Engineered to be the teen-movie equivalent of the mid-’90s alt-rock zeitgeist, Empire Records flopped in the theaters, only to become a cult classic a generation later. For the people who made the movie talk about how it came together, why it bombed, and how it found its second life.
Growing up a tween/teenager during this generation, this film holds a special place in my heart, much in the same way Mallrats does for many of the same reasons. Both were unabashed failures at the box office, and it boggled my mind. These were my people, up on that screen. Where were my people off of it? Why did more of us not see the movie?
In hindsight, I’ve read many times that it’s, as usual, the marketing departments fault because they had no idea who to sell it to. My people weren’t the group anyone looked to market anything to that didn’t have something to do with Kurt Cobain or Beavis & Butt-head. Who could blame them? The trailer, as you can see below, doesn’t really lead us in one direction or another.
See? Just another teen movie. Luckily, over time, it has gotten its just due much in the same way Mallrats has. Two of my favorite movies, redeemed by the same audience who should have been there in the first place, alongside the next generation… and, now, the next.
Goddamn, I’m old.
But, it wasn’t just another teen movie, and it will always be one of those films I can point out to my children and say, “You know how I said your grandmother would always tell me how Dazed and Confused was her generation’s movie? Well, here’s mine.”