“Any filmmaker who tells you s/he ‘doesn’t read reviews’ just doesn’t want to admit how much they sting.”
Screenwriter Sean Hood
Yesterday, I wrote about Spectacular Failures in general—today we’ll look at what happens when a screenwriter has a box office failure. The $90 million Conan the Barbarian movie was released earlier this month and stumbled out of the gate the opening night and after two weeks as only had a domestic box office gross of less than $20 million. One of the screenwriters on the movie was Sean Hood and he’s written an article called What’s it like to have your film flop at the box office?
It’s a good read, but my favorite part is when Hood talks about his musician father:
“My father is a retired trumpet player. I remember, when I was a boy, watching him spend months preparing for an audition with a famous philharmonic. Trumpet positions in major orchestras only become available once every few years. Hundreds of world class players will fly in to try out for these positions from all over the world. I remember my dad coming home from this competition, one that he desperately wanted to win, one that he desperately needed to win because work was so hard to come by. Out of hundreds of candidates and days of auditions and callbacks, my father came in….second.
It was devastating for him. He looked completely numb. To come that close and lose tore out his heart. But the next morning, at 6:00 AM, the same way he had done every morning since the age of 12, he did his mouthpiece drills. He did his warm ups. He practiced his usual routines, the same ones he tells his students they need to play every single day. He didn’t take the morning off. He just went on. He was and is a trumpet player and that’s what trumpet players do, come success or failure.”
His father’s story has a happy ending, and I imagine Hood is back at work today working on a new script and hoping for a more fulfilling box office success the next time around.
BTW—Sean Hood has a lot of traits that keep coming up on this blog. Midwest roots (born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), an Ivy League undergraduate education (Brown), an MFA in production from USC, that lead him to success in Hollywood. He blogs at Genre Hacks. And his brother Brendan Hood is also a screenwriter.