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Land of the Lost Loses

Land of the Lost: Holly
Why is this young lady smiling?

I have not seen Land of the Lost. And I share this characteristic with a goodly number of Americans, which is why the film tanked at the box office. It didn’t Pluto Nash, but for a $100 million film starring Will Ferrell opening against a film with no major stars to make less than $20M? And while $20M isn’t terrible, it’s a lot less than Universal was banking on. Hence: rather tankish.

The reason for this is twofold, and I was discussing it with Doc yesterday. My main thought about What Went Wrong is they failed the “300 Trailer Test.” This test asks the question of “Is your trailer as cool as 300‘s? If not, then go home.” The reason for this is, as has been said here before, if you don’t have a compelling reason to go see a movie in the cinema–such as Digital 3-D or the trailer makes it look like a must-see–you won’t. Because if you wait a couple of months, it’ll hit DVD for the cost of two tickets. And you probably haven’t watched all the DVDs you own anyway. Or maybe you already paid for World of Warcraft for this month and you might as well hang out with a few of your virtual friends.

[ad#longpost]Whatever the reason: it probably beats going to a cinema that might or might not have a shoddy screen with bored people working there and expensive food. I personally have to drive 3.5 hours to get to a cinema that I think is a fantastic place to go (yes, it’s true, it can still happen), so that should tell you something.

So even though I saw the trailer for Lost and thought it looked amusing enough…it didn’t look $10 amusing. So we stayed away. And I’m sure many others followed suit.

Doc’s point is that they took a film that should appeal to people in their 40s (he said that, I’m only moderately offended) but pitched it to the audience like you would for somebody in their 20s. The result, I think, is that the nostalgia factor is gone (because they’ve just, it seems, kept the name and the most basic of premises) and so the older audience will wait–and then the younger audience doesn’t remember the show anyway and just figures they can wait too. And it looks like Will Ferrell vs. dinosaurs, which probably isn’t as exciting to them as Ferrell vs. John C. Reilly. The liminal void between is where the movie fell on its face.

Personally, I don’t know why they didn’t keep the original format. Ferrell could have played Will Ferrell and you could have had two younger actors to play the children, making it more of a family film with a broader appeal than the level of humor they were striving for. But nobody asks me these things, so whatever.

Will the film end up making its money back? I’m sure it will. Between DVD releases and re-releases and iTunes and On Demand and network sales and foreign sales and world without end chunky peanut butter hallelujah, I think it’ll be okay. But it certainly wasn’t the tentpole they were betting on. Because they didn’t understand the audience and they didn’t serve up a can’t-miss type of movie.

But Hollywood will interpret your lack of interest in this film as a sign that “TV to movie remakes are dead.” See if they don’t.


  • I agree that the film trailer was not apealing at all. It came off as Ricky Bobby/Anchorman vs a T-Rex = lowest common denominator (which will make you money and that is the point for the studio). For people like myself that translated into don’t waste time and money. We know the show was bad but this is a whole ‘nother level of goofery (is that a word?).
    The family route would have been the correct route considering it was afamily oriented show. It functions on the Eddie Murphy theory: family flick remake = good (Nutty Professor, Dr. Doolittle, Haunted Mansion doesn’t really count now does it?). I-Spy = bad. The formula works when you don’t muck it up too much.
    Let’s hope Liam Neeson as Hannible in the A-Team film fixes this or we could end up with another SWAT.

  • “But Hollywood will interpret your lack of interest in this film as a sign that “TV to movie remakes are dead.” See if they don’t.”

    but, uhm, that’s not really a bad thing, though, is it?

  • Christopher: Yes and no. I think you can remake practically anything and make it worthwhile with good writing. So I would hate for an actually good remake to not get made because of this. Or something that we want to see more of (i.e. Pushing Daisies) not make it to the big screen.

    I think my major issue is that it’s never good for somebody to misinterpret results. Just like Paramount blamed the demise of the previous incarnation of the Trek franchise as “People are tired of Star Trek” instead of “People are tired of mediocre Star Trek.”

    I hope that makes sense. Regardless, your concern is duly noted. And applauded. :-)