Culture 2, page 113
1 Because Thomas Edison had too much power over the film industry.
2 Because movies were silent and a pianist played music while the audience watched the film.
3 Because they offered a form of escapism. 4 Because TV became popular.
Host Hello, and welcome to Film Talk. And my guest in the studio tonight is the film critic Martin Waverley. And we're going to talk about failures - spectacular failures. Is that right?
Martin Yes. Some of your listeners may have seen the list that was recently published in several newspapers - a list of the films which have lost the most money at the box office.
Host To be honest, I haven't heard of many of these films.
Martin No. Well, there's a reason for that. I mean they were failures - so by definition, people just didn't go to see them.
Host This one, for example: When Time Ran Out. What was that about?
Martin Ah yes, When Time Ran Out. It should have been called When Audiences Ran Out. It was a disaster movie about a volcano. Disaster movies were very popular in the 1970s. But in this 1980 film, the story was too slow-moving, and the special effects were so bad that they were funny.
Host Although the director was successful with other films, wasn't he?
Martin Yes, I rwin Allen, the director, made some of the most successful disaster movies ever. And the film starred Paul Newman, a great Hollywood actor who made some amazing films. But this was definitely not one of them. It's pretty dreadful from start to finish.
Host Let's talk about another film: Sahara, released in 2005. This had some big Hollywood stars in it, didn't it?
Martin Yes, it did - Penelope Cruz, for example. But it still lost an amazing amount of money - something like $100 million.
Host Why was the film so unpopular?
Martin Actually, it wasn't. The problem was, they spent far too much making it. The original production budget was around $80 million but they ended up spending twice that amount. They just didn't control the costs. For example, the first 46 seconds of the film cost more than $2 million to make!
Host And how did it do at the box office?
Martin Well, when it opened, it was number 1 at the box office in the US. Personally, I didn't think it was much good, but it got big audiences for a while. Unfortunately, they couldn't get back even half of the money they'd spent - so it lost a fortune.
Host Oh dear! What other films on the list caught your eye?
Martin Well this one is interesting. It's called Hulk and it was made in 2003 by another highly successful director, Ang Lee.
Host And it was based on the comic book character, the Incredible Hulk?
Martin Yes, it was. That kind of film is usually very popular with audiences: think of Iron Man, Batman, all those films. But Hulk had a very mixed reception. Some audiences and critics liked it, but some didn't.
Host Why is that?
Martin I suppose it didn't have the simple kind of story which people want to see, if they're fans of comic book films. It just wasn't what they were expecting or hoping for, maybe. But personally, I thought it was a very interesting film - and very beautiful to look at.
Host So not a failure in every sense.
Martin No, certainly not.
Host Thanks, Martin.