Critics Versus Audience (Or Why Awards Isn’t Equal to Box-office Success)
While film festival awards tell people how good a movie is, such accolades doesn’t always translate to great box-office showing. As it is, very few movies manage to achieve both critical acclaim and mainstream success. One such example of a critically praised film with dismal box-office performance is The Loneliest Planet.
Originally released as in indie film, it won top awards in various international indie film festivals, namely: Grand Jury Prize during the 2011 Los Angeles AFI Fest; The Golden Lady plum at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival, the same film fest that had actress Hani Furstenberg winning the top female acting award.
Critics praised the movie for its gripping and haunting presentation of two lovers whose resolve to stay together was put to test in several instances. Other veteran movie reviewers, meanwhile, noted the effectiveness of the movie in eliciting moviegoers’ sympathy towards the main character without resorting to overly dramatic sequences. Director Loktev’s minimalist storytelling, some critics say, all the more proved effective in emphasizing the main theme of the movie: that of human’s interpersonal shortcomings.
With all these critical raves, it should expectedly make the movie a commercial success, right? Not really, as it turned out.
In fact, Rotten Tomatoes said that the film received 68% fresh critics ratings while getting only 32% rating from viewers of the film. This is further magnified by the movie’s generally poor box-office results when it was eventually released commercially in US theaters by the Sundance Selects.
In determining why the movie suffered the fate it did, the late eminent movie critic Roger Ebert best summed up why:
“All of this grows tiresome. We’re given no particular reason at the outset of The Loneliest Planet to care about these people, our interest doesn’t grow along the way, the landscape grows repetitive….”
Knowing American audience’s penchant for adrenaline-inducing movie scenes, the movie’s generally static pace and minimalist ploy make the box-office figures understandable. Indeed, The Loneliest Planet’s poor mainstream showing just made the planet seem ironically lonely for its cast and crew.