Those Stupid Americans

No one ever makes a bad movie anymore. Oliver Stone doesn’t, anyway. His movie Alexander, which bombed in the U.S., is opening in the United Kingdom. Stone gave a press conference to British reporters last night, in which he explained the film’s failure to do well in America:

“I was quite taken aback by the controversy and fierceness of the reviews about a character we don’t really know too much about,” Stone told reporters in London Wednesday before the film’s British premiere.
Stone said the commercial failure of “Alexander” in the United States could be linked to “a raging fundamentalism in morality.”
“From day one audiences didn’t show up,” he said. “They didn’t even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, ‘Alex the gay.’ As a result you can bet that they thought, ‘We’re not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.'”

And again:

Sexuality is a large issue in America right now but it isn’t so much in other countries… From day one audiences didn’t show up.

For America-bashing, however, the movie’s producer, Moritz Borman, exceeded Stone:

Moritz Borman, the producer of Alexander, took the opportunity of the London premiere to reveal he wanted to create a “dumbed down” version of the film for US audiences but Stone would not have let him do it.
“We always knew America would be more difficult for this kind of material,” said Mr Borman.
“Do you have two versions? A lighter, shorter, popcornier, simple version for American audiences that takes out the homosexuality and a more sophisticated one for the rest of the world?
“In retrospect I would have said ‘let’s do that’. Oliver wouldn’t have let me but I’d have tried.”

To some extent, I suppose Stone and Borman were trying to hype the film’s UK attendance by flattering the European audience. But American consumers should not forget American entertainers who insult them when they go overseas.
As for Alexander, I suspect that actor Colin Farrell shed a little more light on why it was a flop:

Colin Farrell, who plays the title role, helpfully added his own explanation for the biopic’s commercial failure: “The film is a draining experience to watch. It’s loaded with mythology, icons, symbolism and destiny. My friends have watched the film and said: ‘Jesus Christ, it’s not exactly Gladiator’.”

In other words, it’s a turkey. American audiences can spot “mythology, icons, symbolism and destiny” a mile away.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Newton adds:

I’m sorry to tell you that Alexander, which is one of the biggest flops ever in the US, also flopped overseas. So far, the movie has done a paltry $45.7M overseas (and 34.0M in the US). I guess it isn’t just Americans who are stupid.

And reader Greg Richards makes an excellent point about historical epics:

It takes unusual star power to convincingly play a historical hero. Russell Crowe has exactly that type of presence. Colin Farrell doesn’t. Doesn’t make Farrell a bad guy, just that he was horribly miscast as Alexander. You can see it in the promotional photos. He makes you want to laugh just looking at him. The promotional photos look like they are from Saturday Night Live.

I think that’s right, and it’s a tribute to one of our heroes, the often-underrated Charlton Heston, that he was able to pull the feat off so well.


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