How preconceived expectations affect the enjoyment of the movie

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jon_Are, Dec 9, 2001.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I find it odd how preconceived perceptions of a film affect the viewing experience. Two admittedly extreme examples from '01:

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas: I watched this film only because the young-uns wanted to see it; I would have gladly forgone this experience. Going in with very low expectations - based on previews, reviews, and a general gut feeling - I was mildy surprised. Not that I thought this was a great movie - or even a very good movie, for that matter - but it certainly exceeded my highest hopes for being entertained. I walked out feeling pretty good.

    Memento: I read countless raves about this film, both in the general media and (especially) here on the HTF. The story was intriguing and I was confident with the casting, so I settled into my seat in anticipation of greatness. Instead, I found disappointment. Unlike The Grinch, this was a 'very good' film, but in fell short of 'awesome'. It fell short of my expectations.

    So...even though I acknowledge that 'Memento' out-classes 'Grinch', any which way you look at it, this is what is unsettling: I felt better in relation to my moviegoing experience with 'Grinch' than 'Memento'.

    Now, I don't want to open up a debate on the particulars of the films, nor do I wish to be convinced on the greatness of 'Memento'. However, if anyone has had similar experiences, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

    Jon
     
  2. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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    Almost Famous: I didn't hear that much about the film before I saw it (as I went to a sneek preview) so I truly didn't know what to expect. That was history and I ended up loving the film. This is one of the very few films I have seen at the theaters that I wanted to go up to the projection booth and hug.
    The Crew: Due to the trailers, I thought it would be a pretty funny film. Before the film was over I wanted to blow my brains out due to the badness of the film. The film was boring and not one whole funny scene during the entire 90 minutes this film was running. I went to a sold out showing (composed of a few kids and mostly adults, I was the only teenager) and the whole theater didn't laugh once. Easily THE worst film of 2000.
    Scream 3: I enjoyed Scream and Scream 2 and was expecting a great sequel to end the trilogy. Boy was I wrong. Cliched, plotless, boring, dull, and not enough gore.
    Unbreakable: I walked in thinking it would be another shitfest like The Sixth Sense and walked out thinking it was a great superhero film and one of the best films of 2000.
     
  3. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Almost Famous and Shrek fell short of my expectations due to the universal praise each of those films received. While I think they are both good movies, I just don't think they're the modern classics they're made out to be.
     
  4. Tiffany A

    Tiffany A Stunt Coordinator

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    Almost Famous - I also knew NOTHING about this film, and fell in love with it!

    Momento - Heard too much good stuff. (Weird, but not great film IMO.)

    The Score - It was a mediocre film with great actors, but could never live up to the hype I heard about it.

    Moulin Rouge - Saw it the day it opened (hardly saw any reviews) SPELLBOUND!!!
     
  5. Howard Williams

    Howard Williams Supporting Actor

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    "Your reputation far exceeds your skill" A Treat Williams quote from "Things to do in Denver when you're Dead". I always loved that line.

    I rarely read complete reviews on a movie before I see it although I do watch Ebert & Roper religiously. For example, I know almost nothing about Ocean 11 except that it got 2 thumbs up. Beleive it or not I don't even know the name of the next Star War movie, something about clones though, I think. I know almost nothing about what's suppose to happen in it. The only thing I know about Lord of the Rings is what is presented in the television commercial and based on that I really don't see what all the hype is about. I am setting myself up to be pleasently surprised, I hope. I may read just enough to determine if people feel a movie is very good or very bad. I rush to see the consensus very good ones and avoid the consensus very bad ones. Following your lead here are some of my experiences

    I heard nothing but bad things about the "The Grinch That Stole Xmas". My wife finally rented it for family night last week. I expected it to be aweful. I loved it !!! Not so much because it was truly great but more because it was so much better than I expected. When I saw it was a Ron Howard film I knew it couldn't be as bad as many were saying, but then again I didn't think much of his highly acclaimed Willow (or was it Pricess Bride? or both?)

    Memento: Expections were high and it delivered. I was not disapointed.

    Almost Famous: Very high expections. I've watched the first 30 minutes about 5 times. Although I can see it is well done, it has not held my interest long enough to demand to see the rest. No verdict on this one yet.

    Baby Boy: My latest greatest surprize. I refused to see this in the theater with my wife during it's intial release. I admire Singleton's work but I had very low expections for this movie. I finally saw it last week and I have not been about to stop talking about for 4 days now. My wife and kids are probably sick of me quoting lines from the movie and pretending to be Melvin (Ving Rhames) the ex-hardcore Ganster father. I had a few problems with the movie but I enjoyed it very much. Most importatnly, it made me think about a few things in my life.

    I rented "The Crew" totally blind. No prejudice at all except I figured "Oh well, it's got Reynolds and Dryfuess, it can't be that bad". After about 30 minutes, the eject button was hit and that was the end of that.

    Shrek: Huge expections. I was not disapointed.

    Unbreakable: The exact opposite of Matt's opinion. High expectations going in. Disapointment coming out. I was hoping it would be another Sixth Sense which I really liked but I was very dissapointed to see two of my favorite actors in some sort of weak comic superhero crapola.

    In summary, expectations do affect my viewing experience.
     
  6. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Expectations are extremely important to watching movies. I had the same impression of Memento...I liked it, but that was it.

    The one counterpoint would be Batman and Robin. I had zero expectations, and figured it had to be better than the worst I could imagine. I have paid for that mistake for four years.

    I was pleasantly surprised by The Fast and the Furious. I guess the moral of the story is to avoid reviews if you can, until you've seen the film. Unless you need some motivation to go or NOT GO.

    Take care,

    Chuck
     
  7. RogerB

    RogerB Second Unit

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    All summer I kept saying, "Shrek? I didn't hear one thing about it before it came out. How can it be so big?" I refused to go see it thinking that it had to be all hype. Then came the DVD. Everyone here was drooling in anticipation....Best Buy was selling it for $15.99....so I gave in and bought it. My expectation was that I would be rolling on the floor laughing my proverbial ass off.

    BOY was I disappointed! What an overrated steaming pile of donkey doo-doo.

    < flame suit > I think that "Titanic" lived up to my expectations in spite of the hype. < /flame suit >
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    One that comes to mind for me is back in 1983: The Big Chill had such a word-of-mouth build-up within my circle, I went into it expecting the most. Was terribly disappointed. Yet, over the years, the film has grown on me. Even though my expectations for it were let down, Chill and I warmed up to each other.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I can't say I've ever liked a movie more because I expected less. I've been pleasantly surprised, but more in a "Hey! This is a great movie, why did it sit on the shelf for a year and why aren't more people talking about this?" way, as anyone who has ever heard me talk about Happy Accidents will verify.
    I will admit to high expectations sometimes making me dislike a movie disproportionately. A few weeks ago, when redoing my entry in the 2001 Film List thread, I came upon the [​IMG][​IMG] rating for Heartbreakers, which I'd had high hopes for. A little distance allowed me to see that Heartbreakers was not, in fact, totally without merit, and I had just expected more from the cast. It wasn't exactly good, but it wasn't actually loathsome, either.
    Still, I don't think my expectations have ever made me mark something down as being the other side of mediocrity from what it actually is.
     
  10. JasonD

    JasonD Agent

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    The Matrix: I was expecting a lot and got so little. The story "borrowed" from too many sources (ex. William Burroughs, Phillip Dick, 'Ghost in the Shell', etc...) While the concept of "question reality" is an amazing thing, the hype made some of the fans want to know what all the symbolism meant (I didn't think it was that deep to begin with). I just couldn't get into this flick but maybe down the road I'll give it another try.

    Three Kings: Quite the opposite. I didn't think this was a film I'd want to sit through but the middle/ending parts really made a difference. Great movie.
     
  11. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    In response to original post, I have the same experience when viewing a film the first time, and seeing it again a second time.

    I had high hopes for Final Fantasy so when I saw it the first time, I was slightly disappointed. However, after seeing the film, I decided to buy the DVD when it came out and naturally, my expectations were now different. When I watched the DVD, I liked it a lot more than the first time.
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Jeez, I can't believe y'all missed the most obvious one: Star Wars, ep I. I was anticipating it so much, and by the time it was over, I was ready to go blow up some computers. Yuch.

    Star Trek Insurrection: yes, yes, Trek movies are rarely good, but I thought that with First Contact, they were finding some ground and were on their way to producing good movies. Wrong.

    Election: Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon? Yech, I never liked these actors. I don't even know why I watched it. But I really found myself enjoying it, surprisingly. It was such a good script, and so honest and real, that I loved it. And the actors who I normally dislike were excellent. Broderick was very realistic as an idiotic, pathetic looser of teacher.

    Office Space: I thought this would be another lame-o comedy. Man, I laugh my buttocks off whenever I see this movie.

    Marx Brothers: These comedy "legends" never did it for me. Maybe they're just dated.

    The Matrix: So much hype. So much buzz. So much crap.

    Blade Runner: This "classic" bored the heck out of me.
     
  13. Kenneth English

    Kenneth English Second Unit

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    Three Kings: I refused to go see this in the theater for three reasons: 1) Marky Mark. Say no more. 2) Ice Cube. I cannot take a grown man who names himself after a block of frozen water seriously. And 3) The trailer made it looked soooo stupid.
    Rented it on DVD and it has been one of my favorite films ever since. Warner dropped the ball on the advertising of this one -- Big Time. They basically just threw it away.
     
  14. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Regardless of how glowing (or negative) a review may be, I try to remember that I didn't write it. I've seen movies that everyone bashed and I came out of happy, and vice versa.
     
  15. Marty Christion

    Marty Christion Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think expectations have anything to do with our enjoyment, or appraisal, of a film. The only affect prior knowledge could have would be the effect knowledge of the plot diminishes your surprise or interest in knowing what comes next.

    This is why I don't think "media buildup" can account for someone being dissappointed in a film. "Media buildup" or "hype" only affect your decision to go see a film, not whether you enjoy a film.

    Of course, the film may turn out to be different than you expected, but that would only reflect your poor sources of information concerning the film (be they misleading advertising or biased word of mouth).

    I reject the rationalization that a film might have been good, but "couldn't live up to the hype". There have been too many good films that have lived up to (or exceeded) their hype, and vice-versa, that no generalized observations can be extrapolated.

    When the lights go down and the curtain parts, whether or not you enjoy the film is based largely on your experience of watching the film, and not any preconcieved expectations of the film itself. And any judgements made against a film relative to your expectations (i.e., if your only comment is "it was better than I expected") are indicitave of your inability to express an appraisal of the film itself.
     
  16. Miles_W

    Miles_W Second Unit

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    I do think that preconceived expectations have a huge impact on how I enjoy a film, most recent example for me was Harry Potter, I am a fan of the books and after the build up to the movie I left the theater flat... On the other hand movies that get panned are usually a 50/50 split If I have no expectations I am more likely to enjoy... seems strange but...

    Miles
     
  17. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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  18. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    They have whole psychology courses at the University level about this sort of thing.
    Just because I'm aware of expectations, and the way they alter perception, doesn't mean I'm immune to it. I know that I eat too much junk food, but man, pass me the Ben & Jerry's!
    I simply try to go into every movie with an open mind. If I'm really anticipating it (like LoTR) I try to temper my enthusiasm with a reality check: they can't deliver everything that I loved in the book onscreen.
    If I hear a movie is bad, but I still want to see it, I save it for rental. That way, I justify the $3 spent with "I lose twice that much on a drink in a bar..." and that puts things in perspective. [​IMG]
     
  19. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    It can have that effect on me, but sometimes doesn't or the film delivers I suppose.

    Memento and Blair Witch met the hype for me, but I did still see them early on in there runs before more mainstream hype.

    I also closely read reviews. I will skip over sections of details, but I do make sure to read the "why's" behind good and bad reactions. That can tell a lot. Therefore it's pretty rare that I'm surprised one way or the other, although I might not quite agree as much as I thought I would.

    Unbreakable impressed me as it had been slammed. I liked but did not love 6th Sense (saw it coming 5 minutes into the film...really, and my g/f did too) so I guess I could not be "let down" by Unbreakable. I found the films to be even.

    State and Main let me down somewhat. I was expecting quick, sharp comedic dialog and instead sat through a slow, dry pace in which the jokes were left hanging to die.

    Phantom Menace really let me down.

    Waking Life surprised me quite a bit. I was willing to give it a chance of course, but I was really surprised.
     
  20. Eric Bass

    Eric Bass Second Unit

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    I tend to get my most unspoiled movie experiences when something totally obscure some on Encore at 2:00 AM and I get sucked into watching it for whatever reason. No Expectations whatsoever and usually I find something interesting in about every movie I see. For some reason getting motivated to go to the theater, deal with traffic and crowds, and the $8 you have to drop just to get in the door instantly give me the attitude that this had better be worth it. And if I've actually seen previews and have hopes for what the movie will be like well then all the odds are aleady against me being satisfied. I've strongly considered never watching another trailer again and just seeing movies based on trusted friend recommendations.
     

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