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Has Hollywood's Experiment with White Male Directors Failed?

By Petr Navovy | Think Pieces | May 15, 2017 |

By Petr Navovy | Think Pieces | May 15, 2017 |

In what must surely be the final death knell of a particular industry foible, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has—to put it mildly—under-performed at the domestic and international box office. Thus far taking $43.8m on a production budget of $175m, Ritchie’s financial disappointment will be felt not only by the director himself but also by the industry as a whole.

Taking note too will be those watchful mavens of Hollywood who are already preparing the latest round of think pieces designed to analyze Arthur’s performance in an effort to hold it up alongside a litany of historical failures and to draw an inescapable conclusion—that it must finally be time to call a halt to the misbegotten experiment that has given far too many chances to that niche demographic:

The White Male Director.

It is of course no secret that some of the biggest box office bombs of all time—

Andrew Stanton’s 2012 John Carter, Michael Cimino’s 1980 Heaven’s Gate, Simon Wells’ 2011 Mars Needs Moms, Ron Underwood’s 2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Robert Schwentke’s 2013 R.I.P.D., Gore Verbinski’s 2013 The Lone Ranger, Renny Harlin 1995 Cutthroat Island, Tom Shadyac’s 2007 Evan Almighty, Joe Wright’s 2015 Pan, Brian Singer’s 2015 Jack the Giant Slayer, Josh Trank’s 2015 Fantastic Four, Brad Bird’s 2015 Tomorrowland, Martin Brest’s 2003 Gigli, Gregory Hoblit’s 2002 Hart’s War, Adrian Lyne’s 1997 Lolita, Oliver Stone’s 2004 Alexander, Michael Lehmann’s 1991 Hudson Hawk, Joe Johnston’s 2010 The Wolfman, Martin Campbell’s 2011 The Green Lantern, and Jon Favreau’s 2011 Cowboys & Aliens to name just a few

— were made by White Male Directors.

There is no hate here, nor any prejudice in this analysis, purely Common Business Sense. The numbers simply do not lie. When a dart thrown onto the board containing the names of the greatest box office bombs of all time will land—with uncanny near-certainty—onto a title directed by a White Male, it must clearly be time for Hollywood to take corrective action.

Because this kind of profligacy just cannot be allowed to stand.

Hollywood is a business after all, and there’s only so many $175m budgets (Arthur) that it can give out as a reward for $80m losses (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.).


Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music