Deader Than Disco / Film

Note: Simply having one or two under-performing movies or being seen as Snark Bait by the general public does not make a director, actor, film, or franchise "Deader Than Disco." Otherwise, every one of those things in existence would be this trope! There needs to have been irreparable damage done to the director's or actor's career or franchise's or individual film's popularity, be it through a tarnished reputation or an inability to adapt to changing cultural tastes.


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    Specific 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 even though it's rated G. 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.
  • 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. While this would normally not be an issue for a re-adaptation of a book, 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 eclipsed the source novel in the public consciousness and became the source of numerous pop culture spoofs. Thus, there were a many viewers that regarded the 2005 film as an insult to the original rather than a faithful adaptation of Dahl's book. In Willy Wonka's colossal shadow, the newer film's backlash grew immensely, 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, while Willy Wonka is still the timeless classic it has been for over 25 years, Charlie is hardly ever acknowledged in pop culture unless it is to be unfavorably compared to its 1971 counterpart (a possible exception being the fact that it was the Star-Making Role of AnnaSophia Robb, whose more sympathetic take on Violet is probably more popular that the literary or '71 versions; the 2005 Mike also generally has a bigger fanbase than the '71 one). The film is today seen as the beginning of Burton's Dork Age, Depp's Wonka is regarded as one of his all-time worst performances, and "Wonka's Welcome Song" has become 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; the latter strength is undercut by an Adaptation Expansion Backstory for Mr. Wonka that results in a severe Adaptation Personality Change, a Not His Sled endingnote  and a narrative that didn't flow as well with the focus being taken off Charlie. If Depp's domestic abuse scandal in May 2016 wasn't enough to kill the film's reputation, then it must have been Gene Wilder's death in August that year, which firmly solidified the 1971 film as the definitive adaptation of the book.
  • 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 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,note  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. The final nail in the coffin was, ironically enough, another mafia movie released the same year quickly capturing the same reputation as the first two Godfather films. Within a decade Part III became a punch-line, frequently mocked throughout the '90s as a textbook bad sequel or being on the bad end of Dueling Movies. While not as universally reviled today, it remains a Contested Sequel even among Godfather fans.

    Specific Filmmakers And Stars 
  • Of all the members of the Brat Pack, none fell quite as hard as Molly Ringwald. Back in the 1980s, Ringwald was both the face of the group and a force to be reckoned with. She achieved a Golden Globe nomination for Tempest and rose to stardom as a teen actress with her role in Sixteen Candles, and her subsequent performances in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Critics, including Roger Ebert, praised her for her charm and down-to-earth everygirl qualities. She even made the cover of Time Magazine around the time of Pretty in Pink was released, further cementing her meteoric rise to fame.

    However, Ringwald would cut ties with writer/director John Hughes in an effort to progress into roles that were more respectable. Almost immediately, things started to go south, and fast. The Pick-Up Artist and Fresh Horses were both critical and box office failures, and when Ringwald tried to do damage control by playing her usual role one last time in the teen pregnancy film For Keeps, the pounding that her reputation sustained was done. She then turned down the lead roles in the hit movies Ghost and Pretty Woman. Critics and fans turned against her in droves, with producer Jeffrey Katzenberg infamously saying he "wouldn't know (her) if she sat on his face." By the time the disastrous Betsy's Wedding came out, Ringwald's career was already over. Since then, Ringwald has appeared in very low quality fare, predominantly in television movies and Direct-to-DVD releases. Adding insult to injury, Ringwald began to receive scathing criticism for her acting: ironically, the very thing that got her noticed in the first place.

    While The Breakfast Club still stands as a classic on its own merits, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink have been largely forgotten, solely remembered as '80s time-capsule pieces with questionable messages, and Ringwald's characters, once seen as progressive for the time, are now viewed as wangsty, egotistical Jerkasses. Now, she's either considered a one-trick pony because of her role in The Breakfast Club at best, or at worst, the punchline for everything wrong with teen actresses of the decade. Many former fans that idolized her growing up will vehemently refuse to admit she was even that good to begin with; it doesn't help that nowadays, even saying you like her is considered by many to be the social equivalent of signing your death warrant, her now-miniscule fanbase consisting of hardcore eighties enthusiasts, washed-up lowlifes, and your parents.

    Today, Ringwald is now virtually uninsurable and Persona Non Grata. She's taken smaller parts for a quick paycheck, such as the protagonist's mother on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Aunt Bailey in the much-reviled Jem and the Holograms, which certainly didn't win her back any fans. By this point, it's clear that Ringwald's Glory Days are far behind her.
  • Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg started off as simply writing parodies like the polarizing Spy Hard and the first Scary Movie. Fed up with being unable to find directors for their future work, the duo decided to write, produce, and direct their own movies. While these films got trashed by critics, most of them did decently at the box office.

    At least until 2008's Disaster Movie, which more than lived up to its title. Disaster zoomed to the top of the IMDb's Bottom 100 upon release, landed a 1% on Rotten Tomatoes and bombed at the box office. After 2010's Vampires Suck, Seltzer and Freidberg lost major studio backing and went indie. The bottom completely fell out when their first two indie projects, The Starving Games and Best Night Ever, both got a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes (and both had horrible box office returns, so bad in the case of Best Night Ever that its budget has apparently not been made known to the public). Their trend of utter failure has only continued with Superfast! only making a twentieth of its budget in box office profits. They're still busy making movies, but the future isn't looking very bright for them, and when you have fellow bad parodist Marlon Wayans announcing he's done with parody movies after his latest failure with critics, that's saying something.

    Today, Seltzerberg are considered the prime suspects of killing the parody genre (though Marlon Wayans didn't help redeem the genre either). The pop culture references in their films have all dated horribly, and they made no effort to make good references to start with as they base their parodies on trailers rather than going to the trouble of sitting through the movies they're parodying.

    Fictional examples 
  • 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 - the creators note on the dvd commentary that they witnessed this joke being met with applause in a theatre.

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