American Ultra writer Max Landis asks "Are original movies dead?"
AMERICAN ULTRA underperformed in its first weekend at the box office, grossing only $5.5 million, and opening below fellow newcomers SINISTER 2 and HITMAN: AGENT 47, as well as holdovers STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Screenwriter Max Landis isn't sure why the film performed so poorly in its debut weekend, and in a mini-rant about the state of cinema today on his Twitter, asks if original movies are dead.
So here's an interesting question: American Ultra finished dead last at the box office, behind even Mission Impossible and Man From Uncle. American Ultra was also beaten by the critically reviled Hitman Agent 47 and Sinister, despite being a better reviewed film than either.
Which leads me to a bit of a conundrum: Why? American Ultra had good ads, big stars, a fun idea, and honestly, it's a good movie. Certainly better, in the internet's opinion, than other things released the same day. If you saw it, you probably didn't hate it. So I'm left with an odd thing here, which is that American Ultra lost to a sequel, a sequel reboot, a biopic, a sequel and a reboot. It seems the reviews didn't even matter, the MOVIE didn't matter. The argument that can/will be made is: big level original ideas don't $. For the longest time, my belief was that the 80s/90s were the golden age of movies; you never knew what you were going to get. The question is: has that changed? I wish I could say Ultra was a bad movie, but it isn't. Divisive, sure. But better than others this week.
Am I wrong? Is trying to make original movies in a big way just not a valid career path anymore for anyone but Tarantino and Nolan? That's the question: Am I wrong? Are original ideas over? I wanted to pose this to the public, because I feel, put lightly, confused. I feel like I learned a lesson, here, but have no idea what it is. I once joked "there's only so many times people will go see Thor 2." Now, I'm not so sure. Got to get back to work on my TV shows. Which are both adaptations. Go see American Ultra, it's really good. Sorry to be kind of a downer guys. It's just a little frustrating to see John Cena squash Kevin Steen. Metaphorically.
In my opinion, the problem with AMERICAN ULTRA was the ads. Although most of my friends knew the film was hitting theaters soon, they said they weren't eager to see it because it didn't look that great based on the trailers. And while the movie didn't have a huge first weekend, the budget was only $12 million, and I wouldn't be shocked if the R-rated action comedy found new life on home media.
Original movies aren't dead and there are plenty of awesome recent examples, but I do believe it can a little harder for filmmakers to get their projects made if it's not based on a pre-existing property. Do you agree with Max Landis' comments, or do you think he's just upset his new movie didn't have a successful opening weekend?
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