Ben Stiller says the failure of Zoolander 2 wasn’t a great experience

Last Updated on February 25, 2022

Zoolander 2, Zoolander, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, failure

Sequels to comedies are really hard to get right and that’s something Ben Stiller experienced firsthand with the release of 2016’s Zoolander 2, which was more a failure than a fashionista. The 2001 original film is considered one of the best comedies of its time but the sequel was met with dismal reviews and lukewarm box office. Stiller is now recalling how unpleasant the experience was.

During an interview with Esquire, Stiller admitted that having Zoolander 2 underperform critically and commercially was “not a great experience.” Much like the original film, Stiller directed and co-wrote the sequel and, despite the return of castmembers like Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, the film pulled in a mere $29 million at the domestic box office. The movie also suffered critically, registering a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stiller hasn’t helmed a comedy since Zoolander 2 but he has had great success directing dramas with the 2015 limited drama series Escape at Dannemora, which earned him DGA Award, and Apple TV+’s recently launched thriller series Severance. Stiller says the Zoolander 2 failure allowed him to find his way to directing dramas.

“If Zoolander 2 had been a huge hit, and then people were saying, ‘Zoolander 3! Do this movie! That movie!’ — that might have taken me off the road of having the space to work on developing Dannemora. I might have gotten distracted by other bright, shiny objects, but instead it opened a path where I could just do what I’d honestly wanted to do for years and years, which was: just direct something! To say, I’m just going to work on this project that I want to work on, because it takes a little time to get these things going and, if you don’t stick with it, you don’t get there.”

2001’s Zoolander contained elements from a pair of short films directed by Russell Bates and written by Drake Sather and Stiller for the VH1 Fashion Awards television specials in 1996 and 1997. In the film, at the end of his career, a clueless fashion model named Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The film served as a satire of the fashion industry and it proved to be a box office success, grossing 60.8 million worldwide on a $28 million budget. Zoolander 2 found Derek and Hansel (Owen Wilson) being lured into modeling again, in Rome, where they find themselves the target of a sinister conspiracy. Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig were added to the cast but the film was poorly received and didn’t recoup its $55 million budget.

It’s cool that Stiller has moved on to find success as a director with fresh new projects outside of his wheelhouse. Some people can take a failure like this and let it define them but Stiller used it as an opportunity to set up a pretty remarkable second act.

What are YOUR thoughts on Zoolander 2, and do you think it was a failure?

Source: Esquire

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