Edgar Wright is a cult favorite director.
That, by the way, is a polite way of saying that in spite of his fans, his movies never make any money.
The biggest hit that Wright has ever had was Hot Fuzz, which made $80 million at the box office. That might sounds like a lot, and it certainly made back its $12 million budget, but by blockbusters standards, it’s small potatoes.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World is the most expensive movie that Wright has ever made, and it only took $40 million in ticket sales – well below the movie’s production cost. While Wright’s movies are generally very acclaimed, and have a loyal following of hardcore fans, the quirky director has never managed to achieve the kind of mainstream success that would propel him into major director stardom.
Wright’s new movie, Baby Driver, is an attempt to fix that. There are plenty of big name stars in this, such as Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, and its slamming, Guardians of the Galaxy-eqsue soundtrack is designed to grab audience’s attentions.
Wright could be accused of pandering with his of popular songs in this movie, were it not for the fact that Scott Pilgrim was doing the quirky soundtrack thing long before Guardians existed.
By all accounts, this movie is pretty darn good. You don’t get 98% on Rotten Tomatoes by being a mediocre movie. Baby Driver is pure Wright – but it’s still going to be a hard slog to convince anyone to go see it.
It’s hard to pin down exactly why Wright’s movies don’t take off the way they should, especially considering the cult following that surrounds the director. In fairness, though, Wright never really seems to be trying to grab the biggest possible audience – he walked out of Ant Man, a sure-fire hit, because it was more important for him to keep his artistic vision than to obey the Marvel movie machine.
This, certainly, is a director who deserves more love than he gets. Deadline reports that Baby Driver’s doing okay at the box office, but it’s not about to become the kind of smash hit that sells tickets like it should.
Perhaps, then, the reason why an Edgar Wright hasn’t ever topped $100 million is because Edgar Wright himself doesn’t care. His movies have their fans, he’s respected as a creator, and the allure of having more money at his disposal to make a movie just isn’t as interesting as having the freedom that comes from smaller projects.
Let’s all raise a pint, Shaun of the Dead style, to a director who’s willing to fight the Hollywood sequel formula in favor of making artistic action comedies that appeal directly to his niche group of fans.
Then, once you’ve finished your pint, go buy a ticket for Baby Driver. Edgar Wright needs to at least break even on this one if Hollywood’s ever going to trust him again!