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

    notaconotaco
    So... the reason the movie flopped is because no one went to go see it. Brilliant insight!
    Unf
    What a surprise - casual moviegoers don't like thrash metal concert movie with art house plot.
    Max of death
    You just summed it up pretty Good... I loved the Movie though if you wanna call it that Way! When i went into the Cinema, my mindset was more like going to a Concert Show with a Damn Good view!
    KnibbHighFB
    Why would they even expect casual movie goers to see this? It's basically just a Metallica concert DVD with a different approach. But it's still Metallica, and it's still mostly a concert. Non Metallica fans don't pay money to watch and listen to Metallica music. Dumb.
    Dynamight
    Even worse: "For us, that was a big question mark. Why? We couldn't figure it out." So he "explains" it by asking why it happened.
    MrWeatherHead
    He knows the reason was because casual moviegoers didn't go see it. But he can't work out why they didn't go see it. I don't blame him, they spent about 3 years making the movie as best as they could so you can't get mad if he feels a little bad that the movie didn't sell as much as they would of liked.
    codyjt5150
    I don't understand, I thought it was one of the greatest concert movies I've seen in a while. The side story was a bit retarded and made no sense (although it did have cool effects).
    jpob
    But who sees concert movies in cinema. Ive only ever seen one-off shows here and there
    fistofTHEAXIS
    I think it's more of a 90 minute concept music video than a movie.
    juzza1
    I think it's just Quebec Magnetic repackaged with toilet breaks for beer and bathroom in it
    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.
    travislausch
    I dunno if this is true everywhere, but here in Northern Ontario it would be because most of the people going to see movies are usually going to see, well, movies. Not a prerecorded concert that would have been better left to fans on DVD. Besides, my own personal study seems to show most moviegoers are teenage girls who probably don't give a rat's ass about an Ulrich or wah pedal.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Neon_Buffalo
    I was about to read your comment, when my eyes strayed to your avatar...Still havent read the comment...
    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.
    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!
    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.)
    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."
    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.
    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..
    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.
    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.
    fofuxake
    Funny stuff.. maybe your band is just a pretentious group of douches who haven't made anything relevant for a looong time
    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...
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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
    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)?
    KingV911
    I might have paid $15 to watch a HD version of Metallica's Live Shit: Seattle concert in the cinema, but I wouldn't even go see this for free. I could tell from the trailer it wouldn't be worth my time.
    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.
    avpr212
    Even MetalSucks had this pretty convincingly figured out months and months ago, i don't know whats taking Kirk Hammett so long to realise that nobody knew what the **** it was about or what was going on metalsucks (dot) net/2013/10/14/metallicas-never-failed-box-office/
    PuckMugger
    It flopped because you just knew it was going to suck...and it did, and it does, so there.
    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.
    eatfresh1736
    This reminds me of when Lou Reed was stupified that people didn't like Lulu. I mean, c'mon. You (Kirk) can't have just figured this out now.
    DeathCS-Fan
    Eh, didn't really care about seeing the film. However, reading this makes me want to play No Remorse for some reason...
    Izzy-Sweet
    Of coursed it failed: The fans would rather go to a real live show and movie fans would rather watch an actual movie as opposed to a live concert about a band they're not fans of.
    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..
    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
    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...
    ComradSputnik
    The real elephant in the room is that metallica is over. They're outdated, finished, no one cares. But everyone is beating round the bush.
    third(-)eye
    Yep. Pretty much.
    Funnyname99
    I think people would be really happy if they actually put some effort into creating a rally awesome, fresh sounding album, which was so good that they used it as the backbone of their next tour... But no... Bar a couple of singles, they've had the same live show since 1991... That's why no one cares... And really... Two proper albums since 1998? No wonder people don't care..
    third(-)eye
    Plus everything they've released for the past 20 years has sucked, I think people have lost hope.
    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
    third(-)eye
    Maybe because you guys only have a select few fans left who still care about your current endeavors?
    onkel44
    maybe "casual moviegoers" go and see movies actually featuring good music.
    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.
    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.
    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
    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.
    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!
    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.
    Charvel1030
    After Some Kind of Flopster I dont think anyone would pay to see this movie..I will wait for it to come out on Blu Ray or I will DL it for free
    Metallifan86
    Casual movie goers are twats who like Justin Beiber
    eatfresh1736
    Casual moviegoers are anybody who doesn't listen to Metallica. Which is a lot of people. I had to really convince my friend to see it with me. I thought that the concert footage was amazing, but the "story" was pure crap. I get that it was supposed to be an "open-to-interpretation" artistic plot, but it was one of the least exciting and anti-climactic things I've ever seen.
    jimmycourage
    Would you go see a weird movie about a band that is good but that you don't like, like maybe Neutral Milk Hotel or something?
    mattjamesrenn
    I would, but I'm the kind of person to go to the movies by myself to watch anything that is on, often with some movies i'm the only one in the theatre.. Love the spookyness of that.
    Funnyname99
    I listen to metallica plenty, but honestly couldn't give a fk about this movie... Because I've seen them live 3 times and there's nothing new to them... Still living off their first 5 albums... Pink Floyd, they are not...
    codyjt5150
    Pink Floyd hasn't played live since the mid 90's. Roger Waters is just living off of The Wall.
    cRACk mONKEyTTU
    That doesn't have anything to do with why he said that. He said "Pink Floyd, they are not" to show that he wouldn't pay to see a concert video of Metallica in a movie theater, as I'm assuming he would for Pink Floyd.
    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.
    Teuras
    No worries. They will release an album and get their money back.