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Top 10 Entertainment Predictions That Turned Out to be False

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Richard Bush Music, film and stardom are some of the most unpredictable things around. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 entertainment predictions that turned out to be false. For this list, we’re looking at prophecies, guesses or projections that were made in the entertainment world and turned out to be painfully, painfully false. We’re also taking into account who supposedly made the prediction, because if it’s someone who should’ve known better, it makes the fail that much worse.
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Written by Richard Bush

Top 10 Entertainment Predictions That Turned Out to be False


Music, film and stardom are some of the most unpredictable things around. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 entertainment predictions that turned out to be false.

For this list, we’re looking at prophecies, guesses or projections that were made in the entertainment world and turned out to be painfully, painfully false. We’re also taking into account who supposedly made the prediction, because if it’s someone who should’ve known better, it makes the fail that much worse.

#10: “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value”
- David Sarnoff’s associates, on the radio (1920s)

There is no profitable value in wooden boxes that make noise. These were essentially the words of David Sarnoff’s associates in response to the businessman and radio and TV pioneer’s appeal to invest money into radio. But their claim that no one would pay for a message that was sent to nobody in particular was clearly off the mark, as radio is still going strong today – whether it’s bringing you the latest tunes, the news or commercial jingles, which have a particular knack for getting stuck in your head. Armour Hot Dogs anyone?

#9: “The Next Spielberg”
- Newsweek, on M. Night Shyamalan (2002)

With “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” under his belt by the new millennium, director M. Night Shyamalan was quickly being touted the next big thing. So, in anticipation of his next film, “Signs,” Newsweek decided to go all out and hail him as the next Spielberg on one of their 2002 covers. Unfortunately, “Signs” was just so-so and things pretty much went downhill from there… at least that’s what the critics and many vocal movie fans have tried to make known. Cases in point: “The Village” in 2004, “The Happening” in 2008, “The Last Airbender” in 2010… well, you get the idea.

#8: “No online database will replace your daily newspaper”
- Clifford Stoll, on the Internet (1995)

Clifford Stoll is a big name in the world of computers, credited as the guy who caught one of the earliest computer hackers in 1986. For this reason, many believed his claim that no online database could replace the newspaper. However, big newspapers began to have online versions in the late ‘90s. Now, almost all printed newspapers do and it’s pretty much a necessity considering how people resort to smartphones or their tablets for their daily fixes of news-on-the-go. Not only is it arguably more convenient for many, but it’s also a fact of life today.

#7: “It will be gone by June”
- Variety, on Rock ‘n’ Roll (1955)

Rock ‘n’ roll threw dirt in the face of conformists and stepped on the toes of the man, so for this reason, among others, many thought it was a short-term fad, including Variety. In early 1955, the magazine claimed the musical genre would disappear by June – but boy, were they ever wrong. It’s over 50 years later and rock and roll has since spawned multiple iterations of the hip-swinging, head-banging, hair-raising genre – and it ain’t showing any signs of stopping.

#6: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little”
- RKO Radio Pictures Screen Test Report, on Fred Astaire (1930s)

Suit-wearing executives have free reign to be as critical as possible at screen tests. But the RKO Radio Pictures screen test stating the soon-to-be legendary entertainer Fred Astaire couldn't sing and merely dances a little was obviously just plain wrong. On top of that, a studio exec allegedly said his ears were too big and he had a bad chin. Doesn’t seem like audiences noticed though. Fred Astaire went on to have a 75-plus-year career, making over 30 movies and constantly being pitted against the beautiful Ginger Rogers.

#5: “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character”
- Anonymous Editor, on “The Great Gatsby” (1920s)

F. Scott Fitzgerald's “The Great Gatsby” is of the most famous American novels of all time, featuring strong social commentary throughout and driven by the mysterious title character, Jay Gatsby. However, an editor of Fitzgerald's work suggested that he would have a decent book on his hands if he got rid of Gatsby - the most integral character in the book! Good thing the writer didn’t take the advice – the character isn’t only the unforgettable center of this literary classic but he’s also inspired countless people thereafter.

#4: “I’m glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his nose, not me”
- Gary Cooper, on “Gone with the Wind” (1938)

Some movies will forever be cemented in cinema history, and “Gone with the Wind” is undoubtedly one of them. When movie star Gary Cooper was offered a role in said movie, he turned it down. Instead, Clark Gable starred. Cooper said the movie’d be Hollywood’s biggest flop and that he was glad Gable would take the fall for it and not him. Tell that to the history books! Cooper wasn't the only naysayer though - an MGM executive also wrongly claimed that “No Civil War movie ever made a nickel.” Way to stick your foot in your mouth!

#3: “Children just aren’t interested in witches and wizards anymore”
- Anonymous Publisher, on “Harry Potter” (1996)

It can be hard to gauge what children really want, but back in the late-‘90s, J.K Rowling hit the nail on the head with the Harry Potter book franchise. But if Rowling had listened to advisors, one of which was a publisher that claimed witches and wizards were on the way out, she might have given up her magical adventure too soon. The seven Potter books have gone on to inspire films, games and theme parks and earn millions and millions of dollars, and they cast their spell on children and adults around the world.

#2: “The Beatles have no future in show business”
- Decca Records (1962)

It’s not unusual for bands to take a beating from critics. Take the Rolling Stones, whose first business manager wanted to get rid of Mick Jagger. Even The Beatles had their fair share of negativity too – at first anyway. Back in 1962, a Decca Records executive let down the four-piece from Liverpool band with the statement that guitar music was through and that the Fab Four had no future in music! No real need to go into how wrong that was… this is the Beatles we are talking about, the most popular band ever - come on! We mean, Come Together, whatever.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few (dis) honorable mentions:
- “The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt.”

- Steve Jobs, on online subscription-based music (2003)

- “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”

- Jim Denny, on Elvis Presley (1954)

- “You better get secretarial work or get married.”

- Emmeline Snively, on Marilyn Monroe (1944)

- “Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard.”

- Tris Speaker, on Babe Ruth (1919)


#1: “Who the hell wants to hear the actors talk?”
- Harry Warner, on talking pictures (Mid-1920s)

Cinema has taken quite a few cynical hits over the years. Charlie Chaplin called it “canned drama.” But the quote that sticks in our heads most is this comment from H.M. Warner – yes, one of the founders of Warner Brothers. He thought being able to hear the actors in a movie was absurd – and then, the talkies exploded with popularity. Seriously, do you really think silent films would have lasted this long? Not a chance.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think was the biggest failed forecast in entertainment? For more head scratching Top Tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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