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The Whine Colored Sea issues a challenge:

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 30, 2006

The Whine Colored Sea issues a challenge: which directors, musicians, artists, authors, etc. followed a masterpiece with a bomb. Spielberg’s Schindler’s List followed by Jurassic Park 2 is a good example.

Reader comments

DougNov 30, 2006 at 10:30AM

Ang Lee followed a string of critical favorites - Eat Drink Man Woman, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - with one big disappointment - The Hulk - but then redeemed himself with Brokeback Mountain.

Actually, you could probably go down the list of Oscar-winning directors and find, almost as a rule, that their follow-up films were far from loved. Sam Mendes followed American Beauty with Road to Perdition and Jarhead. Sydney Pollack followed Out of Africa with Havana.

mattbucherNov 30, 2006 at 10:31AM

Roman Polanski: Chinatown (1974) then The Tenant (1976).

tom scolaNov 30, 2006 at 10:52AM

John Boorman: Deliverance (1972) and then Zardoz (1974).

DanielNov 30, 2006 at 11:05AM

Weezer - Pinkerton (1996) followed by the Green Album (2001).

DanielNov 30, 2006 at 11:07AM

Actually, to clarify…Pinkerton was a critical smash, while the Green Album was Rivers Cuomo’s (self-described) attempt at MTV-style stardom.

Sales-wise, I believe Pinkerton bombed, while the Green Album was quite successful.

Dan BolandNov 30, 2006 at 11:16AM

Here’s another music one for you, this time it’s Soundgarden:

SuperunknownDown on the Upside

Superunknown truly is a masterpiece, whereas Down on the Upside sounds like four guys obviously ready to hang it up. (Seriously, if you’re a fan of hard rock in any capacity and you’ve never heard Superunknown, stop what you’re doing and get your hands on a copy.)

Mark LarsonNov 30, 2006 at 11:16AM

The sophomore crash-and-burn after a big Billboard debut is routine in music. How about Morrissete’s Jagged Little Pill leading to Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie? Maybe JLG isn’t brilliant, but for about a year there you couldn’t walk around the block without hearing it. See also second album syndrome.

And how about the reverse? An embarrassment followed with brilliance. I’m thinking Radiohead’s Pablo, Honey followed by The Bends.

emilyNov 30, 2006 at 11:24AM

After seeing “For Your Consideration” last weekend (a dud if not a bomb), I have to add the Christopher Guest who made “A Mighty Wind” to this list.

aleshNov 30, 2006 at 11:24AM

Oh geez, poor Lou Reed alternated between brilliant and crappy albums for most of his career, right?

MartinNov 30, 2006 at 11:24AM

Define “bomb”?

Schindler’s List
Total US Gross: $96,067,179
Production Budget: $25,000,000
Worldwide Gross: $321,200,000

The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2
US Gross: $229,086,679
Production Budget: $75,000,000
World wide gross: $786,686,679

Jurassic Park 2 was a monumental box office success compared to Schindler’s List.

Schindler’s List won 7 Oscars, JP2 picked up 1 nomination (Titanic won visual effects that year).

jkottkeNov 30, 2006 at 11:58AM

Sorry, “bomb” is my imprecise rewording of “an enormous fall from grace” from the original question. I think what the question is getting at, with the aid of hindsight, is which directors/authors/whatevers followed up an acknowledged great work with one that wasn’t so great…like, holy crap, I can’t believe that person made this great thing and then, pffftt. JP2 was a pile of crap compared to the first JP and certainly doesn’t hold a candle to SL, box office notwithstanding.

kevinNov 30, 2006 at 12:31PM

Ridley Scott made Blade Runner (1982), then made Legend (1985).

GregNov 30, 2006 at 12:48PM

Some others:

John Singleton: Boyz n the Hood > Poetic Justice

Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction > Four Rooms

M. Night Shyamalan: Sixth Sense > Unbreakable

David S. Ward: Major League > King Ralph (IMHO)

MartinNov 30, 2006 at 1:17PM

In that case: George Lucas.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope > Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

I can’t think of a bigger (and longer) fall from grace than that.

HarryNov 30, 2006 at 2:09PM

I’ll take “Act Your 80s” for 200.

Karate Kid, followed by the rest of his career. Sorry, Daniel-san.
Who is Ralph Macchio?

Top Gun, followed by The Color of Money.
Who is Tom Cruise?

Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science, followed by Out of Bounds and Johnny Be Good.
Who is Anthony Michael Hall?

DeanNov 30, 2006 at 2:10PM

Peter Jackson
LoTR-Return of the King > King Kong

JonNov 30, 2006 at 2:18PM

Doug: I haven’t seen Jarhead, but how can you say Road to Perdition was a bomb? Even though it was a departure from the genre of American Beauty, in my mind it is one of the better movies of the last 5-10 years.

I say The Wachowski Brothers: The Matrix > The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions

hectorNov 30, 2006 at 2:24PM

Schindler’s List a masterpiece? Oh, please. The book was so much better. The movie sentimentalized, diminished and simplified the far more nuanced and thought-provoking nature of the book.

I’ve always thought Spielberg is a great B-movie director (Jaws, Jurassic Park) but, when it comes to “serious” movies, a purveyor of kitsch.

MarkNov 30, 2006 at 2:36PM

Schindler’s List was a fine movie IMO, until the final 15 minutes when Spielberg couldn’t help but roll out the sacharine.

Eddie Murphy: Bowfinger -> Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (unless you’re a lover of fart jokes)

meNov 30, 2006 at 2:56PM

Not to turn this discussion, but I completely agree with you about Spielberg. He can’t help but try to shoehorn sentimental, self absorbed, pull you out of the movie moments in almost every flick he does. If could have ever learned to resist that urge, he would be a great director instead of just good…sad…That is why his b-movies seem so much better…because at his core he is pure shmaltz.

PaulskiNov 30, 2006 at 3:14PM

The Clash:
London Calling —> Sandinista!

Guns N’ Roses:
Appetite for Destruction —> Use Your Illusion

Thomas Pynchon:
Gravity’s Rainbow —> Vineland

Terry Gilliam
12 Monkeys —> Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

sanNov 30, 2006 at 4:19PM

Unbreakable wasn’t that bad, it was just different.

Jarhead, it wasn’t so much the direction as it was the book in the first place.

And, Paulski, um, no… Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing remains a masterpiece. The bats man, the bats. You may be Depp-phobic.

ShaneDec 01, 2006 at 10:31AM

Gore Verbinski
Pirates of the Carribbean I >> The Weather Man

Paul & Chris Weitz
American Pie (you can’t deny that it is brilliant) >> Down to Earth (crappy Chris Rock remake of Heaven Can Wait)

Christian Bale
Batman Begins >> The New World

Antoine Fuqua
Training Day >> Tears of the Sun

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.