Umm..the "most everyone I knew" was an example.
The Matrix was a huge hit opening weekend -- surprise hits generally don't get that kind of sales until the second weekend.
Pitch Black, the reason I say that....is because it was a huge thing...then just like a lot of flops, it's sales following opening weekend plummeted drastically...and lots of people forgot about it. As a matter of fact even today, a lot of people hardly remember that movie.
Whereas...your 'setting the stage' theory isn't entirely true, either. A lot of people who loved the first Matrix...weren't too happy with the second. They lost a lot of fanbase. The third one really was an improvement, though. I even recall Jimmoi mentioning how he hated the others, but was pleasantly surprised by how good the third one was. And....Jimmoi is probably one of teh biggest movie critics any of us know.
French Revolution (again):
Actually, King Louis the 14th was a kind king. He just wasn't very good at his job -- he had no interest in it. All he wanted was to avoid bloodshed, and try to make everybody happy. But since he wasn't good at governing, and since the rest of the nobles in France were corrupting things, he became the scapegoat. That is one of the few things I do remember about the revolution, because I remember watching a video about it, how him and his wife were the only 'nice guys' among the nobles, then -bam- Into the guillotine they went.