Kirk Hammett Explains Why Metallica Movie Flopped

Casual moviegoers wouldn't pay to see film.

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Kirk Hammett has been talking with Stereogum (via Blabbermouth) about Metallica's IMAX 3D concert film "Through the Never." The guitarist notes that, while he thought the band made "a really, really great movie," the film was a failure at the box office because it didn't bring in casual moviegoers:

"We put so much time and so much effort and made sure it was exactly the way that we envisioned it.

"Our fans definitely went to movie theaters and saw the film, but the people that we were counting on to buy movie tickets — which was your casual moviegoer - they weren't as motivated to buy a ticket as our fans. For us, that was a big question mark. Why? We couldn't figure it out."

As Blabbermouth notes, the film, which cost $18million to make, took in just $3.2 million at the box office. To cover its production costs, marketing, and the amount that theater owners take from ticket sales, the movie would have to earn $36 million.

130 comments sorted by best / new / date

    lemmyisgod97
    They'll most likely make back a lot of the money on dvd sales, seeing it in the cinema was pretty good though, I doubt watching it on tv would have the same impact.
    GodzillaRAWRRR
    Yes also considering it was never released in theaters in the UK and all the UK fans will buy the DVD/Blu-ray.
    Validischofe
    It was released in theaters in the UK. I live in the UK and I saw it at the local IMAX. I agree with the majority of people posting here though, as great as it was, I can't see how this film would appeal to any non-Metallica fans.
    Neon_Buffalo
    I was about to read your comment, when my eyes strayed to your avatar...Still havent read the comment...
    ScottStewart1
    But still, with such a limited release, lack of promotion, releasing it around a blockbuster IMAX film like Gravity, the lack of a big name director/actor. Not sure why they were expecting it to do all that well.
    solomonkane
    so they won't be able to tune up the rolls's this spring, my heart bleeds, they need some failures to get them off their high horses and more than lulu which they shrugged off as a " experiment"
    Joeseye
    I can't help but agree... Recently they've created their own film, label, festival, collaboration album and even gigged in Anarctica. It takes so much planning and money. I'm hoping they'll just settle down and become musicians again. Their next album will be released in 2015 - 7 years since Death Magnetic's release.
    Gibson_SG_uzr55
    The numbers in the article are also misleading. It made over $3M domestically. Multiple sources show that it made over $21M worldwide. The DVD and CD sales still have a lot of ground to cover marketing, but it's not nearly so steep and it's not the box-office flop they're making it out to be.
    Minivirus2
    Production and distribution will also cost them a ton. The "cons" of being your own label.
    Morgothik
    My guess is that a simple concert only film would have been more successful.
    TomWhaley
    Because nobody wants a ****ing Metallica movie. These guys shouldn't be allowed to make another dime until they record a new album. It's getting ridiculous. I honestly feel like they actually don't have any material, and they're just dragging their tails to the finish line at this point.
    deadrat117
    I've never been a fan of 3D films, but I saw this in Imax 3d and absolutely loved the hell out of it.
    ledzep426
    Idk I thought the concert footage was incredible. Of course non-Metallica fans werent gonna see it. But I really dont think making money was what the band had in mind. They just like doing things that satisfy their creativity.
    Jimjambanx
    I didn't even realize that it was out in cinemas until after it was out of theaters. I never saw any ads for it on tv or anything. Was it even shown in Australia at all?
    rowdyryan2005
    I loved it! I went to see it twice in fact. The theatre played it nice and loud and while it's not as good as seeing them live obviously, it was still a good experience at the movies.
    Doomzdayxx
    Because while they are still a good live band, they are a bunch of jokes compared to their younger selves. Watch Seattle '89 then watch a newer live show with them. HUUUUUGE difference. Lars is just a minimalist and James tends to say a bunch of goofy little vocal fills in the songs. Kirk's solos...well, we all know that one (WAH). Rob is definitely the liveliest of the bunch.
    TrilobiteTongue
    "they are a bunch of jokes compared to their younger selves. Watch Seattle '89 then watch a newer live show with them. HUUUUUGE difference." Well yeah sure sherlock, most bands are. You rarely see a band of 30+ years being always great. You could say something like Iron Maiden. But, comparing how they play now to how they played 20 years ago, they're a joke as well. Still, for a bunch of 50 year olds, they can manage to do decent shows.
    Doomzdayxx
    I just want to add that it's hard to really blame those guys really, I mean, they've been playing those songs for so many years. Guess their bored with many of them.
    morbidguitar
    Yea, most of us with a career do the same job our whole life, and as boring as it may be, you do it, and do a damn good job of it if you want to put food on the table for your family. If they got bored of the thing that made them famous then its time to quit for good.
    onkel44
    maybe "casual moviegoers" go and see movies actually featuring good music.
    ridemylightning
    Because it was AWFUL....I love Metallica and all but it was 90% concert, 10% confusing pointless, random street violence and then the doll came alive and I thought it was some kind of Will Ferrell movie
    ridemylightning
    Because it was AWFUL....I love Metallica and all but it was 90% concert, 10% confusing pointless, random street violence and then the doll came alive and I thought it was some kind of Will Ferrell movie
    jj2465
    Im a big fan of the band but how normal viewer should figure it out what is going on in this movie? They just see a concert and some surreal events out there.
    Bhaaa
    and that is exactly what it was too....
    jj2465
    That was about Cliff's soul for rest of members to perform Orion, to make tha band complete. Normal viewer doesnt know about Cliff and the face that Metallica never play Orion in concerts when Cliff was alive..
    Dannym95
    Casual moviegoers are bellends. ...which would also make me a bellend because I haven't seen it.
    6-String_Madman
    Very much agreed. In my country (Philippines), the casual movie goers either want an unwanted teenage pregnancy inducing chick flick or a comedy movie that glamorizes homosexuality (There aren't even any local action movies being filmed here). If your movie is neither of it, you won't be able to sell much. I watched Metallica: Through The Never in a cinema here and it felt like I'm the only person watching. It made me feel like a boss as if I own the entire theater. It was an amazing experience. As for the plot, it's either you get it or you don't. I dig it and for those who don't, tough luck.
    Johnnybizzoy
    All I see is people complaining that nobody wants to pay to see a Metallica movie. I,on the other hand, remember hearing about the development of this movie, but I had NO IDEA AT ALL that it was released already. Poor marketing by FAR is what killed this movie.
    Grey Dread
    Wait until Lars finds out everybody's seen it, but nobody's paid for it. lol He'll lose what little hair he has left.
    munkybusiness
    "To cover its production costs, marketing, and the amount that theater owners take from ticket sales, the movie would have to earn $36 million". That's alright, James and Lars play poker for more than that in the tour bus.
    soulgrenade
    Had they used all new songs it might have done better. Rehashing the same live metallica tunes we have all heard a million times was hardly visionary.
    stereosmiles
    I think the word we're looking for here is "folly", as in, "We've got so much money, let's make something just for the sake of it."
    thejay2
    No Kirk! the problem was when it came over to the UK, it was in ALL of my local Cinemas for 1 day at a very specific time....during this time I was working and couldn't switch shifts. Had this been on a proper release and I don't know been there for more than one day I would have been there with bells on! Love Metallica but that is a joke!
    markyj666
    Fans want new music, not dvd release after dvd release of concert footage that we have all seen them play live countless times. Call me old fashioned but i like buying an album then paying to see them tour the album and play some classics too. Personally i am looking forward to the "By Request" tour this year as people will then not be able to bitch and moan about the setlist as they will have voted to choose the songs!
    lohanlover89
    When I saw it in theaters it was just me and some other random dude in the entire room. Most movie-goers would rather watch generic Adam Sandler movies.
    Grey Dread
    What an arrogant prick. I don't know who's worse, him or Lars. I'm a big fan of their music, but the "casual movie goer" isn't a Metallica fan, and that "movie" was basically an up-close Metallica concert with little snippets or weird video between songs. I liked it, as a Metallica fan, while at the same time hating it as a movie fan. It was a weird experience.
    Cazman
    It was a ****ing cool movie nonetheless. Had a nice Dredd (the 2013 one) vibe.
    narizee
    it was a good movie for metallica fans, of course.. I thought it was great and still listening to the soundtrack after watching it.. but yeah, it lacks what it takes to attract non-fans.. they'll need to make it more like Hesher in order to sell it
    jamesrulesmetal
    You raise a good point, Kirky. I thought "Through the Never" was fantastic! I was entirely aware of Metallica's status as "The Greatest Heavy Metal Band Of All Time" before i saw the movie, but i was just blown away by their on-screen performance. They were just -too good-. Phucken awesome performin', particularly on Ride The Lightning and One. \m/
    F3nixoftheaxe
    I'm a huge movie goer and a Metallica fan, however for me I wasn't sure if I'd want to spend my time and money sitting through that movie at the theaters. Really it started at the trailer. I have still yet to see this movie so bear with me. The concept of a violent riot breaking out in the middle of a city was the biggest sell point for me, because it looked gritty, raw, exciting and chaotic. I mean look at the rider! Badass and scary in a "I'm a psycho on a horse and I'm here to kill everyone." Really a grade a villain. The roadie was a great choice for the hero of the tale. Someone that a lot of people could connect to, someone who got to work for their favorite band/idol(s). Then you throw him into the chaos as the world around him falls apart and there's no order. Just sink or swim. Awesome concept that you don't see in big production films on the silver screen today. Then throw the biggest name in metal on it, with the soundtrack to go along with from their famous songs. However this is where you lost me, and I feel, the casual movie-goer. First you go to the movies to see a movie not to watch a concert, albeit they do have events for that at theaters now but they're not a huge sell. If I want to see Metallica, I'll go to a concert and see them and get the REAL experience. Second, the part that really threw me off, is how does Metallica really incorporate themselves into the movie and their songs into the story of the film? Does the scene portray a song, do we get part of the concert throughout the movie, or do they play a song then we get a little more of the story. Like the trailer wasn't very clear and the 3D aspect of it didn't really matter to me in this kind of film. Poor marketing, bad trailer, unclear message and the fact that you made this movie for artistic reasons (which I totally support) and not to sell it to the general masses, are the main reason why this movie flopped. If every Metallica fan went and saw this movie I bet you could've made a small profit on this movie but, the marketing probably scared away more fans, me being one of them.
    masterofpuppies
    There was never any chance any non-Metallica fans were ever going to see this. If that was their business plan, I could have told them a couple of years back that that would not have happened.
    Teuras
    No worries. They will release an album and get their money back.
    travislawler93
    The movie flopped because people don't wanna spend the $40 to see a 90 min. movie that's $25 for the ticket and another $15-$25 for a bag of popcorn and a drink
    TrilobiteTongue
    After seeing the movie, i wish every band would make at least one concert film like this(except for the plot part). The cinematic feel was awesome. Every shot of the concert was awesome. Didn't really care for the narrative part though. My favorite scene of that has to be when Cyanide kicks in, and the riot starts. I never would have thought that Cyanide would be such an awesome score to a street fight.
    RCA1186
    The casual movie goer wants to see an actual movie, not a concert. Hell I barely want to fork over the money for the actual movies..
    sunny786
    I honestly thought it would decently in the States at least. I am in Malaysia and I couldn't find it in any cinemas anywhere which sucked balls. I was really excited for it.
    RichieJovie
    It flopped because who wants a metallica movie with a crap plot and was basically a Lars ego massage? Just record a gig and release it as a DVD.
    Kaseke
    They record loads of gigs and release them in the internet for free...
    fofuxake
    Funny stuff.. maybe your band is just a pretentious group of douches who haven't made anything relevant for a looong time
    BlueIceBox
    Why would anyone want to pay (a similar price of an actual concert ticket) to watch pre-recorded concert footage with a mediocre plot? Everyone's seen these songs played thousands of times, you can simply look on the internet for fantastic live footage of Metallica (for free!).
    eatfresh1736
    Where are you finding Metallica tickets for $15 (or whatever equivalent currency you use)?
    ReldvS
    i think Metallica knew it wasn't gonna reach the average movie ticket buyer but as long as they could fool the production company into thinking they were going to get the average movie ticket buyer to buy....in other words, get STEREOGUM to BUY into it and METALLICA gets to have fun and make another one of their person dreams happen.lol. way to go METALLICA
    iommi600
    Lars: "You see, um... I believe that in the future, um... *hand gesture #1* people will love our movie... yeah I mean, um, *hand gesture #2* people need to let the idea grow on them, so, um... *waves hands in the air* I do believe in it."
    BlackLabel5150
    Well, for me personally, I would not pay 15 bucks to watch a movie by Metallica.However, I will gladly pay a lot more if they would do say...A LIVE TOUR IN THE STATES.Just a thought.
    wobbz
    Reason it failed bc they only targeted big cities throughout the states. For me I would have to drive 4 hours just see it and it wasn't worth the time or gas to purchase like a 10 dollar ticket at minimum.
    WantsLesPaul
    I Would rather watch Grown Ups 2.
    LysanderSpoon
    There is nothing on earth that Grown Ups 2 is better than.
    cRACk mONKEyTTU
    Howard the Duck. Justin Bieber's Believe. Jack and Jill. It's not even the worst Adam Sandler movie. There are waaaayyyy worse movies. I could list more. I wanted to see the Metallica movie cuz Kirk Hammett was gonna be at one of the nearby theaters to introduce it and whatnot, but I couldn't get outta work. And then I never went to see it afterwards...
    drm445
    I am also betting that a lot old school fans (like me) who think Metallica turned into a band of raging homos after ...and justice for all don't want to give Lar$ and the rest of them any money.
    evan1691
    I'm guessing that most fans don't care about elitist douchebag opinions...
    joeyreece
    What?! It was a flop?! You're telling me the average person doesn't want to give Metallica $15 and 90 minutes of their time? Outrageous!
    Dan_Hey_Wait!
    This was obvious, I love music and seeing bands live but wouldn't go see this as I don't like Metallica enough to pay £15 for a 3D film, I love Foo Fighters so I saw Back and Forth, but I wouldn't expect a non Foo's fan to go.
    INSULIN
    18 million to make dam .I thought it was a concert movie .
    LordThon
    Let's also consider the standard cost of a Metallica concert. There's a reason tickets in the mid-range are $100. THEN, we tack on those monstrous Tesla coils, and the time it took to ensure no one was gonna die. Adds up. (Slight chance you're being facetious, I know.)
    Teaisfantastic
    It was obvious from the start that the film wouldn't be a major success. Metallica do have a big fan base, but the vast majority of people would rather see a proper film with real actors/actresses rather than a 3D concert.