Why’d it Bomb? Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

Kevthewriter wonders why Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply bombed.

Poor Warren Beatty. He used to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world and now he’s most well-known for mixing up La La Land and Moonlight. Of course, he did try to have a comeback last year. Unfortunately, it was Rules Don’t Apply, a movie that bombed horribly at the box office and received mixed to negative reviews from critics and audiences basically ignored altogether. You know how much they ignored it? Well, when I went to see it, I was literally the only person in the theater. Then, when I went to review the movie on the blog, it hardly had any views and no one commented on it. I’m not admonishing you for ignoring my review, don’t get me wrong, I’m just pointing out how little people cared about this movie.

But why did no one care about this movie? I think the problem was there was no real incentive for people to care about it. It was touted as Warren Beatty’s big comeback and also the movie about Howard Hughes he’d been trying to make for over 30 years. Problem is, Warren Beatty hasn’t acted in a decade and has barely been in the spotlight for 15 years. Thing is, though, the man has always been picky. Just a look at his IMDB shows a rather big gap between projects. In the 90’s, for instance, he only starred in 4 movies, all of which, from 1990-1998, came out within a few years of each other. And in the 80’s, he was only in 2 movies. But even by his standards, 15 years is a long time to wait when it comes to making another movie. By that point, I think the majority of people went from thinking “whatever happened to Warren Beatty?” to just assuming he retired to basically forgetting he ever was a big star in the first place. Therefore, when he finally made the Howard Hughes movie he always wanted to make, people were just indifferent to it.

Now I’m not saying that if you don’t act for years, or decades, you should just stay in retirement. I’m just saying you also shouldn’t just expect people to go see a movie because you’re in it. Look at all the big comeback stories when it comes to movies: Carrie, The Wrestler, Birdman. They weren’t just popular because an actor who used to be famous was acting and/or in a starring role again but because the movies themselves were considered great and, because of positive word of mouth, many people went to see those movies. As a result, Piper Laurie, Mickey Rourke, and Michael Keaton became famous again (though it didn’t last for Mickey Rourke because, well, he acted like Mickey Rourke but oh well…). On the other hand, look at Snatched, starring Warren Beatty’s friend Goldie Hawn. She, like Warren, hadn’t been in a movie for 15 years but, instead of being a big comeback vehicle for her, the movie came and went because the movie itself received negative reviews.

Same thing with Rules Don’t Apply. Had the reviews been better, more people might’ve come out to see it but, because the reviews weren’t hot, people stayed away. It also didn’t help that, while the movie had many celebrities in it, none of them were box office draws. It definitely didn’t help that the two young people he got to star in the movie, Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, aren’t exactly big names (though that might change for Alden with the Han Solo movie).

Therefore, the reason Rules Don’t Apply bombed is because Warren got too cocky and thought that, after 15 years of being out of the limelight, he could sell a movie on his name alone when the truth is many people moved on from his brand and stopped caring whether or not he’d make another movie.


Posted on October 5, 2017, in Why'd it bomb? and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Beatty hasn’t been relevant for almost 27 years…

    [–] punish77 10 months ago
    I disagree with your statement that all of his movies except Roman Springs are “better than Bad Moms”. In fact, when Ishtar was released in 1987 it was considered up until that point the biggest bomb in movie history. Unfortunately, Ishtar was subsequently surpassed by (guess what) Town & Country (2001), which then became the biggest bomb in movie history. I think that Town & Country made about $6 million on a budget over $100 million. In fact, Ishtar and Town & Country are such infamous bombs, that people tend to completely over look Love Affair (1994), another huge bomb which made $18 million on a $60 million budget. The common thread in most of Beatty’s movies is that they run wildly over budget and take forever to make. Town & Country was a rom-com. It should have cost no more than $30 million; instead it cost over $100 million. Ishtar was basically a comedy, it should have also been low budget. Love Affair was a dramedy which should also have been low budget; instead it cost $60 million in 1994 dollars. And remember, those are just production budgets. They do not count marketing budgets. Moreover, you can not simply ignore these budgets. Bad Moms was a low budget raunchy movie which made a lot of money.

    Your statement that Warren “is a great actor” is absolutely ridiculous. He is the worst famous actor in history other than Elliot Gould or Keanu. His every performance is a variation on his shy, stuttering, clueless “dumb blonde” role. I can not think of one memorable scene that he has ever performed in 60 years.
    Daniel Day Lewis and Anthony Hopkins are great actors. Do you see Warren playing any of the Lewis roles?? But instead of debating this, give me some sort of context. Tell me who you think other great actors are, or better yet tell me who you think some bad actors are. Just name me one famous actor other than GOuld or Keanu who is a worse actor than Warren.

    History will not be kind to Warren. The internet, IMDB and videos has exposed his lack of production over the last 60 years.

    Lastly, and to show you that I am fair, I will concede that Warren can be effective at some elements of producing, since he always seems to get top talent for his movies and gets money out of either the studios or investors. One of the investors in Rules Don’t Apply is Terry Semel, who I believe ran Warners and funded Love Affair. So even though Love Affair was huge bomb, Warren was able to get more money out of Semel again for this project. That is impressive.


    • I actually find Keanu weird. He’s usually a terrible actor but once in a while actually gives a great performance. As much as I hated The Neon Demon, he was great in it. As for Warren Beatty, I’ve only seen Rules Don’t Apply, Bulworth, and Dick Tracy and…he’s okay. Nothing special as an actor, which might be why he’s rarely mentioned among the greats despite having been on the A-list for decades from the 60’s to the early 00’s.


      • If you haven’t seen Beatty’s earlier movies, you haven’t seen him at his best.

        Liked by 1 person

        • True, though there’s a lot of classic movies I haven’t seen yet. Hell, I saw Taxi Driver for the first time a week or two ago.


        • I’m kind of mystified regarding how Warren Beatty was considered a big star in the first place. Hopefully somebody can back me up on this, but he has only really has three hits (“Dick Tracy” was really more of a base-level hit) in movies that he headlined or was the top star, in the last 55 years: “Bonnie & Clyde”, “Shampoo”, and “Heaven Can’t Wait”. And plus, depending on your point of view, Beatty can be an awfully one-note actor. He virtually plays the same shy fella with a deer in the headlights look,in practically every movie!


      • I agree with the sentiment that most young people probably don’t know much about Warren Beatty prior to this year’s Oscars mix-up. He isn’t like say Clint Eastwood or Robert Redford, other leading men from Beatty’s generation turned directors/producers. But unlike them, I get the feeling that Beatty still thinks that he could cut it as a leading man without much reservations. To give you an idea, Beatty from my understanding, plays Howard Hughes circa 1958, when he was about 53 years old (a good 25 years younger than Warren Beatty in real life).


  2. With Warren Beatty, the ends simply don’y justify the means (that’s the ultimate downside towards being a perfectionist). As I alluded to prior, most of his movies (at least his post-“Reds” stuff) always seem to go over-budget and take forever to complete. For whatever the reasons many of his stuff post-1981 doesn’t really resonate with audiences.


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