Deader Than Disco: Film
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Specific Genres, Styles And Techniques
- Film itself actually came very close to becoming this in the late 1950s. Due to the rise in popularity of television, movie attendance took a major nosedive, being mostly relegated to poorer neighborhoods who couldn't afford television. Movie budgets were down, as were budgets for theatrical cartoons (which were slowly eliminated throughout the 1960s as a result of the decline in popularity of motion pictures). While there were still a decent amount of classic movies released around this time (The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Goldfinger, etc.), the majority of movies being made were low-budget flicks offering little that wasn't already available on television. And it was no accident that movies were getting increasingly gimmicky and genre-driven around this time (historical epics, science fiction, horror) - a clear sign of things to comenote . It wasn't until the late 1960s that movies finally made a comeback with decreased censorship policies and the eventual rise of the Summer Blockbuster, finally giving the average American a good reason to visit his/her local movie house again.
- Thanks to the Hollywood Hype Machine, Hollywood is littered with the dead careers of actors who were hyped up thanks to a memorable role or two, then quickly faded away once the Next Big Thing came along, forcing them to rely on their (rather meager, more often than not) acting talent to make it. Rinse, wash, and repeat with the next hot new star. The lines outside casting agencies are so long that actors, especially those who rely more on their looks than their talent, are basically expendable in terms of hype burnout. To list them all would take a separate page — and as a matter of fact, we have just that.
- This is also a common fate for many Former Child Stars and Teen Idols, specifically those who turn into trainwrecks later in life. A combination of Contractual Purity and an incredibly snarky tabloid media means that, when a young actor's career and personal life spiral out of control, they very quickly become joke fodder, with their past films and TV shows somewhat marred by knowledge of what happened to them afterward. Some can recover, however; Drew Barrymore is one of the more famous examples of someone escaping the "former child star" trap.
- The entire spoof film genre, thanks to the works of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Although the genre was already on life support before themnote , and the "take a popular film and put a wacky spin on it" formula would likely have died out regardless as audience tastes moved toward more intellectual comedies during the 2000s, it's rare that a genre has been killed so spectacularly. While Seltzer and Friedberg's movies still make money, that's almost solely on account of how cheap they are. (And with the release of The Starving Games, which failed to make back a budget pitiful by even Seltzerberg standards, even that seems to be no longer the case.) Another death blow was almost certainly due to David Zucker - arguably the uncrowned king of the spoof film - becoming disenchanted with Hollywood escapism and making the sociopolitical diatribe An American Carol, which turned off many of his former fans.
- Film serials, newsreels and theatrical cartoon shorts were wiped out by the rise of television.
- Animation as a medium for serious filmmaking was this for many decades in the west, a situation which has only begun to change in the 1990s and onward. This is due predominantly to the dual killer-blow of The Hays Code and The Comics Code, before which animation was growing just as popular as live-action filmmaking. The efforts of the Moral Guardians effectively destroyed the American animation industry, and what little was left became inoffensive cartoons aimed at children. Europe retained a substantial animation industry producing features for more grown-up audiences, but little of that was exported to the United States, and what did get exported was typically relegated to the art-house scene. An attempt to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto began in the late 1960s, and received another boost in the 1980s, but like European films, never broke out of the art-house scene. It wasn't until Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1991 and the huge influx of Japanese animation in the late 1980s and 1990s that it began to be considered a serious medium again. Even now, though, its place outside children's media is a rocky one, especially with anime's slow decline in popularity in the west and the death of several prominent licensing companies.
- Oscar Bait movies in general seem prone to this trope, especially if a) they fail to win many awards, or b) they are believed to have "stolen" awards from more deserving films. If the former is the case, then they are typically forgotten by the next morning (has anyone even watched The Cider House Rules or Chocolat in the past five years?), while if it's the latter, then they often earn a massive hatedom from fans of the movie that is perceived as having been snubbed. While many of them are good movies in their own right, more often than not, they straddle the line between touchingly sentimental and maudlin narm. The fact that it's almost impossible for comedies or niche genres like sci-fi, horror, or fantasy to win Oscars only reinforces this. Specific examples can be found below.
- 3-D movies went through this trope twice.
- First: The polarized format was popularized in the early-mid '50s by the 1952 film Bwana Devil. Several acclaimed films such as House of Wax (1953), Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Dial M for Murder followed, each accompanied by a media frenzy. However, 3-D began losing popularity because it was both difficult and expensive to project it properly (two projectors needed to be kept in perfect sync, requiring two projectionists, and thus two paychecks, and even then the projectors came un-synced constantly). Theaters dropped 3-D in favor of other innovations such as Cinemascope that were easier and cheaper to maintain.
- Second: the mid-'60s through the early '80s, with the advent of the single-strip process, which eliminated the sync issues at the cost of reducing the image quality and brightness. While lasting much longer, and having two "peaks" at either end of the period, this era faded when it became clear that the only movies using it were low-rent horror sequels. For decades after, 3-D was relegated to IMAX documentaries and theme park attractions (where the experience was more comfortable to view), until...
- Third: the late '00s to today, when the RealD Cinema system became popular. A string of box office and critical hits such as Avatar, Coraline, and Up that made heavy use of 3-D imagery served as Killer Apps for the format, which reached a peak in the early 2010s. 3-D has lost some steam since that initial resurgence, but dozens of 3-D films are still being released each year (136 3-D films were released from 2011 to 2014, compared to the 50 that came out during the 1950s boom) and more directors are embracing the format than ever before, meaning that while 3-D's highest point may be behind us, it's likely here to stay this time.
- B movies on the big screen. Originally, a B-movie was the bottom half of a double feature, with the main feature as the "A-movie". In The Golden Age of Hollywood, studios, under the practice known as "block booking", could supply a steady stream of product to theaters with low-budget productions shoring up the big-budget ones. Big studios switched to making mostly A-movies in The Fifties after block booking was banned, but independents like American International Pictures picked up the slack to cater to the thriving Drive-In Theater market (where patrons would likely not be paying full attention to the screen) with original and imported productions. For many viewers, the "B" in B-movies came to mean "Bad" or "Low Budget", especially with the rise of the Exploitation Film, but not all were low-quality, careless productions. Many genres primarily existed in the world of producers like Roger Corman, Lloyd Kaufman, the team of Menahem Golan/Yoram Globus, and Godfrey Ho for decades: Sword And Sandal, Hong Kong Dub kung-fu, Spaghetti Western, a variety of horror sub-genres (giant menace, zombie, slasher, etc.), kaiju, blaxploitation and (from The '70s onward) ripoffs of the emerging Summer Blockbuster genre's codifiers.
The big-screen B-movie died a slow death in The '80s as drive-ins and urban "grindhouse" theaters were superseded by multiplexes, home video, and audiences' taste for big-budget Summer Blockbuster fare affected their willingness to tolerate lower production values. B-movies adjusted by moving into the booming Direct-to-Video market, and today, low-budget movies that make it to the big screen are usually classier fare. Many of the B-movie genres survive on the big screen, but as tongue-in-cheek homages (Quentin Tarantino) or Summer Blockbuster efforts with far higher production values and ambitions (Peter Jackson, Michael Bay, Joss Whedon). They survive in a way in TV movies, with the infamous Syfy Channel Original Movie being seen as the classic B-movie's successor, to the point where the movies are seen as being better when they clearly invoke So Bad, It's Good as an homage to the genre.
- Pornographic theaters boomed in The '70s largely on the basis of the films that they showed (which more mainstream theaters wouldn't touch), but they fell on hard times once porn began migrating to home video in The '80s, frequented only by the most desperately horny and often turning into dens of vice. After all, why risk being spotted walking into or out of an adult theater, surrounded by creeps in long jackets and walking across sticky floors, when you can watch all the porn you want from the privacy of your own home? When New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani undertook his crackdown on Times Square's porn theaters in The '90s, he likely received few complaints even from the porn-consuming public.
- The fact that his mayorship coincided with the rise of the internet probably helped. Speaking of which...
- The same cycle repeated itself in the late '90s and '00s, when the rise of the internet gutted the professional adult entertainment industry, which was heavily invested in home video. The glut of free porn online, combined with upstart studios and independent porn stars managing to establish wildly successful internet business models outside the existing porn industry, did lasting damage to many established companies and rendered obsolete the idea of going to specialty stores to buy porn. Again, why risk being caught walking into or out of a porno shop, or your parents, children, or significant other discovering your Porn Stash, when you could download discreetly (as long as you regularly clear your browser history)? This created the ironic situation where, while Moral Guardians were bemoaning the internet's perceived role in the "pornification" of society, the actual makers of pornography were claiming that the internet made it impossible for them to make a living.
- Porn with Plot in the US. The '70s and the early '80s had seen the rise and fall of "porno chic", with the porn industry coming the closest it had ever been to the cultural mainstream, pushing boundaries with films that, at the very least, had pretensions towards artistry. Some of the more acclaimed films even made it into "mainstream" movie theaters; The Devil in Miss Jones was notably among the ten highest-grossing films of 1973. This era is nowadays often called the Golden Age of Porn, idealized in films like Boogie Nights. However, The '80s saw the rise of a more conservative sexual morality that pushed pornography out of the mainstream. At the same time, a new generation of porn creators, realizing that most porn consumers were just watching for the sex, popularized "gonzo porn" that was heavy on sex and thin (at best) on plot, and the rise of the more discreet home video market meant that they no longer needed to pretend that they were making anything more highbrow than cheap spank fodder. Nowadays, Porn with Plot is rarely made, and when it is, it's typically a porn parody of a mainstream work or an indie production that mixes artistic merit with explicit material to shock the audience.
- In the UK during that same time, there was the Awful British Sex Comedy. Made popular by the Confessions of a... series of films, they were basically Carry On films with more nudity. Even if the actual smut was softcore at best, they had little competition in the British market, and they were helped by the fact that a major American distributor (Columbia Pictures) had given enough backing to provide a strong advertising campaign. At the time, they were certainly popular enough for a time to inspire imitators and displace the Carry On films into submission (their own imitation, Carry On Emmannuelle,note bought the series to a halt, outside one last revival attempt in Carry On Columbus). However, with the aforementioned rise of widely-available home porn in the '80s, these films were promptly forgotten, only brought back up for their terrible attempts at humour and as the punchline of jokes about bad porn (they're Awful British Sex Comedies, after all); even those who will admit to liking them consider them So Bad, It's Good. Almost nobody born after their heyday is likely to even know much about them, let alone see one, outside perhaps an episode of St. Elsewhere referencing them.
- The kiddie matinee. Starting in The Sixties, many theaters gave weekend mornings and afternoons over to kiddie movies. Kids could be dropped off, their parents could enjoy some downtime, and theaters could make a tidy profit even with discounted children's prices. Well into The '70s — owing to Disney being the only major studio paying attention to children by then — business boomed for independent companies via imports (Santa Claus (1959), European fairy tale adaptations, etc.) and low-budget original productions such as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Some theaters ran summer movie clubs that offered different movies (and/or compilations of animated shorts) every day. Even major studios like Paramount and MGM provided packages of older films to this market.
But like other varieties of the B-Movie, the kiddie matinee was wounded by the rise of home video in The '80s — why drop off the kids when Mom or Dad can pop in a tape? (An early Calvin and Hobbes strip had Mom insisting they get a VCR after suffering through a matinee with Calvin.) This was likely further compounded by the rise of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel during the rise of cable (meaning there's entire channels broadcasting for kids.) Meanwhile, the success of Star Wars, E.T., and the like with kids encouraged major studios to make more A-list films for families. Thus, the kind of films that would have been kiddie matinee fodder in the past go Direct-to-Video today. It doesn't help the kiddie matinee's reputation that the movies made specifically for the market usually fell into They Just Didn't Care territory, and are rarely revived now except as subjects for RiffTrax and the like.
- Theatrical reissues in general were destroyed by the rise of cable and home video. Well into The '80s, major studios would bring particularly big hits back into movie theaters (Gone with the Wind, the original Star Wars trilogy, etc.) a few years after their initial releases for a victory lap of sorts. Most of the Disney Animated Canon was kept in constant theatrical rotation for decades, with films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs getting a fresh go-round every seven years or so (Snow White's 50th anniversary reissue in 1987 got more publicity and hype than a lot of new releases at the time).
But Disney knew when a trend was fading, and their reissues were slowly phased out in The '90s in favor of getting the films on video, where they now follow a similar release and rerelease rotation. Reissues briefly had a new lease on life at the end of the decade with the Star Wars special edition cuts, but when follow-the-leader reissues of The Wizard of Oz, Grease, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial were disappointments, the trend fizzled. Arthouse and revival theaters still host touring reissues of the kind of titles The Criterion Collection specializes in. The closest thing to mainstream wide-release reissues in this day and age are those provided by Fathom Events, but those are one-to-two-day engagements in a limited amount of theaters, often used as a promotional tool for a Special Edition video release.
- In a Cyclic Trope, the 3-D Movie revival in The New Tens was capitalized upon by several studios that dressed up old favorites with 3-D conversions. Initially it showed promise — the 2011 reissue of The Lion King was a surprise smash (it probably helped that it opened in September, one of the Dump Months, and had virtually no competition), and a 15th anniversary rerelease of Titanic (which also coincided with the centenary of the original disaster) did well a few months later. But Disney/Pixar's 2012 slate of converted reissues didn't live up to those; Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo underperformed and Monsters, Inc. outright bombed. The Phantom Menace arrived to a middling reception and Disney, once they gained ownership of the franchise, canceled plans to rerelease the whole Star Wars Saga to focus on making new films. The announcement that The Wizard of Oz (a film made in 1939) would be getting such a conversion in 2013 went over horribly with fans, and the 3-D rerelease of Top Gun opened to an anemic day one total of $533,000. Many point out that theatrical reissues, even in 3-D, make little sense when most homes own the movies in question on DVD. The single exception to this backlash was the 20th anniversary 3-D reissue of Jurassic Park in 2013.
- Second-run theaters were also killed by home video, especially after the gap between theatrical releases and home video releases began to shrink.
- With fewer and fewer films having theme songs in favor of filling up the soundtrack with as many hot artists of the moment as they can, and less radio airplay for such songs, the Best Original Song category at the Academy Awards has fallen into this in The New Tens. It would probably be abolished altogether if not for the persistence of the Movie Bonus Song and Award Bait Song tropes, and even those don't always fill out the maximum five nomination slots — the 2011 winner "Man or Muppet" beat out one other nominee, which was most likely there so that there wouldn't be just the single nominee.
- Likewise, the tie-in soundtrack album. Movie soundtracks and Breakaway Pop Hits had been a thing for decades, but they reached their peak in The '90s, when nearly every Summer Blockbuster featured at least a few pop songs aimed at becoming hits and cross-promoting the movie on Top 40 radio and MTV. However, the trend died out in the early '00s thanks to both overuse (Cracked cites the Big Lipped Alligator Moment with Macy Gray in the first Spider-Man as the tipping point for audiences) and the decline of the record industry around the same time, and nowadays, many such songs are remembered as kitschy commercialism at best. The only film soundtrack albums that still do well today tend to be either soundtracks for musicals, where the music is the whole point of the film, or instrumental scores; beyond that, only the James Bond films still use pop songs as their theme tunes, largely out of tradition more than anything.
- In addition to launching the CG movie craze, Toy Story was also largely responsible for ending the "kid empowerment" movie trend of the early-mid '90s. After Home Alone, there was a glut of kids movies which either ripped off that movie (Mr. Nanny, Camp Nowhere, 3 Ninjas, etc.) or placed kids in absurdly powerful positions and situations (Cop and a Half, Richie Rich, Blank Check, Little Big League, Rookie of the Year, et cetera). When Toy Story, which featured a perfectly normal kid doing perfectly normal things, became a much bigger success (both critically and commercially) than any of those movies, the "kid empowerment" style was gradually phased out, and is nowadays largely remembered as snark fodder for nostalgia shows. Even Home Alone, despite its enormous success upon release, hasn't aged that well.
- Similar to television, the Anthology Film (which has been around since the Golden Age) has become this due to rising budgets and modern audiences wanting more of their favorite actors on the screen. Attempts at doing anthologies (such as Cloud Atlas) have been box office failures and had mixed critical reception, though a few, such as Tokyo! and Paris, je'taime, did well on the arthouse circuit.
- Movies based on animated television shows used to come out on a fairly consistent basis. The Care Bears movies were fairly successful but other '80s TV adaptations didn't do very well. The underperformances of The Jetsons and DuckTales movies in the summer of 1990 likely prevented studios from greenlighting other movies based on then-popular TV cartoons.
Several years later, Paramount had success with Beavis and Butt-head, Rugrats, and South Park movies that all came out in a three-year period. Suddenly, it seemed every somewhat popular TV cartoon was getting a theatrical movie, some studios going so far to reformat movies originally meant to be direct-to-video to theatrical release. The only two that did very good business during this era were Pokemon The First Movie and The Tigger Movie note , while movies based on Hey Arnold!, The Wild Thornberrys, Recess, The Powerpuff Girls, Veggie Tales, Digimon, Doug and Teacher's Pet, as well as subsequent Pokémon and Winnie-the-Pooh films, among others, did more middling business or outright bombed. While the two SpongeBob SquarePants movies (the first of which was greenlit at the height of this craze but not released until it had died down quite a bit, and the sequel was greenlit more to give Paramount's feature animation division an accessible and commercial first film than anything else) and The Simpsons Movie were both more successful, it doesn't seem to be enough to turn a trend just yet.
- The "'70s and '80s action heroes" revival that started around 2010. During the 2000s, R-rated action movies were overshadowed by the success of PG-13 blockbusters like Transformers, meaning a modern R-rated action movie only came to the big screen once in a while. The period even saw former R-rated franchises getting PG-13 installments to fit contemporary trends, for instance Terminator Salvation and Live Free or Die Hard. However, this seemingly changed in the late 2000s, when Sylvester Stallone enjoyed a Career Resurrection on the strength of Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and especially The Expendables, the latter two of which were decidedly old-school action movies. Action fans fought hard for people to see The Expendables over Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which was released around the same time), and with huge success, as The Expendables outgrossed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at the box office by a considerable amount. Because of the success of The Expendables, more R rated action movies were green-lit, including a sequel.
This turned out to be a short-sighted decision. In 2013, Escape Plan, Bullet To The Head, A Good Day to Die Hard, and The Last Stand (all films that were greenlit because of the success of The Expendables) were released with disappointing box office results, putting an end to this revival. Many suggested that the only reason why The Expendables was a hit was because of its All-Star Cast featuring not just Stallone, but most of the big action heroes of the '80s. Furthermore, while The Expendables 2 was a decent box office performer, the just released The Expendables 3 has opened to poor reviews and indifferent box office returns, so it's very possible even this franchise may be on its last legs.
- The teen sex comedy and its close cousin, the college frat comedy. Films about sex-obsessed teenagers and drunken college students became fashionable in the late 1970s starting with Animal Housenote , and the genre was solidified with Porky's, Revenge of the Nerds, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Though they were despised by criticsnote , audiences loved their gross-out and slapstick humor. They died out by the late '80s, due to a combination of low-quality ripoffs, the HIV epidemic making promiscuous sex look a lot less appealing, teenagers growing up and realizing that college wasn't High School Part 2, and the rise in more thoughtful teen-oriented movies such as The Breakfast Club and Say Anything, many of which were helmed or inspired by John Hughes.
The teen sex comedy made a brief comeback in the late '90s and early 2000s with films like American Pie, Van Wilder, and Road Trip. However, this revival gradually ended in the mid-late '00s thanks to the films of Judd Apatow, whose sex comedies were aimed at both teenagers and adults, and often focused on working adults as the protagonists (teens, if at all present, were usually just relegated to supporting roles). The genre was finished off by Apatow's Superbad in 2007, which gave a relatively glamourless depiction of teen partying and a cynical deconstruction of the Hormone-Addled Teenager; the movie made no bones about depicting its two leads' obsession with sex as weird and pathetic. Films in the genre that have come out since (such as Project X and 21 & Over) have mostly met lukewarm receptions from both critics and viewers, and today, the tropes of such films are often seen as sexist, promoting poor stereotypes of both women (as bimbos who exist only for the male protagonists' pleasure) and men (as hormonal simpletons who think with their dicks). Revenge of the Nerds features an infamous scene where the protagonist commits what we now know to be rape (but wasn't seen as such at the time), and it's treated as a good thing. Animal House also has lines treating rape as a joke.
- The "John Hughes-style" teen movie itself suffered a backlash in The '90s, as Heathers' deconstruction of many of the tropes associated with those films made it harder to take their messages and characters seriously as representative of actual teenagers. Like the teen sex comedy, "lighter" teen comedies made a comeback in the mid '90s, starting with Clueless (a reconstruction of the genre) and continuing with films like She's All That, Can't Hardly Wait, Bring It On, Never Been Kissed, Drive Me Crazy, Get Over It, Whatever It Takes, and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Not Another Teen Movie in 2001 and Mean Girls in 2004 were arguably the Genre Killers, with the former viciously parodying the tropes of the genre (as well as those of teen sex comedies) and the latter raising the bar by tackling a slew of real-life youth issues in a way that made a lot of earlier films look uncomfortable in hindsight. While the better films from both periods are still remembered as classics, many of the other efforts, while successful in their day, are now looked back on as saccharine and unrealistic, remembered solely for '80s/'90s nostalgia.
- And the third "teen" genre of the late 20th century that went over this hill twice (and roughly followed the same peaks and troughs): the teen horror movie. While there were antecedents like Carrie, it was in The '80s when slasher movies like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and their many copycats popularized the soon-to-be-timeworn tale of teenagers/young adults going into the dark woods or that creepy house just outside of town to get laid, get high, and get killed. Eventually, that tale came to be a bit too worn, and the teen slasher boom burned out by around 1990, having descended into self-parody by that point (literally in the case of the Nightmare on Elm Street series) thanks to a glut of poorly-received sequels and Direct-to-Video schlock. Since slashers essentially ruled the American horror genre at the time, horror movies in general spent the first half of the '90s in a Dork Age.
The Scream trilogy in the mid-late '90s helped to revive both the teen horror film and the slasher movie by reconstructing the latter, spawning copycat films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, The Rage: Carrie 2, and Valentine. However, this short-lived boom was brought to a screeching halt on April 20, 1999 by the Columbine High School massacre, which made movies about teens in peril a lot more uncomfortable for both Moral Guardians and for their target audience. Most of the movies in the genre that came out after Columbine were already well into production by then, and most of them suffered from either heavy censorship, disappointing box office returns, or both. It didn't help when, about one year later, the genre was mercilessly parodied by Scary Movie. While the horror genre in general survived this time, coming back quick thanks to films like Saw and the remakes of The Ring and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, relatively few horror films (outside the odd remake) have been explicitly oriented towards teenagers, with adult protagonists becoming the norm in the genre to this day.
- Bullet Time was both popularized and killed by The Matrix. While the technique has roots going back to the 19th century, it was with The Matrix when many people were first truly wowed by it. Unfortunately, thanks to The Matrix, bullet time was (often poorly) imitated and overused by every action movie in the early '00s, causing audiences to grow sick of it. Nowadays, as noted by Cracked, bullet time has become a Dead Horse Trope that's seen as a gimmick. The fact that The Matrix itself has also lost its luster over the years (see below) hasn't helped.
- Overtures, Intermissions, and Entr'acte in films. These use to be common in long running films, especially during The Sixties. They were especially prevalent in big budget, All-Star Cast, lavish 70mm epic films , (e.g. Doctor Zhivago, Cleopatra, Spartacus, 2001: A Space Odyssey, West Side Story, Star Trek The Motion Picture). At the start of showtime, before the opening title card, there would generally be a blank screen (or sometimes mood setting artwork) over which played a pivotal song (sometimes a medley) from the movie. This is a device that was borrowed from opera; appropriate as it gave the impression that these films were big events (this practice was not wasted on B or C grade films and A-list films that used this practice either omitted any pre-feature material such as cartoons, newsreels, or trailers (as do Roadshow releases) or included an intermission between these and the main feature. In theater, the overture and dimming of lights was a way to call viewers back to their seats.). Intermissions, of course, were provided due to the length of many older films. These were normally left out of TV and home video releases of the movies but DVD editions often include them. The disappearance of this practice can be attributed to several reasons, one of them most likely being that the increase of advertising and lengthy trailers prior to the start of the main feature had already greatly increased the showtime length by as much as 25 minutes. The actual film itself is still shorter than the many epic films produced in the past, some of which ran three hours or more. Also, overtures were more suitable for the classical, slow paced style of older epic films which used a three-act format similar to traditional live theatre. It would be incongruous with most modern styles of filmmakers (Overtures fit the styles of David Lean, Robert Wise, and Stanley Kubrick better than they do the modern auteur sensibilities of Michael Bay, QuentinTarantino, or Peter Jackson, for example). Also, this practice only fits stand alone epics films, which have become increasingly rare in the past few decades and have been , for the most part, replaced with franchise or trilogy blockbusters. Considering the length of time which trailers and ads delay the feature presentation, filmmakers, not wishing to test the audiences' patience, prefer to jump right into the story without delay. Certain modern filmmakers who have created epics have eschewed the practice explaining that it ruins the immersion into the film's world. Intermissions for Titanic and The Lord of the Rings were considered but not used for this very reason. Finally, this practice is no longer practical due to the multiplex nature of cinemas.
- American remakes of East Asian horror films were very popular after 2002's The Ring, but 2008's One Missed Call was the last in a string of critical and commercial bombs that killed the trend. Nowadays, they're seen as a sign of a lack of creativity in Hollywood, one based on an assumption that Viewers Are Morons who won't watch any film that's not in English.
- The all-star, cast-of-thousands war movie subgenre is almost completely dead. After The Longest Day proved a huge success in 1962, studios eagerly turned seemingly every WWII battle into an Epic Film. Problem is that audience interest waned through the '70s, with movies like Tora! Tora! Tora! and A Bridge Too Far becoming expensive bombs. Arguably the Genre-Killer was Inchon, a notoriously-terrible Vanity Project bankrolled by the Unification Church. Since the '80s, most war movies are variants on the "unit picture" format, focusing on front line soldiers rather than higher-ranking officers. Occasionally the old format makes a reappearance (e.g. Gettysburg, Black Hawk Down) but these are definite aberrations.
- The Western genre was wildly popular in the early days of American cinema — for many reasons, not least of which was that they were superbly cheap and easy to film (who needs a complex studio setting when you can ride your crew to the Mojave Desert and hire some local ranchers as extras?). The genre reached its apex in The Fifties, when Westerns were a near-ubiquitous staple of both film and television. But Westerns have been running on fumes since the early '70s. The sheer number of parodies and deconstructions in the '70s was a big factor; along with shifting cultural norms (especially towards race and increasingly Gray and Grey Morality), the typical Western story of settling the frontier no longer appealed to moviegoers. Audience shifts towards contemporary action movies, and eventually big-budget blockbusters, further killed the genre. And since the 1960s, when criticism of America's involvement in the Vietnam War became rampant, international audiences saw westerns as American propaganda movies, which even killed their popularity overseas.
Hollywood periodically tries to revive the Western, with limited success. The early '90s saw a brief revival with Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven winning Best Picture, and Young Guns and Tombstone proving box office hits. For whatever reason, this trend quickly petered out. Recent years have seen successful Westerns like True Grit and Django Unchained, but the colossal failure of Disney's The Lone Ranger again leaves the genre's future in serious doubt. Westerns have done better on the small screen, with shows like Deadwood and Hell on Wheels proving popular, but Western feature films remain a gamble for studios.
- Similarly, the traditional adventure film (both the Jungle Opera and war/adventures set in the imperial era) has fallen out of favor since the '70s, Raiders of the Lost Ark and its various clones notwithstanding. With many classic examples of the genre rooted in either blatant imperialism or a Mighty Whitey narrative, not to mention cringe-worthy racial stereotypes (eg. The Four Feathers, Gunga Din, King Solomon's Mines), it's a genre that's only periodically revived. The few recent examples are mostly parodies (see The Mummy Trilogy) or Deconstructions like the 2002 Four Feathers, which has a much bleaker view of British imperialism than previous versions.
- The Indiana Jones films themselves illustrate why this genre is problematic. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade avoided backlash by featuring Those Wacky Nazis as villains, because who doesn't hate the Nazis? In contrast, the inclusion of heart-ripping Indian cultists in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom generated controversy and negative press, when it wouldn't have raised an eyebrow a few decades earlier.
- Slapstick shorts were the most popular film genre in the world from the late 1900s until the 1930s. Comedians rose to be superstars and the visual gags translated well in all countries across the world. Halfway through the 1930s, animated cartoons steadily got more popular than slapstick shorts, causing many film theaters to choose those as the opening shorts. As a result many comedians were forced to make full length features instead. The only comedians who kept making only slapstick shorts even when it was no longer fashionable were the Three Stooges. Slapstick shorts did enjoy a revival in the 1950s on TV were they were rebroadcast in re-runs, but every new attempt to launch a new comedy group series in theaters failed. The only exception was Cheech And Chong, but they were only marketed to Stoner Film audiences and after their popularity faded away this meant pretty much the end of slapstick films built around two characters.
- Some once very popular comedians have basically faded away in obscurity nowadays, with their movies and series only selling to very nostalgic film afectionados: Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar, Red Buttons, Danny Kaye, George Burns, Joe E. Lewis, The Ritz Brothers, The Keystone Cops, Ben Turpin...
- Horror and monster movies with practical effects or stop-motion animation pretty much died when Jurassic Park (1993) introduced CGI. Nowadays even B-movie directors will prefer using CGI instead of use practical effects to make monsters or creatures. It has gotten so easy to make CGI effects nowadays that no time or effort is put into it to make appear realistic. So, perhaps maybe even CGI will receive an audience backlash.
- Musicals. Since the 1960s they have gotten increasingly associated with cheesiness, camp and squareness. Modern audiences find it hard to take them seriously anymore. As a result a lot of musicals that came out since then only reached a very specific target audience, not the big masses anymore. Many musicals that are made today are either children's or family films (Disney, The Muppets) or comedies that try to lampshade everything that makes these films campy (like Trey Parker and Matt Stone's work).
- As a general rule, any film that becomes famous more for its special effects than anything runs a heavy risk of falling into this once Technology Marches On. Some films manage to avert this thanks to also having quality storytelling, direction, acting, etc. to fall back on, but those that don't often find themselves becoming footnotes in cinematic history once later films manage to take those same effects and do them better.
Specific Films (Best Picture winners)
The Academy Award for Best Picture has historically been a crapshoot when it comes to determining what films will stand the test of time. While some have retained their reputation and gone on to be viewed as classics, others have not, as this list demonstrates. In fact, winning the award can easily result in Hype Backlash, especially if the film in question is seen as having snubbed another film that went on to be much better remembered. As this article at Birth.Movies.Death. explains, merely being up for awards, and especially winning them, places a film under a magnifying glass, as flaws that would barely be noticed if it wasn't nominated suddenly become massive now that the film has the stamp of acclaim that an award nomination (let alone a victory) brings.
- Upon its release in 1999, American Beauty was widely acclaimed as one of the finest achievements in American cinema, quickly shooting to the top of the IMDb list and sweeping the Oscars. Ten years later, while it's still ranked high on IMDb's top movie list, it appears to have been largely forgotten. This is mainly due to a mix of Hype Backlash, a long list of films that ripped off its suburban angst plot, and the fact that many of the once-taboo subjects that it touched upon (such as repressed homosexuality) have become passé.
- It probably hasn't helped that Beauty came out the same year as several similar (thematically, if not stylistically) middle-class angst flicks like Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, and Magnolia. Despite its virtues, Beauty is very much of its (pre-9/11, pre-recession) time. The Nostalgia Critic discussed this in his evaluation of the film, arguing that the same factors that made it such a big hit in 1999 were also the reason why it became so dated afterwards — it captured the culture of late '90s American suburbia so perfectly that everybody at the time could identify with it, but as time passed, it became more difficult to connect with those same circumstances if you didn't live through them yourself.
- The 1931 film Cimarron, a film that received almost universal acclaim in its day and broke out of the ghetto to become the first Western to win Best Picture, is extremely ill-regarded today — it's the lowest-rated Best Picture winner ever on IMDb. One of the main things that made it so famous in its day was its purported historical accuracy and massive scope... which, in modern terms, translates to "offensive racial stereotypes out the wazoo walking around a lot of big empty spaces." And in true Disco fashion, it's seen as having stolen the award from much better films, including Charlie Chaplin's City Lights.
- From the same era, Noël Coward's Cavalcade (1933) has a similar reputation. A huge hit in its day and multiple Oscar winner, based on a well-regarded play, the film version's widely considered an incoherent, sentimental mess. Its reputation particularly suffers from coming out the same year as King Kong (1933), Duck Soup, The Testament Of Dr Mabuse and others which hold up much better.
- Crash, which won Best Picture in 2006, often turns up today on many critics' lists of the all-time worst Best Picture winners. Not only is it seen as having snubbed Brokeback Mountain (a decision that, even at the time, many felt to have been guided almost purely by fear of backlash from anti-gay Moral Guardians), it was about as subtle as an anvil with its message, and even those critics who liked it said that, in the long run, it was fairly insubstantial. While it still holds a very high score on IMDb, the first thing most people know about it is the controversy over its win.
- Dances with Wolves has gone from being a well-regarded Kevin Costner drama to "that film that robbed Goodfellas of the Best Picture Oscar."
- When Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1989, Spike Lee said that he found its victory to be more insulting than the fact that his film, Do the Right Thing, wasn't nominated. Today, Lee's assertion has all but become the majority opinion.
- Thanks to extreme Hype Backlash, The English Patient, a movie that won nine Academy Awards in 1996, is predominantly remembered today as the movie that Elaine bitched about on Seinfeld and that Yes Dear described as being a great movie "to put us to sleep." A large amount of this can be attributed to its overshadowing of Fargo, widely seen as the Magnum Opus of The Coen Brothers and declared by esteemed film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert to be the best film of 1996. Yeowch.
- Upon its initial release, Forrest Gump became the fourth highest grossing film of all-time (behind only E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and Jurassic Park). It not only earned the Academy Award for Best Picture but also earned Tom Hanks his second consecutive Best Actor Oscar. Forrest Gump pandered to Baby Boomers with Tom Hanks, special effects and a bit of narcissism. Now, Forrest Gump is looked at as the movie that robbed Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption for the Best Picture Oscar. To put things into proper perspective, Forrest Gump has a 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes when compared to the 93% and 91% Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption respectively. Forrest Gump meanwhile, is now seen as an overly sentimental film with a somewhat problematic message.
- The Greatest Show on Earth is considered to have been a massive mistake of a Best Picture Winner years after its 1952 win. It is generally agreed that while the film looked nice, its plot was limited, and it's now considered to be a perfect example of style over substance. The general view is that its win was purely because of politics, at both the studio level and in terms of proving Hollywood's "pro-American" credentials at the height of the Cold War. Two of its fellow nominees, High Noon and Ivanhoe, had screenwriters (Carl Foreman and Marguerite Roberts respectively) blacklisted from the film industry due to suspicions of Communist sympathies, so the voters weren't overly willing to vote for those two films. Plus, Cecil B. DeMille, the person largely responsible for the film, was in his seventies and, as a respected figure, people wished to honor him before his death, leading to this film snubbing a wide variety of classics, including, in addition to the two previously mentioned films, Singing In The Rain and The Quiet Man.
- One of the most famous examples of the Award Snub backlash: How Green Was My Valley. While hardly one of John Ford's best movies, it still maintains a good reputation among film buffs, and it was good enough to win Best Picture in 1942. The problem? Also up for Best Picture in 1942 were Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon, both widely regarded as among the greatest films ever made. As a result, Valley is best known today as "that movie that won Best Picture over Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon". Talk about your Hype Backlash!
- Ordinary People set the standard for late 1970s/early '80s dramas, perhaps even more so than Kramer vs. Kramer or The Deer Hunter. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Redford's first film as a director, and Best supporting Actor for Timothy Hutton in his first film even though he split the nomination with Judd Hirsch. It also garnered a Best Actress nomination for Mary Tyler Moore for good measure. And like many others on this list, it stood on its own merits as a good, or possibly even great film that still holds up and would normally be comparable to other Best Picture winners. Except in this case, it had the misfortune to have not only taken the Best Picture from both Raging Bull (which is often considered one of the greatest films ever) and The Elephant Man (which went away completely empty handed in spite of being up for eight awards), but also Best Director from the directors of those respective films, both of whom are known for their lack of Oscars (Scorsese wouldn't win a Best Director Oscar for another twenty-six years; Lynch is still waiting), which in many eyes screamed of being further examples of Award Snub. It could have defined an entire genre of films (a realistic drama of the common man) and it was a commercial and critical success that holds a 92% critic/88% viewer rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Today however, it is merely an entry on a list of Best Picture winners.
- Shakespeare in Love in 1998 suffered much the same fate as The English Patient two years earlier. Quite a good movie on its own, and very successful and popular at the time, but today remembered not just as the film that "stole" Best Picture that year from Saving Private Ryan, but for the aggressive campaign that Miramax ran to get the film that award, which, to many, was indicative of studio politics guiding Oscar decisions.
Specific Films (Other)
- Airport was a blockbuster in its day. With a box-office intake of $100 million (about $600 million when adjusted for inflation), it was the second highest-grossing film of 1970, and the highest-grossing film Universal had made since Spartacus. Unlike most blockbusters, it was also a critical hit, being nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture (though it only won Best Supporting Actress). It spawned three sequels and enough imitators (with varying success) to kick-start an entire genre, the Disaster Movie. Even in its day, though, it got knocked for being cheesy and melodramatic, and when Airplane! came out, it made Airport impossible to take seriously ever again... which is kind of crucial for a disaster film. While later '70s disaster films like The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, and Earthquake are still regarded as classics of '70s Hollywood, Airport's stature has declined considerably, remembered only for its historical significance and for being "that campy '70s flick that Airplane! made fun of."
- The Andy Hardy film series is an example from The Golden Age of Hollywood. From 1937 to 1942, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced 13 films of the series that were all enormously popular. They made a star out of Mickey Rooney, who was the biggest box office draw in the world for a time. They had broad appeal for the entire family, kids identifying with the exuberant Andy while the parents identified with the older, wiser Judge Hardy. Andy's temporary love interests for each film were promising young starlets, many of whom would become major stars in their own right thanks in part to their exposure in these films. They were even critically acclaimed at the time, winning a special Academy Award for "representing America", which might be the only time an Oscar ever went to an entire film series.
Rooney took a break from the series in 1943 to work on other projects, made one final film in 1944, then went off to fight in World War II. Trouble began when he returned to make another Hardy film in 1946 after the war. It fizzled. In 1958, an attempt was made to revive the series with Andy as the head of his own family. The film bombed, viewed as too squeaky clean, conformist and old-fashioned even by the famously buttoned-up cultural standards of the '50s. As critics looked back on The Golden Age of Hollywood, they would find ways to appreciate many other films of that period, but the Andy Hardy films only received scorn and contempt due to a combination of Values Dissonance, their Totally Radical slang that made "totally radical" sound fresh and cool, and Rooney's ridiculous mugging.note These were some of the most popular films from the most popular studio of the most popular period of film history, when more people regularly went to the movies than at any time before or since. Today, they're forgotten or derided even by many Golden Age enthusiasts. Only seven of the 16 films were ever made available on VHS, and until 2012 only four were on DVD — one of them because it fell into the Public Domain due to MGM forgetting to renew its copyright, and the other three because they're the only three films of the series to co-star Judy Garland in a recurring role. Over 2012-13, Warner Home Video brought out all 16 films in two box sets via its Warner Archive DVD-R on demand service, but it's telling that they didn't do a mass-market release.
- The Austin Powers movies have fallen into this. Insanely popular during the turn of the millennium, they were easily some of the most watched, quoted, and referenced movies of the time. However, since the release of the third movie, they've fallen out of favor hard. Thanks to the endless repetition of the movie's funniest lines, they stopped being funny fast. Add to that other factors, such as Seinfeld Is Unfunny (the movies took Overly Long Gag, beat it to death, then resurrected it to beat it some more, with diminishing returns), Mike Myers taking several hits to his reputation, and later spy movies (which these were an Affectionate Parody of) such as the Bourne saga and the Daniel Craig era Bond taking a more grounded and realistic approach that makes the exaggerated campiness simply not work. Occasionally, one of the movies will show up on cable (most often Goldmember, which is more likely to capitalize on Beyonce's popularity than anything), but that's about it.
- An Entertainment Weekly article written shortly after Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me came out on video suggested another possible reason. The movies were successful in theaters as a shared experience, best enjoyed with other viewers; they aren't nearly as funny watching alone at home on video or television.
- Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time (surpassing another James Cameron film, Titanic (1997)), and its financial success led to a surge in interest for 3D films. But for a movie with that kind of box office intake, its impact seemed to have faded fast. Unlike, say, Star Wars, Avatar never particularly entered the pop culture in a "lots of people quote this movie and reference it and dress up as its characters" sense (outside of a few Navi weddings, a place in China that was being made up to look like the Avatar world, and a few people learning to speak the fake language, just like Trekkies learning Klingon).
Avatar's biggest problem, arguably, was that it didn't translate well to the small screen. When it first came out, you could watch it the way that James Cameron intended, and it worked really well as an immersive, big-screen 3D experience. But now you can't, and watching it at home really doesn't play to the movie's strengths. This ties in with the aforementioned problem of films that are best known for their effects than anything. Even at the height of its popularity, jokes about the film being "Dances with Wolves in space!" were common, and even those who liked it tended to like it more for the eye-popping visuals than anything, finding the story to be fairly forgettable. In hindsight, the idea of Avatar as the next big fandom sensation was a media presupposition/marketing push that never actually materialized.
- Cracked devoted an episode of Today's Topic to this subject, referring to Cameron as a modern-day Thomas Edison in how his greatest cinematic accomplishments (such as Avatar) arguably have more to do with the technology behind the scenes than with the actual substance of his stories.
- It also didn't help that many commentators felt that the basic premise had already been done better several times before or that despite the film's message of tolerance it was accused of having some uncomfortable racist undercurrents.
- Inverted with Cameron's Titanic, which has gradually experienced a massive resurgence in popularity since its 3D rerelease. Ironic as Titanic itself was considered (briefly) to be overrated and suffering from Hype Backlash when Avatar was released.
- The Billy Jack films. Billy, played by Tom Laughlin (who also directed all of the films and co-wrote all but the first), was a half-Native American Vietnam veteran who stood up to bikers, rednecks, corrupt authorities, etc. with martial arts moves when talking them down from bullying Native Americans, hippies, and youth in general didn't work. Billy Jack first appeared in the 1967 American International Pictures B-movie The Born Losers, but it was 1971's Billy Jack that became a massive mainstream hit via Laughlin's own marketing efforts. 1974's three-hour-long The Trial of Billy Jack was another hit, so much so that Laughlin organized an essay contest in which fans wrote rebuttals to the terrible reviews it got from critics!
But things fell apart fast. Laughlin tackled similar themes in a period Western setting with The Master Gunfighter in 1975, but it bombed, and a return to the series that made his name with 1977's Billy Jack Goes to Washington (yes, a remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) didn't even make it to theaters. Since they were never critical favorites and quickly became unintentional period pieces for The '70s, thanks largely to their heavy-handed socio-political commentary, they are mostly forgotten now. From The '80s until his death in 2013, Laughlin (when not trying his hand at actual politics) tried to bring back the character in a new movie, with no success.
- John Huston's The Bible was the highest grossest film for 1966. Years on, it doesn't seem to be one of those films you see at Christmas or Easter now a days like you do for Ben Hur or The Ten Commandments.
- The Big Chill is part of a species of serious and otherwise very boring movies that manage to get some attention (the soundtrack triggered a burst of popularity for Motown classics, made Meg Tilly arguably the sexiest woman on screen, and all-in-all, made a huge splash with the slightly aging '60s crowd) but quickly faded. Not too many years after it came out, it was spoofed on Saturday Night Live (or a similar program) as "the movie where a bunch of yuppies sit around talking about themselves" ...The Big Deal.
- The Birth of a Nation was the first Epic Movie, the film that proved cinema to be a viable entertainment medium rather than a passing fad, and the pioneer of countless filmmaking techniques. Modern-day film scholars and critics are still more than willing to acknowledge this part of its legacy. However, to say that the film's writing and story has not aged well... well, there's a reason why it's only watched today by film students (for the technical/historical aspects) and by people studying the history of racism. A big, white-hooded, cross-burning reason.
- When it originally came out, scandalous Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice was seen as very scandalous. Catch it on TV now and it's a snoozer.
- Borat faded extremely quickly given how deeply it got its hooks into the culture. At the time, it was acclaimed as a brilliant satire of race relations, xenophobia, and Americans' views of the Muslim world, and there was a good year where you couldn't go anywhere without someone mindlessly interjecting with "My Wife!" or "High Five!". It was the "That's what she said" of 2006. Sacha Baron Cohen become big in America after Borat became a hit, but his 2009 follow-up Brüno was not nearly as successful, with many people seeing it as a Borat ripoff that went over the line of satire into being flat-out offensive. The Dictator in 2012 did even worse. This caused him to resurrect his Ali G character for television as opposed to doing another movie.
- The 2005 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a huge success that summer, bringing Tim Burton and Johnny Depp together for the first time since 1999 and becoming their highest-grossing collaboration up to that point. It was warmly received by critics and set the stage for the enormously successful Alice in Wonderland five years later. However...back in 1971, a far less successful musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl book was released, titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. By the time Charlie came out, Willy Wonka had become a near-universally beloved family movie; with now-iconic musical numbers and a classic performance from Gene Wilder, this version became the source of numerous pop culture spoofs. Thus, there were a lot of viewers that regarded the 2005 film as defamation of that version rather than a faithful adaptation of the source novel. In Willy Wonka's colossal shadow, the newer film quickly faded from public consciousness, with chief box office rival Wedding Crashers ultimately holding up much better over time (it edged out Charlie's final gross in North America), inspiring music videos a decade after the fact. Today, Charlie is almost completely forgotten and poorly recalled by those who remember it (having a 51% user score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to its 82% critical rating and Willy Wonka's 86%), with Depp's Wonka regarded as one of his all-time worst performances and "Wonka's Welcome Song" becoming one of the most hated ear-worms in film history. The consensus seems to be that aside from the modern-day visual effects and its effort to be Truer to the Text there's nothing that Charlie does better than Willy Wonka, and the latter strength is undercut by an Adaptation Expansion Backstory for Mr. Wonka that results in a severe Adaptation Personality Change and Not His Sled ending.
- Another sign that the film's clout has faded: Warner Bros. considered giving it a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation ala the Disney stage shows but instead co-produced a West End musical adaptation of the novel in 2013. It has several Internal Homages to the 1971 film in its libretto — and "Pure Imagination" is the Eleven O'Clock Number in the otherwise all-new score — while only a few minor details could be said to acknowledge the 2005 film.
- Chicken Little was fairly popular when it came out, and did very well at the box office. Now it's regarded as one of the worst animated films that Disney has ever made, and is an Old Shame for the studio and nearly everyone involved. Although at the time it was a surprise hit despite its critical bashing and the Disney brand having been on a downward spiral for most of the early 2000s, in hindsight the films' box office success was helped in part due to it being a DreamWorks knockoff at a time when DreamWorks knockoffs were guaranteed moneymakers.
- When it opened in 2008, Cloverfield was considered by many as the future of sci-fi cinema and had an insane level of hype on the level of any summer tentpole. Nowadays, Hype Backlash of both the film and its producer J. J. Abrams, along with the rise of sci-fi tentpoles with wider appeal and more crowd-pleasing premises, led people to basically see it as nothing more than another monster movie with unlikable characters. Meanwhile, later Kaiju movies such as Pacific Rim and Godzilla (2014) made the bare-bones approach of Cloverfield seem uninteresting. (However, it did wonders for the careers of director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard, who have continued to do well in spite of the film's declining impact.)
- Despite being the second-biggest box office hit of 1986 (only behind Top Gun), Crocodile Dundee, other than a few "That's not a knife" jokes, has been largely forgotten. This was most typified by a belated (13 years later) second sequel that took Mick Dundee to Los Angeles immediately bombing at the box office (despite the previous two movies each grossing over $100 million at the North American box office). Obviously, the the first film from 1986 seems very dated now. To add insult to injury, one could argue that most people today who make "That's not a knife" jokes are actually referencing the Simpsons' parody of the scene rather than the original. ("I see you've played Knifey-Spooney before!")
- While The Crying Game was a successful movie at the time, winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1992, the "sensation" at the time was really about the Dil plot twist. There was also a big spoiler controversy because Gene Siskel revealed the twist on Siskel & Ebert. Over the years, the plot twist in The Crying Game has been referenced a number of times (sometimes as an example of a plot twist that everyone knows), but rarely anything else about the film. It could be suspected that far more people know that there's a transgender character in The Crying Game than know that most of the other major characters are members of the IRA. This is despite the fact that the latter is essential to the plot and is established within the first few minutes of the movie. The Crying Game has probably become a victim of its twist being so well known, as there are likely plenty of people who never bothered to watch it because they figure they already know everything important about it. But there are actually plenty of other twists in the plot, and the fact that Dil is transgender doesn't even have much to do with the IRA storyline.
- The 1989 film Dead Poets Society was one of the very few films that likely everybody in a certain age group saw in the theaters when it came out. There was also a lot of talk about how it was the film for a particular generation, quoting it repeatedly. By the mid-'90s, however, not so much — how many people do you know mention it in their favorite movies lists? In essence, it was the generational equivalent of The Big Chill for the late '80s, movies that sort of just vanished from our collective minds. Dead Poets Society itself is a particularly good example of such "meaning-y" movies.
- Pierce Brosnan's fourth James Bond film Die Another Day was when initially released, the highest grossing Bond movie ever when not taking inflation into account. There was even talk of a spin-off for Brosnan's leading lady, Halle Berry. Now, it's often considered to be one of the worst Bond movies ever, with a heap of the criticism going towards the film's heavily used and poorly done CGI, which most people found to be unconvincing and a distraction from the film's plot. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise went into hibernation before rebooting with a back-to-basics movie starring Daniel Craig as Bond. Wordof God mentions that the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks also played a part, because the writers felt they couldn't justify the franchise's campiness after such a traumatic event.
- Five Easy Pieces was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, and it inspired a MAD Magazine parody, which was the marker of cultural significance for a movie back in the day. Who watches it today? If anything, it's now remembered for the chicken salad sandwich scene if remembered at all.
- When it was first released in 2004, Garden State was hyped as the future of independent film and Zach Braff was thought to be a breakout star in the making. Cut to the present day, where its constant imitations, mockery of what was perceived as the film's hipster tendencies (most notably the infamous "The Shins will change your life" scene), and the decline of Braff's careernote have basically turned the film into a joke. In fact, one could say that, in the long run, this film and its copycats did more harm than good for independent film, causing the term "indie" to be associated with insufferable hipster stereotypes for years.
- As discussed in this article, The Godfather Part III received mostly positive reviews when initially released, with some critics like Gene Siskel and Alexander Walker ranking it among 1990's best. It also was a respectable box office success (though overshadowed by Goodfellas) and earned seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Backlash began soon afterwards, triggered by multiple sources: criticism of Sofia Coppola's performance, press coverage of its Troubled Production, author Mario Puzo distancing himself from the movie, director Francis Ford Coppola openly commenting that he made the film to clear his debts, and a scathing Saturday Night Live parody. Being shutout at the Oscars intensified the criticism. Within a few years Part III became a punch-line, frequently mocked throughout the '90s as a textbook bad sequel. While not as universally reviled today, it remains a Contested Sequel even among Godfather fans.
- While not as huge of a success as Eddie Murphy's previous movie, Beverly Hills Cop, The Golden Child was none-the-less, still a huge box office success, becoming the eighth highest grossing film of 1986. The Golden Child is now considered to be the worst movie of Eddie Murphy's 1980s peak (not counting 1984's Best Defense, in which he was credited as a "Strategic Guest Star") with a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to boot. It has also since, been overshadowed in recognition and popularity by John Carpenter's similarly themed Big Trouble in Little China (which was also released in 1986).
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was the archetypical "Very Special Episode" of films before Very Special Episodes were in their heyday. It involved Stanley Kramer, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier as well as a very cutting-edge topic. And it also ultimately fell victim to everything that plagues a Very Special Episode on TV, such as cardboard characters and speechifying. In hindsight, it wasn't just a product of its time, it was a product of a moment of its time. What it's mainly remembered for now is being Spencer Tracy's final film (he died only a few weeks after completing it).
- When it was released, The Hangover was a huge success, particularly on the DVD market. You couldn't go anywhere without the movie being quoted at least once, and after its release there have been many movies released that have tried to copy The Hangover's formula (Bridesmaids, 21 & Over). However, the sequel was released with mixed results. Whilst a box office hit, it was heavily criticized for being a retread of the first film except it was set in Bangkok instead of Las Vegas, and also became controversial for an infamous joke involving a transgender prostitute. The third film was a Franchise Killer that, while still a hit at the box office, didn't come close to its predecessors' success and received an even worse critical reception.
- High School Musical was very popular with the intended target audience between 2006-2009 but has since fallen into obscurity with the target audience now grown up and a reminder of what went wrong with Disney in that era.
- The Swedish pair of films I Am Curious (Blue) and I Am Curious (Yellow) were scandalous when first released in the late '60s because of the nudity (including a penis!) and simulated sex in a relatively mainstream film. They were actually banned in Boston, and were early recipients of the "X" rating. How many people know of or recall I Am Curious today, though? The only time they seemed to be mentioned is among the films released on DVD by The Criterion Collection.
- Another '70s relic, Joe, which was a huge hit, making $20,000,000 on a $106,000 budget. Its violent dramatization of the Generation Gap struck a chord with the era's polarized audiences, even inspiring a disturbing Misaimed Fandom who cheered when the protagonists started murdering hippies, and influenced vigilante films like Death Wish and Taxi Driver. Today its broad, Anvilicious message plays as the epitome of the Unintentional Period Piece, and it's remembered, if at all, as Peter Boyle's Star-Making Role.
- The Keystone Cops: In the 1910s a very popular slapstick comedy franchise, but they soon got overshadowed by the much better paced comedies of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel & Hardy that followed and which, contrary to the Keystones, still are beloved today. For many decades the Keystone Cops were forgotten. They occasionally were shown on TV later in re-runs, where old people nostalgic for the time period liked them, but since these people have passed away nowadays the Keystone Cops are probably one of the best examples of this trope. Even by slapstick comedy standards these monotone movies haven't aged well.
- The Last Picture Show was widely compared to Citizen Kane in its day. Today, it's remembered mainly for Cybill Shepherd's nude scenes.
- Similarly, while Last Tango in Paris was extremely controversial for its sexual content, it was a huge box office success and received almost universal acclaim for its performances, photography and character drama. Today it's mostly remembered for its graphic sex scenes, especially one involving Marlon Brando and a stick of butter.
- Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful. Upon release in 1998, it received warmly positive reviews (still holding an 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating), became one of the highest-grossing foreign language movies ever, and won the Grand Prix at Cannes and several Oscars, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor. Today it's rarely mentioned except to be criticized as either sickeningly sweet or an inappropriately comic treatment of the Holocaust, frequently turning up on lists of all-time worst Best Picture nominees.
- Another problem: This was another Miramax release/awards campaign in the year of Shakespeare in Love and their work was similarly aggressive, focusing on Benigni's goofy, broken-English publicity appearances — and from there, acceptance speeches. They became so well-known in showbusiness circles that when Ray Romano hosted Saturday Night Live in early 1999, they built a whole sketch around Benigni-being-wacky weeks before much of the rest of the U.S. was introduced to him via the Academy Awards ceremony. His antics there were so absurd that they became fodder for other comics (late night talk shows, etc.) and probably contributed as much, if not more, to the backlash than any shortcomings of the film itself did. His next film, 2002's Pinocchio (in which he played the lead!) completely flopped in North America, and since then his career has attracted little interest beyond his native Italy, where he remains popular.
- Further backlash arose due to Benigni's Best Actor win, which is now seen as one of the ultimate examples of an Award Snub, as he got his nomination over Jim Carrey's breakthrough dramatic work in The Truman Show (a film that has aged much better than Life is Beautiful due to its social commentary on the public's obsession with celebrity and reality TV), and he beat out other acclaimed actors who are still Oscar-less, like Ian McKellen for Gods And Monsters and Edward Norton for American History X.
- The Matrix, when released in 1999, took everyone by surprise and the world by storm. Many Western audiences were amazed by its dark Cyber Punk world inspired by anime such as Ghost in the Shell, critics loved its philosophical discussions about the nature of reality and free will, and everybody was stunned by its amazing special effects and action scenes inspired by Hong Kong action cinema. In particular, the Bullet Time effects of the film became amazingly popular, and the film actually went on to beat Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for the best visual effects Oscar (the first time that a Star Wars film had not won the award). Two sequels were immediately greenlit, and soon there was a whole franchise composed of comics, video games, and specially made anime.
Unfortunately, problems very quickly began to emerge for the prospects of a long-running franchise like Star Wars or Star Trek. The first sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, was a box office smash but polarized critics and audiences, with many finding the philosophy in it to be pretentious, overwrought, and confusing, the action scenes overly long and suffering from too much Conspicuous CG, and too many scenes to be superfluous distractions. Then came Enter the Matrix, a game billed as an interquel between the two sequels, which was rushed to meet its release date — and it showed. Then at last came the second sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, which took all the problems people had with Reloaded and magnified them. It not only failed to answer the many questions raised at the end of Reloaded (especially the Mind Screw ending), it also raised several new ones, culminating in a Gainax Ending that fans to this day still debate and argue over. Revolutions was panned by audiences and critics alike, and while not a flop, did not make near the same amount as Reloaded. Between the sequels' and video game's failures, the franchise's innovative effects getting parodied and/or copied to hell and back by every other action film released during the early-mid '00s, and the films' visual style growing extremely dated, the franchise is now remembered solely as a relic of the turn of the 21st century.
- Mission: Impossible II was the third highest grossing film of 2000 and remains the highest grossing film of the Mission: Impossible series in at least, North America. Now, it's generally regarded as the worst installment of the franchise with a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60% rating on Metacritic.
- The 1952 comedy The Moon Is Blue was extremely scandalous at the time, its subject matter forcing United Artists to release it without the approval of The Hays Code (one of the first major challenges to it after the Miracle Decision). The Catholic Legion of Decency gave it a "Condemned" rating, it was banned in Kansas, Ohio, and Maryland (though the Supreme Court overturned those bans), and one theater in a small Midwestern town only agreed to show it in sex-segregated screenings. These days, however, most people would know of it from the TV series M*A*S*H using it as a humorous point in the episode "The Moon is Not Blue" (first broadcast in 1982), if they know of it at all. Otherwise, aside from that detail, it's become a footnote in the history of film and censorship.
- Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers was, when first released in 1994, regarded as the the top film that was going to change the way movies were made. It was legitimately shocking, and it had an edgy style to go with it. Whatever splash that it made, however, was overshadowed by Pulp Fiction, which was released a couple of months later and actually did have that impact. It didn't help that Quentin Tarantino, who wrote both films but directed only the latter, more or less disowns the former. What really killed it in the public eye, however, was the fact that it allegedly inspired a substantial number of copycat crimes (most infamously the Columbine massacre), making the entire film a very uncomfortable watch as a result. Today, it's a film that fiercely divides just about everybody who sees it, the prevailing opinion being that it's either a brilliant satire of media sensationalism or a repugnant celebration of its Villain Protagonists, and it's best known for the controversy that surrounded it above anything else.
- The Piano was a big hit back in 1993 and got huge acclaim and won three Oscars. Today, though the movie is only remembered because Anna Paquin won Best Supporting Actress at the age of 11. In fact, people only remember the award, not the performance that won it. While Paquin's performance is still viewed as very strong for a 9-year old, it hasn't aged as well as, say, Natalie Portman's part in Léon: The Professional (which did not get the same Oscar recognition) and people nowadays tend to associated Paquin more with the X-Men movies and True Blood. Besides Paquin, however, almost everything about the film has been almost forgotten. Today, few people remember who the actual lead actors were (Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, and Sam Neill) let alone that Hunter also won the Oscar for Lead Actress as well.
- Paper Moon is pretty much an identical case. People only remember the record set by Tatum O'Neal (youngest person to win an Oscar) rather than the movie itself. And since O'Neal did not maintain her popularity for nearly as long as Paquin, the movie faded from public consciousness much faster. It's saying something when people remember Paquin being the second youngest person to win an Oscar more than O'Neal holding the actual record.
- Places in the Heart is a highly acclaimed drama about the Great Depression and racial relationships. What's it remembered for today? Sally Field's acceptance speech for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, frequently misquoted as "You like me! You really like me!"
- The original Police Academy became an unexpected smash hit in 1984, grossing $146 million on a meager $4 million budget and rejuvenating Steve Guttenberg's career. However, while the original film is still enjoyable on its own merits, the sequels... not so much. With each new installment decreasing in quality, the franchise lost more of its popularity, turning it into a punchline for jokes about Sequelitis. The absolute nadir was the seventh film, Mission to Moscow, which earned a measly $126,000 and effectively killed the franchise. Whereas other '80s hits like Ghostbusters and Transformers are still fondly remembered, Police Academy will likely be seen as a Cult Classic at best, with only the first film having any fans.
- Prizzi's Honor was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and won for Best Supporting Actress. These days, it has a mediocre 6.8 rating on IMDb and nobody watches it. It is likely one of those situations where everyone involved with the film was very well-connected in Hollywood, and it consequently got rated more highly than it really deserved. Perhaps, it also seems too dated now, like a lot of films of that era. It arguably also has been overshadowed by Goodfellas, which seemed to over take it as the "definitive mob film" of that particular time period.
- 2008's The Reader was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Actress in a Lead Role for Kate Winslet. While most commentators agree that this was a good win, what is the film most remembered for today? The fact that, despite generally middling reviews apart from Winslet's performance, it was nominated for Best Picture over The Dark Knight and WALL•E, which have a 94% and a 98% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes to The Reader's 61%. Many Oscar-watchers felt that this nomination was an extremely glaring example of the Academy's biases as to what makes a "good" movie, as it has many plot elements stereotypically associated with Oscar Bait films - a World War II setting, forbidden love, an Inspirationally Disadvantaged character, and a tragic ending - while the better-received films were firmly in the Sci Fi Ghetto. When the film is remembered, it's usually for the backlash against its nomination, which prompted the increasing of the size of the Best Picture nominee pool to ten.
- Reality Bites has fallen victim to changed societal norms. Upon release in early 1994, the movie was lauded as a defining showcase of twentysomething Gen-X angst, starring a group of disenfranchised young adults rebelling against their parents' yuppie conformity. Unfortunately, as with American Beauty, many of the once-touchy subjects the film addressed (homophobia, etc.) have become old hat. More importantly, as The Nostalgia Chick pointed out in her scathing critique of the film, the whole concept of rebelling against suburban, middle-class normality seems downright silly after 9/11, the rise of the internet, and the Great Recession made that sort of teen angst look quaint; the film was very much a product of a time that, by and large, had no "real" problems in hindsight (at least compared to the '00s and the '10s).
- Reds was released on December 4, 1981 to critical acclaim. Despite its political subject matter and limited promotion (mostly by Warren Beatty himself), the film became the tenth highest grossing picture of 1981, taking in $50,000,000 in the United States. Beatty won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film. Reds was also nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Chariots of Fire. Beatty and Diane Keaton were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress, but lost to Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten" – the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres – after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Reds was acknowledged as the ninth best film in the epic genre. At the same time however, Reds was serious epic about a subject that has mostly fallen out of the view. After the dissolution of Communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe and our economic relationships with Vietnam and China, the United States has more or less, switched its fascination to the Muslim world. The bottom-line is that subject matter makes it difficult for new audiences to appreciate since they don't know the politics and historical events involved as well as we did when it came out. Also, 3 hour epics with more talk than action have fallen out of favor. Modern audiences don't have the attention span to sit through a movie like this.
- Similar to The Matrix franchise crashing and burning at the turn of the 21st century, the RoboCop franchise suffered this same fate a decade earlier. When the first film was released in 1987, it took the world by storm, and made director Paul Verhoeven a superstar in the West. The film's combination of graphically violent action scenes, ruthless and biting satire of '80s corporate culture and consumerism, and themes about humanity vs. technology made it a smash hit that helped the superhero film genre recover after the failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace earlier that year, and it was seen as one of the greatest examples of the Cyber Punk genre. Not too surprisingly, a franchise was quickly fired up, with a sequel being released three years later.
Sadly, the prospects of it becoming a long-runner were not to be. The first sequel, despite being directed by Irvin Kershner and written by Frank Miller at the height of his career, was widely seen as a disappointment, with many feeling that it relied too much on shock value and violence while losing the intelligence and humanity that made the original so popular. While still profitable, it didn't make as much as the original film. As a result, RoboCop 3 went in the opposite direction three years later. To say that it was panned is putting it mildly. It wasn't nearly as violent, hard-hitting, or mature as the first two films (evidenced by the film being the first in the series to be given a PG-13 rating), as the producers wanted to make it more commercial, and it almost bordered on being childish at times. Needless to say, this killed off the franchise for good, bombing hard at the box office and garnering cold reviews, and even led to the downfall of its director, Fred Dekker (who had directed the cult classics Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad before it). While attempts to revive it through both a TV mini series and a remake were made, both ended up failing hard with critics and fans alike. All of this adds up to the franchise coming to be seen as a fossil of the '80s/early '90s, and while the original film still holds a good reputation on its own, it usually comes with the caveat "...but everything else in the series is worthless".
- The original Scary Movie, despite receiving mixed reviews when first released, was an enormous hit. It was a very specific kind of parody as it didn't spoof horror movies as a genre, but rather, the horror movies of the past few years, like Scream (1996), I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Blair Witch Project, and The Sixth Sense. Basically, instead of waiting to see of these particular movies could withstand the passage of time and, therefore, see which ones were actually worth parodying, the Scary Movie films took the zeitgeist route, mocking whatever was popular at the time. In hindsight, this badly dated the films. Also (as the Nostalgia Critic pointed out), Scary Movie was a bit more obvious with its humor than previous parody movies (like Airplane! and Spaceballs), especially with the sequels by David Zucker. Nonetheless, the franchise was enormously popular, reaching its commercial peak with the third and fourth films when the Wayans family departed from the series and David Zucker became the main creative force, which saw the humor get Lighter and Softer (Zucker's film's were rated PG-13 versus the Wayans' two R-rated films) and broader (focusing less on horror movies as opposed to pop culture).
The success of the Scary Movie films eventually spawned a wave of knockoffs, many of them created by the duo of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, two of the writers on the original Scary Movie (which the ads for their films always pointed out). These films were, by and large, hastily cranked out with little care for quality, and the reputation of spoof movies went into the toilet as a result. In hindsight, the movie that just about everybody thought would save the spoof genre ironically destroyed it in the long run. Even the Scary Movie franchise itself went out on a whimper with the fifth movie, which got the worst reviews and box office returns in the series.
- Scent of a Woman was a big hit back in the day. Today, however, it's solely remembered as the film that won Al Pacino his only Oscar, and for his controversial defeat of, amongst others, Denzel Washington's Malcolm X and Robert Downey, Jr.'s Charlie Chaplin.
- The popularity of Shrek in the early '00s was due to it being a fresh alternative to the animated films that were being released at the time, with its smartassed toilet humor, pop culture jokes and celebrity voice casting being incredibly fresh compared to the "animated musical" format of Renaissance-era Disney. However, DreamWorks Animation went on to recycle the Shrek formula for several years, and every animation studio that wasn't Pixar started copying it; by the time Shrek the Third came out in 2007 the gimmick had long worn out its welcome.
In 2008, they released Kung Fu Panda, which ushered in a new era of DreamWorks animated films, featuring less reliance on pop culture jokes and more emphasis on story and characters — complete with tones and themes inspired by the very studio that Shrek was making fun of in the first place. While the popularity of the Renaissance-era Disney films has grown since the early part of the decade (thanks in part to films like 2009's The Princess and the Frog and 2010's Tangled taking their style directly from the era), and the Shrek film series still has a following (or, at least, the first two films in the series do, largely due to the Memetic Mutation of the video "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life" and the phrase "Play Time is Ogre"), the "Shrek genre" of films is all but dead.
- Spice World was Critic-Proof incarnate when it first came out. Critics hated the Spice Girls cash-in, but they were at the height of their immense late 90's popularity at the time of its release, so their fanbase was going to eat up the film regardless and it grossed triple its budget. However, with their fanbase at the time outgrowing them combined with the band themselves becoming Deader Than Disco (See the Music page), those looking back at the film saw the film for what it was, a Narm filled, increasingly bizarre Random Events Plot that ripped off A Hard Days Night and showcasing the band themselves with very little personality. Consequently, Spice World followed the band into this trope and the film is pretty much Snark Bait now.
- St. Elmo's Fire got a big Brat Pack boost at the time (its theme song by John Parr, which went number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in no doubt, helped) but is not grouped with The Breakfast Club at al. as an '80s classic, or even as a good watch.
- When it was first released in 1998, Star Trek: Insurrection, the ninth Star Trek film, had pretty positive reviews, with some reviewers even saying that it broke the Star Trek Movie Curse (even-numbered movies good, odd-numbered bad). But as time passed, with more viewers agreeing with the villains, and the whole Trek franchise gradually grinding to a standstill by the mid-2000s, it's now regarded as one of the weakest Trek films.
- At the time it was released, many regarded Star Trek: Nemesis as an okayish film that had the bad luck to be released in perhaps the busiest holiday season of the modern era, being the only Trek movie to not turn a profit. Nowadays it tends to be considered the worst Star Trek film, or at least in a three-way tie with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Insurrection for that dishonor, since its financial failure led Paramount to reboot the franchise.
- Three Men and a Baby was the highest grossing film of 1987, beating out such smash hits as Die Hard and Fatal Attraction. Today, though, the film is all but forgotten and only brought up as an extremely cheesy film.
- Despite mixed reviews (with about a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), Turner & Hooch was still a reasonably huge success, becoming the 16th highest grossing film of 1989. Now if anything, it's remembered for traumatizing dog lovers everywhere by having the dog killed off at the end and being little more than a punchline (no pun intended). It's also in hindsight, considered one of the big misfires (especially post-Big and pre-A League of Their Own) in Tom Hanks' career along with The Bonfire of the Vanities and Joe Versus The Volcano.
- When initially released in 1998, Wag The Dog seemed to take a swipe at then President Bill Clinton. The situation unfortunately seemed much more sinister during the George W. Bush years. Remember how the 'terror alerts' always seemed to be heightened when Bush was doing poorly in the polls? Not to mention his administration's feebly linking Iraq to Al Qaeda? The point is that Wag The Dog is, at the end of the day, satire, but the best satire has a kernel of truth.
- Like Wag The Dog, The China Syndrome had the mixed blessing of coming out at around the same time as comparable real-life events, with the result being that presidential distraction-politics became known as "wagging the dog" and nuclear mishaps (well, until Chernobyl) became know as "China syndromes". But the films themselves were largely forgotten.
- X-Men: The Last Stand was the highest grossing film in the X Men series until Days of Future Past, and received mostly positive reviews, still having a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes. Today, however, it is considered the second worst of the X-Men film series, second only to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Some reasons include killing off several important characters, and not utilizing many characters. Eventually, it was retconned out of existence via time travel during Days of Future Past.
- Fatty Arbuckle was a pioneering silent film comedian and one of Hollywood's first "movie stars", with studio contracts that were unprecedented at the time. His films had a major hand in shaping the development of comedy as a cinematic genre. However, all of that came crashing down in 1921 in the midst of a highly sensationalized murder case that saw Arbuckle accused of raping and murdering a young actress at a party. While he was acquitted, and most historians believe that he didn't do it, he was bankrupted by the legal fees and spent the 1920s toiling in obscurity under a pseudonym, effectively blacklisted from Hollywood and with most of the public convinced that he was a killer. He made an attempted comeback in the early '30s, only to die suddenly — at a party celebrating his new contract, no less — in 1933. When he is remembered today, it's usually for the scandal, with most of his work having faded into obscurity outside of historical interest in the early years of film comedy.
- Michael Cimino was one of the most promising directors of the New Hollywood era. He started as an advertisement director, then cut his teeth writing the screenplays for the sci-fi classic Silent Running and the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force, the latter of which impressed Clint Eastwood enough to let Cimino direct Thunderbolt And Lightfoot. From there, Cimino went on to the Vietnam War epic The Deer Hunter, which won both Best Picture and Best Director. While the film did go behind schedule and overbudget, it was generally agreed that the film justified those overruns, as the end product more than delivered.
Due to this, the executives at United Artists gave him an Auteur License to create his next film, a Western epic based on the Johnson County War, Heaven's Gate. Cimino then proceeded to go way over budget and behind schedule, with his antics being documented in an entire book. He ordered both sides of a set torn down when he thought they didn't look right (despite a crew member telling him that it would be cheaper and easier to just tear down one side), spent 52 takes on a single whip-cracking scene, waited around until a cloud he really liked moved into shot, and more. In the end, the film cost United Artists $42 million (a whopper of a budget in those days), only made back under $3.5 million, and was savaged by critics (with Vincent Canby calling it a "forced four-hour tour of one's own living room"). United Artists' parent company, Transamerica, saw little damage from the failure of Heaven's Gate, but it was pretty much responsible for them selling the studio to MGM, essentially killing it.
Needless to say, Cimino went from being seen as a Second Coming to an absolute laughingstock, and never recovered. His next four films, Year Of The Dragon, The Sicilian, Desperate Hours, and Sunchaser, all failed with both critics and audiences. He was also repeatedly denied several projects (he was once the director of Footloose before being kicked off due to him once again demanding a higher budget), and ultimately retreated to France, where he is given a warmer reception. And despite all the criticism, Cimino still refuses to acknowledge that he may have made a mistake with his 1980 Box Office Bomb (according to him, "would Picasso apologize?"). Considering Cimino's admiration of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, which he planned to adapt after Heaven's Gate, his uncompromising attitude isn't surprising.
Nowadays, Cimino is simply remembered as a one-hit wonder at best, and at worst an overrated hack who destroyed the auteur period in American cinema. The backlash against him was so severe that it rubbed off on The Deer Hunter's reputation as well, though that eventually subsided. While Heaven's Gate has seen its reputation restored somewhat in recent years, it's highly unlikely that Cimino will ever make another film, much less another Oscar winner.
- Diablo Cody was once hailed as one of Hollywood's hot, fresh new creative voices, with her script for Juno winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2007. Then her follow-up, the 2009 horror-comedy Jennifer's Body, bombed, and many began to dismiss Cody as a one-trick pony overly reliant on Totally Radical dialogue. Now, even Juno has gone from critically acclaimed to polarizing among critics and film geeks, largely due to Cody's writing — the very thing that it was once praised for.
- Mel Gibson was an A-list superstar and a beloved heartthrob in the '90s. While he'd always been known to have some fairly controversial views, he kept them under wraps well enough that audiences were able to ignore them and turn out for his movies in droves. His career peaked in 2004 with The Passion of the Christ, a retelling of Jesus' crucifixion which, despite controversy (especially over its portrayal of the Jews), was one of the most successful independent films of all time, financed largely through Gibson's own efforts. Not long after The Passion, however, things changed virtually overnight thanks to the revelation of his racism, anti-Semitism, and Jerkass treatment of his girlfriend across a number of widely publicized incidents, which only made the controversy over The Passion that much more notable.
Nowadays, he's a despised joke punchline and virtually persona non grata, to the point where even those who think he's a good actor will stop well short of defending his views and behavior. Even his older films that were popular in their day, such as the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, have notably fallen from the pop culture landscape even as other '80s franchises were rediscovered and put through the Nostalgia Filter. As this article by Bob Chipman noted, the ads for Mad Max: Fury Road went out of their way to downplay any association with Gibson (who had played the title character in the original films), lest he serve as box-office poison merely through association with the series. As for Gibson himself, it's been noted that post-meltdown he's shown a willingness to take on villain roles, something he had never done before, perhaps implying he's embraced the public perception of himself.
- Harold Lloyd was one of the biggest stars of The Silent Age of Hollywood. During the '20s, he controlled most of his own productions and thrilled audiences with both his comedy and his elaborate stunts, which he did all by himself. He made more money than even Charlie Chaplin at his peak, and used it to build the Greenacres estate that helped set a standard for celebrity mansions in the Hollywood Hills. However, his career lost steam in the talkie era, forcing him into retirement by the end of the '30s. Furthermore, his refusal to reissue his films commerciallynote , in theatres or on TV, prevented later audiences from being able to watch them and become fans, while Chaplin's works entered the Public Domain and his contemporary Buster Keaton made a comeback on television in the late '40s. Today, while Chaplin and Keaton are icons, the only film of Lloyd's that is still well-remembered is Safety Last! (chiefly for his famous clock stunt), the rest of his career having faded into obscurity outside of "a nice DVD set that you can buy, at least, finally."
- While not quite as big as Jim Carrey or Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler had a massive cult following stemming from his work on Saturday Night Live and, later, his own movies during the '90s and early-mid '00s. The majority of his earlier movies (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy) were regularly quoted by a whole generation of teens and college kids, and despite never being accepted by critics, many people hailed him as one of the funniest comedians of that era. While he had a few bombs (Eight Crazy Nights, Little Nicky), they did nothing to slow his momentum.
However, after a long string of films in the late '00s and early '10s that met increasingly scathing receptions and, eventually, diminishing returns at the box office, Sandler's entire career post-SNL came to receive massive Hype Backlash, to the point where some began to rank him in the same category as Seltzer and Friedberg or Pauly Shore. His production company, Happy Madison Productions, also developed a reputation as an "employer of last resort" for has-been comedians (many of them Sandler's buddies) to churn out utterly puerile and unfunny films. Today, with the exception of his small number of more dramatic turns (like Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me, and Funny People) that even critics tend to like, many people are afraid to admit they'd ever liked his movies. Even being a fan of his '90s films is now often a point of shame; only Madison and Gilmore still get a pass these days, at least partly thanks to the Nostalgia Filter.
- Larry Semon. One of the most popular and highest paid comedians of The Silent Age of Hollywood (at one point second only to Charlie Chaplin), he quickly fell out of favor with audiences and is almost completely forgotten today, even by cinema buffs. Not only did he die before the end of the silent era, but most of his films were short subjects, a genre that fared poorly as feature films took over during The Golden Age. Furthermore, while the average Semon film had very high production values and lots of spectacle, they were often Strictly Formula affairs that were thin on plot and characters, and producers were often frustrated by his extravagance (a two-reel Semon short could cost as much as a five-reel feature). If he's remembered at all, it's for his In Name Only silent adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or his work with Laurel and Hardy, both of whom acted in supporting roles in his films before hitting it big as a comedy duo.
- Pauly Shore parlayed his success as an MTV VJ into a modestly successful comedy career in TV and film in the early-mid '90s. His "Weasel" character, a parody of a privileged, pot-smoking California Surfer Dude, was a hit with teenagers, who made his MTV show Totally Pauly and film debut Encino Man into hits, even if adults and critics couldn't stand him (he won a Razzie for Worst New Star for Encino Man). Eventually, though, his former fans grew up and got sick of his act, with the notorious bomb Bio-Dome in 1996 nailing the coffin shut on his film career. He's now viewed as one of the worst comedy stars of the '90s, someone who only got famous because dumb kids liked him — many of whom now, as grown adults, pretend they were never fans of his. Shore himself is keenly aware of this; most of his stand-up comedy since Bio-Dome has consisted of making fun of his own status as being this trope.
- After The Sixth Sense was a smash hit, M. Night Shyamalan became one of the hottest filmmakers in Hollywood virtually overnight. Then he followed it up with Unbreakable and Signs, and before long, he was being seriously compared◊ to Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock. However, after a series of follow-ups (The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening) that ranged from disappointing at best to just plain bad at worst, Shyamalan became a joke, viewed as having gotten lucky with his early films and having no tricks up his sleeve outside of twist endings. Eventually, trailers for his films were provoking laughter and jeers from moviegoers simply because his name was attached to them. Nowadays, he works as a journeyman director on blockbusters like The Last Airbender and After Earth (both of which were duds), his days as a respected auteur long in the past. While The Visit in 2015, a return to his roots in low-budget horror, was seen as something of a return to form, only time will tell if he's able to mount a comeback.
- Nowhere is this more evident than with the reversal in popular opinion towards Unbreakable and Signs. When Unbreakable was first released, it was considered to be a Sophomore Slump for Shyamalan, while Signs was considered a return to form and a worthy follow-up to The Sixth Sense, and was just as successful as that film. Nowadays, with the rise of superhero movies making it more relevant, more than a few critics have reevaluated Unbreakable and declared it to be Shyamalan's second-best film, while Signs, despite still being regarded as a decent horror film, is now considered to be the point where Shyamalan's career first began to slip.
- After Clueless became the big sleeper hit of the summer of 1995, Alicia Silverstone (who in the process, became the "It Girl" of Hollywood) was awarded a three picture deal (along with her own production company) with Columbia Pictures worth about $10 million. Things all came crashing down for Silverstone however, with the one two punch of the Franchise Killing performance of 1997's Batman & Robin (which earned Silverstone a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress) and Excess Baggage. Excess Baggage was the first and as it turned out, only movie to be produced by Silverstone's production company, First Kiss Productions. By the end of its run, Excess Baggage had only grossed $14,515,490 based on a $20 million budget. Like with Batman And Robin, Excess Baggage didn't fare too well with critics either, garnering 32% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After trying and failing one more time to recapture the magic that Clueless created with 1999's Blast from the Past, Silverstone was for all intents and purposes, no longer seen as a viable leading lady in mainstream film. While Clueless remains a classic among the teen/high school genre, Alicia Silverstone seemed to fall out of favor in the general public's eyes as fast as she came onto the scene. Besides Clueless, Silverstone herself, is more known now a days for her vegan and animal activism as well as her controversial book, The Kind Mama and filming herself feeding her son mouth-to-mouth.
- Kevin Smith and his View Askewniverse films played a large role in the explosion of independent cinema and the popularization of geek culture in the mid-late '90s. However, as that culture evolved and became mainstream in the '00s (with sci-fi and superhero movies becoming Hollywood tentpoles), and as Smith's attempts to make films outside the Askewniverse were met with mixed receptions at best, he came to be seen as representing the sort of stereotype that more modern geeks were trying to leave behind (the hardcore, purist, almost hipster-esque fanboy who had been following the material long before its mainstream popularity, and complains about any and all changes to it). The fact that his movies were not only copied ad nauseum, but became almost a template for youth-oriented indie films afterwards, also causes them to suffer from Seinfeld Is Unfunny syndrome nowadays, while the decline of the comic book industry (even if the movies are doing better than ever) has similarly dated the films.
- Shirley Temple. She herself remains a famous and beloved figure of The Golden Age of Hollywood, but compared to the heyday of her popularity in the '30s, her actual films are nowadays seen as saccharine musicals with pretty much the same plot over and over again. The tepid reaction to her attempts at adult stardom probably didn't help. "Shirley Temple" today is basically a synonym for either "Tastes Like Diabetes child actor" or "washed-up child actor." However, she was much better respected as the American ambassador of Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
- The Wachowskis, creators of The Matrix series, had their reputation suffer after the franchise's Sequelitis. It doesn't really help that most of their other work is very polarizing or poorly received, except for V for Vendetta. Cloud Atlas is a huge case of Love It or Hate It. Jupiter Ascending was poorly received, for copying other science fiction and its poor dialogue, characterization, and acting, as well as a bomb. Ninja Assassin wasn't well received either. Speed Racer was a Box Office Bomb, although it has been considered a cult classic. Their style has been copied to the point of mockery, .