Although the President’s Day Box Office doesn’t technically close until tomorrow, it’s not too early to call Beautiful Creatures a huge box office bomb. Based on the 2009 popular young adult novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the first in a four part series called the “Caster Chronicles”, Beautiful Creatures was set up to be the next supernatural romance blockbuster, much like Twilight in November 2008. Centering on a socially out-casted young male who falls in a love with witch who may or may not become evil on her 16th birthday, Creatures seemed poised to carry on the YA-novel adaption baton and yet it has only mustered up a weak $10 million in 4 days of release, way behind films like Identity Thief and Warm Bodies who are in their second and third weekends of release, respectively. So what went wrong? Honestly, Hollywood, that’s what!
If you take one look at all the pre-marketing done for Beautiful Creatures, the film honestly doesn’t look that bad, even for someone like me who is way outside the movie’s target audience. While I have yet to see the film, the marketing was strong and consistent, emphasizing the supernatural romance (in an attempt to clearly ride the Twilight bandwagon) as well as the dark witchery, giving the film a gothically sinister tone that the Twilight movies tried to execute but did so rather laughably. Between this decision to sell the material with clear vision and a cast that includes Oscar nominated Viola Davis and Oscar winners Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, Creatures had all the components to blow Twilight out of the water critically and yet it has fallen by the waist side faster than a flick of a wand. While the movie was never going to be as big as Twilight, a 4-day $10 million debut is extremely disappointing, especially for a $60 million production that was being hailed as the next YA franchise hit.
So, whom should distributor Warner Bros. be criticizing for this mega loss? Is the cast to blame? Is the material to blame? Is the director to blame? Hell no! The only person to blame is Hollywood and the studio itself, both of which can’t seem to take the hint that Twilight CAN NEVER BE REPLICATED AGAIN. If Creatures’ lackluster debut proves anything, it’s that the Twilight formula was for that franchise and that franchise only, and the more Hollywood insists on making more and more supernatural romances (there’s a handful of more book adaptations starring Lilly Collins and Shailene Woodley in the works), the more and more they will see disappointing results. In many ways, this conundrum is similar to what TV faced after the exceptional LOST left the tube in May 2010. After that trippy sci-fi drama signed off, TV went bonkers to find the next LOST, to make a hit out of a high concept supernatural drama. Well, does anyone remember FlashForward? The Nine? The Event? Terra Nova? Even shows like Fringe that went on for more multiple seasons were consistently low-rated and always on the bubble of cancellation. All of these shows, much like Beautiful Creatures, tried to replicate the success of a cultural phenomenon, of a show that permeated through the cultural stratosphere and become a staple of media history, and yet all of them failed because nothing can ever touch or surpass what LOST did. The same can exactly be said for Twilight and all the supernatural romances coming out and trying to bounce of its success.
Hollywood has a rather obnoxious history of repeating the same genres and archetypes when they prove to be economically successful at the box office, and yet what they should really be doing is going a completely different route. The next box office breakout won’t be an adaptation that is modeled after Twilight, it will be an adaption of something wholly original, of something that can pioneer a new cinematic trend. Don’t believe me? Just look at The Hunger Games! Last year, that dystopian adventure grossed an unbelievable $408 million domestically – more than any other Harry Potter or Twilight film – and it did so by being a unique concept. Yes, both films share a romantic love triangle at the center, but instead of giving us Twilight romance and schmaltz, The Hunger Games provided a gritty, hauntingly realistic look at the future and a strong, brave, and fearless female protagonist. The Hunger Games didn’t replicate the success of Twilight, it provided its own originality and creativity and saw amazing rewards because of it.
So where does Hollywood go now? In a new direction of course! Adaptations are an easy way to spawn a franchise, but the more studious try to directly replicate the success of Twilight, the more they will find themselves with box office bombs. Come on you guys, take a note from The Hunger Games and fight trends with new ideas! Anyone with me?
Article by Zack Sharf