Nolte: Steven Spielberg’s Film Memoir ‘Fabelmans’ Flops, Rushes to VOD

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment/Screenshot/YouTube
Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment/Screenshot/YouTube

Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg was hoping for a comeback with The Fabelmans. All he got was another reminder of the damage he’s done to his brand.

Along with all the other Oscar-bait flops this year, Spielberg’s very personal coming-of-age memoir was humiliated at the box office and is already (after only 32 days in theaters) headed to VOD (video on demand):

Multiple sources confirm that PVOD platforms will debut two top awards contenders — “The Fabelmans” (Universal) and “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight) — on December 13. “Bones and All” (United Artists), an even more-recent release, will also join them on that date.

For “Banshees,” the date comes 53 days after its initial appearance. But for “Fabelmans,” it will be only 32 days after the Steven Spielberg drama went into a theatrical platform release, and 23 days after the start of its wider release. The “Bones” VOD date comes 25 days after platform, 18 days after wide.

Bottom line: No longer is the promise of a Christmas-playtime boost enough. And waiting until the even-bigger boost of Oscar nominations (this year, January 24) seems impossible.

That last paragraph, that point about pulling these titles before the Christmas season, that’s The Point.

There was a time when you could release almost anything over the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s holidays and come out the other end — at the very least — in pretty good shape. Not everything was a hit, but it certainly made more money than would have otherwise. In many cases, movies made more money during the holidays than deserved. Why? Well, going to the movies was something Americans did during the holidays. I remember going to see Aliens v. Predator 2 one Christmas. Why? Because it was Christmas vacation and that’s when you go to the movies.

All that has changed.

The liars blame the China Flu. Nope, nope, nope… Top Gun: Maverick proved that if you release a movie people actually want to see, people will flock to the theaters, including older people.

The liars blame streaming… People wait for adult-skewing movies to show up at home… Nope, nope, nope… Elvis made $151 million domestic. The Lost City made $105 million. Where the Crawdads Sing made $90 million. Death on the Nile made $45 million.

Now let’s check out how the Oscar bait is doing…

  • Till – $8.7 million
  • The Banshees of Inisherin – $7.9 million
  • TÁR – $5.1 million
  • She Said – $4.3 million
  • Triangle of Sadness – $4 million
  • Bones and All – $3.8 million
  • The Fabelmans – $3.5 million
  • Armageddon Time – $1.9 million
  • Aftersun – $756,000

Oh, my…

A Steven Spielberg Oscar movie crashing and burning over Thanksgiving? Why? How? How is that even possible?

I can answer that by looking at his last four movies…

  • West Side Story (2021) was obnoxiously woke, and flopped.
  • Ready Player One (2018) was so bad that one of the most popular intellectual properties of the last 20 years only made $138 million domestic.
  • The Post (2017) was a woke, stillborn, smug, poorly acted snooze-a-thon and suck-up to the worst people in the world.
  • BFG (2016) was a five-alarm disaster.

The Spielberg brand is nowhere near what it once was: a guarantee of something between a levitating movie experience and a good time. But since 2005, Spielberg’s made ten films. Only Lincoln (2012) and Bridge of Spies (2015) are worth anything. Other than those and The Fabelmans, there are the four above, and these stinkers: War Horse (2011), The Adventures of Tintin (2011), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of This Movie Is Total Crap (2008).

Simply put, between woketardery and countless bad choices, the Spielberg brand is more of a guarantee of a waste of time than a good time.

Spielberg’s legacy is secure as one of the greatest filmmakers/producers of all time. No question about that. He had an amazing run between 1971 and 2005, practically unequaled. During that amazing run, Spielberg didn’t even have to direct to get audiences excited. His imprimatur as a producer was enough. Those days are long over. You can’t deliver stiffs and smugs for 17 years and hold on to your brand.

No one can say, I’m going to fix West Side Story and be trusted with the common touch.

The audience has lost faith in Steven Spielberg.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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