Haven’t seen it, thus no review, but it is a topic worth writing about… at least to me.
The Flash movie has been through some …uh… challenges, hasn’t it? It was first announced way back in, I believe, 2014 and went through several different creative teams before finally being made.
Unfortunately, star Ezra Miller went through some challenges of his own, running afoul of the law in different parts of the country and seeming to really -how do I put this kindly?- go out of his mind. There are accusations involving assault, disorderly conduct. He’s had restraining orders filed against him, he…
You know, if you’re curious, People Magazine offers…
Either way, in the past year or so before the release of The Flash film, even his most vociferous critics have to admit he’s been keeping a low profile following issuing a public apology and hasn’t gotten himself into any new scrapes with the law.
Between that time and now, the first trailers for The Flash film were released and, I have to admit, they impressed the hell out of me…
It seemed to impress many on the internet as well. I found people who were blown away by the trailer and eager to see it. Then came postings by the likes of James Gunn and Tom Cruise who saw the film early and talked about it being great. It got a little silly, I admit, as people started posting bogus “reviews” by famous people who stated they loved the film.
Still, there was every reason to believe it would do well in spite of Ezra Miller’s controversies. At the very least, people wanted to see Michael Keaton return to the Batman role, no?
To say the film, now two weeks from being released, has underperformed is hardly an exaggeration. Its limping towards maybe making a little north of $90 million in domestic box office during its run (not a great figure at all) and its draw has sharply diminished since its first weak release, falling a precipitous 70 plus percent from week one to two.
I’m still curious to see the film, but I can’t help but wonder what confluence of elements took what seemed like a sure-fire box office success and instead made it look like a failure.
There are likely many elements that came into play, and perhaps one or two or a combination of them all led to this.
The first thing to consider is the most obvious: Perhaps people aren’t that willing to help a movie that stars an actor as controversial as Ezra Miller is. I think that one requires no elaboration.
The second thing is perhaps the DC movies are still viewed far more critically and for a variety of reasons. The Zack Snyder films were mercilessly panned (I’ve noted before my feelings regarding his films, in particular Batman vs. Superman, but suffice it to say there is a history here!). The DC “universe” of characters is about to be rebooted by James Gunn and, perhaps, people aren’t all that interested in seeing stories involving “dead end” versions of characters.
There’s also the reality that on the CW network they’ve had many years of The Flash TV show and, again perhaps, people simply had their fill of the character and weren’t quite as willing to spend another couple of hours with him.
I also feel there is this: The Flash’s trailer gave us so many wonderful surprises, including Micheal Keaton and Ben Affleck and a certain Super character… that perhaps audiences’ anticipation of the film centered on what surprises there were to be found.
Unfortunately, the day the film was released pretty much all those surprises were posted on websites like TikTok or YouTube and suddenly any surprises audiences were going to have were eliminated. While one would hope people would see a film above and beyond what “surprises” it offers, the reality is that maybe a combination of not really wanting to see Ezra Miller or having their hunger sated with the Flash TV show meant the surprises were pretty much all people were interested in and when they were revealed… what was the point of going?
There’s also this potent possible combination: Superhero fatigue and/or the fact that cinemas are still struggling post-COVID to get the audiences back.
I feel superhero fatigue is a very real thing and, frankly, by this point maybe it should be. There are an awful lot of superhero films being released (and that’s not counting the TV shows!) and perhaps people are starting to get bored of these works.
Regarding the later point about cinemas post-COVID, there have been exceptions. The Tom Cruise Top Gun sequel did spectacularly at the box office and there have been films here and there that have performed well. But in general it does appear that Hollywood is struggling to get people back to wanting to see films in theaters.
This has been exasperated by the many streaming services out there. The Black Adam film, for example, didn’t do all that well and it showed up relatively quickly on HBO Max (now called Max). Why bother going to the theater to see a film if you know it will show up very soon in a streaming service? My understanding is The Flash will be released to digital media next month so, again, why bother going to the theater to see it if you just wait a couple of months and see it in the comfort of your home?
Regardless of whether one, two, or all these elements were at play, the bottom line is The Flash movie appears to be a big time underperformer.
Did it deserve this fate?
Since I haven’t yet seen it, I don’t know. But I do worry about the future of cinema.
Nothing is written in stone and what might once have been a tried and true form of entertainment might well disappear with the passage of time and changing tastes.