In Defence Of Last Action Hero

9. Anatomy Of A Flop

Last Action Hero Arnold Schwarzenegger
Columbia Pictures

Last Action Hero is frequently held up as one of Hollywood's most infamous flops, and the most embarrassing miss of Arnold Schwarzenegger's career.

While the latter might well be true, the former is in fact something of an embellishment, even if the film was unquestionably a failure with critics, general audiences and the studio who funded it.

Yes, the movie was largely panned by the press, and even with the benefit of contemporary, revisionist reviews, Last Action Hero still sits at a rather paltry 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a mere 4.9/10 average score.

For what it's worth, it was also nominated for six Razzie awards: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Schwarzenegger), Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst New Star (Austin O'Brien), and Worst Original Song (AC/DC's "Big Gun"), albeit winning none.

The figure that really matters, at least in business terms, is of course its box office take. Budgeted at a colossal $85 million - including Schwarzenegger's $15 million salary and $500,000 on advertising the movie on the side of a NASA rocket...which ended up launching months after the movie's release - the film's global take was a soft $137.3 million, cemented by a mediocre C+ CinemaScore.

While it clearly covered its base production costs and then some - ensuring it wasn't an historic dud by any means - a titanic marketing budget from a grossly over-confident Columbia Pictures took an additional bite out of any potential profits.

Though Last Action Hero was not successful with mainstream crowds or the press, to call it a legendary cinematic dumpster fire is not accurate. It's also the starting point for where we can examine the film's sure status, through a modern lens at least, as a thoroughly misunderstood classic.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.