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When Schwarzenegger Parodies Himself in a Film: Exploring the Cult Status of Last Action Hero


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When Schwarzenegger parodies himself in a film

Several weeks ago, we were talking about Sylvester Stallone’s early career, where he debuted in a relatively unknown erotic film. Despite the difficulties, Stallone accepted the opportunity and had no idea that the production would later release the successful Rocky movies. This is a memory that Stallone prefers not to discuss but is an important part of his career. Other actors also have similar “films of shame” in their filmography, although not everyone acknowledges them. Among them is Arnold Schwarzenegger, known for his roles in Terminator and as the former governor of California.

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During the peak of his career in the 1980s and 1990s, Schwarzenegger faced a problem with one particular film in his repertoire. This film was released in the same year as Jurassic Park, The Visitors, Schindler’s List, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film is Last Action Hero, which now enjoys a good reputation among audiences. Directed by John McTiernan, Last Action Hero is an action film that humorously parodies the genre and incorporates the concept of a film within a film. The story follows Danny Madigan, a young boy who skips school to watch Jack Slater films, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Through a magic ticket provided by a projectionist, Danny finds himself transported into the movie, alongside his hero.

A cult film despite the failure at the box office

Although Last Action Hero is now considered a cult film due to its humor and Schwarzenegger’s self-mockery, it initially failed in the United States. Despite having a budget of 85 million dollars, the movie only earned 50 million domestically. This low performance at home was offset by the international market, allowing the film to reach a total of 137 million dollars. While still disappointing, it was a respectable outcome. It was only in the following years that Last Action Hero gained popularity, leading to a long and cult status career, and even a recent documentary released on Netflix. When asked about this box office failure, Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to having had a negative experience:

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