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The Mass Appeal of "The Revenant"

What is the mass appeal of "The Revenant?" Despite the appearance of Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant" does not contain the typical hallmarks of a blockbuster film; it is beautifully shot and powerfully acted, yet even DiCaprio terms it as an "art film," a genre that does not usually break into the mass market on a large scale. And yet, "The Revenant’s" opening weekend’s box office earnings were second only to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
What about "The Revenant" appeals to a mass audience? Is it the presence of DiCaprio, or is there another reason for its popularity? Is it simply that the American public has become more open to art films as popular entertainment?

  • I don't think The Revenant has "mass" appeal, but there has been a lot of hype surrounding the performances by DiCaprio and Hardy. Moreover, Inarritu won Best Director last year and Lubezki has won two straight Oscars for Best Cinematography, so more people had reason to see this movie than other "art films." I'm not sure what opening weekend numbers you're looking at, but according to IMDB The Revenant brought in $474,560 over its opening weekend and a total of a little over $125,000,000 so far. The Revenant has made in total about what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 made in its opening weekend and nowhere near what Star Wars: The Force Awakens made in its opening weekend. – JLaurenceCohen 6 years ago
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  • I agree with the above, I don't think "The Revenant" has much mass appeal. It just had the names of DiCaprio and Hardy, and the title of "from the director of last year's Best Picture winner, Birdman". While I think that the argument that art films are becoming more commercially accepted is interesting, I think that focusing on the popularity of "The Revenant" would be misled. – Matthew Sims 6 years ago
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  • JLaurenceCohen, I was looking at the Box Office Mojo numbers (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=revenant.htm), which shows that The Revenant was 2nd on its wide opening weekend (Jan 8). Of course, it came nowhere near Star Wars in numbers, but it did do well. My question doesn't need to have to do with The Revenant in particular, if the author doesn't want to take it in that direction, but I think it might be an interesting lens through which to examine art films in popular culture. – sophiacatherine 6 years ago
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