It’s surprising but not exactly unexpected: three big film directors crashed and burned at the box office this weekend. M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water, Ivan Reitman’s My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Kevin Smith’s Clerks 2, all bombed badly with moviegoers. (It’s not that the budgets were necessarily outsized — in fact, Clerks 2 was cheap — but by the time insanely high marketing costs on average $36 mil are factored in, the movies should have gone straight to video.) So, why? In my opinion, blame it on the arrogance that unfortunately follows Hollywood success. All three directors — Shyamalan, Reitman and Smith — have experienced the best of the box office in their past: great reviews, great grosses, great wealth. That’s when the disconnect comes in. Even though ousted Disney exec Nina Jacobson told Shyamalan that his Lady script had problems and that’s why she wouldn’t greenlight it, he refused to listen and even trashed her. Even though Reitman is one of the richest directors around and has little in common with the young guys who are his target audience, he keeps making one bad movie after another. Even though Smith was once lauded as the rebel, he is so much the insider these days he does shtick on Leno. (And Kevin sank so low as to try to score PR mileage out of film critic Joel Siegel’s childish Clerks 2 walk-out.) Past success in Hollywood is no guarantee of future success. Especially when directors lose touch with filmgoers. As these three disasters show.
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