Steven Spielberg strikes back

A couple of years ago, Steven Spielberg was attending a horse show with his daughter when some kids recognized him and came over to say hello.

“They started saying ‘Oh, man, we love your movies so much! We love all your films — except for that last Indiana Jones picture. We all hated that one!’ ” Spielberg recalls.

“I asked them ‘Why did you hate it?’ And they said, ‘It just wasn’t as good as the other ones. We didn’t like that alien thing at the end. That was stupid. He shouldn’t be going after aliens anyway. He should be going after archeology stuff.’”

Spielberg is familiar with that sentiment. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the worst-reviewed film in the series that Raiders of the Lost Ark launched. Even Shia LaBeouf, who starred in it, has publicly trashed the film.

Just don’t expect Spielberg to apologize for it.

“Then those same kids told me they saw Crystal Skull four times,” he says. “I asked ‘Why did you see it four times if you hated it?’ And they said ‘For all the good stuff in it.’ And suddenly I understood how that movie made $800 million, despite all the negative things I read about it.”

Ever since Jaws redefined the limits on how profitable a movie can be, Spielberg has balanced commerce with art: He’s one of the most gifted artists to ever walk onto a movie set, as influential and revered as Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford and Stanley Kubrick. But Spielberg is also one of the sharpest and most shrewd businessmen in Hollywood, arguably second only to his friend and frequent producing partner George Lucas.

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