It would be an understatement to say that Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, with the legendary filmmaker building his career on an uncanny ability to seamlessly jump between broad crowd-pleasing blockbusters and acclaimed prestige dramas, something that not a lot of his peers have been able to accomplish to anywhere near the same level.
Not only has he won three Academy Awards from a whopping seventeen nominations, but he also boasts the highest-grossing filmography of any director ever, and he’s the only megaphone wielder to have a back catalogue that’s earned over $10 billion at the box office. That’s an astonishing track record of success dating back almost 50 years, which makes it all the more surprising when one of Spielberg’s efforts flops.
That’s exactly what happened to The BFG, though, his lavish adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel. From the outside looking in, it appeared to be a slam dunk. After all, it was Spielberg tackling a whimsical family-friendly fantasy with an endearing child protagonist, something he’s mastered more than a few times over the decades, but for whatever reason, audiences just weren’t interested.
Despite solid reviews from critics and a heartwarming central performance from the digitally-enhanced Mark Rylance as the title character, The BFG didn’t even manage to cross $200 million at the box office on a budget of $140 million. Naturally, this led to premature questions asking if the master had lost his touch, so he responded in kind with his next two films being stylish literary adaptation Ready Player One, which rocketed to $579 million globally, and Best Picture nominee The Post.
The BFG may have bombed hard at the time, but having been added to the Netflix library last week, it’s already cracked the Top 10 most-watched list and is going down very well with subscribers.