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.
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 Ironically, thanks to the later works of the very people that had made it such a success in the first place, like Mel Brooks, the Wayans Brothers, and the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team, 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.
Animation as a medium for serious film making 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; prior to which animation was growing just as popular as live-action film making. 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 US, 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 the huge influx of Japanese animation in the 1990s that it began to be considered a serious medium again.
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.
Second: the mid-'60s through the early '80s, with the advent of the single-strip process. While lasting much longer, and having two "peaks" at either end of the period, it was killed by the very same gimmick films (like The Stewardesses and Comin' at Ya!) and uncomfortable viewing experience. For decades after, 3-D was relegated to IMAX documentaries and theme park attractions (where the experience was more comfortable to view), until...
3D ticket sales have fallen off so sharply (they now average only a third of most films' grosses, as opposed to double that at its peak) that most studios have stopped reporting how much of their weekend grosses have come from 3D screenings.
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 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", 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, the Golan-Globus team, 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 Seventies onward) ripoffs of the emerging Summer Blockbuster genre's codifiers.
The big-screen B-movie died a slow death in The Eighties as drive-ins and urban "grindhouse" theaters were superseded by multiplexes 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).
Pornographic theaters boomed in The Seventies largely on the basis of the films that they showed (which more mainstream theaters wouldn't touch), but once porn began migrating to home video in The Eighties, such theaters fell on hard times, frequented only by the most desperately horny and often turning into dens of vice. When New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani undertook his crackdown on Times Square's porn theaters in The Nineties, he likely received few complaints even from the porn-consuming public.
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 Seventies — owing to Disney being the only major studio paying attention to children by then — business boomed for independent companies via imports (Santa Claus, 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 Eighties — 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.) 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 Eighties, 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 Nineties 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. While arthouse and revival theaters still host touring reissues of the kind of titles The Criterion Collection specializes in, mainstream wide-release reissues are dead.
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 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.
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.
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, etc.). 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. Even Home Alone, despite its enormous success upon release, hasn't aged that well.
Similar to television, the anthology movie (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. Recent 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.
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 ones like Transformers, meaning a modern R-rated action movie only came once in a while. However, this changed around 2010, when The Expendables came out. Action fans fought hard for everyone 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 to The Expendables. But then in 2013 Escape Plan, Bullet To The Head, A Good Day to Die Hard (Though it had some success in its opening weekend, despite getting harped on by critics) and The Last Stand (all films that were greenlit because of the success of The Expendables) were all released with disappointing box office results, putting an end to this revival.
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 thatripped 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.
Ditto for Shakespeare in Love in 1998. 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.
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-eraDisney. However, DreamWorks Animation went on to recycle the Shrek formula for several years, and every animation studio that wasn't Pixarstarted 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 DreamWorksanimatedfilms, 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), the "Shrek genre" of films is all but dead.
Perhaps the biggest example of Dreamworks switch of focus was symbolized with the release of Puss in Boots, itself a spinoff of the Shrek series, which put more emphasis on High Fantasy Adventure than anything else.
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 ridiculousmugging.note Some of Rooney's films outside the series, particularly the ones that he did with Judy Garland, were much better appreciated, and Rooney has had a long, successful career, so he himself is not an example of this trope. 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-starJudy Garlandin 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.
To go back even further, 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 The only screenings he allowed were to entertain sick children at Los Angeles-area hospitals., 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."
An even better example is 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. The fact that he died before the end of the silent era probably didn't help things. 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).
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.
Kevin Smith and The View Askewniverse movies somewhat glamourized and attempted to hipsterize the comic book Fanboy. Smith's former status as a comic book guru now seems outdated and trite. Ironically, now, comic book movies are extremely hot Hollywood properties in the New Tens. However, films such as Clerks harken back to the hardcore, purist fanboys who were lifelong exponents of the original source material prior to mainstream popularity. They are widely regarded (arguably) in some circles today as annoying elitist hipsters who often cry It's Popular, Now It Sucks. The gradual demise of the comic book specialty store has also widely contributed to the movie's dated appeal. Along with their greying Generation X target audience, Smith and his cohorts have aged out of their Jay and Silent Bob roles. Smith's most notable headline in recent years concerned an incident involving an airline's alleged discrimination against obese people; he's made a few non-Askewniverse films, but all of them flopped.
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 B-movie The Born Losers, but it was 1971's Billy Jack that became a massive mainstream hit via Laughlin's own 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 Seventies, thanks largely to their heavy-handed socio-political commentary, they are mostly forgotten now. From The Eighties onward, Laughlin (when not trying his hand at actual politics) has tried to bring back the character in a new movie, with no success.
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 His film career was destroyed with his acting follow-up The Last Kiss, and he's barely gotten any projects at all since the cancellation of Scrubs. He and his brother had to finance Zach's second directorial project Wish I Was Here, through Kickstarter. 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.
The Trope Namer gets a reference in Airplane!, where a radio announcer triumphantly proclaims that WZAZ is "where disco lives forever!" just before the plane knocks down its rooftop transmitting antenna. (This film came out in 1980, so the joke was extremely timely.)
When it was first released in 2002, Signs was considered a worthy follow-up to The Sixth Sense and was just as successful as that film. Nowadays, it's considered the point where M. Night Shyamalan's career jumped the shark.
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 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 unlikeable characters (though it did wonders for the careers of director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard, who have done well in spite of the film's declining impact).
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, 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.
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.
From 1995 to 2010, Adam Sandler's movies while getting negative reviews from critics, still had a pretty large fanbase and many cemented his movies as "Comedy Genius". People thought he was declining by the 2000s, but many still continued to support and watch his movies, as well as his older movies to warrant critical acclaim. However, entering The New Tens, Adam Sandler's movies have suffered through this trope (Including his earlier movies) badly to the point of where people who once liked him refuse to admit they ever liked him and many boycott his movies and Adam nowadays is as reviled as Seltzerberg.