the aggregation abaft “Son of God” and “The Bible,” to accomplish the case to the EWTN set.
In some respects, their efforts paid off. “Ben-Hur” performed bigger in the South and Southwest than in the Northeast and the West Coast, area communities are beneath church-oriented.
“They fabricated this actual big-ticket cine for a actual baby audience,” said a battling flat executive. “They were cyberbanking too heavily on that faith-based audience. It was big miss.”
Other analysts accept that “Ben-Hur” relied too heavily on out-dated forms of outreach. In 2004, “The Passion of the Christ” accustomed a arrangement for business to ethics audiences by earning the buy-in of mega-pastors. In the afterwards decade, however, that affectionate of endorsement may not be enough.
“Today’s ethics chump — one in every three admirers in the U.S. — is adolescent and added digitally adeptness than the accepted audience,” said Matthew Faraci, admiral of Inspire Buzz, an bureau that specializes in business to values-based consumers. “As such, they apprehend awful targeted, accurate business that speaks to who they are and what they affliction about.”
But “Ben-Hur’s” problems went above that. The blur additionally had adversity ambrosial to civil audiences. It hoped that the activity scenes would be so active that the blur could allure the devout, the aloof and the atheistic. Alas, it was not to be.
“Their aboriginal attack was not that Christian-based,” said Jeff Bock, a box appointment analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “Then in the aftermost few weeks they went abounding bore afterwards that group. But back you cull that Evangelical card, you about-face off a lot of the audience.”
5.) Audiences Crave Article Fresh
After a summer area franchises and reboots accept suffered abbreviating returns, audiences in contempo weeks accept been all-embracing annihilation that seems new and original. To be sure, that doesn’t leave a lot of options. But “Suicide Squad,” based on a lesser-known comic-book; “Sausage Party,” a abominable apology of children’s movies; and “The Secret Life of Pets,” a warm-hearted address to bristling companions, accept all succeeded because they are a animation of beginning air in an atmosphere that is sequelfied to the point of stultification.
In contrast, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Jason Bourne,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “Ghostbusters” are aloof a few of the contempo follow-ups and re-imaginings that accept bootless to accumulate clip with their predecessors or spun out completely.
“The bar is aloof abundant college now for consumers in agreement of acknowledging sequels or remakes,” said Rob Moore, Paramount’s carnality chairman. Audiences appetite article that is either “great” or “original,” he added. In the case of “Ben-Hur,” they got neither one of those things.
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