The Audience is Always Right

Director William Friedkin discussing what makes films successful (from the special features included on the Bug DVD):

William Friedkin “The week after Sorcerer came out, Star Wars opened and completely changed the kind of films that audiences wanted to see – by the multimillions. Sorcerer was almost a dividing point between the past and the future. That’s one reason why it didn’t do better. But always, when a film does well or badly, it’s always the fault of the film and the audience is always right. Which is not to say anything about the quality of the film, but about what the audience wants or doesn’t want. They know what they want.

The directors or filmmakers or producers who have been successful over and over again are those that have an inherent feeling of the zeitgeist. I at one time had that so I know what it is. Around the time I made The French Connection and The Exorcist, that was the zeitgeist and I just rode along with it. Those were the films that I wanted to see. I felt if somebody could make a film like that, I would see it. And that’s how the audience felt. And I know what the zeitgeist is now, but I’m not interested in any way in pursuing it.”