When I posted that question two days ago, there was a motivation behind it.
The movie I reviewed a few days back, Let Me In, was pretty much a bomb at the box office. On its first weekend, it took in only $5 million, which isn’t good for a flick that opened on over 2,000 screens. Analysts say the reason for the low number was threefold:
- The crucial young audience (17-25) wasn’t interested in a movie with tween protagonists.
- The Tween audience wasn’t able to see it because it’s rated R.
- The older audience (30+) doesn’t like seeing kids that young as protagonists in a movie with scary/violent subject matter.
So, it didn’t do so well, despite the fact that it’s a very, very good movie. (I must not be alone in my assessment, because it currently holds a great 87% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and has been showered with almost universal critical acclaim.
Now, here’s the deal: I know it’s a better movie than the Twilight flicks. It’s smart, well-acted, and offers a whole new and original take on an otherwise tired subgenre. As a piece of storytelling, it’s in a whole different league. Yet the Twilight films each made about twenty times what this one brought in, so the all-important wallet vote went to the formulaic, badly acted, corny drivel, for reasons that have very little to do with the artistic merit of the films in question. By all my personal categories for good fiction and well-crafted storytelling, the flick that bombed is far superior to the one that rakes in the money.
Does that make me one of those snobby people who walk around wearing turtlenecks and huffing, “You peasants just don’t know how to appreciate art?”
I mean, commercial success is all well and good, and yes, I have heard (and used) the Heinlein quote that “the only criticism that counts has the words PAY TO THE ORDER OF written on it.” I like currency, and without commercial success, art is little more than self-indulgent navel-gazing. But I would have no pride in making a product that I personally consider inferior and generic, even if it makes me so much money that I can afford a different Bentley for every day of the year.
At the end of the day, I guess I’d rather be the guy who directed Let Me In than the guy who directed Twilight:Eclipse. I guess that when push comes to shove, I’d choose the “Critical Acclaim” camp, if it’s the acclaim of the critic that matters most to me…the one between my ears.
Snobby? Elitist? Idealistic? Stupid?