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Note: Simply having one or two underperforming movies does not make a director or franchise "Deader Than Disco." There needs to have been irreparable damage done to the director's career or franchise's popularity, be it through a tarnished reputation or an inability to adapt to changing cultural tastes.
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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. Mostly they were 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 come. It wasn't until the late 1960s that movies finally made a comeback with decreased censorship policies and the 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 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. (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.
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.
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...
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. However, a combination of factors eventually wore on viewers: the over-saturation of films that were quickly converted into 3-D without a care in the world just to make a quick buck, a similar oversaturation of 3-D rereleases, the rather high price of admission compared to 2-D films, the fact that the eye strain problems still hadn't been fixed, and the fact that wearing 3-D glasses over prescription glasses can be a royal pain, especially given that most theaters don't offer special 3-D glasses for those cases.
The big-screen B-movie died a slow death in The Eighties 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).
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 fact that his mayorship coincided with the rise of the internet probably helped. Speaking of which...
The rise of the internet in The Nineties and especially the Turn of the Millennium did the same thing to 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. 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 Eighties saw the rise of a more conservative sexual morality that pushed pornography out of the mainstream, while 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. 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.
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 ET 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 (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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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 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 protagonists' pleasure) and men (as hormonal simpletons who think with their dicks).
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.
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, 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 pretty much 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 prior to The Eighties. They were especially prevalent in big budget, epic films or films based on musicals (e.g. Doctor Zhivago, 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 was a mood setting 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 movies that used this practice normally omitted any pre-feature material such as cartoons, newsreels, or trailers.). 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 dissapearance of this practice can be attributed to several reasons, one of them most likely the increase of advertising and lengthy trailers prior to the start of the main feature have 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 often suggest a slow paced film. Considering the length of time which trailers and ads delay the feature presentation, filmakers, not wishing to test the audiences' patience prefer to jump right into the story without delay.
American remakes of Japanese and Korean 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.
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 (eg. 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?). But Westerns as a whole have been running on fumes since the early '70s. The sheer number of parodies and deconstructions in the 70's was a big factor. plus audience shifts towards contemporary action movies, effectively killed the genre. 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, but it 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.
Specific examples — Films
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 tenAcademy 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 pretty much 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."
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 passť.
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, Beautyis very much of its (pre-9/11, pre-recession) time. The Nostalgia Criticdiscussed 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 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.
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.
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 Seventies, thanks largely to their heavy-handed socio-political commentary, they are mostly forgotten now. From The Eighties 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.
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 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. (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.)
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 Las tKiss, 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.
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.
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. The sequels' and video game's failures, coupled with the fact that the franchise's innovative effects were parodied and copied to hell and back by every other action film released during the early-mid '00s, meant that now, the franchise is remembered solely as a relic of the turn of the 21st century.
Reality Bites, like American Beauty, is another movie that ultimately fell victim to changing societal norms. Upon release, this was seen as a definitive Generation-X movie, detailing the angst and disenfranchisement many Gen-X'ers were facing in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, as with American Beauty, a lot of the touchy subjects the film dabbled in (homophobic parents, etc.) have become old hat, while Gen-X rebellion itself has become a largely forgotten phenomenon thanks to the Nostalgia Filter rendering the Bill Clinton years as one of the most calm and prosperous eras in recent history — making the characters seem unintentionally whiny and selfish to modern eyes. The movie is now remembered (if at all) as a prime symbol of the aimlessness and self-absorption of teen/young adult culture in the early-mid '90s.
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.
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.
At least two Star Trek films have had this happen to them:
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, 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.
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, Jennifers 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 went from beloved heartthrob to despised joke punchline upon the revelation of his antisemitism and Jerkass treatment of his girlfriend.
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."
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.
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 jump the shark.
Kevin Smith and his View Askewniverse films played a large role in both the explosion of independent cinema in the mid-late '90s and the popularization of geek culture during that same time period. 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-esquefanboy 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.
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.)