Netflix’s new Chief Action Officer, T-800, John Matrix, a barbarian, Harry Tasker, the Eraser. The Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has admitted he was knocked sideways by his first big failure. Entertainment Weekly has picked up on comments Arnie made as part of his three-part autobiographical series, Arnold, on Netflix. That failure? 1993’s action-comedy Last Action Hero.
The John McTiernan directed movie featured a young movie fan (Austin O’Brien) who, while dealing with the death of his father, receives a magical ticket from a theater projectionist that transports him into an action movie. Schwarzenegger was the action hero from the movies – Jack Slater. Schwarzenegger opens up and admits he took the failure personally:
“When Last Action Hero came out, I had reached my peak after Terminator 2 having the most successful movie of the year worldwide. I cannot tell you how upset I was. It hurts you. It hurts your feelings. It’s embarrassing.”
Arnie’s long-time collaborator James Cameron says he phoned the man on the weekend after the film opened:
“He sounded like he was in bed crying. He took it as a deep blow to his brand. I think it really shook him. I said, ‘What are you gonna do?’. He said, ‘I’m just gonna hang out by myself.’ That’s the only time I’ve ever heard him down.”
Last Action Hero really was a monumental flop. It received a critical mauling and made only $137.3 million worldwide off an $85 million budget. Time heals many things though, and it turns out that the movie wasn’t the problem. Audiences just weren’t ready to see both action movies and their heroes amusingly deconstructed back then. Last Action Hero has had a major reappraisal and found its audience today. It is a clever, slick takedown of its own genre. Arnie himself says he’s had positive feedback recently.
Arnie bounced back. True Lies made $378 million worldwide just a year later.
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