A Monster Calls (film): A pretty great movie that did very poorly

It's anyone's guess as to why this film managed to lose money because it certainly had a lot going for it. It had big names in the cast, it had a massive budget, it had some really great CGI that was showcased in the posters and trailers, it was released around the Christmas holidays, and early reviews were mostly positive. So what's the deal here?

81jY8b5YjVL._SY741_.jpg source

A Monster Calls is a fantasy film (this could be the first problem with mass appeal) based in England and centers around a disturbed boy named Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall) and how his life is wracked with problems including his parents being divorced, getting bullied at school, and the big one is how his mother (Felicity Jones,) who he has a very close relationship with, is suffering from terminal cancer.

Felicity MAIN.jpg source

Conor is a very talented artist and his room is filled with painting and drawings and one night, his imagination or actual magic, brings a massive monster crashing towards his house. However, this beast is not here to hurt him, it is there to help him.

This is accomplished through a series of stories that The Monster tells Conor - all of which have dubious lessons woven into the tale that confuse the boy, but it all comes together in the end if you pay attention.

https://img.rasset.ie/000d554f-500.jpg source

A big plus of this film is obviously the Monster itself, which is beautifully animated and voiced by Liam Neeson and at least for me, there is just something about that man's voice that I find so entrancing.

Despite being heavily featured in the advertising materials, Sigourney Weaver isn't in very much of the film. Casting her at all was a strange decision in my mind since I don't think Weaver is much of a box-office draw, is she? Certainly there were plenty of British actresses that were willing to take on the role.

I would personally like to have a British opinion on whether or not her British accent is convincing as we rarely see Americans placed in films where they have to put on an accent. It sounds fine to me, but I might not have the right "ear" for this.

amonstercallsepapachesentertainment.jpg source

So why did the film do so poorly? They had planned a $10 million opening weekend and managed to pull in less than $4 million over the film's entire run in North America (only 3 weeks.)

I don't know exactly what went wrong but I have some ideas.

  • For one thing, the Christmas / New Year period is an extremely competitive time of year and a film needs to catch on immediately, which this film failed to do despite only really competing with Underworld in the opening weekend.

  • Fantasy films are a tough sell. I like them and really look forward to them but I don't think this is the prevailing human sentiment.

  • It wasn't a kids movie, and it wasn't an adult movie. It was something in-between and well, we all know that sadly, movies need to appeal to kids for the most part to pull in the billions.

  • The main character is a child. This might only apply to me but I tend to avoid films with young leads mostly because I find child actors annoying - a feeling that I frequently felt during this film.

  • This might sound condescending, but the word "calls" indicates in a lot of countries that someone is ringing on the phone. I wonder if the movie would have performed better if it had been called "A Monster Visits."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Xbo-irtBA from the MovieClips official channel

Basically, I actually have the same feelings about this film that most critics had in that I thought it was a lot better than the failure it appeared to be financially. However, this also means that there is a very good chance that a lot of you managed to not see it and if that is the case, well now you have something to perhaps look forward to.

I found the movie touching and aside from some irritating scenes where Conor acts like a bit too much of a brat, the acting is pretty sound. The special effects are world-class and the soundtrack / overall ambiance is damn near perfect.

It appears to be a fantasy film, but mostly it is a tale of human emotion and well, there are some tear-jerker moments that got to me and if you have a soul the same will likely happen to you.

Every now and then a film comes by that I can't understand how it failed to catch on with the public and while this movie certainly isn't epic it is one of the better films I have seen say, in the past 2 weeks. Mostly, it is a lot better than the financial performance would indicate. I would gladly watch it again and when I can say that, it is a pretty good sign in my mind that it is pretty good.

My overall rating! 7 / 10


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  • @kaminchan

    Now! You make me want to see this film! Gosh! I need more time! As it is, I am not having enough time for sleeping! This darn internet thing is bombarding me with over information and I suck it all in! So addictive! Need to see a doctor soon, perhaps! But you are glued to your films!!

  • @deadspace

    I would also contribute abysmal marketing to it failing pretty hard. I remember seeing some shit on reddit about this movie when it bombed, and hardly anyone had even heard of this movie by the day it released. Seems like that can really fuck a movie hard these days. Just look at that Arctic dogs movie that just bombed, had the worst opening of a movie ever, and literally almost no one in the world even knew what the fuck it was even though it was playing in 2800 different theaters.

  • @wongshiying

    @tipu curate !trdo

    I should take a look of this film..image looks great....

    Posted using Partiko Android

  • @praditya

    I do believe a movie should have a target audience, Moreover the peak time i.e Christmas would have movies of many famous actors releasing so a tough call for sure. And yes I also agree on you that sometimes quite fantastic movies gets flop.

    Posted using Partiko Android

  • @andrewgenaille

    Chatted with some friends about this movie a few months ago and discovered none of had watched it for the same reason. It looked sad and depressing... we were hoping for a fun movie, but the trailer made it feel like you’d be brought down a few emotions; And it would be a movie you’d have to be in the mood for.

    Posted using Partiko iOS

  • @nathangibbssss

    Interesting I should look for this movie as soon as possible !

  • @oliverknowlessss

    I think I need to see this!

  • @ethandeansss

    This must be a great movie after all!

  • @bozz

    Based on the promotional material that you showed it is possible that too many parents thought it was actually going to be a lot scarier than it was. I guess a lot of parents don't really care about that sort of thing these days. They will take their kids to anything as long as it doesn't have sex in it (cause that's what we need to worry about). This sounds like it was a pretty cool movie and if it is talking about social/emotional issues, my wife might even enjoy it. It will be hard for her to get past the monster though :)

  • @ahmadmanga

    Sounds like a film I'd really want to watch! I agree with your reasons on why it failed financially but, at least for me I love fantasy movies that blend some reality with it. I Should watch this one sometime.

    Reading the review I thought you would give it more than 7 out of 10. But I'm still not familiar with your standards.
  • @queeirisa

    I actually thought you were gonna rate it lower than 5, but since it got 7 from your side and also because you got a good judgement for movies, I'm gonna check this one out. Thanks for the ups.

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