It’s official, Land of the Lost is the first bomb of the summer. Everyone says so. The AP says so. Variety says so. The New York Times even says so.

Every summer movie season brings with it at least one sleeper hit and one big-budget bomb, but rarely do both happen on the same weekend.

The headache — and it was a big one — belonged to Universal Pictures and its financing partner, Relativity Media. “Land of the Lost,” a star vehicle for Will Ferrell based on the 1970s-era television show, essentially failed to have an opening, landing in third place with $19.5 million in sales. That total is disastrous for a movie that cost an estimated $200 million to produce, market and distribute worldwide.

Well, duh. Regardless of the fact that it got terrible reviews and that it was some kind of cross between Jurassic Park and Gone Fishin’, that movie just didn’t need to be made. Vulture asked the important question last week: why does this movie exist?

Things get silly, though, when New York Times attempts to explain what happened:

Why did “Land of the Lost” miss so big? It wasn’t because this PG-13 film traded so heavily on bathroom humor. “The Hangover,” about four guys who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, proved that sophomoric still sells.

Rather it may be that audiences are tired of seeing Mr. Ferrell at this particular party. Last year’s “Semi-Pro,” in which he starred as a goofy basketball player, was a flop with $33.5 million in ticket sales. “Step Brothers,” also released last year, delivered solid results with $100.5 million but fell short of his previous hits like “Blades of Glory” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

“Land of the Lost” was savaged by critics — not that Mr. Ferrell’s young male audience usually pays them much mind — and may have suffered from a marketing campaign that focused more squarely on the star than on the fantastic creatures he encounters.

Haha. That makes absolutely no sense! Let’s review: first they argue that the movie was as funny and traded in the same humor as The Hangover. No it wasn’t, and no it didn’t. Secondly, they make the argument that people are tired of seeing Will Ferrell in this type of movie. OK! Is that true? Well, they point out that he also made a movie last year that didn’t do well, so it might be true! But he also made a movie last year that did very well. But that’s still proof that he doesn’t make successful movies anymore? Huh? And they don’t bother to point out how a family action-adventure movie based on a campy 1970s children’s show is the “same party” as Step Brothers or Semi-Pro but sure. And by sure I mean no. Finally, they point out that the negative reviews don’t matter to Will Ferrell’syoung male audience, but that Will Ferrell’s young male audience would have probably preferred a marketing campaign that didn’t have so much Will Ferrell in it? Ay-ay-ay.

I don’t want to take the New York Times to Occam’s Razor School, but I feel like the simplest explanation for this box office failure was that the movie looked FUCKING MISERABLE and UNFUNNY and was based on something NO ONE WANTED*. Congratulations. We all graduated.

*Admittedly, I am still having some trouble reconciling this theory with the success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Night at the Museum 2: The Edge of Reason.

Comments (28)
  1. The Gray Lady is the Old Gray Lady.

  2. The blame for the film’s B.O. failure lands squarely on the shoulders of the marketers. They should’ve positioned it more as a buddy comedy (McBride and Ferrell are hilarious together in it) and less of an action/adventure pic. They should’ve excised Anna Friel from the marketing in general; she’s super hot but basically worthless in this.

    That said, LOTL is destined to go down as a cult classic. I freaking loved it.

    • The blame for this films B.O. failure lands squarely on the executives who didn’t get the joke when one of them said “Ha, I’m sure that next we’ll re-make Land of the Lost, or something.”

    • It’s totally their fault. All the trailers I saw (I saw all the trailers) were tone-deaf and unfunny. How do you make unfunny trailers for a movie with Danny McBride? Boo.
      I thought there was a formula for marketing shitass comedies: You take the one or two accidentally funny parts in your movie, and you put them in the trailer. Done.
      EVEN MEN IN BLACK 2 had amusing trailers. EVEN STEPMOM had amusing trailers.

  3. That NY times piece is even funnier if you imagine Will Ferrell reading it aloud.

  4. I got dragged to this movie on the weekend and it suuuuucked. Definitely have to agree with the Ockham’s Razor assessment- sometimes shitty movies do poorly at the box office because they’re, uh, shitty! No over-analysis needed.

  5. Love it.

    Apparently the NYT is worried about insulting filmmakers who are huge fans of 100% blue screen background films and “groundbreaking” 3D technology replacing things like, oh, story.

    But try as you might, this film was not comparable to hits like Beverly Hills Chihuahua — it was comparable to flops like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Inkheart. Will it make Hollywood give up its lust for $15.00 3D movie tickets? No. But maybe the failure of James Cameron’s probably-awful “Avatar” will.

  6. I blam the fact that I heard a lot about this movie but had no idea that it came out last weekend. I saw a lot of advertisements for it but it seems none of them focused saying: “Hey, this movie comes out June 5th!”

  7. Look, I was fucking STOKED for Land of the Lost and I left about 20 minutes into it. If someone who had a countdown widget for it on their Google homepage (I even told someone it could be a literal pile of vomit as long as Danny McBride brought the funny) couldn’t stomach how awful it was, I don’t understand how anyone else could’ve enjoyed it.

  8. “…and may have suffered from a marketing campaign that focused more squarely on the star than on the fantastic creatures he encounters.”

    How did this part get left out of your critique? Because yeah, this is 1995 and we have yet to witness the splendor of CG dinosaurs rendered on film. This movie would’ve done better if it advertised with Zoobooks.

  9. James  |   Posted on Jun 8th, 2009 +11

    I know that “Nigh at the Museum” was a typo, but I think its Old Tymey flair makes the movie actually sound more appealing. Coming to a theatre near you in Ought Nine!

    I happened to love the movie. Danny McBride is the star, no matter how they want to bill it. His perfection makes up for the rest of the pitfalls. I laughed a LOT at it, mostly at Danny and Jorma.

    I really wish people would see the movie instead of deciding it was bad arbitrarily.

  11. I’m seriously sad this movie is doing so badly. I absolutely loved the film and thought it did a pretty good job representing the series with the basic elements of it. Sure, it changed several things (characters no longer family, only Holly acts anything like her original counterpart, Enik made Villain, Zarn made Altrusian (originally a bored hyper-advanced energy being), Grumpy far more intelligent than he was) but I saw it as carving it’s own story with the basic elements.

    I don’t want to say I enjoyed it more having become a fan of the 1974 series through Sci-Fi’s marathons for the past 2 weeks, but it certainly helped.

    This movie is getting far too ravaged. This is no Paul Blart or G-Force. This is a damn fine lighthearted adventure for a moviegoer and a nice tribute to a fan (this guy). Check it out if you have the chance and give me a sequel or new T.V. Series. You wouldn’t want to make me sad, would you? (You know me, I’m that guy who ravaged Star Trek without having seen it).

    • I gather that your opinions on the battle of remakes of old TV series can be boiled down to Land of the Lost: Yay! and Star Trek: Nay.

      Your opinion and my opinion aren’t alike.

      • Alright TalkingStove, I know we started off on the wrong foot in the Star Trek comments so I’m going to try to explain why I liked this remake and not Star Trek (or at least why I’m not against all the changes that this one did while being against the changes that Star Trek did). My post will probably be filled with bias and contradictory statements but that’s what happens when feelings and logic fight.

        I think it has most to do with legacy. Star Trek is massive franchise with years of built up storylines while Land of the Lost had only two short-lived T.V. series and thus had plenty of wiggle room.

        Also, for all their names Rick, Holly, and Will are so far removed from their original versions (not being a family for one) that I don’t think of them as the original characters. Continuity for me could go like this: 1974 series – 1991 series – 2009 movie.

        Umm… That’s about it. Outside of that I realize that it looks like (looks like!?) I’m full of shit. I can’t help my feelings (not gay. Love the pussy). It’s so hard to explain why I like this one and why I don’t like Star Trek outside of I just do.


  12. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  13. Clown Coffee  |   Posted on Jun 8th, 2009 +1

    The most incisive of the 3 (three) comments on the YouTube video you linked to: That cereak [sic] was pretty good, had a sweetness? to it.

  14. I actually want to see it — in spite of the terrible marketing, I’ve read a number of positive reviews. I’ve heard that the real description of the film ought to be “a $100 million stoner movie,” which sounds pretty fun to me.

  15. I think the real problem is that the Will Ferrell remake isn’t as nuanced and well-shot as Ingmar Bergman’s original.

  16. JD  |   Posted on Jun 8th, 2009 +3

    Gabe, you should go see it and get back to us.

    I heard that it’s one of the weirdest mainstream movies in a while. Like a 90 minute Tim and Eric/Adult Swim show – that weird.

  17. why does this movie exist?….for stoners

  18. If it is a stoner comedy they need to market it more on Danny McBride and less on dinosaurs and large bugs.

    I haven’t seen it, but the ads were clearly marketed to teenage boys, a demographic that doesn’t really know Land of the Lost outside of the weird and terrible early 90s remake (and why would you care about that?). Plus, they all snuck into The Hangover anyway.

  19. This just in- the reported big screen version of ‘Electa Woman and Dyna Girl’ starring Anna Faris and Audrina Partridge has been shelved indefinitely due to unforeseen suck factors.

  20. i think the problem here is that will ferrell is unfunny. case closed.

  21. Scott  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2009 0

    When I first saw the trailer I shoke my head from left to right about five times…they screwed up in the marketing and over guessed themselves…that’s all.

  22. Scott  |   Posted on Jun 9th, 2009 0

    When I first saw the trailer I shoke my head from left to right about five times…they screwed up in the marketing and over guessed themselves…that’s all.

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