Many of the young festival-goers who’ve helped make electronic dance music into a $6.9 billion industry, presumably, have some fondness for Zac Efron. The actor starred in the smash franchise High School Musical at the exact same time many of them were of the right age to be watching the Disney Channel.
But We Are Your Friends, a movie combining EDM and Efron, has failed spectacularly. Its $1.8 million haul over the weekend means, according to EW, it had the third worst wide-release opening since 1980.
I wrote about the film last week, noting how it portrayed an ambitious DJ in much the same way pop culture likes to portray visionary rockers and other artists. I said the film is “surprisingly watchable,” but I didn’t really get into why: the dead-on depiction of suburban Southern California malaise, the appealing performances, and the pulse-quickening soundtrack. The worst thing you can say about the movie is that it’s too slick, shot like a credit-card commercial targeting the Coachella crowd.
On Twitter, the music critic Philip Sherburne asked his followers for thoughts on why the film tanked, saying that “a bad opening weekend doesn’t reflect on the quality of the film so much as whether there’s even an audience for it.” Some of the theories that resulted say that most EDM fans ...
- … enjoy their music as a weekend activity, not an identity marker (the cultural influence by the genre is too total for this to feel true to me).
- … were too busy raving to get to the theater (haha).
- … are part of a generation that has “a sense for when its homegrown culture is being co-opted” and the movie “was interpreted as cynical and condescending by many in the EDM community” (definitely true to some extent, judging by the YouTube comments on WAYF’s trailers).