Film Flops I Have Seen (1)

It might not surprise you to find out that many films have been financial disasters, failing to recoup a fraction of the cost it took to make them. I haven’t seen all of them, but I have watched my share over the years. It is easy to see why some of them failed, but many of the biggest cinema disasters are actually excellent films. In this occasional series, I will be giving my own opinion about some of the cinema industry’s greatest flops.

The Cotton Club (1984)

This film made no impact at the box office, despite the presence of the big star, Richard Gere. It was also written by Mario Puzo of ‘Godfather’ fame, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who made ‘Apocalypse Now’, so the talent was lined up. Along with Gere, we got Bob Hoskins, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lawrence Fishburne, Nicholas Cage, and Allen Garfield. At least the cast list looked promising.

Then there was the story. The Mob, A Harlem Club, famous gangsters, Jazz, great music and dancing. Add to that the faithful recreation of the club itself, and the feel of 1930s New York, and it had to be a winner. When it was released, the critics loved it, and it got nominated for a slew of awards. It won a Grammy for the soundtrack, but that was all.

But the public didn’t get it. They didn’t flock in their droves to see it, and they didn’t rush to buy the VHS tape of the film either. It had taken five years to make, and the notoriously over-spending Coppola had been lavishing in excess of $250,000 a DAY on the sets, costumes, and musical arrangements alone. As well as arguing with the studio, Coppola took money from Las Vegas hoodlums and international arms dealers to keep financing the project. Puzo was replaced as the screenwriter, and one of the investors was killed in an alleged drug gang hit, when he failed to pay them the promised return.

It all started to go wrong, very quickly.

The film grossed less than $26,000,000 worldwide, leaving the investors out of pocket by an estimated $77,000,000.

I went to see the film, and I actually really enjoyed it. It was not by any means a ‘great’ film, but I liked the period atmosphere, most of the acting, and all of the music.
Sadly, my entrance fee wasn’t enough to save it from being number 23 on the list of all-time film flops.

29 thoughts on “Film Flops I Have Seen (1)

  1. Great post πŸ™‚ Speaking of The Cotton Club, I read that a director’s cut supervised by Coppola is going to be released this fall; I just do not know when. Here is a link to the article though below

    https://www.indiewire.com/2019/09/francis-ford-coppola-cotton-club-trailer-nyff-restoration-1202173075/

    Since you have talked about Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate on this blog before (though I do not know how in-depth it was), your next one should be on either William Friedkin’s Sorcerer (now celebrated as one of his great films) or Peter Bogdanovich’s At Long Last Love (If you have seen it). I would say One from the Heart, but you just did one on The Cotton Club (another Coppola film) so you would have to come back to One from the Heart in the future. Nevertheless, I am aware that you love One from the Heart and I do too πŸ™‚ Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this series, Pete…sometimes, a flop is a flop for a reason: poorly conceived and executed, the film was just “never meant to be” – or it was made in a cynical attempt to “cash in” on a craze at the time…your review of “Cotton Club” points out the more fascinating aspect of a flop…the film had everything going for it: interesting story and execution, a perfect pedigree, but it didn’t matter…the fickle tastes of moviegoers….we have more power than we think! Looking forward to the next entry in your series!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating the depths Coppola would go to finance the project, Pete. The manic drive these auteurs have! I’ve not seen the film but I remember it coming out. I think I went to see The Karate Kid instead. πŸ™‚ I’ll check it out because with that director and ensemble cast, it’s got to be worth a look! More or less at the beginning of Nicolas Cage’s career, so that will be interesting. ooh, and a 23 year old Laurence Fishburne too!

    Actually, I just read the other day a funny fact about Laurence Fishburne: He lied about his age to get the part as the gunner on the boat in Apocalypse Now. He was only 14 years old when production began!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I remember the film and I also enjoyed it. This is a historical period I have always been interested in and it is beautifully captured. Perhaps people had come to expect other kinds of films from Coppola, but he’s always made the films he wanted to make.

    Liked by 1 person

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