On Conan the Barbarian Bombing

Conan the Barbarian did not have a great opening weekend at the box office. And by “not great” we mean it brought in  little more than $10 million and barely beat the fourth week of The Smurfs. It totally tanked. To add insult to injury, it’s also being sued.

Screenwriter Sean Hood, who helped doctor the Conan script (obviously not well enough), writes on Quora about what it’s like to pen a bomb. He likens the experience to losing–badly–in a political election.

By about 9 PM its clear when your “candidate” has lost by a startlingly wide margin, more than you or even the most pessimistic political observers could have predicted. With a movie its much the same: trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter call the weekend winners and losers based on projections. That’s when the reality of the loss sinks in, and you don’t sleep the rest of the night.

For the next couple of days, you walk in a daze, and your friends and family offer kind words, but mostly avoid the subject. Since you had planned (ardently believed, despite it all) that success would propel you to new appointments and opportunities, you find yourself at a loss about what to do next. It can all seem very grim.

You make light of it, of course. You joke and shrug. But the blow to your ego and reputation can’t be brushed off. Reviewers, even when they were positive, mocked Conan The Barbarian for its lack of story, lack of characterization, and lack of wit. This doesn’t speak well of the screenwriting – and any filmmaker who tells you s/he “doesn’t read reviews” just doesn’t want to admit how much they sting.

We’re going to say the lack of a certain barely intelligible, gropey, Austrian bodybuilder didn’t help things either.