Even movies considered to be classic had to find an audience when they opened, and some marketing campaigns ended up skewing what the final product actually represented. This decision usually comes from someone outside the movie set, but there are some directors who find the audience’s opinion to be completely different from their own when it comes to which genre the movie should occupy. Below are some classic movies, from both the good and bad pools, which found themselves misplaced within their own genres and ended up offering something else to audiences upon release.
Classic movies can fall into that category for many reasons, as shown by The Room. This movie is often regarded as one of the “best” worst films in existence and was passed off as a “black comedy” by director and lead actor Tommy Wiseau. The Room started off, however, as a legitimate attempt to be a drama-filled yarn in which Wiseau’s character was at the center of a sex-filled love triangle. First screenings immediately rejected the entire film, famously throwing spoons at the screen in disgust, and caused Wiseau to think on his feet and flip the negative reaction into a positive. Anyone that picks up the DVD now will see an anonymous quote blown up at the bottom attempting to sell this dark comedy concept by calling it “a riot.”
On the other side of the spectrum of classic movies is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was misplaced from its proper genre from the first trailer. Marketed as another Jim Carrey comedy, there is almost nothing comedic to be found inside this film. Furthermore, this is actually a story about love and balancing the pain of a breakup with the pleasure found in the past, all with an eternal return theme that conquers a bit of futuristic, intrusive technology. This movie does have some comedic moments buried under this weighty premise, but the fruit of the story is placed in Carrey and Kate Winslet’s bipolar, mysterious relationship. That is not to say that audiences were disappointed by this film, as many fans agree that this is one of Carrey’s best performances and that the movie itself is one of the best of this young century.
Johnny Depp has starred in his fair share of classic movies that have been unapologetic and graphic as well as some that were light-hearted and for a wider audience. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a little bit of both, but those that watched the trailers may have missed the fact that it was also a musical. While this was a remake of a musical, leading to the reasonable conclusion that this would be in that genre, the official trailer highlighted Todd’s vengeance with only a small snippet of song thrown in. Any viewer going off the information given in that offering alone was surely a bit surprised to see and hear singing for most of the film.
Some classic movies seemed confusing upon their release as they were the first of their kind, leading to genre misplacement. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is often credited as the first series to spawn the “fantasy epic” genre, but older movies such as Star Wars and Legend could also have benefited from such a label. Regardless, classic movies offer something different to every viewer, even if a large number of them are displaced on the movie category racks.
Opinion by Myles Gann