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August 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Working on a movie that flops is like working on a political campaign in which the candidate is trounced, according to Sean Hood, who worked as a script doctor on last weekend’s turkey, Conan the Barbarian. In an amusing yet poignant article that was picked up in its entirety by Nikki Finke’s website after it appeared on, Hood writes that the process of working on a movie is much the same as working on a political campaign, and that a film’s “opening day is analogous to a political election night.” Like someone joining a campaign Hood says that he was “filled with hope, enthusiasm and belief” when he joined the Conan team. Tracking numbers were like polls, he says, and when those numbers turned out to be bleak those working on the film dismissed them the way politicos do — “with a kind of desperate optimism.” The Friday night of a film’s release is like election night, Hood continues. “‘Exit polls’ are taken of people leaving the theater, and estimated box office numbers start leaking out in the afternoon, like early ballot returns.” And when they do, “That’s when your stomach starts to drop.” Finally, when the trades — Variety and The Hollywood Reporter — call the weekend winners and losers, “the loss sinks in, and you don’t sleep the rest of the night.” The film critics, he suggests, were like political pundits. In this case, they mocked the script that he worked on. “and any filmmaker who tells you s/he ‘doesn’t read reviews’ just doesn’t want to admit how much they sting.” He was able to tell himself, he says, that much of the work he did on the movie, “never made it to screen” and that what did represented improvements. “But it’s still much like doing great work on a losing campaign. All anyone in the general public knows, all anyone in the industry remembers, is the flop. A loss is a loss.”