With a reported budget of $50 million and a U.S. box office gross of only $29 million, “Zoolander 2” is one of the biggest flops of Ben Stiller’s career. The writer-director-actor recently told Esquire that watching his star-studded “Zoolander” sequel fail at the box office around the world was “not a great experience.” Stiller produced, starred in, directed and co-wrote the flop, but he said he has a glass-half-full mentality when it comes to reflecting on the misstep.
“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,’” Stiller said, referring to his acclaimed Showtime limited series “Escape From Dannemora,” which was nominated for seven Emmys, including outstanding limited series.
Stiller added, “[If ‘Zoolander 2’ had been a huge hit] 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 don’t stick with it you don’t get there.”
“Zoolander 2” also marked the end of Stiller’s long-standing tradition of starting his directorial efforts by bringing his cast and crew together and stepping on a glass bottle for good luck, a nod to the Jewish wedding tradition. When Stiller stepped on the glass bottle with his “Zoolander 2” team, he pierced the sole of his shoe and sliced his heel. Stiller called it “a harbinger of things to come for that movie.”
With the Emmy-nominated “Escape From Dannemora” and the critical raves for his new Apple TV Plus series “Severance,” Stiller has gotten his directorial career back on track in the years after “Zoolander 2.”