I just finished watching Annihilation. I watched it with my parents and my 14 year-old sister. We have a pretty snazzy home theatre, so it was as close to watching it at the theatres as you could in Australia.
Paramount was right. Annihilation would’ve bombed at the box office, as it did in the few countries which it did release in theatres.
Do you know how I know? Better yet, I’ll let you decide based on a series of quotes from my family when the movie finished.
“What did you think of that. I’d say a solid 6 out of 10.” Dad
“I can’t stand Natalie Portman. She’s always looking at the camera in long drawn out stares. It dragged way too long.” Mum
“If you thought that was better than The Hunger Games you’re crazy.” Sister.
I managed to control my rage, although I might have said “You are all literally too dumb to understand that movie,” which I think was pretty restrained.
I’m a writer. I’ve studied film, tv and writing for 5+ years at uni. I love genre stuff. Anything and everything, but the amount of quality genre stuff is incredibly low (outside of the literature sphere).
To say I was disappointed wouldn’t be quite right because I wasn’t expecting anything better. Although my mum loved the new Blade Runner when we saw it at the movies.
What happened to Annihilation makes me sad the same way that Blade Runner 2049 flopping made me feel bad. But it’s not to suggest that intelligent genre pieces are dying. No, it is to acknowledge the remarkability of them even being made in the first place.
Take for example the original Blade Runner film. It is based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – which is possibly the greatest title for anything ever. I recently read a biography on Dick and to say the fact that Blade Runner ever existed was a bona-fide miracle.
The amount of times Dick tried to kill himself, got admitted to a mental hospital, or the sheer lifelong ignorance of mainstream critics of his work…you get my point.
Intelligent sci-fi is never going to be mainstream because your average person either never thinks or is completely apathetic towards abstract metaphysical ideas.
Take my sisters comment for example. Yes, she is young and will most likely get there eventually, but her main criticism seemed to be that “nothing really happened”.
Are you kidding me? The sheer number of abstract ideas which were presented in interesting and original ways…argh I’m not going to get started on why the film was good.
This is what you should learn from this. Appreciate and respect smart genre works when they happen…because they hardly ever do.
The fact that Paramount spent 55 million dollars on the film and let Alex Garland have ultimate creative control over the script should be lauded.
Ultimately the film would’ve been great to see in the theatres. I would’ve gone to see it. The problem is: no one else would’ve.