David yates

David Yates Knew Legend of Tarzan Would Get Fan Love; Can the Fan/Critic Divide Be an Asset?

ERBDOM, Legend of Tarzan (Movie), Legend of Tarzan Fans, Legend of Tarzan Reviews, Most Read

I didn’t write about this at the time, but given what happened with Critics (34% Rotten) and Fans (74% Fresh, A-Cinemascore), I think it’s worth making a note of it. When David Yates was gracious enough to let me hang out with him for a while at the Legend of Tarzan Premiere after party, his big message was that he was sure of one thing and one thing only–fans would like the movie. “At the focus groups they always ask, first thing, did you like the movie? There are fifteen people there. Other movies, even Harry Potter — ten, eleven people raise their hands. With Tarzan — all fifteen, every time. It was amazing. All the way back to the early test screenings.”

As were there in the afterglow of the premiere, with Margot Robbie coming up to talk (to Yates, of course, not to me, but hey, I was there), I had too much on my mind to really focus on this.

But now,  given what’s happened . . . . I’m thinking that it was an interesting comment that goes to what happened.  Makes me wonder if maybe Yates didn’t feel as bad as I did when the critics went nuclear on it. Maybe he knew the fans would save him. Me . . . I wasn’t sure. A premiere is the last place to get a real feel for a how a film will do. It’s the friendliest audience imaginable — packed house, director and stars in attendance, it’s almost impossible to not feel buzzed unless the movie is a real stinker.

Now I’m thinking …. no, Yates actually knew something, but then if he knew it, WB should have known it too — and their actions don’t completely track with that. They supported it, but not in the way they would support something they were all-in on.

Can the Audience/Critic Chasm Be An Asset Going Forward?

Now that the first weekend is almost in the books — a question arises.  There is no doubt whatsoever that the avalanche of hostility from the critics was a major liability on Wednesday and Thursday as opening day unfolded.  A 33% Rotten is usually a kiss of death.  But then the disparity between the critics and audience started to manifest itself, and by Friday night we knew that there was the biggest gap in recent memory — 33% Rotten on the Critics side, 73% Fresh on the audience side — with A- Overall Cinemascore and A+ among under 20s.

Today, the Box Office articles are talking about Legend of Tarzan being an overachiever, and the chief reason cited is the A- Cinemascore.  Translation — Word of Mouth is helping.  Plus,  there is a notable secondary buzz about the critics/audience disparity.  What does it mean — particularly for a film like this, where it’s not a film that it in in any surface way “mindless” and thus a likely target for critics to become haters.

If I’m out there, not particularly motivated to see the movie — I might start wondering, what’s going on here.  Why the big disparity?

A Bold Prediction — $40M for Fri-Sun, and $48M For Fri-Mon

Write this down. You saw it here on Sunday morning.  Let’s see if I turn out to be right.

Right now the tally is $38.1M Friday-Sun, and $44M Friday-Monday.  This is based on Friday and Saturday actuals, and Sunday estimates.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that come Tuesday, when the dust settles and we have actuals for all four days, Legend of Tarzan will reach $40M for Fri-Sun, and will reach $48M for Fri-Mon.  In other words, I’m predicting another 10% boost for Sunday and Monday based on the positive word of mouth, and the intriguing situation that is evolving with the disparity between critical and audience reaction.

Stay tuned and see if I’m right.


  • I posted this in the Forum, but wanted to repost it here too:
    Well I just came back from seeing LOT. Wow!!!! I LOVED it!!! One of the BEST Tarzan films EVER!!! Just beautiful! So well filmed, and VERY well cast! Alexander is definitely Tarzan — excellent performance. And I loved Margot as Jane. Awesome chemistry btw her and Alex (as Tarzan and Jane should have)! And I also really enjoyed Sam Jackson’s role in the film and his interplay with Tarzan. And the animals all looked amazing — very photorealistic (terrific CGI work). Overall a VERY entertaining, exciting, gorgeous film…a worthy Tarzan film, faithful to ERB’s creation! I certainly hope it gets a sequel, b/c I want to see one. And as a little side note…in the flashback scenes when Tarzan first met Jane…I liked seeing his hair in long dredlocks (like Disney’s Tarzan). 🙂
    Added note: I do so hope many more people (esp in the general public) see LOT and embrace it!

  • The audience reaction to LOT reinforces my belief that the HR article on LOT was misleading, since the ‘problems’ with the screenings doesn’t seem to be have been born out by the actual audience to the film. They could have made massive improvements/changes since the initial screenings, but probably not.
    My question would be were they blind sided by the negative reviews?

  • I’d like to ask Mr. Yates if there will be a directors cut of LOT and if so could it be over 3 hours long.

    • We know there are extra scenes that got dropped, and they will be there as deleted scenes, but I’m not sure about a director’s cut. We’ll be able to find out. He probably doesn’t even know at this point —

      • I was surprised that John Hurt was not in the film. He did say his role was very small so I’m guessing it was only like one scene, but still surprised.

        • Yes, Shining Wizard…I too was surprised and disappointed that John Hurt wasn’t in the final film…I was looking forward to seeing him in it (if only for one scene) since he’s one of my fave British actors ever. Well, here’s hoping we maybe get to see him in one of the film’s deleted scenes (?) 🙂

        • When I got to talk to David Yates he alluded to that and regretted it. Just relentless pressure to keep the pace going and not get bogged down in London. They left in the reference to him, when Tarzan says to get the documentary evidence to “my grandfather in London” . . . . Scott Cherron (coproducer) said he thought maybe that would be viewed as a mistake since the scene with the grandfather is gone — but it didn’t bother me to have that line in the movie without having seen the grandfather. I do look forward to seeing the scene on blu-ray…..

  • Please send a huge thank you to David Yates and all who made Legend of Tarzan possible. Finally seeing a movie capture the heart of the Tarzan novels has been beyond words. Everything, even using CGI animals so the wildlife is kept wild and not an entertainment tool has been true to Tarzan. I wish the public and critics read the entirety of ERB’s works. Although I cringe at many parts in the novels, he was exploring the new scientific findings such as Darwinism from a world with slavery, colonialism, and a Victorian world. You see his explorations of man, his evolution of thinking about civilization, race, women. Africa was exotic to a man like him and as exotic as the moon. Jane is the powerhouse modern woman by the late 20’s. She goes out to rescue an impulsive Tarzan, she tries to get the “men to be men” and stay a Victorian woman but when a plane crashes, she ends up organizing and helping them survive. A woman is a selfless spy against the Nazi’s even though Tarzan misjudges her. And this Tarzan is the real Tarzan with all his struggles, complexities, and stoic external nature that was too slow for the critics and too complex for them to grasp the huge unspoken struggles that were conveyed so well in this movie. I am glad to see the modifications in portraying Africa. Can’t speak for ERB, but seems from reading his novels, as he learned more about the real Africa, his mythical unreal Africa evolved. I hope we see sequels so this generation knows the original Tarzan, not just the wonderful but different versions we have seen.

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