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American Ultra writer Max Landis asks "Are original movies dead?"

08.24.2015

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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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5:25AM on 09/06/2015
Original ? It looks like a comedy twist on Jason Bourne. Tell me if I am wrong.
Original ? It looks like a comedy twist on Jason Bourne. Tell me if I am wrong.
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9:16AM on 08/25/2015
I'm almost certain that Max Landis is here and thumbing down all the red and black posts.
So yay! Go Max Landis! You the man!
I'm almost certain that Max Landis is here and thumbing down all the red and black posts.
So yay! Go Max Landis! You the man!
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3:54AM on 08/25/2015
Is this where Josh Trank comes out and tells everyone what his idea for American Ultra was?
Is this where Josh Trank comes out and tells everyone what his idea for American Ultra was?
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1:55AM on 08/25/2015
Landis, sorry but your target audience for this does not have enough money to go to the movies they just blew their last dollar on Cheetos. And the only Stewart fans out there only come when she is making babies with vampires.
Landis, sorry but your target audience for this does not have enough money to go to the movies they just blew their last dollar on Cheetos. And the only Stewart fans out there only come when she is making babies with vampires.
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1:50AM on 08/25/2015
What is being' original' mean, anyway? Is it simply any movie that doesn't have any numerals or secondary titles separated by colons behind it? I'm sure that's not it. Any movie that isn't an adaptation of an existing source material? Well okay, but do we consider genre tropes as adaptations of existing source materials? A stoner/slacker guy has all the knowledge hidden in his brain to be a top assassin. Are we talking about American Ultra or Chuck? How about 'genre' itself? So you're doing a
What is being' original' mean, anyway? Is it simply any movie that doesn't have any numerals or secondary titles separated by colons behind it? I'm sure that's not it. Any movie that isn't an adaptation of an existing source material? Well okay, but do we consider genre tropes as adaptations of existing source materials? A stoner/slacker guy has all the knowledge hidden in his brain to be a top assassin. Are we talking about American Ultra or Chuck? How about 'genre' itself? So you're doing a movie about people shooting guns at each other. You're not the first to do that, so how original are you? There's a lot of reason why your movie didn't do so well at the box office. One of the likeliest possible reason is that it's just not as good as you probably think. Maybe the stoner culture is dwindling, maybe people just hate watching Jesse Eisenberg and Bella Sw.. I mean Kristen Stewart. Maybe they just hate Max Landis. Maybe people are afraid to go to the theater and get randomly killed by a psychotic gunman. Maybe, in the end, nobody really cares about your movie because they have better things to do. Like for instance, watching ROGUE NATION, that Tom Cruise movie that a lot of people really liked because TOM CRUISE IS FUCKING HANGING ON A REAL FLYING AIRPLANE AND I DIDN'T EVEN WATCH THE LAST FOUR MOVIES AND NO I DIDN'T KNOW THAT THERE WAS A TV SERIES BEFORE THE MOVIES OMG WHO THE HELL CARES
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11:05PM on 08/24/2015

Headline: Writer of Unoriginal Film Complains About Originality in Film

Noah Berlatsky wrote a great article in the Guardian about how played out the amnesiac spy trope is. American Ultra is nothing if not derivative of films like Bourne Identity, Total Recall, and the Long Kiss Goodnight. Add in Eisenberg being Eisenberg and what do you have that is original?
Noah Berlatsky wrote a great article in the Guardian about how played out the amnesiac spy trope is. American Ultra is nothing if not derivative of films like Bourne Identity, Total Recall, and the Long Kiss Goodnight. Add in Eisenberg being Eisenberg and what do you have that is original?
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9:20PM on 08/24/2015

The problem was on the billboard.....

I wouldn't pay money to see a movie staring Eisenberg and Stewart. I loathe both of them as actors (although I actually started out liking them in Adventureland). They both play the EXACT SAME character in every movie. The idea of a stoner assassin might play to some, but it's a concept I have no interest in.
I wouldn't pay money to see a movie staring Eisenberg and Stewart. I loathe both of them as actors (although I actually started out liking them in Adventureland). They both play the EXACT SAME character in every movie. The idea of a stoner assassin might play to some, but it's a concept I have no interest in.
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8:10PM on 08/24/2015

A few reasons for its failure

First off, terrible advertising. I had zero idea what the film was about except stoners. Second, sketchy casting. KStew does not a selling point make. And then pairing her with Jesse Eisenberg. Head's up, their Adventureland failed at the box office too. People will go to original movies if you make it look like something they would want to see.
First off, terrible advertising. I had zero idea what the film was about except stoners. Second, sketchy casting. KStew does not a selling point make. And then pairing her with Jesse Eisenberg. Head's up, their Adventureland failed at the box office too. People will go to original movies if you make it look like something they would want to see.
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6:55PM on 08/24/2015
He makes a valid point, it's very rare to see some big budget original films. Tomorrowland was one, and only happened because Brad Bird had the reputation to make it happen. There are several successful original films though, but they're more moderate or small size type films. If really good, they can earn some big money.
American Ultra isn't the type of film that's going to make a lot of money either way, stoner comedies have a small demographic. Plus, what does the title even mean? Should
He makes a valid point, it's very rare to see some big budget original films. Tomorrowland was one, and only happened because Brad Bird had the reputation to make it happen. There are several successful original films though, but they're more moderate or small size type films. If really good, they can earn some big money.
American Ultra isn't the type of film that's going to make a lot of money either way, stoner comedies have a small demographic. Plus, what does the title even mean? Should have thought of a better title.
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6:52PM on 08/24/2015
from what i've seen in the last couple of years, i think that it's really hard for an original movie too make money right since they're not a lot of them coming out anymore. Now a days it's all about the reboot or sequel or movie based on a franchise that's already establish, especially in the genre that american ultra is in. I saw the movie when it came out and it actually was really good and let's face it, if it was the 90's, this movie would have made a lot of money because it had a 90's
from what i've seen in the last couple of years, i think that it's really hard for an original movie too make money right since they're not a lot of them coming out anymore. Now a days it's all about the reboot or sequel or movie based on a franchise that's already establish, especially in the genre that american ultra is in. I saw the movie when it came out and it actually was really good and let's face it, if it was the 90's, this movie would have made a lot of money because it had a 90's vibe to it, but sadly, we're in a era where people would rather see an action movie based on a franchise or comic book character then see something original so if he want to be succesful in hollywood, he'S going to have to find a way to direct a movie that's either a sequel or a reboot.
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6:33PM on 08/24/2015

Original movies do just fine

I would blame a poor ad campaign over failure of "original" films. The trailers and tv ads didn't look all that interesting, and it really didn't get the push that a film with a cast like this deserved. As for original movies not doing well just because they're original, one of the biggest success stories over the past month was The Gift, which was totally original with stars who aren't A-listers, but it did well because of a great ad campaign, fantastic word of mouth, and the fact that it's
I would blame a poor ad campaign over failure of "original" films. The trailers and tv ads didn't look all that interesting, and it really didn't get the push that a film with a cast like this deserved. As for original movies not doing well just because they're original, one of the biggest success stories over the past month was The Gift, which was totally original with stars who aren't A-listers, but it did well because of a great ad campaign, fantastic word of mouth, and the fact that it's a well made film.
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6:33PM on 08/24/2015
UGH I hate it when other people go online to bitch about their job! So I'm going to go online and bitch about them bitching! Stop bitching, you! I have enough of my own online bitching to do, and I already read enough of my friends and family bitching on Facebook!

Honestly I can't complain about filmmakers going online to whine and complain about whatever is ruining their day. Almost every other person with access to social media does it, too. I don't like it, but this is the age we live in.
UGH I hate it when other people go online to bitch about their job! So I'm going to go online and bitch about them bitching! Stop bitching, you! I have enough of my own online bitching to do, and I already read enough of my friends and family bitching on Facebook!

Honestly I can't complain about filmmakers going online to whine and complain about whatever is ruining their day. Almost every other person with access to social media does it, too. I don't like it, but this is the age we live in.
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6:03PM on 08/24/2015
I give Max Landis credit for putting this in the form of a question, instead of going all Damon Lindelof on us. Clearly the man's humbled not by the movie not making #1, but that it's so far down the list. But that's what happens when you release a comedy on the last weekend of August. Especially a stoner comedy (that plays much better in home living rooms, unless you have Seth Rogen involved).

Original movies aren't dead. I can name several just from the last 365 days. But to separate
I give Max Landis credit for putting this in the form of a question, instead of going all Damon Lindelof on us. Clearly the man's humbled not by the movie not making #1, but that it's so far down the list. But that's what happens when you release a comedy on the last weekend of August. Especially a stoner comedy (that plays much better in home living rooms, unless you have Seth Rogen involved).

Original movies aren't dead. I can name several just from the last 365 days. But to separate yourself from the pack you need actors people want to see, or a story that they want to see get told. This thing screamed of mediocrity. The concept was interesting, but not groundbreaking. The actors are good, but Eisenberg, Stewart, and Grace all have people who will boycott them for past transgressions.
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5:58PM on 08/24/2015

Get over it dude

I think Hollywood right now is very similar to comic books. No one working with the big two (DC and Marvel) gives over there best ideas. They all wait to bring those to indie companies like Image or Dark Horse or another publisher cuz they can actually make some money potentially down the road for themselves. TV these days is like the alternative for a lot of big writers, directors and actors. They can do more cutting edge work because TV is hungry for it. I doubt Hollywood would have
I think Hollywood right now is very similar to comic books. No one working with the big two (DC and Marvel) gives over there best ideas. They all wait to bring those to indie companies like Image or Dark Horse or another publisher cuz they can actually make some money potentially down the road for themselves. TV these days is like the alternative for a lot of big writers, directors and actors. They can do more cutting edge work because TV is hungry for it. I doubt Hollywood would have green-lit something like True Detectives or Breaking Bad if it was pitched as a series of films. All that said I have no desire to see American Ultra. Just doesn't grab me. Landis I think comes off really badly here like all have said. Face it, pal sales does not equal quality and take some solice in that. It's no biggie. I'm a tattoo artist and some stuff I get so stoked on everyone else is like "yeah man it's nice", other stuff that I think isn't that great people are like 'holy shit man'. Art is subjective so stop whining and just be proud for yourself.
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5:57PM on 08/24/2015
Sorry, Max, your movie just wasn't that great. Creating an obscure stoner action movie isn't going to drive masses to the theater, especially when the advertising does nothing to illicit excitement for said movie. I thought it would be a good time at the theater, but instead, the film turned into a bit of a chore to get through. There's so much stupid in the film, it overwhelmed what was actually good. Originality exists, but it will perform well when it's of good quality. If you are going to
Sorry, Max, your movie just wasn't that great. Creating an obscure stoner action movie isn't going to drive masses to the theater, especially when the advertising does nothing to illicit excitement for said movie. I thought it would be a good time at the theater, but instead, the film turned into a bit of a chore to get through. There's so much stupid in the film, it overwhelmed what was actually good. Originality exists, but it will perform well when it's of good quality. If you are going to try and create something original, you better make damn sure you have gold. Or people will be heading to the next theater to see whatever critically acclaimed, comfort sequel, remake, or adaptation is out. Don't blame audiences for not liking original movies, blame your writing for not being up to par.
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5:34PM on 08/24/2015

No.

Someone learning they're actually a trained killer isn't an original idea. The Long Kiss Goodnight with Gina Davis and Sam L Jackson is a good example. It's pretty weak to blame the audience when your film doesn't perform how you'd hoped. This movie doesn't look bad to me but it's not "I GOTTA SEE THIS" for me. Probably blu-ray for me.
Someone learning they're actually a trained killer isn't an original idea. The Long Kiss Goodnight with Gina Davis and Sam L Jackson is a good example. It's pretty weak to blame the audience when your film doesn't perform how you'd hoped. This movie doesn't look bad to me but it's not "I GOTTA SEE THIS" for me. Probably blu-ray for me.
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5:18PM on 08/24/2015
Haven't commented in months but I'm so sick of hearing these comments from writers, producers, etc after a movie flops. We heard the same crap after Tomorrowland. Really? It performed poorly JUST because it's an "original" flick? First, just because it wasn't a sequel doesn't make this purely original. Second, this movie looked "okay" - the type where you see the trailer, have a chuckle, and say "yeah, maybe I'll see that." Not necessarily going to fill seats. Third, don't cast Kristen Stewart
Haven't commented in months but I'm so sick of hearing these comments from writers, producers, etc after a movie flops. We heard the same crap after Tomorrowland. Really? It performed poorly JUST because it's an "original" flick? First, just because it wasn't a sequel doesn't make this purely original. Second, this movie looked "okay" - the type where you see the trailer, have a chuckle, and say "yeah, maybe I'll see that." Not necessarily going to fill seats. Third, don't cast Kristen Stewart and expect humongous box office returns from dudes... or anyone really but especially dudes. That leaves you with chicks, who aren't really into action stoner comedies (generally speaking). Who was your target audience? Quit blaming sequels and reboots.... yes there are a bunch these days, but at least they're going through a bit of a "golden age" where they're usually really good. Inside Out made a HUGE sum of cash and it was original. It's about marketing and reputation, not just about being a sequel.
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4:51PM on 08/24/2015

Dear Max:

1) If you truly believe that people choose movies based on reviews, then you've answered yourself. ROGUE NATION and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. had better reviews than all of the new releases.
2) Except for TWILIGHT and SNOW WHITE, none of Kristen's movies gross a lot of money. Neither do Jesse's, despite being an Oscar nominee. Therefore, they're not really big stars.
3) People who work in movies don't decide if their movies are good; the people who watch them do. Also, it's very pretentious to
1) If you truly believe that people choose movies based on reviews, then you've answered yourself. ROGUE NATION and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. had better reviews than all of the new releases.
2) Except for TWILIGHT and SNOW WHITE, none of Kristen's movies gross a lot of money. Neither do Jesse's, despite being an Oscar nominee. Therefore, they're not really big stars.
3) People who work in movies don't decide if their movies are good; the people who watch them do. Also, it's very pretentious to claim that they are by saying "Honestly."
4) "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." Like there weren't sequels, remakes and adaptations back then. Also, that descritption fits this generation more. The premise of INTERSTELLAR, TOMORROWLAND, CLOVERFIELD and SUPER 8 were kept a secret until the release.
5) "better than others this week." Did you see them?
6) Tarantino and Nolan aren't the only ones who make original movies with big budgets. They just make them more frequently and they write their own scripts. Big budgets are given to household names, regardless of the type of movie.
7) Original ideas will never be dead as long as writers come up with them. You're really asking if they'll ever be profitable, which shouldn't be your concern. Many classics flopped at the box office. It's not like you're about to declare yourself broke. Speaking of that...
8) "Got to get back to work on my TV shows. Which are both adaptations." Are you complaining? Then quit. Actually, if the people in charge of those shows read that, they'll fire you anyway.
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5:32PM on 08/24/2015
Generally agreeing, but why would he get fired for saying his TV shows are adaptations.
Generally agreeing, but why would he get fired for saying his TV shows are adaptations.
8:24PM on 08/24/2015
He would get fired for implying that he doesn't like working in them.
He would get fired for implying that he doesn't like working in them.
4:50PM on 08/24/2015
The movie never really caught my attention & the stoner movie now seems a bit outdated, the last good one was what Pineapple Express, but that was awesome. Don't get me wrong I love Cheech & Chong, Harold & Kumar, Half Baked & Grandma's Boy though. Makes me sound like a stoner I bet, but I don't actually smoke weed.
The movie never really caught my attention & the stoner movie now seems a bit outdated, the last good one was what Pineapple Express, but that was awesome. Don't get me wrong I love Cheech & Chong, Harold & Kumar, Half Baked & Grandma's Boy though. Makes me sound like a stoner I bet, but I don't actually smoke weed.
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4:37PM on 08/24/2015
It seems like he's trying really hard not to sound like he's bitching about his film not doing well but ultimatley that's what he's doing. I'll agree with a lot of you American Ultra is not a particularly good example by which to judge the success of original films. It's not massivley original nor did it look particularly good.

That being said as far as the larger argument about original films goes, I thank God for people like Nlan and Tarantino who are talented enough to be able to do
It seems like he's trying really hard not to sound like he's bitching about his film not doing well but ultimatley that's what he's doing. I'll agree with a lot of you American Ultra is not a particularly good example by which to judge the success of original films. It's not massivley original nor did it look particularly good.

That being said as far as the larger argument about original films goes, I thank God for people like Nlan and Tarantino who are talented enough to be able to do whatever they want on big budgets. It's more difficult for original films in an increasingly franchise obsessed market, but there are original films and often we get good stuff from the smaller indie market at the very least.
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4:13PM on 08/24/2015
"Man, I can't wait for that new Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart movie." - No one, ever.
"Man, I can't wait for that new Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart movie." - No one, ever.
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4:53PM on 08/24/2015
I couldn't have put it better! Or maybe "I can't wait for that 'Hitman but with Stoners' movie starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart" :)
I couldn't have put it better! Or maybe "I can't wait for that 'Hitman but with Stoners' movie starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart" :)
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3:56PM on 08/24/2015
I watched both Hitman and American Ultra this weekend. American Ultra was fun, while Hitman could have gone direct to Netflix and not been missed. I think the whole problem was with AU was the marketing. They were marketing it as a stoner comedy, when they really should have been marketing it more like a True Lies-style of spy movie. Not to mention that most people I know weren't even aware of this movie opening, because again, the marketing just wasn't there. Add to that Jesse Eisenberg AND
I watched both Hitman and American Ultra this weekend. American Ultra was fun, while Hitman could have gone direct to Netflix and not been missed. I think the whole problem was with AU was the marketing. They were marketing it as a stoner comedy, when they really should have been marketing it more like a True Lies-style of spy movie. Not to mention that most people I know weren't even aware of this movie opening, because again, the marketing just wasn't there. Add to that Jesse Eisenberg AND Kirsten Stewart in the same movie as the leads (both of which turn off any normal movie goer) didn't help matters, and you have your answer for why a perfectly good, fun, violent movie didn't do well. Oh, AND the director was the guy who did Project X, which also didn't inspire any confidence. Max, buddy, I love your writing, but you were focused on all the wrong reasons as to why this movie didn't succeed. Hopefully it does better as a rental, because I would actually like to see a sequel to this versus that shitty Hitman reboot, OR another overly-sanitized sequel to NWA where they go out and set up bingo parlours for the elderly and build homes for Habit for Humanity and other fantasy laden bullshit.
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3:30PM on 08/24/2015
Yeesh. Right or wrong, NO ONE looks good doing this after one of their movies underperforms. You just look like a whiner who's throwing a fit because people didn't like your work. Lame.
Yeesh. Right or wrong, NO ONE looks good doing this after one of their movies underperforms. You just look like a whiner who's throwing a fit because people didn't like your work. Lame.
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3:17PM on 08/24/2015
Maybe you're just not cut out to be a screenwriting legend, Maxy?
Maybe you're just not cut out to be a screenwriting legend, Maxy?
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3:15PM on 08/24/2015

Answer: NO

Now shut up, dude, I want to like you. But jeezuz, shut up.
Now shut up, dude, I want to like you. But jeezuz, shut up.
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3:12PM on 08/24/2015

I liked American Ultra but...

... Max Landis makes too many bad points here for me not to address them.

1) Sinister 2 is a sequel, yes, but the sequel of a successful original film. If the first film hadn't made any money, there would be no sequel.
2) American Ultra wasn't well reviewed. Better reviewed doesn't mean well reviewed and people waiting for the critical reception before making their decision probably didn't go see the film in the end.
3) The Tarantino and Nolan argument is tiring. They both worked really
... Max Landis makes too many bad points here for me not to address them.

1) Sinister 2 is a sequel, yes, but the sequel of a successful original film. If the first film hadn't made any money, there would be no sequel.
2) American Ultra wasn't well reviewed. Better reviewed doesn't mean well reviewed and people waiting for the critical reception before making their decision probably didn't go see the film in the end.
3) The Tarantino and Nolan argument is tiring. They both worked really hard to get where they are and it's the quality of their work that got them there. Josh Trank could have been the new Nolan if he had succeeded with his Fantastic Four reboot. Instead he failed and now he's the new Schumacher. Until Landis makes his own Pulp Fiction or his own Memento (2 original films!), he will not reach their status. Nor should he.
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2:48PM on 08/24/2015
Give me a break! The marketing and promotion for this film was poor and it's starring three awful, annoying, and off putting actors Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenbeg, and Topher Grace. Yuck!
Give me a break! The marketing and promotion for this film was poor and it's starring three awful, annoying, and off putting actors Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenbeg, and Topher Grace. Yuck!
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2:44PM on 08/24/2015
Personally, I didn't want to see A.U. because it just looked like a re-hashing (sorry) of Pineapple Express. Ever since that flick there's been tons of stoner comedies, and this just seemed to be continuing in that vein, which in itself didn't seem very original. As GodMagnus hinted at below...it's another sleeper agent action character, this time in a stoner flick. Maybe audiences figure they'd seen that movie before...
Personally, I didn't want to see A.U. because it just looked like a re-hashing (sorry) of Pineapple Express. Ever since that flick there's been tons of stoner comedies, and this just seemed to be continuing in that vein, which in itself didn't seem very original. As GodMagnus hinted at below...it's another sleeper agent action character, this time in a stoner flick. Maybe audiences figure they'd seen that movie before...
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2:17PM on 08/24/2015

Pixar seems to disprove Landis' point

They've done extremely well with their original films. Admittedly, the bar was set so much lower in animation at the time, so a great story like TOY STORY was a real bolt from the blue. But it's true that movies are all about franchises now: Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Mad Max, Hunger Games, etc. Given how much movies cost to make, it's not surprising that investors want to be sure their $$$ will come back with interest. That's why so much talent is ending up on TV where the budgets are lower
They've done extremely well with their original films. Admittedly, the bar was set so much lower in animation at the time, so a great story like TOY STORY was a real bolt from the blue. But it's true that movies are all about franchises now: Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Mad Max, Hunger Games, etc. Given how much movies cost to make, it's not surprising that investors want to be sure their $$$ will come back with interest. That's why so much talent is ending up on TV where the budgets are lower and they can tell stories that don't need explosions and a 00 minute running time.

I know a lot of people don't like Max Landis' attitude but the guy can write.
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1:54PM on 08/24/2015

Wow, sour grapes much?

This dude already had one "original" movie I put original in quotation marks since it was A) found footage and B) about superheroes, two of the most overused tropes in Hollywood today that did incredibly well both critically and commercially: 85% of critics loved it and it grossed over ten times its budget worldwide. And now he has one lackluster debut and he goes on a Twitter rant? Talk about ungrateful. He's already made one more successful movie than most people who dream of being
This dude already had one "original" movie I put original in quotation marks since it was A) found footage and B) about superheroes, two of the most overused tropes in Hollywood today that did incredibly well both critically and commercially: 85% of critics loved it and it grossed over ten times its budget worldwide. And now he has one lackluster debut and he goes on a Twitter rant? Talk about ungrateful. He's already made one more successful movie than most people who dream of being filmmakers will ever get the chance to make. He should just be thanking his lucky stars that he didn't follow his Chronicle buddy Josh Trank into the debacle that was FF.

Also, wtf does he mean by "behind EVEN Mission Impossible"?? As if that's not an incredibly popular action franchise. He should give his own film a chance. It only came out three days ago, it may take a while for it to find an audience... if it's really as good as he says it is. (I wouldn't know, I have no interest in seeing it.)

Also, boasting that your movie was "better reviewed" than Hitman (8%) and Sinister 2 (12%) is the very definition of damning with faint praise. He's trying to make it sound like critics loved his movie, when in reality it's also "rotten" with a staggeringly mediocre 46%.

Basically, dude needs to chill. /rant
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3:46PM on 08/24/2015
"wtf does he mean by "behind EVEN Mission Impossible"??" He said "Behind even MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E." I think he meant "A new release finished behind releases from previous weeks."
"wtf does he mean by "behind EVEN Mission Impossible"??" He said "Behind even MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E." I think he meant "A new release finished behind releases from previous weeks."
5:52PM on 08/24/2015
Yes, I gathered that. But it still doesn't strike me as a shockingly unexpected outcome. Did any box office forecasts have American Ultra outperforming those two movies this weekend? Not that I can recall. Heck, Inside Out (a terrific original movie that refutes all of Landis's complaints, for the record) came in behind Jurassic World its opening weekend... and only went on to claim #1 three weeks later. Like I said, Landis should have patience and wait to actually see if his film will find a
Yes, I gathered that. But it still doesn't strike me as a shockingly unexpected outcome. Did any box office forecasts have American Ultra outperforming those two movies this weekend? Not that I can recall. Heck, Inside Out (a terrific original movie that refutes all of Landis's complaints, for the record) came in behind Jurassic World its opening weekend... and only went on to claim #1 three weeks later. Like I said, Landis should have patience and wait to actually see if his film will find a word-of-mouth audience before throwing in the towel.
1:49PM on 08/24/2015
Film just looked obnoxious from the start. Especially when you have actors as wooden as Eisenberg, and Stewart as your leads.
Film just looked obnoxious from the start. Especially when you have actors as wooden as Eisenberg, and Stewart as your leads.
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1:44PM on 08/24/2015
The problem with Landis is he's just not very well versed in cinema. He thinks he is because of his love of 80's and 90's classics, but the fact he names Tarantino and Nolan as two of the best "original idea" filmmakers and talks about the internet's opinion of his movie is telling. Stop complaining, Claire Denis doesn't get the kind of distribution you do and she's a great director making some truly great films.
The problem with Landis is he's just not very well versed in cinema. He thinks he is because of his love of 80's and 90's classics, but the fact he names Tarantino and Nolan as two of the best "original idea" filmmakers and talks about the internet's opinion of his movie is telling. Stop complaining, Claire Denis doesn't get the kind of distribution you do and she's a great director making some truly great films.
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1:42PM on 08/24/2015

Landis & Trank can suck it

People didn't like your movie, oh well, time to move on. Original ideas are very well received. But just because something is original doesn't mean, 1. That it's any good, or 2. That we have to watch it. If your "original" idea is any good people will want to watch it. Obviously, that wasn't the case with American Ultra.
People didn't like your movie, oh well, time to move on. Original ideas are very well received. But just because something is original doesn't mean, 1. That it's any good, or 2. That we have to watch it. If your "original" idea is any good people will want to watch it. Obviously, that wasn't the case with American Ultra.
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1:40PM on 08/24/2015
Make a movie that looks good and people will go see it.
Make a movie that looks good and people will go see it.
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1:26PM on 08/24/2015
They picked two of the most off-putting leads that they possibly could. Nobody like these two. Their hipster, I am smarter than everyone else, not at all attractive, millennial bullshit will never compete with actual talent and screen presence. Also, what is the bar for success for a movie that cost 12 million to make? Max Landis is as narcisistic as the two below average looking people they got to star in this flick. Max, maybe you just aren't as good as you think?
They picked two of the most off-putting leads that they possibly could. Nobody like these two. Their hipster, I am smarter than everyone else, not at all attractive, millennial bullshit will never compete with actual talent and screen presence. Also, what is the bar for success for a movie that cost 12 million to make? Max Landis is as narcisistic as the two below average looking people they got to star in this flick. Max, maybe you just aren't as good as you think?
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1:21PM on 08/24/2015

Half true, half not.

Yeah oh fuck yeah is it tough for original movies.
But he's also got his bias-blinders on when he thinks that
1. the Ads were good (nope, I also had to go out of my way to find them - so your target audience was probably not as aware as you think),
2. Jesse Eisenberg & Kristen Stewart are big stars (try again, they ARE recognizable names and faces - BUT they're also two of the more publicly disliked actors out there),
3. an original idea (like everything Max Landis has done, it's
Yeah oh fuck yeah is it tough for original movies.
But he's also got his bias-blinders on when he thinks that
1. the Ads were good (nope, I also had to go out of my way to find them - so your target audience was probably not as aware as you think),
2. Jesse Eisenberg & Kristen Stewart are big stars (try again, they ARE recognizable names and faces - BUT they're also two of the more publicly disliked actors out there),
3. an original idea (like everything Max Landis has done, it's rehashed material with some "twist"),
4. and a good movie (not being terrible is not the same thing).
5. Fuck you, Topher Grace was in the movie.
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1:10PM on 08/24/2015
Max seems to be licking his wounds. I understand he is disappointed that his film didn't capture the imagination of film goers. My take is that there have been a lot of movies this summer that people went to see. Jurassic World, Mad max Fury Road, Ant-Man, Avengers Age Of Ultron. People just don't drop tons of cash to go to the movies to see every new release. Even good ones. For me personally, I find the cinema is a good place to see an action type film with special effects and stuff,
Max seems to be licking his wounds. I understand he is disappointed that his film didn't capture the imagination of film goers. My take is that there have been a lot of movies this summer that people went to see. Jurassic World, Mad max Fury Road, Ant-Man, Avengers Age Of Ultron. People just don't drop tons of cash to go to the movies to see every new release. Even good ones. For me personally, I find the cinema is a good place to see an action type film with special effects and stuff, where Imax and sound makes a difference. Dramas and romances and comedies they are just as good an experience on TV, rented from Redbox. But some films you dish out 12 bucks or more for are movies designed for the modern cinema. Also his film is released the last week of August, many people have spent their summer cinema budget already.

To me it isn't about "original films". Fans will see original films. Inside Out was a huge original hit movie this year. Ant-Man was an adaptation of a comic book, but original as a film. Home was a big draw. Granted a lot of the original stuff that are doing well are children's stories. Max's sounds like he is whining and upset. But this is the same guy who wrote "Victor Frankenstein" which comes out soon. If that does well is he going to complain about remakes?

It is tough for a writer to write an original product that resonates with a large target audience. Sometimes you need luck, good casting, good direction, good promotion. Max Landis seems to be particularly hurt by the poor reception of American Ultra because this is a critical point in his career. This film was one he had high hopes for. And then the studio slotted it for late August release.
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1:01PM on 08/24/2015

American Ultra aside, I think he has a valid point...

I have no interest in seeing American Ultra but I think the larger point he's making here is a valid one. Hell, even Chris Nolan (who mentions here in his rant) probably doesn't get to go out and make Inception or Interstellar without jumping aboard the Dark Knight franchise and bringing in some huge cash for Warner Bros.

TV's been the much more creative and original medium for the past 5-6 years now. The most memorable new directors and stories are all being told on the small screen
I have no interest in seeing American Ultra but I think the larger point he's making here is a valid one. Hell, even Chris Nolan (who mentions here in his rant) probably doesn't get to go out and make Inception or Interstellar without jumping aboard the Dark Knight franchise and bringing in some huge cash for Warner Bros.

TV's been the much more creative and original medium for the past 5-6 years now. The most memorable new directors and stories are all being told on the small screen because tv studios are willing to risk a new idea that film studios seem to be passing on for the potential of a franchise/tentpole film. Franchises and comic book movies are draining Hollywood of it's resources and as long as consumers keep shelling out for mediocre at best spectacles like Jurassic World and the Avengers, nothing's going to change. The last films to be #1 for their respective years at the box office were Avatar, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, and Independence Day. Think about that for a second...

Look at the top films of this year even. We're getting a fourth Jurassic Park, second Avengers, seventh Fast and Furious, a live action Cinderella remake, a second Sponge Bob Movie, and a fifth Mission Impossible flick dominating the box office. All of these things have been around for at least 10+ years by now and we're still linking up for the same old shit.
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1:01PM on 08/24/2015
Generally people nowadays are awful movie goers. Hearing their illogical complaints gives me a Migraine and it's the endless sequels of mundane movies that make the cash. Whether or not this is a fun movie, the people in it are horrible, it's all the actors i try and avoid.
Generally people nowadays are awful movie goers. Hearing their illogical complaints gives me a Migraine and it's the endless sequels of mundane movies that make the cash. Whether or not this is a fun movie, the people in it are horrible, it's all the actors i try and avoid.
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12:58PM on 08/24/2015

SOrry max

Sorry Max Landis but your movie was NOT original
Sorry Max Landis but your movie was NOT original
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12:52PM on 08/24/2015
I have no desire to see potheads running about. Pineapple Express was a terrible movie so why would I want to see this? So he's a sleeper agent, wow. Never seen that in a movie! or TV show...or any media format ever (sarcasm) Honestly the premise does not interest me but as far as original ideas go, there are a lot of idea's already done and can still be done in an original way.
I have no desire to see potheads running about. Pineapple Express was a terrible movie so why would I want to see this? So he's a sleeper agent, wow. Never seen that in a movie! or TV show...or any media format ever (sarcasm) Honestly the premise does not interest me but as far as original ideas go, there are a lot of idea's already done and can still be done in an original way.
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12:43PM on 08/24/2015

i was trying to convince my friends to go watch this movie. here are the complaints i heard:

1) umm... facebook guy as a secret agent? no thanks.
2) kristen stewart? from twilight? no thanks.
3) i haven't even heard of this movie

i'm still planning to watch this. ive heard the arguments for jessie eisenberg and kristen stewart as good actors. but i don't think a majority of people will get over their pasts. maybe if they had different people star and a more exciting trailer. the last "original" movie i can compare this to is Kingsman (though it's an adaptation of a comic book).
1) umm... facebook guy as a secret agent? no thanks.
2) kristen stewart? from twilight? no thanks.
3) i haven't even heard of this movie

i'm still planning to watch this. ive heard the arguments for jessie eisenberg and kristen stewart as good actors. but i don't think a majority of people will get over their pasts. maybe if they had different people star and a more exciting trailer. the last "original" movie i can compare this to is Kingsman (though it's an adaptation of a comic book). that didn't have much of a built in audience or a big name star (other than SLJ - who would have thought Firth could do action?), but it gained once word of mouth spread.
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12:40PM on 08/24/2015

IMO

Eisenberg and Stewart are not movie stars. They star in movies. Big difference.

Very few are going to go see the "New Jesse Eisenberg Movie" or the "New Kristen Stewart Movie". Instead we're going to see the new Tom Cruise movie, the new Superman / Twilight movie, the movie about Facebook, etc. etc.

Story might be decent, but I will never see it with those two.
Eisenberg and Stewart are not movie stars. They star in movies. Big difference.

Very few are going to go see the "New Jesse Eisenberg Movie" or the "New Kristen Stewart Movie". Instead we're going to see the new Tom Cruise movie, the new Superman / Twilight movie, the movie about Facebook, etc. etc.

Story might be decent, but I will never see it with those two.
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12:27PM on 08/24/2015
They're certainly dead for this generation, which will be looked back on as a lost generation in terms of its cinematic voice.
They're certainly dead for this generation, which will be looked back on as a lost generation in terms of its cinematic voice.
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12:26PM on 08/24/2015
Look at what it lost to though. Not a biopic, reboot, sequel, or sequel reboot. It lost to 3 action/espionnage movies (All filled with huge action set pieces). It lost to a a movie about one of the most popular music groups in history. And it lost to a high budget horror flick. All of those movies are the types of things that people want to spend their money on. It's not about the content of the movie, it's about the fact that people are shelling out $15 a head to see these movies in
Look at what it lost to though. Not a biopic, reboot, sequel, or sequel reboot. It lost to 3 action/espionnage movies (All filled with huge action set pieces). It lost to a a movie about one of the most popular music groups in history. And it lost to a high budget horror flick. All of those movies are the types of things that people want to spend their money on. It's not about the content of the movie, it's about the fact that people are shelling out $15 a head to see these movies in cinemas, for that money they want to see something that looks good on a big screen.

I'm sorry, but seeing Tom Cruise hang off the side of a plane for the 4th weekend in a row sounds a lot better than seeing Jesse Eisenberg get high with Kristen Stewart and give some funny dialogue. I know there are action pieces in American Ultra, but are they really at the same caliber of what we see in Rogue Nation, Man from UNCLE, or Hitman? Is the tension going to be as high in American Ultra as it is in Sinister 2 watching it on a big screen? Is the character study going to be as memorable in American Ultra as it is in Straight Outta Compton? The answer to all of those questions is no. Which is why American Ultra will clean up on Netflix, but thinking it was going to contend in theatres was just stupid on Landis' part.
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1:17PM on 08/24/2015
"I'm sorry, but seeing Tom Cruise hang off the side of a plane for the 4th weekend in a row sounds a lot better than seeing Jesse Eisenberg get high with Kristen Stewart and give some funny dialogue." ---- You nailed it MickLoud.
"I'm sorry, but seeing Tom Cruise hang off the side of a plane for the 4th weekend in a row sounds a lot better than seeing Jesse Eisenberg get high with Kristen Stewart and give some funny dialogue." ---- You nailed it MickLoud.
12:18PM on 08/24/2015

why are we following him on twitter?

Whaaaaaaaa and no original ideas are not dead
Whaaaaaaaa and no original ideas are not dead
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12:07PM on 08/24/2015

This movie just looked bad and didn't have any good lead actors

Nobody wants to see a movie about stoners turned agents. That isn't an original idea. Pile on the shitty cast and you got yourself a dud.
Nobody wants to see a movie about stoners turned agents. That isn't an original idea. Pile on the shitty cast and you got yourself a dud.
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12:06PM on 08/24/2015

No. Original movie ideas are not dead. It's just...

American Ultra may be the greatest action/comedy to come out this year, (Haven't seen it yet, just saying), but based on the type of movie it is alone, it's not a Box Office crusher. It's a word-of-mouth sleeper that will take a week or two to crush numbers and most likely do extremely well on BluRay... like most hard-R, action/comedies. Pineapple Express didn't blow the roof of the box-office right away. Plus it had two bankable stars at the high-point of their popularity. (No-pun intended). I
American Ultra may be the greatest action/comedy to come out this year, (Haven't seen it yet, just saying), but based on the type of movie it is alone, it's not a Box Office crusher. It's a word-of-mouth sleeper that will take a week or two to crush numbers and most likely do extremely well on BluRay... like most hard-R, action/comedies. Pineapple Express didn't blow the roof of the box-office right away. Plus it had two bankable stars at the high-point of their popularity. (No-pun intended). I like Landis, as a writer. I've read almost all of his screenplays, including his take on Mario Bros, which was great. He may have a boisterous, full of himself personality, but he's not wrong. He's honest and at least has the balls to speak his mind and write what he wants too. I mean, he makes it pretty easy to hate him, but he writes a compelling script that reads well. That's harder to do than most think. Original movies aren't dead, they're just harder to get seen in a world that takes literally everything for granted. If you make them, we will see them. We always have.
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12:28PM on 08/24/2015
Exactly, it has nothing to do whether its a good or bad movie. But out of the other films playing right now people would rather go see those. Thus movie might have done better in a January through April release but not in the tail end of summer.
Exactly, it has nothing to do whether its a good or bad movie. But out of the other films playing right now people would rather go see those. Thus movie might have done better in a January through April release but not in the tail end of summer.
12:00PM on 08/24/2015
Original movies are as dead as bad ones.
Original movies are as dead as bad ones.
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11:59AM on 08/24/2015

you sir

That's the reason I didn't see it. I thought about it, looked it up and saw that it was written by this blow hard kid. That's when I bailed.
That's the reason I didn't see it. I thought about it, looked it up and saw that it was written by this blow hard kid. That's when I bailed.
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11:45AM on 08/24/2015
You know what, Mr. Landis? You should just shut up and learn how to write and direct good movies from your father, the legendary John Landis.
You know what, Mr. Landis? You should just shut up and learn how to write and direct good movies from your father, the legendary John Landis.
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11:41AM on 08/24/2015
Sorry your movie looked like shit and it seems most agreed. Write a better movie and quit bitching.
Sorry your movie looked like shit and it seems most agreed. Write a better movie and quit bitching.
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11:38AM on 08/24/2015
Is Hollywood just tone deaf that Pinapple Express isn't something to emulate? Also, film makers need as much input into marketing as the studio.
Is Hollywood just tone deaf that Pinapple Express isn't something to emulate? Also, film makers need as much input into marketing as the studio.
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11:34AM on 08/24/2015
Max Landis is such a fucking entitled baby. Maybe if the movie didn't have the two biggest charisma vacuums in Hollywood and the hackiest writer it would've performed better.
Max Landis is such a fucking entitled baby. Maybe if the movie didn't have the two biggest charisma vacuums in Hollywood and the hackiest writer it would've performed better.
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11:34AM on 08/24/2015
I don't blame Landis, but the film has poor casting. Eisenberg? Stewart?? Grace??! Lequizamo?!?!

I try to actively avoid all 4 of them in films but all 4 together are like the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.
I don't blame Landis, but the film has poor casting. Eisenberg? Stewart?? Grace??! Lequizamo?!?!

I try to actively avoid all 4 of them in films but all 4 together are like the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.
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