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Hops and Box Office Flops: THE 13th WARRIOR – Twelve Norsemen and a Spaniard

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Tis’ the season of big budget movies. The time when theaters play host to all manner of spectacle—featuring films that cost a boatload, but make more in one week than many do in a year. The 13th Warrior is not one of those films. Well, it is and it isn’t

Costing over $160 million dollars—a result of extended reshoots and compulsive tinkering—it grossed only $61 million worldwide, earning it the dubious distinction of being one of the worst flops in box office history.

Based on a Michael Crichton novel—which was in its own way an ode to Beowulf—directed by John McTiernan, and boasting a cast of genuine Nordic actors, The 13th Warrior had the makings to be an authentic feeling period piece—one that did its source material justice. Instead, it became a cautionary tale.

Did it deserve its cruel fate? Yes and no. Though the book, titled Eaters of the Dead, wasn’t exactly fit for a wide audience, the movie was only meant to cost $85 million. And it’s not far-fetched to believe that had the onset bickering and infighting not tarnished it, it would’ve at least recouped that. The ballooning budget, dreadful test screenings, and an omnipresent power struggle is what truly did it in, even leading the studio to abandon plans of a formal premiere.

So, if nothing else, it’s an interesting disaster. It works it parts, lacks in others, and as a viewer, one can’t help but wonder where it all went wrong and what could’ve been different.

So sit back, grab some fine mead from the Superstition Meadery or a Magic Hat Barroom Hero Pub Ale, sharpen your sword and enjoy as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), and Capt. Cash battle the Wendol to ensure our rightful place in Valhalla!

This Weeks Segments:

  • Introduction – Our general reaction to the film, including Capt. Cash’s borderline obsession with it. (00:00)
  • “Am I full of s**t or not?” – Capt. Cash attempts to debunk or confirm facts I discovered while investigating the interwebs. Spoiler: Capt. Cash already knew all of them. As I mentioned, he’s a bit enamored with this movie. (40:12)
  • Where Does the Casting of Antonio Banderas as an Arab Rank on Hollywood’s Most Egregious Casting Decisions? – Turns out, Hollywood has a pretty checkered history with this, and we didn’t even touch on any films older than this one. (54:01)
  • Six Degrees of Movie Separation and Recommendations – Six degrees returns and we offer our picks of the week. (1:03:04)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter (@HopsandBOFlops) to check out all the interesting factoids—the chronicling of the on-set discord and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops, as always, on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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Thomas L. Kelly

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