2014 was a fascinating year for the Hercules franchise, with two films released about the legendary hero. One of them starred Dwayne Johnson and raked in over $200 million worldwide. However, the first to hit theaters was The Legend of Hercules, featuring Twilight alum Kellan Lutz. The film follows Hercules as he’s exiled by his father after discovering forbidden love. Sold into slavery, the mighty hero endures numerous battles and death matches to escape his new kingdom. Despite the well-known source material, The Legend of Hercules was met with abysmal reviews and failed to recoup its $70 million budget. So, what went wrong? Let’s delve into the possible reasons behind the financial flop of The Legend of Hercules.
Unwarranted Jab at Dwayne Johnson Alienated Fans
Dwayne Johnson is undeniably one of the biggest stars in the world. However, rumors have circulated about whether he’s used steroids. Johnson has admitted to using metabolic stimulation in the past, but only during his time playing football for the Miami Hurricanes. He has since claimed to be clean, but that didn’t stop Lutz from taking a shot at the wrestler-turned-actor. Lutz told E! News, “I wanted to get big, but then you have The Rock playing in the other Hercules. There’s not enough ‘extra-curricular’ stuff for that.” This jab at Johnson, who also had a Hercules movie coming out later that year, was unnecessary and didn’t sit well with fans. While it may not be the sole reason for The Legend of Hercules bombing, Lutz’s attempt to tarnish Johnson’s reputation to promote his film was a misstep that likely hurt him more than it helped.
Underwhelming Trailer Failed to Impress
Trailers can often be misleading, and while a great trailer can be cut from a bad movie, The Legend of Hercules offered a bland trailer that focused primarily on two things: 1) Kellan Lutz’s attractiveness and 2) Hercules’ action scenes. Noticeably absent were any dialogue scenes showcasing Lutz’s acting abilities. The trailer’s emphasis on Lutz’s physique is unsurprising given his beefcake status, but it’s also confusing since The Legend of Hercules is a film aimed at men. Comparing it to a similar film, Zack Snyder’s 300, the difference in trailer presentation is stark. 300 understands its target audience, focusing on action, visuals, and violence rather than Gerard Butler’s sex appeal. This is also the approach taken by Johnson’s Hercules. The trailer for The Legend of Hercules feels more like a steamy love story featuring a model dressed as Hercules surrounded by other models posing as warriors. The action lacks style and appears pedestrian at best. With a confusing target demographic and lackluster action sequences, it’s no wonder that audiences were reluctant to spend money on this film.
Kellan Lutz Lacked Star Power
It’s rare for a single movie to catapult an actor to A-list fame. One recent example is Tom Holland, who rose to stardom following his role in Spider-Man. For some actors, it takes time, while others manage to capture lightning in a bottle and strike it big from the start. Lutz is best known for his role in Twilight as Emmett Cullen, but even then, he wasn’t the main attraction. With a resume filled mostly with flops, Lutz has yet to truly connect with mainstream audiences. The studio’s decision to bank on his Twilight buzz was a mistake from the start. While it’s not unheard of for a film featuring a cast of unknowns to succeed at the box office, the combination of poor critical reception and a lack of general excitement made it highly unlikely that The Legend of Hercules would be a hit.
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