Filmmaker Ridley Scott‘s most recent film, The Last Duel may have received critical acclaim with the historical drama presently sitting at 85 percent at Rotten Tomatoes as well as a very healthy 81 percent Audience Score, but the film bombed at the box office. Even the film’s hefty star power – performances from Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer, a script by Damon and Ben Affleck – wasn’t enough to make the film a box office win. Now, Scott is speaking out about the film’s poor performance and the filmmaker lays the blame squarely on a specific demographic: millennials, a group he says would rather play on their cell phones than watch a film.
In an appearance on the WTF Podcast (via ScreenRant), Scott said that Disney, which owns 20th Century Studios which distributed The Last Duel, did a good job promoting the film. For him, the issue was the audience and what sees as a reliance on cell phones.
“Disney did a fantastic promotion job,” Scott said. “The bosses loved the movie because I was concerned it was not for them. I think what it boils down to – what we’ve got today [are] the audiences who were brought up on these f-cking cell phones. The millennian [who] do not ever want to be taught anything unless you told it on the cell phone. This is a broad stroke, but I think we’re dealing with it right now with Facebook. This is a misdirection that has happened where it’s given the wrong kind of confidence to this latest generation, I think.”
Realistically, there are likely multiple reasons for The Last Duel’s lackluster box office performance. A huge component to consider is the COVID-19 pandemic as the box office on the whole has only begun to truly bounce back, but more than that, there are overall trends to consider. The big draws at the box office as of late have been blockbusters with films in genres such as superhero, sci-fi, and horror dominating or those from established franchises. The Last Duel doesn’t fit into any of those genres. On top of that, The Last Duel opened in October, a month already crowded with highly-anticipated releases. All of those factors cannot be ignored as contributors to The Last Duel’s box office woes and even Scott seems to understand that his comments aren’t all-encompassing. He specifically calls them a “broad stroke”.
However, Scott’s comments fit in with a larger conversation taking place about films and Hollywood trends, particularly in terms of how certain types of films are making it to audiences. While the films that dominate the box office are increasingly of the aforementioned superhero and blockbuster types, films that are more thought-provoking and complex, such as The Last Duel are finding their way to streaming platforms. It’s probably worth noting that most streaming platforms have apps that let users watch content on their cell phones, too.
Even with The Last Duel’s box office woes, Scott went on to say he stands behind the film and he’s not looking back.
“That’s the call you make,” Scott said. “That’s the call Fox made. We all thought it was a terrific script. And we made it. You can’t win all the time. I’ve never had one regret on any movie I’ve ever made. Nothing. I learned very early on to be your own critic. The only thing you should really have an opinion on is what you just did. Walk away. Make sure you’re happy. And don’t look back. That’s me.”
What do you think about Scott’s comments? Did you see The Last Duel? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
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