30 November 2021 560 Views

Why did THE LAST DUEL underperform?

by James Murphy

Sir Ridley Scott blames mobile phones and the generation clash.

A bit unfair, given that he himself plays the film franchise game on occasion (PROMETHEUS et al).

There is so much more to ponder, here:

1: Release Date:

If this is Oscar bait then the prime slot is probably January-February? Contrary to popular belief, that is not a post Christmas graveyard. People love to go to the movies at that time of year to boost spirits and pass time. Releasing now placed the film against James Bond, Ghostbusters, Marvel. Big mistake! 

2: USP? 

If it’s an ACTION film, sell it as such. BRAVEHEART in 1995 (ok that’s 26 years ago but even so) was initially thought of as a tough sell because Mel Gibson, though a star name, was not playing a cop or romantic lead as such.

How wrong were those who shunned the funding and distribution options! Yes, the film is long and earnest. But it is still a romp, a classic action movie /thriller and Mel is in full leading man mode.

THE LAST DUEL should have been sold as a clash of titan leading men: DAMON V DRIVER with AFFLECK watching! But no. They tried selling it as a movie ‘about’ women and their mistreatment? That is a subtext rather than USP.

3: STREAMING! 

Had the film been made for/with Amazon/Netflix etc? Then not only would it have hit but would have done so, decisively. And the funding / profit margins would have been stacked in the movie’s favour.

Like it or not, it now costs more to go to the movies. And people are STILL cautious about attending events, even post peak pandemic. So the average viewer OF COURSE gravitates to the crowd pleasing family friendly franchise fare if they MUST go to the pictures (but note my post Christmas, pre Oscar market buzz exemption, covered earlier).

A monthly fee for a streaming provider covers all your entertainment in one or two packages. The hit rate on a show or film is enough to help it make money and THAT is where THE LAST DUEL should have launched and rested imho.

4: Too much Ridley?

 I love the fact that an 80 something director is not only alive and well and working but prolific and determined, too. Happy Birthday, btw!  Inspirational stuff. The danger is that he ends up competing with his own product. HOUSE OF GUCCI is basically clashing with THE LAST DUEL. Big mistake!

5: FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION: 

I mentioned Mel Gibson/Braveheart. Back in the 1990s, Mel was so cool, loved and popular that we would have watched him in anything. And one always got a sense that the man knew he kinda owed us a Lethal Weapon every few years if we went and supported him in a HAMLET or MAN WITHOUT A FACE?

Same dynamic here. Had Adam Driver still been in STAR WARS mode and Matt Damon been up for more JASON BOURNE? Then the association with those popcorn friendly franchise products would have boosted numbers at THE LAST DUEL. Simple!

 

HERE ENDETH THE LESSON.



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