The adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures fell short of expectations at the box office. The film had a budget of $60 million and only amassed a worldwide gross of $60,052,138. A net profit of $52,138 sounds like a win, but in the world of millions barely winning is still losing. I am of the mind that the poor showing Beautiful Creatures had at the box office is not indicative of the quality of the film. Circumstance and expectation played a major role in its disappointing profit margin. In this article, I will attempt to convince you to give Beautiful Creatures a watch before it’s too late. Warner Brothers owns the rights to all four Beautiful Creatures novels, so them taking a chance on a sequel is not entirely out of play.
It’s important to point out early that I am not delusional; the film did have its shortcomings that had nothing to do with circumstance or expectation and everything to do with failures. The CGI was at times out of place and over extreme. Some of the accents were overdone and some fan-favorite scenes, lines, and characters were removed or reduced. That last point is going to come up again later. These failures, however, are not enough to doom an adaptation.
But back to circumstance and expectation. What I mean by circumstance is things that the crew could not change about the story itself that led to problems at the box office. I am a Southerner born and raised, so I was able to identify with and understand the Southern aspects of the story. These same aspects that helped me understand it likely alienated a large portion of the film’s target demographic. I’m sure some of you who have seen the film were struck by the outlandishness of the overzealous Christians, the drawl of the accents, and small town reality of everyone knowing everything about you and your family and your heritage. The film played true to what it’s like to actually live in the South, and that in turn affected their sales.
Expectation also hurt Beautiful Creatures at the box office. It was hyped up as Harry Potter meets Twilight when in fact it’s nothing like that. So you have Potterheads and Twihards going to the theater looking for some semblance of the films they love and instead they find this new thing and instinctively they don’t like it because it has been dubbed the “NEW” thing they love. And while we are on the subject, there isn’t even a love triangle or vampires in Beautiful Creatures so how is it like Twilight (Beautiful Darkness is another story)? But enough about what hurt the film; let’s move on to why this film is so much better than the numbers say it is.
Ethan Wate isn’t going to replace the gaping hole in your chest left by Harry Potter and/or Edward Cullen; he’s going to make his own. And Alden Ehrenreich was the perfect choice to accomplish that. He has all the charisma in the world and has nearly seamless delivery on every line. His chemistry with Alice Englert (Lena Duchannes) was perfection. The story and romance didn’t feel rushed and we weren’t bombarded with hordes of unnecessarily named background characters. The magic in the story wasn’t fantastical, but rather it was a real, earthy magic like it should have been. Add in the all-star supporting cast of Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, and Emma Thompson and you’ve got a film so rich in characters that all you can feel afterwards is want for more. It seems to me that Beautiful Creatures was made with sequels in mind due to the unanswered questions and unexplored side character storylines.
The changes made from book to film were entirely necessary. Have you looked at your copy of Beautiful Creatures lately? Could you read that in 2 hours or less? These books are long. There is absolutely no way that everything from that behemoth of a book could make it onto screen. And those of you who’ve seen it I can hear you already, “But they added to it too! They didn’t just take stuff out!” You are correct. They subtracted aspects of the novel and added in things for the film. These additions didn’t feel unnecessary or forced, though. They added another element to the story and most likely cut a good bit of explanatory dialogue. It’s also important to remember that the movie is not the book. Co-author Margaret Stohl herself has said that she considers adaptations “really expensive fan-art.”
So if you’re a fan of the books I implore you, separate the movie from the book and enjoy. If you’re new to the series take a chance on Beautiful Creatures. Worst case scenario you have a movie featuring Emmy Rossum… and really if that’s your worst case you’re doing just fine. God, I love Emmy Rossum.
Beautiful Creatures is available now on DVD, Bluray, and download.