Last week, beloved author Stephen King made an interesting admission that he only released one movie as an adult, and that was Michael Bay. Transformers in 2007. While making the reveal on Twitter, he encouraged others to share the titles that saw them reach their own breaking point, and among the hundreds who responded to the prompt are filmmakers and actors.
It’s not uncommon for people to reach a point while watching a bad movie where they feel like “life’s too short for that”, and you can obviously count The Walking Dead Laurie Holden on this list (who has her own connection to Stephen King having starred in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Mist). Holden remembers being a child and barely being able to sit through one of the I can’t stop the music – the pseudo musical biopic on The Village People released in 1980:
Can’t stop the music. I lasted 8 minutes and I was a kid…June 27, 2022
Steve Van Zandt – best known as the lead guitarist of the E Street Band and for his performances in The Sopranos and Lilyhammer – couldn’t quite remember the title of the movie he couldn’t watch in theaters, but from his description it’s pretty easy to identify it as the 2007 one I’m a legend (funny that Steve Van Zandt and Stephen King came out of the cinema the same year). Obviously, it wasn’t so much the quality of the film that made him give up as his concern about what would happen to Will Smith’s canine sidekick in the story:
I forget the name. A future dystopian movie starring Will Smith. As soon as I saw he had a dog, I left. I wasn’t a huge Will Smith fan initially, but I wasn’t going to stay an hour and a half nervous about something awful happening to the dog. https://t.co/Ha6uBHzQqcJune 27, 2022
Screenwriter Michael Starrbury, who wrote The inevitable defeat of Mister & Pete and the fourth episode of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries When they see us, revealed that his only exit story didn’t actually see him get up from his seat and leave the theater. Looking back to 2004 Van HelsingStarrbury chose to mentally go out by deliberately taking a nap:
I would have been out of Van Helsing but it would have been like driving on Ambien so I just took a good nap. I don’t even know if the movie is bad, but I know I was bored AF. https://t.co/u77uIqmJKNJune 28, 2022
With his response to Stephen King’s exit prompt, commentator/host/journalist/actor Keith Olbermann Tweeter took followers back to the year 1990 and the theatrical release of The Godfather Part III. It’s a different kind of exit story, as Olbermann reveals that he only left the cinema temporarily and ended up returning to his seat, curious if the film could actually get any worse:
Godfather 3. Night after premiere in Los Angeles. Then I came back to the intuition that it would get worse. And he did. Room full of Godfather fans who all cheered when the girl got shot and laughed when mom yelled.June 27, 2022
Bruce Miller, the creator/executive producer of The Handmaid’s Talealso cited a theatrical experience from 1990, but much more obscure than The Godfather Part III. Apparently, the movie that pushed Miller to his limits was Armando Acosta’s. Romeo. Juliet, which is an adaptation of William Shakespeare that was filmed with wildcats. The voice cast includes legends like John Hurt, Vanessa Redgrave, Ben Kingsley and Maggie Smith, but Miller felt (and still feels) it was unbearable:
I came out of Romeo/Juliet. It was Romeo and Juliet told with cats. Even today, I feel that I made the right decision.June 27, 2022
Oscar-nominated composer Shawn Patterson (The Lego Movie) responded to Stephen King with not just one exit story, but two. The first one he cites was that of 2018 The Snowman – which was badly clubbed upon its release – and the 2020s Caponwhich he considers “one of the biggest failures/disappointments of cinema [he’s] déjà vu.”
The Snowman with Michael Fassbender. Capone with Tom Hardy. I would say Capone was one of the biggest movie failures/disappointments I’ve ever seen.July 3, 2022
Personally, I’ve never left a film as an adult, but that’s mainly because I’ve spent my entire adult life as a film critic, and I feel I have a professional responsibility to look at everything I see at the end. That being said, I would be lying if I said that I never felt the desire (Morbius being the most recent source of inspiration).
The positive twist to all of this is that the urge to get out of a movie before it’s finished is usually rare, and we can always hope that every upcoming movie we see on the big screen will be one that will pin us down. in our seats in fascination and pleasure.