Sean Hood, one of the many script writers for the recent flop-tastic Conan the Barbarian 3D, talks about what it's like to work on a bad film
Remember when you were about six, and you worked really hard on that drawing of Iron Man, only to realize it was utterly terrible in every way? I bet that made you feel really bad. Hours of work, and dozens of felt tips ruined, and for what? For nothing, just a brief glimpse of success as it slips from your fingers and flutters into the ether. Now imagine that feeling of abject failure multiplied by about million, and instead of your mom bringing you a glass of orange juice and telling you you'll get better with practice, you've got thousands of grumpy critics calling you a hack and tens of thousands of random gits on the internet calling you even worse names. How do you think that feels? Not very nice, apparently, as Conan the Barbarian 3D screenwriter Sean Hood explains in his column for Quora.
"A movie's opening day is analogous to a political election night," he writes, "Although I've never worked in politics, I remember having similar feelings of disappointment and disillusionment when my candidate lost a presidential bid, so I imagine that working as a speechwriter or a fundraiser for the losing campaign would feel about the same as working on an unsuccessful film."
He then goes on to describe, in sobering detail, how his initial creative excitement gave way to denial, and eventually soul-crushing despair, as the "tracking numbers" and responses to the initial screenings came in. After "adjusting [his] expectations" - the movie was originally expected to make as much as The Expendables which, although also fairly terrible, made a fair bit of cash - he began to "selectively ignore bad news" and highlight the good.
"You tell yourself to just enjoy the process," he added. "That whether you succeed or fail, win or lose, it will be fine. You pretend to be Zen. You adopt detachment, and ironic humor, while secretly praying for a miracle."
Sadly for Hood, that miracle never came.Conan the Barbarian grossed $17.5 million at the box office, a fraction of its 90 million dollar budget, and, as of right now, its aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 24%. That technically makes it worse than The Green Lantern, which must be a terrible burden for a man to carry.
"For the next couple of days, you walk in a daze, and your friends and family offer kind words, but mostly avoid the subject. Since you had planned (ardently believed, despite it all) that success would propel you to new appointments and opportunities, you find yourself at a loss about what to do next. It can all seem very grim."
Hood was the third screenwriter brought in to rewrite the film's script. Despite the end result, he still defends his efforts, claiming lot of the work he did on character and story design never made it to the big screen. He then described his experience working on the film as, "like doing great work on a losing campaign."