Ben Stiller Sees the Bright Side of Zoolander 2 Bombing at Box Office

No filmmaker ever enjoys seeing their movies falling short of expectations, but it’s something that can happen to the very best of them. As a director, Ben Stiller was able to experience both sides of the experience with the same franchise. Back in 2001, Stiller produced, co-wrote, directed, and starred in the hit comedy film Zoolander. It was a hit at the box office and became a cult favorite with many of its fans still quoting the most memorable lines to this day.

Unfortunately, 2016’s Zoolander 2 is a good example of why some films may be better off without ever getting a sequel, regardless of how successful or popular the original might be. All of the right pieces seemed to be in place with Stiller back in the director’s chair using a screenplay he’d co-written. Of course, Stiller was also back in a lead role alongside returning stars Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell. The hope was that the film would perform even better than the first movie after spending 15 years building its cult following.


As we know now, things did not turn out that way. Though it was budgeted at around $ 55 million, Zoolander 2 grossed @ 28.8 million in US theaters. It had to rely upon its international box office haul to just barely break even with a total of $ 56.7 million. The reviews were very harsh with the film getting splat with a 22% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also up for a slew of Razzies, including Worst Picture along with Worst Director and Worst Actor for Ben Stiller.

“Not a great experience,” Stiller says of Zoolander 2 flopping in a new interview with Esquire.

Related: Ben Stiller Would Love to Return for Mystery Men 2

Ben Stiller Is Happy Zoolander 2’s Shortcomings Allowed Him to Pursue New Creative Opportunities

Escape at Dannemora

Ben Stiller has more recently made the shift from comedy into drama, such as directing the Showtime limited series Escape at Dannemora. Scoring a 90% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, the acclaimed series, which is based on the real-life escape of two inmates from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, also earned tiller a DGA Award. Stiller believes that if Zoolander 2 was a hit, he would have gone on to make Zoolander 3 and similar zany comedies, and then he would not have gotten to do something like Dannemora.

“If Zoolander 2 had been a huge hit, and then people were saying, ‘Zoolander 3! Do this movie! That movie! ‘ – that might have taken me off the road of having the space to work on developing Dannemora, ”Said Stiller. “I might have gotten distracted by other bright, shiny objects, but instead it opened a path where I could just do what I’d honestly wanted to do for years and years, which was: just direct something! To say, I’m just going to work on this project that I want to work on, because it takes a little time to get these things going and, if you do not stick with it, you do not get there. ”

Stiller has not directed a movie since Zoolander 2but when he gets back behind the camera for a feature, perhaps it will be for a project that’s more drama than comedy.

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