Let’s respond for our generation.
Ridley Scott blames his epic box office failure of The Last Duel on “Millenians” who are addicted to their phones. Despite showcasing how epically out of touch he is, he also seems to be confused that millennials are adults pushing into their 40s at this point. So, he seems to be arguing that 40-year-olds who are addicted to their phones are the reason the film failed.
Ridley, I love some of your work. Blade Runner and the original Alien are some of the best films around. However, you’ve really got to stop blaming 40-year-olds for your movie’s failure. I think we can help you by perhaps finding other reasons why the movie didn’t do so well.
The Last Duel had a heavy social-media marketing (ironically) where I ended up seeing the trailer about twenty times a week. We follow French nobility as they navigate a scandal that will ultimately lead to bloodshed. Our French nobility has the great talents of… Ben Affleck… and Matt Damon. Yes, when I think French nobility, I think of those two.
Casting choice seems to be a bit of a recent Achille’s heel for Ridley. His much-maligned Exodus: Gods and Kings decided to white-wash Egypt for unknown reasons. I’d argue Matt Damon was miscast in The Martian, but I appreciate I may be in the minority on that one.
When people think of Ridley Scott, they tend to think of Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, or Black Hawk Down. The problem with these movies is that they are all quite old. When was the last mega hit he had? Yes, The Martian did quite well, so I should include that one as well. However, his films seem to be lacking in attraction as of late. Take a look through his recent films. Why isn’t he the draw he used to be?
It could be a few things. For Duel in particular, releasing a rape-centered drama in October doesn’t seem to be the wisest time to do so. Competing with Halloween and our culture’s celebration of horror for a month doesn’t seem smart. Further, there are plenty of people who will not watch a movie with a sexual assault. For many reasons, people choose to not consume these scenes.
Additionally, with our medieval me-too story, was casting two men who have had issues with sexual misconduct the best move? Affleck has been accused twice and Damon has been rightfully blasted for tone-deaf commentary. Here, it seems we have two actors making money of criticizing things they are either guilty of or indifferent to.
Before anyone labels this as cancel culture, which I am not sure even exists. I don’t care if Affleck or Damon make movies. However, my interest in seeing these two bros cosplay as French nobility whilst discussing the veracity of a woman’s claims of rape are low. Maybe I’m wrong, but my confidence isn’t too high here. I made the choice to ignore this one.
Ah, but you see, my phone simply told me not to go. It seems an odd line of attack. Arthouse and independent films (neither of which Ridley makes) have been going through a resurgence as of late. So, it seems like audiences are hungry for adult stories. Sure, the younger crowd tends to prefer Marvel and action-oriented films (of which Ridley makes many of the latter), but if he is angry at 40-year-olds, what made us leave his movies?
For me, I just don’t trust him to make the movie well. As of late, his movies have emphasized handsome sets over storytelling. Character development and plot take a back seat to the aesthetic quality of the film. I think this can work, but here, for me, it is style over substance. Let’s consider Alien: Covenant—looks great. Beautiful film through and through. However, crap characters speaking crap lines made the whole thing a slog. I suppose here we could mention Prometheus or The Counselor (does anyone else remember The Counselor?), but we could also mention numerous others that have been flops.
Kingdom of Heaven was the film where I determined to not bother seeing any of his movies in the theater. Hollow characters speaking hollow platitudes in a film bereft of purpose made me reach my limit. I broke my own rule with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. I’ve been burned twice since making my pledge, which does indicate that the fool is me.
Even the positive reviews of The Last Duel warn that it really is only the final third where the movie works. Why would I watch this? Why would anyone watch this film when The Nightingale exists? A film that isn’t a caricature and has the raw fury to look at a similar issue unblinkingly?
But no, Ridley, you’re right. You’re not out of touch, it must simply be everyone else who is in the wrong. I can’t wait to see who you blame for The House of Gucci when that off-the-rack narrative fails to meet expectations. At this blog, we watch about 150 movies a year. I can tell you two we won’t be bothering with. My phone is simply too appealing.
Perhaps we should also mention the global pandemic? Think that might have anything to do with it?
Anyway, kiss my “millenian” ass.