Over the course of his career, Oliver Stone has become one of the influential (and controversial) filmmakers of our time. From Platoon and Wall Street to Born on the Fourth of July and Nixon, it goes without saying that he’s made a serious impression on cinema. However, his career hasn’t been without its setbacks. Now, he’s looking back on one of his more recent films, which opened against Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, and how the film’s reception dealt a blow to his career.
While 2016’s Snowden was Stone’s last major film, the last “mainstream” movie he was produced was the 2012’s Savages. Universal Pictures released the film a week after Ted, another one of its productions and, ultimately, Savages would fail to find an audience, earning an underwhelming $83 million global sum.
Oliver Stone doesn’t hold any bitterness towards Universal for shifting Savages to a summer release date, but he does believe Ted hurt its chances to make an impact at the box office:
I don’t think they think about me. I don’t feel bitter about it. Savages was my last movie in the mainstream, so to speak. I thought it was mainstream, and Universal did too, up until they distributed it. They decided to move it at the last second from fall to summer. So they put us in the middle of a schedule that was pretty tough. Ted was there. Remember that movie? It was hilarious. You don’t want to open against Ted.
The filmmaker went on to tell The New York Times that while he still gets offered film projects, he doesn’t necessarily feel the motivation to make them. He attributes this to the “pain and misery” from Savages’ failure and his difficulties while making Snowden:
I do still get offered stuff, but I’m not inspired to make a movie. I don’t feel anything inside me, fire for going through that pain and misery. The last film I did was Snowden.It was so difficult to make. We struggled to get financing — I believe — because of the subject matter.
Hearing that a cinema veteran like Oliver Stone has become somewhat disillusioned with filmmaking may come as a bit of a shock to some. But the fact that it was Seth MacFarlane’s Ted that caused it is arguably an even bigger surprise. What’s ironic about the situation is that Ted had many detractors when it was first announced. Even Seth MacFarlane was sure the film would flop, yet it succeeded at the box office and even spawned a sequel.
Right now, Oliver Stone says he’s keeping himself busy by working on two documentaries, one on his 1991 film JFK and another about clean energy titled A Bright Future. So it would appear he’ll continue to take a break from more narrative-driven features for the time being but, at the very least, fans of Stone still have a few pieces of work to look forward to. And time will tell if he decides to return to mainstream filmmaking.