Director Peter Berg admits the big-budget “Battleship” sunk his inner auteur.
The movie, which drew mostly withering reviews, has hauled in $59 million over four weeks of release, according to boxofficemojo.com. That's hardly in line with either the film's enormous marketing effort or its production budget ($209 million).
So Berg, the talented gent behind “The Kingdom,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Hancock,” is in damage control mode.
With "Battleship," he said, the scale of the movie simply overwhelmed everything else. "It was a movie that I tried as hard as I could to get inside of. But the concept is so big and powerful, and the money is so big and so powerful, that the movie is going to run away with itself."
In the end, he said, he failed to find a personal connection that would make him passionate about the movie. "I want to get inside the movie's world and feel like I know it better than anyone, and I couldn't do that … It was an interesting eye-opener."
It’s a rare burst of honesty in an industry known for fake tans and smiles.
But the summer offers a prime example of a movie project where similar forces lined up against it, but the results were as gob-smackingly great as “Battleship” was mediocre.
“The Avengers” should have been the summer’s biggest bust. Mix unrelenting hype with a gaggle of characters better suited for individual film projects, and add a director with a thin track record in the blockbuster department.
Yet "Avengers" writer/director Joss Whedon pulled off the near-impossible, transforming a clunky project into a streamlined amusement part ride and the third highest grossing movie of all time.
Yes, the Hollywood system throws plenty of obstacles in the way of directors eager to join the blockbuster movie club. But passion - and talent - can still rule the day.
Perhaps Berg should take in a matinee of “The Avengers” to learn how a bloated project can actually thrive under the right direction. Berg's candor suggests he deserves a second chance at creating a summer adventure ride, and here's betting the results will be better next time 'round.