Some of you will already be a little tired of the reviews of the best of last year, but I could not resist making one last list. On this occasion, I have chosen to review 13 films that arrived in Spain in 2021 and that unfairly failed at the box office, to the point that some were not even seen in theaters in our country. They are not necessarily the best, but they are very worthwhile and, if you have not seen them already, I hope you take them into account during this 2022 that we have just welcomed.
‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’
One of the big casualties of Warner’s simultaneous release policy was this notable thriller from Taylor Sheridan . Its budget was never made official, but it was a huge flop when it hit theaters, grossing just $23 million worldwide. For my part, I really enjoyed the way he handled the tension, without falling into unnecessary excesses and letting his characters breathe so that we can care what becomes of them.
With an estimated budget of $24 million and a meager worldwide revenue of just over $3 million, Paul Verhoeven ‘s excellent latest work fell far short of expectations. In it, he addressed a unique real case, always playing the clueless about the true condition of his protagonist. A look at faith marked by all kinds of excesses but with an incomparable power of seduction.
‘A Matter of Blood’
Not even having a star like Matt Damon or a contained budget of 20 million dollars served to turn Tom McCarthy ‘s new (‘Spotlight’) into a success, since it stayed at 19 million worldwide revenues. Too bad, as this is a highly praiseworthy thriller in which Damon shows how far a father will go to try to free his daughter from what seems like a totally unfair sentence.
‘The Suicide Squad’
The DC movie seemed like a safe bet with the signing of James Gunn and when it came down to it, it fell far short of expectations with a worldwide box office of 167 million dollars against a budget of 185. Several reasons can be sought for its failure, from the simultaneous premiere on HBO Max to the confusion about what exactly it was regarding ‘Suicide Squad’, but what is really important is that it is a luxury pastime and the best thing that this superhero universe has given us to date.
Almost three million euros cost the new film by Oscar Aibar and after its passage through Spanish cinemas it amounts to just 124,000 euros. This remarkable thriller that investigates how some Nazis took refuge in Spain, enjoying great impunity, deserved much more. A solid work well led by an always convincing Ricardo Gomez , both when he has a somewhat more idealistic attitude and when frustration takes over.
‘The last duel’
Damon gave two of the best performances of his career in 2021 in two films that played at the box office. Of course, the blow was harder for a kind of ‘Rashomon’ by Ridley Scott , since it cost 100 million dollars and barely entered 30. Something difficult to understand, since its cast shines (even Ben Affleck in a supporting role), It is very well directed and knows how to play with the different nuances when it comes to portraying the same story from three different points of view.
‘In a New York neighborhood’ (‘In the Heights’)
2021 was a fateful year for musicals in theaters and the first film affected by it was this adaptation of the famous stage musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda . Just under $44 million in revenue when its production cost was $55 million. It did not matter how much the optimism that shines by flag is contagious, how well chosen its cast is or how fluid it is in all aspects.
‘The Summit of the Gods’
This excellent French animated film was not even seen in Spanish cinemas. Here it came to us directly from the hand of Netflix and without doing much, but it’s not that it did too well in its country of origin, since it barely raised more than 1 million dollars when its budget borders on 10 euros. Adaptation of Jiro Taniguchi ‘s manga that explores the world of mountaineering, approaching it with great precision and managing to fully immerse the viewer in the story it tells.
The new work by James Wan did not generate as much unanimity as his previous works in horror films, but here he chose to pay homage to himself by drinking from other more controversial works to offer a somewhat uneven film, yes, but with no kind of shame and with enough incentives to hook those who want something different within the genre of great study. Unfortunately, the public did not respond in theaters, since its 34 million dollars entered fell short against its budget of 40 million.
‘The Empty Man’
Quickly turned into a cult film after its disastrous performance at the box office in the United States, it’s not that it cost too much, since it had a budget of 16 million dollars, but it didn’t even get to enter 5 million. A disgrace, since it is a work of adult horror with personality and that knows how to create its own universe, starting with that sensational and extensive prologue. It arrived in Spain directly via streaming, first via Movistar+ and then becoming part of the Disney+ catalogue.
‘One of Us’ (‘Let Him Go’)
This film written and directed by Thomas Bezucha cost 21 million dollars and raised just over 11 million during its passage through theaters around the world -its journey began in 2020 but it did not reach Spain until this year-. This is a drama with echoes of a western in which the wonderful couple Kevin Costner and Diane Lane decide to do everything possible to get their grandson back. A tape that is gaining in intensity until it becomes a powerful thriller during its last act.
‘Last night in Soho’
The horror thriller written and directed by Edgar Wright cost 43 million dollars and has accumulated a worldwide box office of 23. It is true that its ending can leave a bittersweet taste in the mouth, but before it was an absorbing game of mirrors with an elaborate visual finish and who dedicates his time to outlining both the story and its characters.
‘West Side Story’
Its results may be better if it does well in awards season, but this new version of the mythical musical needs little less than a miracle to be profitable, since it cost 100 million dollars and has only raised 41. Steven Spielberg offers here a version respectful of the original work but without fear of updating the details that it sees fit. All this with a top-level visual finish, thus more than compensating for the drawbacks that one may have with the story it tells.