James Hetfield Says Metallica ‘Learned a Lesson’ From Failure of ‘Through the Never’ Movie
When Metallica were readying the launch of their box office movie Through the Never, fans were intrigued, but left a bit confused by the nebulous plot. The film was a catastrophic failure that resulted in the thrash titan's members losing millions of their own dollars. James Hetfield has now opened up at length about the film and its staggering failure to gain much attraction.
In an interview with the Metallica fan club magaze So What!, the frontman detailed how the band reacted to the film's failure, his thoughts on the movie-going population and the frustration behind the band's most ambitious and expensive endeavor. Speaking candidly, he said, "It's very bittersweet, the whole movie bit. We put a lot of money, time and effort into it, and how awesome we thought it was, and how 'wow, this is pretty unique' we felt about it, at the end of the day, was its downfall." Understanding the aspect that caused some heads to tilt, he went on, "It was not so much a concert film, not so much an action drama, it was somewhere in the middle; it just fell right down the crevasse. It disappeared. And it was sad to see that."
He continued: "The way life is now in the entertainment field, especially movies, two years of work came all the way up to a Friday night. 'Okay, the movie's released!' By Friday night, you know pretty much what the full picture is and how the movie is actually gonna do at the box office. But management said — and I agree with this; it makes total sense — that Hollywood is about perception. Hollywood is about rumors spreading and things like that, so if someone tweets, 'Hey, the movie's great,' if that spreads, then it helps. A lot of people don't go to movies because of reviews, I guess… I don't understand that so much."
The film cost over $20 million to make and brought in no outside investors. Through the Never only took in $3.4 million, resulting in the band absorbing a substantial portion of the loss. Hetfield spoke about dealing with the financial fallout, expressing, "There was a time when I was just pissed. Like, 'What the f--k?' That was stupid."
With an initial desire to blame anyone else, Hetfield continued, "I wanted to just point fingers everywhere. The distributor people. 'They didn't say what they were gonna do.' Or just pointing at Hollywood in general. 'They're a bunch of grigging shysters, man. They sold us on something that they knew was bulls--t.' Blaming the director, the producer, the casting… And blaming the management. 'You all f---ed up, man.'"
With a clearer head, the singer resigned, "We really took a giant risk on this. Maybe we should've thought a little more about it. Building that stage [a $5 million stage was designed for the performances filmed in conjunction with the movie] — there was a lot of money put into that thing. But at the end of the day, it's on us. It's our fault! We agreed to it, and there you go. So we've learned a lesson."
Hetfield accepted defeat regarding Through the Never, but remains optimistic it will one day have its place, stating, "Things happen for a reason, and you might not see the silver lining right now, but down the line, who knows? Maybe the movie will make a mark in history somehow, or maybe we've basically learned: don't do it again."
With the movie behind them, the band has turned back to where they truly excel: in the studio. Reluctant to release too many details, Metallica have made fleeting statements about their work on the follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic. Guitarist Kirk Hammett said the material so far falls in line with the previous album and that he expects the new record to be out in 2016 or early 2017 at the latest.
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