Serenity Box Office Thoughts

This is going to get a fatwa upon my head from the browncoats, but Serenity‘s $10.1 million opening weekend is really not good at all. Unless the movie manages a truly heroic box office retention rate over the second weekend, which seems fairly unlikely, I’m guessing Serenity won’t recoup its $39 million production cost in the domestic box office, which means you can pretty much kiss off the idea of Serenity 2 as a theatrical release. I imagine some Jossheads are consoling themselves with the idea that Serenity will rack up lots of profits in the DVD afterlife, which is true enough (it was Firefly’s success as a DVD product that convinced Universal to greenlight Serenity, from what I understand), but in terms of Hollywood math, while theatrical release is becoming more and more of a platform to sell DVDs, it still matters whether a movie gets an audience in the theaters. The audience wasn’t there for Serenity.

I have to admit I was mildly surprised by the film’s poor showing; I was personally expecting something along the lines of an $18-$20 million opening, since the reviews were generally good and also I live in a mental space where the "Joss is a geeeenius" meme is well-entrenched, which skewed my perception. I should have been paying attention to my mother-in-law, who is — and I say this with great respect — absolutely the platonic ideal of the average, mainstream American, culturewise. If she sees an ad for a movie and goes "oooh! I want to see that!" then I know it’s going to be a hit, regardless of quality. As far as I know, she was entirely ignorant of the existence of Serenity. That was an ominous sign.

I do believe this opening weekend pretty much kills off the Firefly/Serenity universe (minus some secondary fan-oriented markets like book adaptations) unless Universal does the unexpected and inks a deal to put new episodes of Firefly (or, alternately, a series of Firefly movie events) on the Sci-Fi Channel (which exists in the NBC Universal corporate structure). That would be ideal for both the series and the fans, since the show/movie events could definitely generate big enough ratings for cable, and because that would still allow Universal to milk the very willing Firefly fans for another stack of DVD releases, which is where the money is these days.

But at this point, Firefly/Serenity has two strikes against it: One network cancellation and one movie opening gross that is only charitably described as mediocre. It’s possible someone will make that third pitch, but if I were a fan of this particular universe, I’d be preparing myself for a rather more negative outcome. This is also a reminder that while fan fervor will get you places, it will only get you so far. Whedon’s fandom-fu is strong, but even mightier are the needs of the corporate bottom line.

114 thoughts on “Serenity Box Office Thoughts

  1. We were discussing “Serenity” at a Bachelor Party last night. Several of us at the table, myself included, had not seen “Firefly” and asked if we needed to in order to enjoy the flick. The one person who saw “Serenity” said that prior “Firefly” knowledge was unnecessary but warned that we might not get all of it. To which I responded thusly: “If this is gonna be a ‘Buffy in Space’ deal then I’m gonna take a pass.”

    “You didn’t like ‘Buffy’?” he asked.

    “Not particularly.”

    “Was it the writing?”

    “No, I thought the writing was superior. I just can’t put my finger on what it was that bugged me so much.”

    “Was it the genre?”

    “Maybe…”

    “It was too ‘Scooby-Doo’ for you, wasn’t it?”

    “THAT’S IT!” I exclaimed. “Bingo! God, I HATED ‘Scooby-Doo.'”

    “Don’t worry,” he assured me. “‘Serenity’ doesn’t have any badly drawn ghosts in it.”

  2. The marketing team seemed to try very hard to make it look like you didn’t have to have watched the series to grok the movie, but I think they failed, pure and simple. Even bad SF movies open to $20 million, so long as they’re not tying in to something. The only way I can explain the weak opening is that people picked up on the vibes put out by the really fanatical fans and knew, despite the marketing, that they were going to be missing out on inside jokes and stuff. I saw the movie, and I honestly think a non Firefly fan wouldn’t get half of what was going on. They would have wondered why the rest of the audience were laughing so hard, when they weren’t laughing at all. Nothing turns an audience off worse in my opinion than being made to feel like an outsider by the material.

    And honestly, I wasn’t blown away, even though Firefly was one of my favorite television series. What made the show great– the ensemble cast and the room they had to _be_– didn’t translate into a 2 hour movie. The characters were flattened by the process with the exception of Mal. I would have rather they took the $39 million and made more episodes for straight to DVD release or something. I wanted more than I got– and all the Firefly fans did. It was a gamble that put Joss all-in, and he lost the pot, sadly.

  3. Bummer. Well, I’ll try to do my part by relentlessly hounding everyone else at my place of work until they go see it. It was one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen in a while, so I’d really like there to be more.

  4. The only thing I can think of that I specifically thought “a non-fan wouldn’t get that” was what Inara actually did for a living and why there was tension between her and Mal.

    What jokes were there that a non-fan of the show would not understand? I don’t recall noticing any.

  5. I was wondering if all the sneak previews would cut into the box office.

    In favour of shooting a second TV season is the bank of effects and sets created for the movie.

  6. Regarding Jeremy T’s comment, I can’t help but wonder why the currently fantastic economics of DVD releases hasn’t translated into precisely such a strategy – making straight-to-disc episodes for loved but cancelled cult TV shows. It might be an industry fear of the DVD phenomenon being a bubble (reasonable, but ask me again in a year), or simply a lack of imagination or trust of the audience. Considering the relatively inexpensive production costs of a TV show compared to a movie, Serenity’s producers could have let Whedon make another dozen episodes of his show (a full season these days!) instead of a movie that had to earn a large audience in a few days to justify its existence.

  7. Was anything done to market this movie to anyone other than Joss Wheedon fans? I don’t remember even hearing about it except in the Buffy Fraction of the SF blogosphere.

  8. @Jeff: “I was wondering if all the sneak previews would cut into the box office.”

    I highly doubt it. Every single person I know who went to the sneak preview saw it again, generally on opening night. Those who went to the sneak previews were pretty hardcore fans, and since there were some minor changes, they HAD to see it again. Myself included.

    @John Scalzi, re the numbers. I posed your response to the opening weekend to a friend and his response was:

    “$10 million is not a bad opening weekend. The formulae that studios use to calculate total box office are fairly complex, but a rough estimate can comes out to seven times the opening weekend. While $70 is certainly not busting any blocks, it is still a respectable turnout for the domestic box office for a movie that cost what Universal would consider pennies to make.

    The truth is that the domestic box office is not where most movie make their profit. Because marketing and promotion in the US is so expensive, most films that break $150 million still operate at a loss domestically. Higher profit margins are made overseas and more and more studios are leaning on priced-to-own DVDs to make their domestic money for them. And that doesn’t even get into TV licensing and merchandising.”

  9. I thought it was a terrific flick and that one didn’t need to be a diehard Firefly fan to get it (although perhaps that’s a skewed perception since I AM such a fan). I was concerned with how empty the theater was for a Saturday night primetime showing. pity – I was hoping it was going to be the entree for Whedon to do more stuff on the big screen since I thought he made the move quite successfully. It was good to see a sf movie that was written for grownups!

  10. I managed to hustle up interest in some of my non-Firefly-Fan friends by mentioning my excitement about the movie… uhm, by my count 154 times. They went and saw it, and said that it was a good Sci-Fi movie, and then were done with it.

    I saw it and I was very happy that Mr. Whedon got out whatever he needed to get out. And thought, as a stand-alone, the movie was just fine. But as a continuation of Firefly it was… good. Which is good, but… somewhat short of re-energizing.

    There’s no way somebody coming to the movie for the first time would give a hoot about Jayne, or Wash, or Kaylee, or Simon, or Book, or Zoe, or Inara. And the Mal that they may decide to like is a lot different from the Mal that I saw on DVD…
    — *firefly quote* —
    Captain Reynolds: You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once. If I ever kill you you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.
    — *sad face* —

    River was on screen enough, and maybe what was there was likeable in its own right, but it didn’t really give the sense of the River that went before.

    So, as a fan, I was dissappointed by the lack of character in the followup to a character dominated series. But, as a fan I’m very happy that Mr. Whedon got the ideas out that he wanted to get out, and maybe after seeing the movie again this weekend, and waiting 6 months, it’ll be clouded in a nostalgic haze and get mixed up with the content of the TV show and I’ll love it.

  11. Emily:

    Your friend is almost certainly wrong in terms of what the eventual overall domestic gross of the film will be, particularly in today’s film environment. A good comparable film here would be Constantine, which grossed $29 million in the opening weekend, but maxed out at $75 million. Box office dynamics of today mean that a film’s first weekend is actually much loser to a third of a film’s eventual domestic gross, rather than a seventh; check the opening weekend/overall theatrical gross of this summer’s films (particularly SF/F-oriented films), and you’ll see this is the case. Even flat-out blockbusters like Revenge of the Sith follow this dynamic.

    My guess is that unless the film posts some remarkable retention numbers, Serenity will end up in the $30 – $35 million gross range, domestic. This would have it following roughly the same box office path of The Island, which opened with $12 million and ended up with $35 million domestic. Serenity does have the advantage of not having cost what The Island cost to make, which will keep it from being the monumental flop that film was domestically (it’s doing rather better internationally).

    Without being obnoxious about it, I would hazard to say my estimate here is solid, being that I’ve been doing film reviewing and commentary for fifteen years, and just finished a book on science fiction film, part of which included looking at the box office dynamics of SF film releases, particularly over the last 30 years. Unless your friend is directly involved with filmmaking accounting, I’d go with my numbers over his. No offense to your friend.

  12. I’ve heard that the magic number for Serenity is $50 million domestic, $80 million worldwide. Hit those, and the sequel is greenlit.

    What may earn forgiveness is that the box office was positively anemic compared to the same weekend last year, and the movie did rather well in its per-screen average.

    But, being one who enjoyed the series a bit more than the movie (though I liked the movie a lot), I’d very much enjoy seeing another paradigm adopted, like a SCIFI Channel series.

    The only problem that I see with direct-to-DVD series is that they tend to be more expensive than individual movies, which means the consumer needs a “proven product” before they go buy it… Even a low-ratings TV show (like “Firefly”) generates enough DVD revenue to justify further investment, but even hardcore fans might be skittish in plunking down thirty or forty bucks for a raft of shows no one has ever seen before.

  13. David Klecha:

    “What may earn forgiveness is that the box office was positively anemic compared to the same weekend last year, and the movie did rather well in its per-screen average.”

    Sub $5,000 per-screen average actually isn’t all that good. $6k per screen would have been good; $8k per screen would be what I consider “rather well.”

    Just in case anyone’s wondering about this, I bear no ill will toward Serenity; indeed, I was rather hoping it would do well, since it seems like fun (I have neither seen it nor Firefly), and many people whom I like seem to like it. I just don’t think the numbers are there for more. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong, but I don’t expect I will be.

  14. I was astounded that Serenity even got the green light, at least as a big-screen pic. I mean, regardless of cult popularity and DVD sales, this was still a movie based on a short-lived show that 9 out of 10 people on the street have never heard of.

    I’m still waiting for The Adventures of Brisco County: The Movie, but I won’t hold my breath…

  15. You can do a lot more than hope. ;)

    It’s certainly not going to make it if it can’t get a Science Fiction author out of his chair to see it.

  16. My husband and I were the “control group” among a dozen diehard Firefly fans who went to see Serenity on Friday. We’d never seen the tv series, nor had any back story explained to us, and we both loved the movie. Perhaps there was some depth lacking from the characters, the pilot was pretty much a side character in the movie, and Jayne was just “the hard-ass guy”.

    I think the marketing failed it, making non Firefly fans think of it as just a thing for existing fans.

    We’ve borrowed the DVD set from a friend and are really enjoying seeing more of the characters. I feel like I’ve joined a party just in time for it to be time for everyone to go home!

    I wasn’t so into Buffy by the end of it’s run either, but I got into Angel. It’s the banter that gets me, love the dialogue.

  17. This proves, hopefully once and for all, that the WESTERN is dead.

    Why was this even made? A TINY rabid fandom isn’t enough. I’m sure there are series which deserve a movie treatment more than this one. How long did it run? 13-14 episodes ?

    I am a Science Fiction fan and the show left me cold.

  18. I tend to agree with your analysis Mr. Scalzi.

    However, I don’t think that Serenity was intended to have a sequel. If you had seen the movie, you’d know what I mean. All of the plot arcs from the original series were tied up nicely, and there isn’t anywhere (IMO) for the story to go, at least in movie length terms.

    I can imagine that there might be a new series to build on the established fan base, but I have to wonder if the cast will be around for it. I can’t discuss more without delving into spoiler territory…

    Let me just say that I took Serenity as the finale to an excellent series and have no real expectation beyond that. I’d love to be wrong.

  19. K.V.C.

    Despite the fact that you’re probably trolling, I’m still going to answer a bit, on the off chance that you’re being sincere.

    No TV show can survive what FOX put Firefly through. Judging Firefly by its cancellation, and small TV fanbase is not going to get you an honest read on how good the product was, or how it resounded with viewers. Its time was changed… 3 times? in 4 months? Without the benefit of a blitz of “Remember Firefly at a new time next week!” Fox scheduling people didn’t put anything behind it, not even the will to let it sit alone in peace and succeed by accident.

    I wasn’t in any of the meetings, but I think I can tell you why it was green-lit. Somebody at Universal looked at the idea, the writer and director, and the DVD sales for Firefly and said, “It’s worth a risk.” I’d really like to blame Universal for the deflating result that is Serenity. But I don’t really know what makes a movie succeed or fail.

    But I certainly can think something’s WRONG when Rotten Tomatoes totals Serenity at 79% (earns $10M) and Flight Plan at 37% (earns $15M). It’s certainly not like Flight Plan had good word of mouth, or even the excuse of being a result of pure-hype (since it was the second week, the pure hype expired a week ago on Sunday). Why does a good movie do poorly at the box office? Beats me.

  20. I think there’s something wrong when the top movie for the weekend is a week old, and only grosses $15 million. Sure, Serenity had a disappointing showing, but it was a good movie, and I don’t think anybody’s disappointed it was made. I think Joss and the actors are happy that they got to wrap up story arcs, and Universal will still get its money back in the end. And fans are happy that a show they loved made it to the big screen. Sure, it would have been nice to see the sequels Joss said were a possibility, but the odds of that happening were never very good to begin with. Maybe it’ll pick up a little word of mouth, and make a bit more money that it’s slated to. But the movement is probably over.

    (And John, you really ought to go see it before it leaves theaters. It’s a good space opera, and a hoot to watch.)

    K

  21. I think one thing that needs to be considered is the idea of bankable talent. Jodi Foster is so well known that you can bet a sizable audience will turn out for the picture because her name is attached. Whedon may have a bit of fame, but none of his cast members do– and having a Baldwin is something that could hurt a film more than boost it (just kidding. Jayne rocks).

    It doesn’t surprise me that bad films with huge stars do well. Celebrity talent is the one consistency between movies that the public is aware of (excluding sequels and franchises of course). Without “star” talent attached that trigger those little recognition areas of the brain, what did Serenity trailers look like to the average movie goer? I can’t say, as a fan of the show, and some above could say. But even they had firefly fans urging them to go.

    I guess my point is, I think the movie did as well as it could, with the marketing it had, given what it was. But that wasn’t good enough, and I’m sad to see the possible franchise go the way of the dodo.

  22. Having seen the movie, I doubt that a sequel is in the works regardless of how well the movie does. The doors to the stories have been closed.

  23. If Joss Whedon is only one-tenth of the writer everyone seems to think he is (I’m one of the people who have never really been affected by his work one way or the other, and thus have only my reaction to his fan base to guide me), having tied up all the current plot arcs would in no way prevent a sequel (or string of sequels) from being made if the studios decided that’s what they wanted.

    Closing plot arcs is called “hedging your bets.” It’s also somewhat smart when doing the full feature SF movie, because (at least from my experiences with fandom) SF fans are much more likely to react negatively to obvious sequel bait.

  24. Having seen the movie, I doubt that a sequel is in the works regardless of how well the movie does. The doors to the stories have been closed.

    Various cast and crew members have said otherwise, and it’s public knowledge that they were all under contract for three movies.

    I know what you’re talking about, but there are ways to make it work.

  25. Add me to the list of people who don’t really see any room for a sequel. I mean, you could make a sequel to it, but I really don’t see any direction it could go without being lame.

    That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make one, just that the only possible follow-on stories I see would be inherently lame.

    As I said on my own blog, I thought it was a good-but-not-great SF action movie. I’m sort of puzzled by the “Best… Movie… Ever!” commentary from some of the hard-core fans, but I’ve decided there’s some sort of subliminal brainwashing thing in the Buffy DVD sets that produces that reaction.

  26. I liked the movie, though I really hated stuff around the ending (that final fight scene and the “deus ex machina” scene just after that).

    However, the trailers, commercials and other collateral just were not very good. The commercials in particular were very lame.

  27. “Its time was changed… 3 times? in 4 months?”

    Not so. Friday, 8-9 pm, every episode. The biggest problem the show faced in drawing an audience is that, like a lot of Fox shows, it got pre-empted a lot for baseball playoff games. It’s hard to develop an audience when your presence is so inconsistent for the first two months.

    I wasn’t surprised by the box-office numbers; the marketing made it clear that it was going to be 90 minutes of preaching to the converted, and there was no point to going if you weren’t a FIREFLY groupie and hadn’t memorized every second of the DVDs. (If that was not, in fact, the case, then someone in the studio’s marketing department needs to taken out back and shot.) And when you’re marketing to a cult, and a small cult at that, there’s no way you’re going to get big numbers.

  28. K.V.C.

    If the western is dead, please explain the success of “Deadwood.”

    As for “Serenity,” the trailers on TV here have been pretty terrible, whereas the theatrical trailer was enticing. The movie itself is very good. There are definitely ways to make a sequel to this. If any of you who doubt it saw the last episode of “Angel” you might be surprised to know that that was planned as a season ender, not the series ender. They’d already worked out how to move that on to further series, and that looked a lot more final than the end of “Serenity.” In fact there are things said at the end of “Serenity” that make it clear the main threat is not necessarily dead.

    I think it’s a shame about the numbers and I can’t see a sequel greenlit if there isn’t a word of mouth upswing in them. It’ll make its money back on DVD, but that will probably be the end of the road, since Joss Whedon will be moving on to movies, like “Wonder Woman.”

  29. Non-Firefly fan here.

    Now I know what a non-Trek fan feels like when they go to see a Trek movie.

    At best, I was able to relate to the characters as archetypes and nothing more. I thought the movie, while certainly full of action, was mostly boring. By the end, I was sorry I’d spent $6 on it. Should have gone to see March of the Penguins.

    I will say this for Inara, whose, as someone posted above, job is kinda vague. I did pick up what it was she did. I never thought I could hate another tv character as much as I hated Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Inara proved me wrong.

    I’m not trolling: these are my honest opinions. I will not make any effort to see the tv series based on seeing this movie. No, I didn’t like Buffy either.

    I suspect that a large part of my problem with the SF genre is that every movie ups the ante. We used to have a movie with some action, now we have “action” going on so long that it’s actually tedious to watch the fight between the

    Oops. Almost spoiled it.

    Ok, the fight between Mal and somebody near the end. The only surprise I felt in this entire movie was what the representative from the Alliance did at the end.

    I was disappointed at the death of the crew member, who was the only one I felt any interest in. None of the female characters were very fleshed out in the movie. I thought they were all still undeveloped, and hope for the fans’ sake that they were better in the series. For comparison’s sake, I felt about the women here pretty much how I felt about the women in Farscape during the first season. There might be something there, but it takes time… Something I hadn’t had with Firefly.

    I’m with John on this one. I don’t see this movie making the necessary $$$ to get a sequel.

  30. Well, having only two weekend nights a week to go out. I’m not about to waste it going to a movie. That said I can’t wait to see it tomorrow, and I’ll probably go again, later.

  31. A few thoughts to add, from an admitted rabid fan.

    At least one friend who hadn’t had any interest in the series now wants to borrow my DVDs – she saw the film three times this last weekend and liked it better each time. Oddly, it does improve with repeated viewings. (Hey, my unsupported ancedotal experience is just as valid as yours…)

    I think that you’re depriving yourself of a pretty darned good movie experience if you don’t go. Just sayin’.

    And Adam Baldwin isn’t “a” Baldwin. No relation.

    Please don’t call time of death for the patient yet – some of us are still holding out hope. When someone influential announces it’s dead without even the courtesy of viewing the body, it’s an unfair disadvantage.

  32. Well, I flat-out loved it. No “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”.

    It makes me a little sad to see the above signs that this universe is probably doomed, but I guess that’s OK. I’ll take the opportunity while I can to give some more of my money to Joss and see Serenity a few more times with friends, then buy the DVD to go with my Firefly collection. And, in the future whenever I settle down to savour it all again, I’ll sigh at what might have been but find solace that at least it won’t get screwed up later… like so much else that gets over-squeezed.

  33. which means you can pretty much kiss off the idea of Serenity 2 as a theatrical release

    Most of my real-life friends have probably quit talking to me over this, but you know? I don’t want there to be “Serenity 2.”

    The story’s been told. It was wonderful, and I wouldn’t mind if there were more ‘fill-in’ episodes about the crew’s adventures between Episode 1 and the movie.

    But one thing that drives me nuts about fandom is this desire to beat a story to death and scream for more, more, more until there isn’t any room for mystery or imagination anywhere.

    Let a thousand fanfic stories bloom. But please, please, can we not try to pry the book open and howl until we are told EXACTLY what happened in Shepherd Book’s past and whether Zoe is pregnant and get to meet Jayne’s mom in person.

  34. I saw Serenity last night and loved it. Will probably see it again sometime this week. And I’m the person that never goes to see anything in theatres – let alone twice.

    It bears mentioning that I was late to the Firefly party; an acquaintance raved about it and I figured I’d give it a whirl. I had booze, snacks, a comfortable couch and a relatively hot guy to hang with – if it sucked, who cared?

    But it didn’t. The 2-hr pilot grabbed me and I wondered how I’d never heard of the show before then. I knew I needed to watch the whole series. Despite being skeptical about the setup (space western. ooooookay.), the characters, writing, and attention to details of the universe they’d created reeled me in.

    I’m not in the Cult of Whedon. I really seriously totally and completely HATED with the fire of a thousand burning suns Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never watched Angel either. In fact, I’m more than a little annoyed that a damn good show on television (Veronica Mars) is being compared to Buffy just because there’s an intelligent female protagonist who happens to be blond and attractive. Ugh. Anyway, I digress.

    I saw one full trailer for Serenity online months ago and was exposed to the truly pathetic commericals on television in the last month or so. I’ve seen much crappier movies get way better marketing and support.

    I Netflix’d the Firefly discs, all the while watching prices on dvd sets. I knew it was a good show, but was surprised to find the set on the top selling dvd list at Target.com.

    As far as sequels go? There’s plenty of places it could go. Plots were created for Star Trek movies seemingly ad nauseum (most of them not so great), so I don’t see that as a hurdle. Plus there are lots of stories that have not been told, and I do think that there’s still lots to explore regarding character development and backstory. I think I’d prefer a Serenity episodic and tv movies to the big screen, though – for no other reason than frequency.

    On the other hand, if it’s gone then it can never be ruined or degraded..just remembered as a damned good idea that burned out too soon.

  35. Cassie: Dropping spoilers like that in an otherwise spoilerfree discussion without any markings at all is not a very nice thing to do. ROT-13 is your friend. So is spoiler space.

    As someone who has to wait until November to see the movie, I call you evil. Evil!

  36. Emily writes:

    The truth is that the domestic box office is not where most movie make their profit. Because marketing and promotion in the US is so expensive, most films that break $150 million still operate at a loss domestically. Higher profit margins are made overseas

    This might be true for a lot of movies, but in this case I’m not so sure. Firefly has been shown a grand total of zero times in most of the world’s TV markets, which means you have a grand total of zero recognition for the brand . . . which in this case seems to make up a large part of the movie’s saleability.

    When I ask people “hey, should I see this movie when (if) it gets over to Japan” and their answer is “Oh hell yeah, but first download several gigs worth of TV shows off of P2P networks so you really get it” my answer is going to be to go rent more Miyazaki flicks instead. Why bother?

  37. Jae Walker writes:

    “Please don’t call time of death for the patient yet – some of us are still holding out hope. When someone influential announces it’s dead without even the courtesy of viewing the body, it’s an unfair disadvantage.”

    Well, for one thing, I doubt I’d be influential in this case. And for another, as I’ve mentioned before, I bear no ill will toward Serenity and do hope people go to see it.

    However, my professional experience as a film observer tells me that this movie is not going to do better than modestly. This is not a platformed release (a la Napoleon Dynamite); it’s gone out to as many theaters as it’s going to get out to. Science fiction films, like horror films, draw a substantial amount of their initial business in the first weekend and then drop quite a bit from there. Moreover, it’s extremely doubtful at this point Universal is going to do any more significant advertising of the film to non-fans, whose attendance is critical. Independent of the quality of the film, the business dynamic is going against it.

    There are two things Serenity has going for it in the box office department. The first is that there’s not a lot coming out this next week to compete with it in its genre — there’s the Wallace and Gromit movie, which probably has audience overlap, but the other films are more serious affairs, and that’ll be good for Serenity’s theater retention and a second crack at the core SF audience. The second thing is the serious fans, some of whom will go see the film a second time, possibly dragging non-fans with them.

    As I said earlier, retention will need to be a key here. Personally, I think Serenity will have to do 70 to 80 percent of its opening weekend numbers next weekend in order to stay viable and help drag the film across the $40 million domestic mark. My expectation is that it’ll get 50 to 60%, which is a typical fall-off for SF films in the second weekend. If there’s more than a 50% drop, then it is, of course, seriously toast.

  38. Fox’s idiocy re: the show wasn’t changing the timeslot (that actually might have helped). There was twofold idiocy however: the Saturday evening slot that Firefly occupied for a short time is commonly called “the death slot” – too many people out of their homes to make meaningful ratings. Also, Fox showed the series out of order – not a smart move for gaining traction, especially with an untried genre mix.

    Those two facts have caused more than one person to believe that Fox wanted the series to fail.

    We brought two non-fans to see it on Sunday, they loved it.

  39. I watched the first episode of the series when it originally aired, and that was it. I wasn’t aware at the time that it was a Joss Whedon show, or I would have stuck with it a bit longer, but I just didn’t get it. From what I’ve been told, the first aired episode is not, in fact, the first episode of the series — which certainly didn’t help. At the very least, I needed some explanation of why these people are slavishly aping Old West cliches. It didn’t need to be a good explanation, mind you — a silly explanation would be fine, but you need to acknowledge the situation is silly in the first place. (For the record, I understand the idea of “the final frontier” as a lawless, “Old West” kinda place — it doesn’t explain people in leather dusters.)I also happened to watch that first episode with someone who really hated it, so that might have colored my perceptions.After hearing many rave reviews from colleauges, I bought the DVDs a couple of months ago when they were on sale. I haven’t gotten around to watching them yet, but I will — and if I enjoy the series as much as I expect to, I’ll probably buy the movie on DVD when it comes out (I probably won’t see it in a theater).I think the real problem with the marketing (at least on TV) is that there’s an assumption of familiarity there that just doesn’t exist. The TV commercials I saw didn’t even mention a connection to Firefly, which I suppose makes sense if you’re trying to intrigue people who aren’t familiar with it, but those same commercials gave absolutely no hint of what the movie was about. It was just a series of one-liners from cast members. I’m sure those got a whole lot of rabid fans excited, but why would I want to see this?

  40. In addition to bumping the show for sports and showing the series out of order, Fox also did a lousy job promoting the original series at all. I heard about it by accident, was enough of a fan of Whedon and westerns and sci-fi to watch the “first” aired episode even though I had no idea what I was going to be watching.

    The result was that I ended up amidst my geek friends the following week raving about this show they’d never heard of and how much they’d love it, etc. And yet some of them still weren’t able to watch the show until it came out on DVD.

    Everyone I know who has watched the show adored it. Everyone I know who saw the movie liked it or loved it.

    No, I don’t think you need to have seen the whole series to enjoy the show; in some respects I actually think familiarity with the show may be a liability. I know that during the first five minutes of Serenity I found myself thinking, “Wait, that’s not the way it was in the show, is it?”

    The problem with straight-to-DVD releases is that they still have credibility problems. A lot of people (and I admit sharing this bias) see a straight-to-DVD/video release as being something that can’t possibly be any good, or it would have hit the theaters or cable first. Yes, I know that’s not true–but a perception problem is still a problem.

    While a Sci-fi Channel series might be good, SFC is a pretty erratic player in all this. For every good series or movie, they seem to have at least five mediocre shows or movies. A Sci-fi incarnation of Firefly would keep the fans happy (at least for awhile), but it wouldn’t expand the fanbase any.

    Which brings up something else: a sf movie or show has to bring in the mainstream or it’s gonna flop. The X-Files and Star Wars and even the Trek movies didn’t succeed because of the geek fanbase, they succeeded despite the base. Even Whedon’s Buffy (the TV series) succeeded because people who would never go out to see a horror movie in a million years would make an appointment with the show every Tuesday.

    Last thought: as much as I’d love to see the Serenity characters and setting again, I’m cautious about what I wish for. Any author wants to move on to something else, and Whedon eventually left Buffy and Angel in the hands of proteges who were solid writers but who had no clue–the upshot being that the last two seasons of Buffy and the last season of Angel blew chunks. Sorry, they just did. And I’d rather see Serenity/Firefly end on high notes instead of degenerating into a angst-ridden wallowing exercise in humiliating and murdering beloved characters solely because the creator/producer’s theory of drama is that no one can be happy for more that five minutes at a stretch.

  41. “At the very least, I needed some explanation of why these people are slavishly aping Old West cliches. It didn’t need to be a good explanation, mind you — a silly explanation would be fine, but you need to acknowledge the situation is silly in the first place.”

    I don’t understand this. Why does spandex go without comment, vinyl without comment, rubber without comment? But sturdy looking cotton, wool and leather need explanation?

    Have you looked at the worlds that these people set down on? They’re full of DUST. They’re all half desert! They’re not precisely environments suited to skin-tight “future” clothing (I NEVER want to speak from experience on how uncomfortable spandex is when you get dust between it and your skin).

    It’s elementary SF world-building stuff here.

  42. straight-to-DVD that was totally awsome: Boondock Saints.

    That’s all I have to say about that. There are good straight-to-DVD’s out there, just have to find them.

  43. Re: people who saw the first episode Fox aired and not the pilot

    I think that was a HUGE mistake by Fox, that most likely caused people not to be into the show enough for a second viewing.

    Because I had the luxury of seeing the 2hr pilot on dvd and THEN the “first episode ppl saw” I was able to see the very stark contrast of the two ‘eps’. And as I told one of my friends that was a Firefly fan, if I’d seen them the way everyone else did on television, I probably wouldn’t have watched the whole show, let alone stuck around for the series.

    But the pilot is hands down one of the best pieces of television I’ve ever seen. Rent the first disc from Netflix, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, or wherever and watch that. If you’re not interested by the time it’s over, then the show isn’t for you.

    I dont’ think you have to have watched the show to enjoy the movie, but I think I enjoyed it more because I had. Mostly because I was used to the witty, non-typical space actiony dialogue and verbage.

    And John, with regard to your post – the tone seemed negative and derogatory, and made it seem as if you felt that because it hadn’t made any money (by your professional opinion) it couldn’t have been any good.

    Which is a shame since you didn’t mention until toward the END that you hadn’t seen it. Thus, the post felt to me like a knock on the film although you didn’t mean it to be. And the other posters’ point is somewhat valid: I respect your opinion, and if I hadn’t already seen the movie and been hip to the Firefly universe, I might have given any vague fleeting idea about seeing the movie a second thought.

  44. Uhura:

    “And John, with regard to your post – the tone seemed negative and derogatory, and made it seem as if you felt that because it hadn’t made any money (by your professional opinion) it couldn’t have been any good.”

    Well, the entry is negative in the business sense, to be sure: It had a less-than-useful opening, and it did less business than I thought it might. I don’t think anywhere in there is the implication that if a film does poorly at the box office, it’s not a good film in artistic ways. However, I admit that I am used to separating the fiscal side of films from the artistic side and being able to discuss them independently and most people don’t do that.

  45. Scott says:I don’t understand this. Why does spandex go without comment, vinyl without comment, rubber without comment? But sturdy looking cotton, wool and leather need explanation?Well, first, you’re assuming I don’t have a problem with unimaginative costume design as long as it sticks to sci-fi cliches. You’re wrong on that point. More importantly, though, I mentioned one item of clothing as an example of the undeniable fact that the society depicted (at least in the one episode I saw) was heavily based on cliches from Westerns — everything from the bars to the weapons. (It has been a few years, so I can’t think of more concrete examples — but I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that the show is not meant to evoke the “Old West” we know from movies.)Many of us today are wearing “sturdy looking cotton, wool and leather” — but looking around, most of us don’t appear to have been sent over by Central Casting to play Gunfighter #3.

  46. Here is part of the weekend’s detailed box office report from boxofficemojo.com:

    The box office reception for Serenity, riding a heap of hype and a devoted fan following, was decidedly calm. Flightplan boarded the top spot by default with $14.8 million, leading overall business to be down 22 percent compared to the analogous frame in 2004 when Shark Tale and Ladder 49 opened.

    Aiming for big screen success from humble television origins, Serenity corralled a tame $10.1 million from 2,188 theaters, failing to buck modest industry expectations. Neither hit nor flop, initial attendance for writer-director Joss Whedon’s $39 million space western was in the range of Red Planet and Titan A.E. and less than half that of The Fifth Element, which shared plot similarities. According to distributor Universal Pictures’ exit polling, 52 percent of the audience was over 30 years old and 61 percent was male, while the top three reasons moviegoers cited for seeing the picture were the “story,” the “action” and the “humor.”

    Universal’s head of distribution, Nikki Rocco, was hopeful that positive word-of-mouth will broaden Serenity’s audience beyond fans of Firefly, the 2002 series on which the movie is based. The picture scored an “A” grade from CinemaScore, which polls opening night moviegoers. Universal’s research suggested 88 percent of the audience rated the picture “excellent” or “very good,” which is solid but not exceptional.

    “We are satisfied,” Rocco said. “The opening is where we thought it would be. The fan base turned out. We’re hoping more will turn out in the future. I think over $10 million is a lot of business for a niche appeal picture, and I think the ancillary [DVD, etc.] will be spectacular. I’d say over 40 percent [of moviegoers] were the fans. And there was probably another 30 percent that had not watched the show but had heard of it.” Rocco highlighted San Francisco and Seattle among the cities that had strong turn outs, although she would not speculate on whether Serenity was successful enough to merit a sequel.

    Serenity’s existence is an achievement in its own right, regardless of the box office. Back in 2002, Firefly was one of the beleaguered Fox network’s many casualties, ranking 66th in the Nielsen ratings for its first episode and quickly descending to around 100th place for the rest of its run. Out of 14 produced episodes, Fox aired 11, unceremoniously and out-of-order. The few people who saw the show took a shine to it, and creator Joss Whedon didn’t give up.

    Firefly’s vocal and passionate support led to the movie deal with Universal and a DVD release of the show that reportedly sold half a million copies. “We actually like the director,” said Rocco. “We were hoping to tap in to his fan base.” The only other example of a movie springing from the ashes of a television series that lasted less than one season was the 1988 comedy hit, The Naked Gun, based on Police Squad!. Firefly’s path has been an inversion of Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which began as a failed movie and became a successful TV series.

    Universal isn’t exactly the studio of note when it comes to space operas and similar genre pictures, with disappointments ranging from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century to The Chronicles of Riddick. Their “Can’t Stop the Signal” promotional campaign to galvanize the show’s fans with special screenings and more was a smart move, as was the re-airing of Firefly on Universal’s corporate sibling, the Sci-Fi Channel. However, the advertising didn’t appeal to anyone who wasn’t already a Firefly fan, from rushed, context-free trailers and TV spots to an ugly, non-descript poster to a tagline—”The Future is Worth Fighting For”—that was vague and recalled The X-Files movie’s “Fight the Future.”

  47. I was led to Firefly by all of the excitement over at Making Light. I had missed it on television, caught up with it this summer on DVD.

    Not being in the target demographic for Buffy or its spinoffs, I’m not a whedonphile. I thought Firefly
    was ok.

    My wife and kids, on the other hand, loved it. So we all dutifully went en masse to see Serenity on opening night, something we never do.

    I liked it. But I must say, I’m slightly bemused that the story of the Firefly/Serenity universe has morphed from “Lone Hero Trying to Make a Living Without Making TOO Many Ethical Compromises” right into “Teenage Girl With Uncanny Powers Saves the World.” Serenity seems to demonstrate that Whedon has a limited number of arrows in his quiver. Which seems to be contradicted by his reputation.

    I hope that JS is wrong, and there will be more movies and/or episodes made. I follow the reasoning, but I have trouble with the logic that opening as the #2 movie is still the kiss of death.

  48. I meant to catch Firefly when it first debuted on Fox but missed it, then caught it on DVD and fell in love. Not just fell in love, but Fell in Love. Like the way Mal talks about Love being the most important thing about keeping a ship flying. I do not get this excited about TV shows, but Firefy struck a nerve with me and I have been a faithful fan ever since. I was hugely dissapointed after watching the series DVD (actually, after watching the pilot episode) to realize that this show had been cancelled and there was no hope of seeing more than the 14 episodes released on the DVD. When I learned about the movie, I was thrilled. I waited for over a year. I haven’t gone to see a movie on opening night since I was in high school, I think. Having said all that, I think the movie failed on several levels. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie and thought that overall, it was quite well done.

    BUT…………

    The marketing sucked. It didn’t just suck, it SUCKED. There were hardly any ads and the few I did see were confusing and did not appeal to a mass audience. I saw ten times more ads for the 40-Year-Old-Virgin than I did for Serenity.

    The movie itself was much darker and violent than the series, and so were the characters, when they were detailed at all. While the series did have its share of violence and elements of horror, I thought the overall tone of the show was generally rather light-hearted. Not the movie. And I agree with the previous comments that with the exception of Mal, if you didn’t know the characters from the series, than you would have very little reason to care about them in the film. The crew of Serenity are what made the series so strong, and while I realize that it’s harder to draw detailed characters in a two-hour action-oriented movie, I was dissapointed at their lack of development- way too much background knowledge is assumed for a maintream audience to catch on. A little more time spent fleshing out the crew would have gone a long way, I think.

    Spoiler alert+++++++++++++++++

    Finally, the ending was extremely unsatisfying. Killing a likable “good-guy” is OK if the death has meaning or it increases the dramatic power of the film- the first one does both, but the second one did neither. It simply brought the whole tone of the movie, already very dark, even lower. Then the movie ends — with a funeral and everyone looking like “All this crap we went through… and for what?” I kind of feel the same way. Sorry to the Whedonite purists out there, but a good “popcorn” movie, especially one as dark and violent as this one, needs to end on a high note and Serenity most defintely does not. I left this move feeling a little depressed, and that should not be. I don’t know about other Firefly fans, but the ending alone will keep me from paying to see this movie a second time, or from recommending it to my friends.

    If by some miracle the series gets picked up again I will watch it, but if they make another movie, I will wait for the DVD. I am, or was, their target market, and if they lost me, I don’t see how could they possibly win a larger audience.

  49. Well… bad SF movies still make over $20 mill opening.. but even bad SF movies open in over 2000 theatres and have some sort of Marketing/PR push… this movie grossed a healthy $1600/theatre with no expensive media pr budget… That probably doomed the film for less than stellar numbers…

    However, these are only U.S. numbers, and Joss still has a huge following overseas… I expect that after all is said an done (Overseas ticket sales + DVD sales), the movie will make a healthy enough profit to get a sequel… or hopefully picked up by the SciFi channel…

  50. Two things I’ve heard that have not been mentioned:

    The grosses from the preview screenings have not been factored into the opening weekend yet. That was three sets of sold out screenings, each one in more theaters. Not another 10 million, but still respectable.

    Fox still has the “first run” TV rights. Which means the property will not be coming back to the small screen anytime soon, if ever. Universal has the film and syndication rights. So for the Browncoats among us… Fox is still screwing us long after they botched the launch of the show in the first place.

    For the record, I loved the film. Loved the show. Knew it was doomed from the start. If I love it, it rarely makes it to a full season. I’ve come to accept that now. That’s what makes the DVD market and the promise of “On Demand” TV so wonderful to me. On the other hand, there are just not enough hours of the day to see what’s available now… much less when the powers that be finally realize that we do want what they are not giving us.

  51. Nobody seems to be mentioning the fact that the release was supposed to be in the late spring and pushed back to the fall. I believe that if it had been released in late April as originally scheduled it would have grossed $20 mil the opening weekend almost by accident. That time of year is ripe for movies like Serenity. People just looking for an escape and the start of the summer after the winter comes to an end. I believe Universal marketing made a gross timing misjudgement that contributed to the lousy campaign they have waged in promoting this movie to the masses. It’s a shame.

  52. Sorry, I only accept one of those “strikes.” Getting cancelled from Fox is pretty much meaningless in this Modern World. In fact, one might say that getting dropped from Fox is the sure-fire way to actually gain audience mind-share. Shit, *I’ve* been dropped from Fox and I just *watch* TV.

    I imagine it’s sort of a badge of rank now for up and coming TV shows. I bet there are bars in Los Angeles where people brag about how many times they’ve been cancelled by Fox and wager how long it will take before they get picked up again or mentioned on The Simpsons.

    I think your idea about a mini-series on Space or Sci-Fi is more likely (I was just discussing this with my SO.) Universal has made it pretty clear they never expected to net dollar one on this enterprise, and know they will make money hand-over-fist in the after-market. They never intended to make a movie for your mother-in-law; this was clearly a fan-only event.

    The best they can hope for is that they expose the story and characters to a slightly wider audience to bump the DVD sales even higher.

    Given what we’ve seen from Whedon in the past, I’m guessing there is little intention to create a Serenity franchise anyway. Whedon will move on to his next idea soon enough. I mean, he’s done a TV show, a move, and some pretty good comic books.

    In the past this has meant he’s ready to move on to the next thing. When he starts doing Buffy or Angel retreads, it will be time to worry.

    ’nuff said.

  53. I’m one of those who heard about the series and decided to check out the movie. It was far better than I even imagined! I didn’t feel like I missed anything not having seen the show before. Looking back though it seems so strange to see River as a frail waif in Firefly vs. the killer waif in Serenity.

    As far as the disappointing box office, I think that the general public is turned off to sci fi in general. Case in point – I went to see the Imax 3-D “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon” recently and I was the only one in the theatre!

    P.S. I’m going to be one of those who sees Serenity again this weekend (10/8 – 10/9). Let’s all boost those numbers up!

  54. Okay, while I’m a pretty hardcore Firefly fan, this whole general tendency to call “time of death” on all sorts of productions drives me absolutely ape, esp. in that it tends to become a weird self-fulfilling prophesy.

    All these comparisons between the b.o. performance of past films to predict what a particular new film will do seems as relevant to me as the kind of baseball statistics that go like “no pitcher has ever thrown X number of strikeouts in an enclosed stadium in a month with an R in it.” People may think they see correllations, but I’m not sure they really exist, no matter how much time they’ve spent studying them.

    “Serenity” is not the same as “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” or “Pitch Black” or what have you. In some ways, it has more in common with a movie like “Rio Bravo” — how can you possibly predict it’s appeal with any confidence?

    Personally, I think it’s a terrific, very old-fashioned (human beings! dialogue!) movie that actually maybe works somewhat better for newbies than for fans who tend to overthink what they think newbies will make of it. (Don’t believe me, read the reviews, most of the quibbles are from fans or from people who are allergic to the genre and/or Whedon…It took me three viewings before I was relaxed enough to enjoy it — before that I felt like I had MADE the film, I was so worried about the audience reaction.)

    Of course, I have an even bigger argument with the current movie marketing model. It’s realy hostile to anything that’s even slightly off the beaten track. As far as I’m concerned, we’d all be better of if all movies “platformed.” This two-weeks and you’re dead business is for the freakin’ birds.

  55. W. Victor Garvey:

    “I think that the general public is turned off to sci fi in general.”

    Uh, not really. Three of the top five movies of 2005 are science fiction or have strong science fiction elements (Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds and Batman Begins), and aside from those, both Fantastic Four and Robots have made over $100 million. The general public likes science fiction just fine, as far as movies are concerned.

    Bobster:

    “All these comparisons between the b.o. performance of past films to predict what a particular new film will do seems as relevant to me as the kind of baseball statistics that go like ‘no pitcher has ever thrown X number of strikeouts in an enclosed stadium in a month with an R in it.’ People may think they see correllations, but I’m not sure they really exist, no matter how much time they’ve spent studying them.”

    It doesn’t strike you as relevant probably because you don’t spend a lot of time following film; I’ve spent a decade and a half following films in a professional sense, which is long enough to see that predictive models of film performance can be somewhat accurate. It is true enough that any individual film may confound expectations — it’s always nice when they do — but as a rule, they don’t.

    Moreover, certain types of movies tend to follow certain performance paths independent of the quality of the film itself; horror films, for example, tend to open big and have a big dropoff in the second weekend, because horror fans come out early; dramas meant for older audiences, on the other hand, tend to have longer “legs” than other types of films because their audience is less concerned with being the first person on the block to see the film.

    As I mentioned earlier in the film, science fiction films tend strongly to conform to a certain model of revenue production, whether they are blockbusters or modest perfomers. The observation is not meaningless because it’s a pattern seen over and over again, based on audience and exhibitor behavior.

    My own expectation is that Serenity will do between five and six million in business this weekend; although it might do more business because Whedon fans may drive more repeat business. But even then, the movie is still going to struggle to make its production cost in the domestic theatres.

  56. When the movie Bonnie and Clyde came out the box office numbers were dissapointing. Warren Beatty (who produced as well as acted in it) was ticked off so he personally promoted the flick and it ended up winning two Oscars and (according to the-numbers.com) taking in almost $51,000,000 total U.S. gross. Whatever the numbers are, the box office increased when the public became aware of it. I think the can likewise happen to Serenity’s take. I noticed the half page ad in the newspaper with “TWO THUMBS UP!” above all the glowing reviews. That’s a start. Along with great word of mouth and more repeat viewings (like moi) I think the final take go into the “black!”

  57. Well there is sci-fi precedent for a movie having a small opening and then making back its money fairly well after positive word of mouth, and coming out with the kind of numbers Serenity needs to generate a sequel,

    Galaxy Quest one of my favourite movies ever.

  58. W. Victor Garvey:

    Bonnie & Clyde was released in 1967, and film distribution then was almost entirely different from what it is today (the idea of releasing a film on 2000+ screens, as happened with Serenity, hadn’t even been thought of), so — with no dispute of your story or with the quality of that film — it’s not really a good example for current times.

    3³: Yup, Galaxy Quest had its grosses go up more than 30% in its second frame. For various reasons it seems unlikely to me that Serenity will do the same, but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

  59. The issue wasn’t a problem with the movie.
    No one was going out to the movies.
    It was NUMBER TWO at $10.1mil.
    Number one ws Flightplan at $14.8!?!?
    This just wasn’t a weekend for $40mil opennings.

  60. Sorry to the Whedonite purists out there, but a good “popcorn” movie, especially one as dark and violent as this one, needs to end on a high note and Serenity most defintely does not.

    I’m hardly a Whedonite, but…huh? They stop the evil bad guys, they fix up the ship, Simon and Kaylee get together, River is mostly sane, that’s not a “high note”?

  61. “..the movie is still going to struggle to make its production cost in the domestic theatres”

    Indeed.

    What major movie in the past decade has?. This is just an unrealistic expectation. In fact…most movies dont even make up the advertising & distribution costs in domestic box office.

    Serenity has not done as well as predicted….its running at about 75% of realistic estimates. But even so…it doesnt have to recoop the costs of a big advertising blitz or pay a percentage of profits to a big name movie star.

    As far as profit goes, Serenity is a safer bet than most…cause it just didnt cost that much and it has a pre-established fanbase. Add to this fanbase the 60% that cinema exit polls show are new to the franchise, and its looking good for the ancilliary market. It will be a quick to DVD release, using the exposure of being a screen film to enhance sales and DVD rentals.

    The future of the franchise is not close to being determined yet. We won’t really have any idea of this untill after the X-mass boom.

    I hope it does well. It is the first sci-fi movie that has kept me on the edge of my seat since Aliens.

  62. I’ve never seen firefly, only vaguely remember hearing about it a long time ago. I only saw Serenity because the theatrical trailer for it advertized that it was from the maker of Buffy and Angel, both shows I liked. The movie trailer wasn’t great and the tv trailers looked much worse. I had no clue that the movie was based on a tv show until after I saw it (so I’m sure that wasn’t what hurt it). Same with the three people I was with.

    All four of us liked the movie, and none of us are sci fi fans (though it started off a bit boring and there simply wasn’t enough time to get to really know the characters). Now, I’m planning to pick up the firefly dvd. And I think your best bet is that the movie raises enough interest in firefly and sell enough dvds that some tv producer decides to give it another shot.

    What would be really cool is if they first added scenes to the film to make it into four episodes, film the episodes that were originally scripted to be in the first season and thus make a full blown season one, and air that first, on a decent day of the week this time, and then follow up with a second season.

    Honestly though I think one thing that may have hurt serenity (in addition to the bad marketing that made it seem look very low budget) is the name, same thing with The Island. Both names sound very forgetabble, I remember thinking I wanted to watch the movie after the trailer but I didn’t even recognize the name of the movie until I bothered to read the summary.

  63. Wibbled to Death:

    “What major movie in the past decade has?”

    Revenge of the Sith, for one, not to mention the other Star Wars prequels. Both Spider-man films. All of the Pixar films, Titanic, of all films, would be another.

    However, I’m not saying films need to net their production costs from the domestic box office — given the strange financing of the film world, that would be a difficult thing to judge from film to film. I’m saying they need to gross their production costs in order to be seen as somewhat successful. A $40 million domestic box office gross for Serenity would not recoup the cost outlay for Universal, but it would keep it from looking like a flop.

    Overall, I don’t think there’s much doubt that Serenity will get into the black — it has a remarkably low production cost for an effect-heavy movie, and it’s likely to do very well in ancilliary markets, particularly DVD (as I noted in the primary article). But it would have been indisputably better had the film been a hit in the theaters — a $20 opening or better — because then among other thing the downstream ancilliary revenues would have been correspondingly plumped. These are things that will matter in determining the future, if any, of this franchise.

    “We won’t really have any idea of this untill after the X-mass boom.”

    What X-mas boom? Given the sheer number of high-profile films released in the November/December timeframe, it’s deeply unlikely Serenity will be in the theaters then. Unless Universal decides to release Serenity on DVD before Christmas (which seems unlikely, although I think it would be an interesting and bold move), there will be no X-mas boom, nor even an X-mas whimper.

  64. Incidentally, the second weekend estimates for Serenity are in: $4.925 million, which is just a smidgen below my $5-$6 million call on Friday, and just a shade over the 50% gross dropped I guessed on 10/4. It’s within statistical error for my estimation, so I feel comfortable saying that the standard rules for movie grosses are indeed at work here.

    The real question now is whether Serenity will make it to even the $30 million domestic gross mark. With a current cume of $17.6 million (including weekday showings) my guess is: possibly, but it won’t get much further if it does.

    However: Check out this rumor, which suggests a December 20 DVD release.

  65. I never saw Buffy or Angel but I did watch Firefly. Do you have to see Firefly to like and get Serenity? No. It helps, like any backstory does, to add richness to it all, but it’s not necessary. I’m not a Joss-head or a worshiper of all he does by a long shot, (didn’t even watch any Whedon stuff until Firefly) but he got it right with Serenity.

    At this point I’m hoping for another TV series. The movie was great, in my opinion. But then I love most all good-quality science fiction. This is more on the level of “Aliens” than of some crappy B-movie like that gene one coming up that will probably make a zillion bucks because it stars the Rock guy. Big whoop. The acting is very professional in Serenity, nothing cheesy. It’s very well done for the pitiful budget they had.
    Go see it! All you have to lose is a few bucks. You will not be bored, I can guarantee you that.

  66. Again with the inscrutability!

    If I had a dollar for every science fiction perpetrator who used Asian languages as a signpost of the future, BUT NOT ASIAN PEOPLE … well, I’d have a bunch of dollars….

  67. sorry you didn’t like the movie.

    i became a fan after seeing the movie, and went out to get the series on dvd. far from being difficult to get, unless you were a fan already, i found this to be a standout sci fi feature – one of the few recently to have strong characters and a good resounding set of story threads.

    my only qualm was the lack of asian faces, in a future where everyone speaks mandarin (??

    (i know nothing about movie economics so thanks for the education :)

  68. I haven’t seen the movie, so I neither like nor dislike it. I’m just speaking about the business end of it.

  69. “Having seen the movie, I doubt that a sequel is in the works regardless of how well the movie does. The doors to the stories have been closed.”

    Oh, I can think of a biggie:

    Now that Mal is one of the best known people in the ‘verse, having exposed a terrible and yet inevitable crime on the part of the Alliance, how exactly does he plan on being a low profile criminal?

  70. The comments include some bizarre concepts that I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around. Lumping Serenity in with the latest Lucas disappointment, the newest Batcrap, and the latest bad rewrite of War of the Worlds as “sci-fi” (cue rant about how much I hate that obnoxious term) is intellectually dishonest and (more to the point) irrelevant. Of the latter, one is the final installment of a multi-film franchise generally acknowledged to be going downhill; one is a comic-book adaptation; and one is based on a world-renowned book.
    What have the results for these to do with a film based on a short-lived TV series strangled in the cradle by its perfidious parent network?

    BTW: TypeKey wouldn’t let me in; said “The site you’re trying to comment on has not signed up for this feature. Please inform the site owner.”

  71. Orangemike writes:

    “What have the results for these to do with a film based on a short-lived TV series strangled in the cradle by its perfidious parent network?”

    Considering that the former three were massively financially successful and the latter not so much, I would say not as much as the movie studio would have hoped.

    Also, of course it’s not intellectually dishonest and irrelevant to call them all science fiction simply because you don’t like three out of four of them. You’re not actually confused about this, you’re just a snob. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind you, but it doesn’t change the general classification of each of these films.

  72. I’d just like to address a few comments that people have made regarding there being no good plot possibilities for a second movie.

    I really have to disagree with this. First of all, it’s common knowledge that the *full* cast has been tapped for *three* movies, if they ever get made. So Joss has some kind of plans in his head for how to continue, if he is allowed to.

    *** Spoiler warning ***

    Firstly it is my understanding that Joss has hinted that the next film might be a prequel to this one, or might at least involve a lot of flashbacks. If so, any missing characters can easily play a part in the film.

    Second of all, despite the death of a major character, I would like to point out that it has been already established that River can see ghosts under certain circumstances, and Joss is certainly familiar with writing about them from his Buffy days. If he chooses this route, this could go in any number of directions, from the heartwarming to the horrific, or both, but it seems to me to be a perfectly viable way to continue the storyline, and it seems to me that there is some circumstantial evidence that he may have deliberately set the film up so that this was possible.

    There are lots of other outstanding loose ends in the series that Joss clearly intended to explore in more depth, before the series was cut short. A couple that come to mind: What was Book’s past, that he refuses to talk about, and why did he leave it? What was Inara’s past, and why did she choose to leave the Companion academy and set out on her own amidst a ragtag group of petty criminals? And so forth.

    Personally, I loved the film, and I really want to see Joss get a chance to answer questions like these. Also, I have noticed a dedication among the fanbase of this show that I have never seen anywhere else, not even among Trekkies. These people are already in the process of mounting a massive grassroots campaign to get people to see the film, and many of them are going to rather extreme efforts to make it happen. For instance, whedonesque.com reports that one fan in Washington bought over 300 tickets with his own money and gave them out to total strangers who had showed up to the theater to see other films. Other fans have gone to similar extremes in their attempts to save the film from Universal’s misdirected marketing efforts. If enough of these sorts of efforts make it into the news, it could bring the film to a lot more people’s attention.

    The most common effort made, of course, is for fans to simply tell everyone they know to see the film. Loaning out DVD sets is one particularly effective (if slow) way of doing this. Given that the vast majority of people who actually see the film like it, these strategies might eventually be effective… if given enough time. Or, if not, on DVD sales afterwards.

    So I wouldn’t count the film as dead yet. There are many strange things going on here. This isn’t another “Titan AE”, because Titan AE didn’t have this kind of grassroots support (and, frankly, wasn’t anywhere near as good a film). For better or worse, Serenity is a new kind of beast.

    And, frankly, it’s an excellent film. Not perfect, by any means, but it’s a heck of a lot more engaging than the vast majority of other science fiction films out there within the past five years. I can’t think of one that I’ve enjoyed as much. It’s just a question of getting the word out to the people that might be interested.

  73. I get the sense that SERENITY was something of an experiment on the part of the studio – to see if a property with a fervent, vocal, organized, but not particularly large following could translate into a successful motion picture franchise. The numbers so far show that it cannot, which is bad news for anyone hoping their favorite cancelled TV show or semiobscure media property will make it to the big screen someday.

    It also shows the limits of what fan mobilization can do in terms of real-world numbers. Whedon fans took it on themselves to promote the movie, to pester their friends into going to see it, to talk it up and create the sort of word-of-mouth buzz that it would need, hold release parties, sign e-petitions, dress in costumes, and so on, and the total result of this outpouring of fan energy and activity was – $15M after two weekends.

    I think studios will be sticking to their tried-n-true big-star/media-saturation/focus-group/lowest-common-denominator method of making and promoting movies for quite a while to come.

  74. I don’t know much about the movie industry, and typically it disgusts me, to be quite honest.

    The last three movies I’ve seen in the theater are, Star Wars III, War of the Worlds, and Sum of all Fears. I have never seen a movie twice in the theater.

    Tomorrow I’m heading to see Serenity for the second time.

    I fell in love with the show by chance. I happened to see the first aired episode and loved the idea. As I watched the rest of the episodes, what I really fell in love with was the characters and their interactions.

    There are some shows, or movies, where you can just tell that the cast is a close-knit group of friends. This is one of them. Their personal relationships come across on the screen. I genuinely get the feeling that I’m watching a family on screen.

    I was a bit sad to see the story wrapped up so well in the movie. It also seemed a bit forced. The story would have been beset told in a tv series over 5 years. I know that there is talk of more movies if this one does well but I’m having a hard time seeing where he could go (despite previous comments). But I’m not the creative type. I can only hope I’ll get the opportunity to see where they can go from here.

    I’ll be buying the Firefly DVD set (something else I’ve never done).

    And I’ll be buying the Serenity DVD as soon as it comes out (something I rarely ever do).

  75. Spoiler Alert! ——- !
    Hi everyone.

    I will give my considered take on what Serenity represents and if you are interested in more of what I have to say, I will be posting as cmmahon-1 on imdb.

    There are certain SF movies which form IMHO a canon. These movies are movies which CHANGE for good or for ill how we view movies.

    Believe it or not, Serenity is part of that Canon.

    Quite simply if you can decipher the text, Serenity is a Postmodernist SF masterpiece.

    So, if you are like many people in the SF world who hate Serenity, essentially it is because you do not get the existentialist ANGST, and you will be correct that the movie is CLOSED SHOP.

    Whedon, essentially is a game player. He say that he wants to create a REALIST SF enviroment, all the while understanding that SF realism is an Oxymoron.

    This movie DELIBERATELY rips off every SF movie that has ever existed and ever WILL exist! But the reason is NOT TO TELL A STORY, but to pull the knowing audience into another REALITY which at all times is patently UNREAL.

    I will just give just one snippet of what I mean.
    When the crew get to Miranda (Shakespeare anyone?)
    Whedon changes the entire atmosphere into if it was a StarTrek episode! The point of this bunch of Outlaws acting like StarTrek is to show the weaknesses of Rationalism. Now the plot spoiler that the reavers are the end product of an Alliance experiment is DELIBERATELY simplistic to get the audience to see what he is getting at in a direct manner. Then what is absolutely brilliant is that when the crew discover the secret of Miranda, River suddenly announces that “I’m cured”. What is brilliant about this is that one is forced to ask this existential question – what would it mean for River to be cured? This point is quite subtle. Remember that the Alliance was trying to ‘cure’ humanity of its violent tendencies! Spot the existential Mobius Strip anyone?

    If you think (like me) that this is cool, then you will realise what a Genius Mr Whedon is, for I have not seen anyone pull off what Mr Whedon has done with Postmodernist ideas! He completely blows Matrix Reloaded off the map! In fact he is miles better that Derrida / Paul Man / Sartre!

    Now onto the Box Office. This movie like all other Canonical SF movies WILL BUCK THE TREND. For the dirty secret of this movie is that there is at least 500,000 fans who will see this movie at least 3 or 4 times! This means that Serenity will survive at the box office until say 2nd week of November. Also, this Postmodernist Angst goes down much better in Europe / Asia than in America.

    I predict that Serenity will gross America $30 million dollars Europe $40 million dollars Asia $10 million dollars (lack of Buffy power). The ONLY REASON it does not do any better is that Universal are rubbish at promotional work!

    Unfortuanely this makes Serenity a flop by SF standards, but easily enough for a sequel.

    Will a sequel be made? No, because Mr Whedon does not want to make one. If you have any doubts about that, explain why Mr Whedon would kill off Wash? Remember, the postmodernist game being played here! Also remember what the Operative says at the end!

    Watch your Six!

  76. PostModernist writes:

    “There are certain SF movies which form IMHO a canon. These movies are movies which CHANGE for good or for ill how we view movies.

    Believe it or not, Serenity is part of that Canon.”

    Interestingly, I just wrote a book on science fiction film in which I list 50 films that are in the “Canon” of SF films. I regret to inform you Serenity is not in it.

    However, before anyone complains too loudly, I’ll note that my book was due at the printers in July. Maybe it’ll make the second edition.

  77. Thanks Mr Scalzi regarding your book on the canon of SciFi movies!

    I will look out for it!

    Watch your six!

  78. Hey… Just a quick note from the land of Oz. To counterpoint a few comments above…I dragged along 2 friends (who had not seen Firefly) to see this, and they LOVED it…RAVED about it actually.

    And as we are the land down under, there is a small undercurrent of shispers about the film. I did go and see the theater filled up.

    Interestingly, I think the cheeky, irreverent humor suits the Aussies nicely.

    I am not an educated film-y dude, or even pretend to be, but my $.02 would suggest that Universal spend more than $.02 in marketing for the darn film…sigh.

    Regardless, my optimistic side suggests to go further w/ this story…be it TV, movie, or DVD…of course w/ the bottom $$ in mind, as needed. However the evil, pessimistic side sincerely suggests that may never be so. Sighhhhhh

  79. I’m from Oz aswell. I loved Serenity, as did the 5 people I took with me, who were unfamiliar with Firefly/Buffy or Angel. It’s no.1 in the UK right now, and money is money for Universal, I’m still optimistic that there could be more stories in some form.

  80. Another Australian here. I went and saw this and dragged along six other people. Every one of them loved this movie!

    Of the seven of us I was the only one who had ever seen an episode of Firefly. Most of them go “Who?” when they hear “Joss Whedon”. The age demographic ranged from early twenties to late fifties. There were four women (including myself) and three men. I simply cannot understand people who say this film is inaccessible for non-Firefly-fans! Insanity. Simply insanity.

    I do have to wonder however at the so-called promotion for this film. Much is being made online of the big push Universal made for this film. By the time I saw it at the cinema I had still not managed to catch a single preview for it on TV or in cinema trailers. What promotion?! I’m surprised anyone here heard of this film before it hit the cinemas. IHMO Universal dropped the ball majorly when it came to promoting this film.

  81. Alas, “Serenity” isn’t bucking the trend, It’s falling over 50% week to week, and has only just topped $20 million, half its reported production cost, in its third weekend. It’s not going to recoup its production cost in domestic box office (especially given that as weeks go on, Universal gets less and less of the actual take … the theatres keep more and more of it).

    I think the door is closed on this one. This makes me very sad, but I have to be a realist about it.

    I think the promotion was horrible… MOST of my friends never even heard of it, or responded “…is that out already?” when I mention it to them. Most of them also feel like they don’t want to see it until they have seen the entire series… and they’re dallying on that, and planning on seeing the movie on DVD. At which point, of course, it’s really too late.

    It frustrates me to no end that all these people who bemoan the lack of GOOD sci-fi in theatres, refused to go see this movie. Meanwhile, crap like the upcomming “DOOM” is going to do many times better than a quality film like “Serenity”. Ugh.

    Given that FireFly cost about $2 million an episode, we could have gotten a good 20 episode season of direct-to-DVD FireFly if they had gone that route instead of a “Major motion picture”. And I’m certain the plot that played out in the movie would have been MUCH better if it had been a story arc that was drawn out over an entire season. I think it would have been much more rich and powerful, with a resonating depth.

    Oh well.

    Last one out, please turn out the lights. The store’s closed.

  82. I had never heard of the Firefly series and saw very little promotion for this film. The first time i had heard of the film was on Ebert and Roper, and thought it may be something I would enjoy.

    When the weekend came and my GF’s son asked me if I would take him, it sounded like a good idea.

    I loved the film. Being a Star Wars Fan from the 70’s, i was very dissappointed with the prequals. Serenity, was clearly the type of sci-fi i can enjoy now and i recently purchased the Firefly DVD and am enjoying them very much. Once I’m finish with the DVD’s(today) I look forward to seeing Serenity again, catch those little things i missed.

    Unfortunately, it looks like this film will be the last of this great series.

  83. My non-scifi-fan wife loved it. Unless I had dragged her there, she would never have seen it on her own. I think there is a chance for a sequel if it can hang around long enough for word of mouth and a few quiet weekends to build up the crowds.

    As for sequels, I’m an older guy (45) so I remember being dejected when leaving Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and thinking “Oh well, there goes any hope of a sequel”. If an expensive overblown self-absorbed movie like that based on an unpopular (at the time) short-lived TV series can spawn sequels, I’d be foolish to bet against a well-made, inexpensive movie based on a popular short lived TV series.

  84. The tally came in for the more hyped-up DOOM and the weekend take for this number one box office draw was only 15 million. A lot of other movies with big stars like “Two for the Money” have also tanked. Put this into perspective when you’re trying to analyze Serenity’s box office.

  85. “A lot of other movies with big stars like ‘Two for the Money’ have also tanked. Put this into perspective when you’re trying to analyze Serenity’s box office.”

    Huh? What does a contemporary drama about sports betting with big stars have to do with a science fiction adventure film based on a TV series with no big stars? As movies they have entire different demographics and marketing schemes and requirements. For that matter, the demographics for “Doom” and “Two for the Money” are drastically different as well. The only thing the movies have entirely in common is the studio which released them.

    Let’s also note that recent movies with big stars have also done well, notably “Flightplan,” as have films with no big stars (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”). The overall box office is down from last year, but individual films have been able to thrive, based on the interest of the audience in seeing them.

    Given all your posts here, W., you seem to want to find some way to finesse the fact that Serenity did rather poorly at the box office. But it’s not going to happen. As a theatrical release, it’s a flop, plain and simple, and trying to excuse its poor performance with specious mitigating factors isn’t going to work.

  86. I get science fiction. On television. On movies. And particularly in its printed form. I get it. I like it. I need it. There are really not all that many people who di.

    I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved some of Angel. I thought Joss Whedon was pretty great. Until I saw Firefly. And seeing Serenity hammed the last nail into the coffin. Can you say “One Hit Wonder”? I knew that you could. People see a TV show they like, and there’s this guy standing in front, doing all the interviews, and talking a really good game, and they start raving “Wow, this guy’s a genius!” There are no geniuses in television. There’s a lot of talent there, but no genius. At all.

    Btw, you know who loved this movie the MOST? Rightwing nutjobs. The American Spectator loved it (see link). William Kristol’s The Weekly Standard devoted not one but TWO rave articles to it, by two different writers. The National Review likewise strongly approved. Orson Scott Card, revealed in recent years to be a real wingnut, who thinks gays should be fired from certain types of jobs (and if only that was the worst of it) called Serenity “The Greatest Science Fiction Movie Ever Made.” I kid you not. Of course, he also loved Hilary Duff’s “Cinderella Story”. You don’t believe me, check out his website.

    In fact, the basic theme of the show is inherently reactionary. It’s anti-government in the extreme, and fits very neatly into the agendas of modern conservatism. Even the line “I don’t care what you believe in, so long as you believe” (forgive me if I misquote)–what a load of rubbish! ANY belief is better than no belief? In this age of irrational fanaticism overcoming enlightened reason, is this really the message we need to hear? Whedon’s only real political platform is clearly “What’s good for Joss Whedon is good for America.” But for all his supposed support of gay rights, the things in Buffy the Vampire Slayer that might have offended some conservatives are absent from Firefly. I note there are no gay characters at all in Firefly/Serenity, and that Whedon’s tolerance seems to be limited to attractive wiccan lesbians, not gays in general. And no, having the spacehooker sleep with women when she’s paid to do so does NOT count as a blow for tolerance. Just wanted to anticipate that little riposte.

    Oh, and one might mention that of the three black characters in the movie, one is marginalized, one is killed off, and one is the bad guy. Who’s the good guy? The white man with the vaguely southern accent, who fought for a cause patterned after the American Confederacy, played by an actor descended from a Confederate General. But unfortunately, much as rightwing blogger-types loved it, the Red Staters in general were as bored and confused as the Blue Staters. So we are unified in this, anyway.

    Serenity is not a sadly neglected work of genius. It’s a sad cry for help from a TV producer who somehow didn’t understand that even ‘geniuses’ get their shows canceled sometime–he had his first show last seven years, and his second last five, and he just didn’t think the rules applied to him. Joss Whedon didn’t accept the verdict of the public, which was that Firefly just wasn’t worthy of their interest. He decided to appeal to a higher court. The verdict was ultimately upheld. And he’s still letting his fans think there’s a chance of another movie, so that they’ll all run out and buy a hundred copies of the DVD apiece, and then give them to all their unfortunate friends and relatives for Christmas.

    It’s a BAD MOVIE–badly written, badly acted, and HORRIBLY directed. If you want to see great movies, there’s literally thousands of better films out there waiting for you on DVD, ranging from classic Hollywood, to a host of foreign masterpieces, and if it’s genre you want, there’s no end of better movies. Even Revenge of the Sith is better, and I had enormous problems with that, but Lucas actually knows how to make a movie. Whedon only knows how to cater to his own vanity. This was his way of saying “I was not wrong!”.

    But he was, and now he’s just proved it all over again.

  87. Addendum–I misunderstood what the URL space was for.

    Here’s the links to those magazines I mentioned

    http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8844

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/757fhfxg.asp?pg=1

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/139qmnhw.asp

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/preston200510050823.asp

    If you ARE a conservative, these links won’t bother you in the slightest.

    If you’re not, it may come as a shock to know that the more secular rightwingers have been worshipping Whedon for years. And he doesn’t mind one tiny bit. He supported Kerry, sure. In his social circles, that wasn’t exactly the height of courage, now was it?

  88. Hi! Now, it appears that my predictions are way off base. There will be no excuses from me! I will stick my neck out with this prediction:
    DVD sales of Serenity should eventually be 1 million DVD’s. If it sells more then maybe the show is back on the road in 3 years time?

    However, I am worried about John Scalzi viewpoint about Serenity. Why the politics? Is it really as Rightwing as you say? First, there are 3 BLACK characters in the movie. There is a Mixed Race relationship in the movie. A FEMALE Engineer! This is stereotypically Rightwing fare right?
    At best it is ambivalent about its politics! Just as a good Postmodernist should be!

    And that is what I am trying to explain about the movie! That to understand it you have to get the Postmodernist angst! If you do not like this style of story telling then by all means give it say a 6 /10 but the say that:

    “It’s a BAD MOVIE–badly written, badly acted, and HORRIBLY directed”

    Is just not true! Especially compared to Revenge of the Sith!

    In time, Serenity will gain its place as a SF classic! Maybe it will not gain mainstream critical acceptance like Donnie Darko, but in SF cinema classes, Serenity will definitely be taught!

    Watch your six!

  89. PostModerist:

    “I am worried about John Scalzi viewpoint about Serenity… Why the politics? Is it really as Rightwing as you say?”

    I don’t recall saying at any point that it is right wing — you may have attributed comments from someone else to me.

    I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Serenity does very well on DVD — it seems to be the most successful medium for this particular universe.

  90. 1)Somebody has not been paying attention–John Scalzi didn’t say Serenity was rightwing–it was MY posts that related the simple undeniable fact that the movie has been warmly received by conservative magazines and bloggers Conservative bloggers were actively courted by a paid PR firm, as part of the movie’s promotional campaign. See below.

    http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/002336.html

    2)It’s a matter of subjective opinion whether the movie is conservative in its politics or not. Those who don’t wish to believe it are free not to do so, but none of the defenses against this charge cited by “PostModernist” are the least bit convincing. I never said the movie was racist, I simply said that the few characters who aren’t white are marginalized, killed off, or villianous. A mixed-race marriage proves nothing, because not all conservatives are opposed to such marriages–and not all conservatives are white. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a black man married to a white woman, for example. He’s consistently been one of the most conservative members of the court. And do I really have to bring Condi up? The movie is conservative in its view of government, but it’s hardly progressive in its treatment of race. As has been pointed out elsewhere, there are no Asian characters at all, even though this star system is reportedly dominated by people of Chinese descent and language. It’s a white man’s film, made for white people, and primarily featuring white people. It’s hardly daring to have a few black characters in a 2005 movie. In case you haven’t noticed, some of the biggest movie stars we have today are black, and interracial relationships are an accepted fact of life, and frequently seen on television. The white pseudo-southern-confederate guy who hates big government is the hero. Explain to me why this is progressive. And a female engineer who talks (and acts)like Ado Annie from “Oklahoma” is hardly a great blow for liberation either–particularly since we saw female engineers on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and the Chief Engineer in “Star Trek: Voyager” was a woman, and so was the CAPTAIN, in case you’ve forgotten. I didn’t like that show, but it was vastly preferable to Firefly.

    3)The quality of the movie is also subjective (I would have thought somebody who goes by the name “PostModernist” would be familiar with the concept of subjectivity), but saying “It’s just not true!” doesn’t really count as a serious response. I say it IS true–and I get the distinct impression that you don’t know very much about movies, and that your filmgoing experiences have been fairly limited. Many people know vastly more about movies than me, but I sincerely doubt you are one of them. We’ll have to agree to disagree. Again, somebody named “PostModernist” should be cool with that. ;)

  91. So it looks like after its fifth weekend concludes, Serenity’s domestic gross will still not have reached 25 million.

    Which means 30 million domestic is utterly out of its reach.

    How can it possibly be denied that word of mouth for this movie has been awful?

  92. Re: “Given all your posts here, W., you seem to want to find some way to finesse the fact that Serenity did rather poorly at the box office. But it’s not going to happen. As a theatrical release, it’s a flop, plain and simple, and trying to excuse its poor performance with specious mitigating factors isn’t going to work.”

    Posted by: John Scalzi at October 25, 2005 10:09 AM

    Yes, you’re right – there’s no way to justify it – Serenity is a flop!

  93. I think the bulk of the arguments on this board are absolutely absurd. First of, I’d like to say that I despise science fiction as a genre, and find it for the most part cheesy and ridicolous. I hate Star Wars; the only thing more intolerable than that George Lucas crap is the stupidity of Star Trek. To me, that brand of science fiction is for drippy, odd-looking nerds who have more action figures than they do friends. Firefly/Serenity was different, in my. I was introduced to the series by a friend who adores Joss Whedon/sci-fi, two things I didn’t really care for, and only watched it after some severe nudging on her part. I surprisingly loved it, finding it deftly written and the characters round, diverse and rather grounded for a genre usually more focused on its odd aliens and robots than its flatly written characters.

    That is why it irks me to see someone insult Serenity or Firefly, or to call it badly written. Jesus Christ, for sci-fi, Serenity was freaking Shakespeare compared to the crap that comprises the bulk of the genre! I mean, I’m certainly not comparing it to Citizen Kane or anything like that, but it was undoubtedly one of the best damn science fiction movies ever.

    Also, for anyone to claim or imply that Serenity is rightwing is absolutely proposterous and is certainly reaching to come to that conclusion. On the utmost surface, Serenity preaches a dislike for big government, something that the good old Southern boys usually stand by (God bless the USA). Perhaps I wouldn’t label Serenity as “progressive” in terms of race, but I wouldn’t call it counter progressive either. It simply isn’t true that any character who wasn’t white was killed off; if that were the case Zoe would be dead instead of white-as-you can-get-Wash. And I wouldn’t call Zoe marginalized; I think if the character could hear you imply that about her she’d sock you in the face. As a person of color, I get so sick and tired of people telling “us” how oppressed “we” are. It’s more insulting than Serenity could ever be.

    I do think Firefly is progressive in terms of science fiction. Part of the reason why I liked it is because it had none of the flash of Star Trek, whose Enterprise would probably cruise right over Serenity if they ever came to exist in the same imagined realm. The characters in Firefly were certainly more realistic than the ones from Star Trek, all of whom wore sparkling neat suits on a sparkly neat ship and seemed to fit rather tidily into Keirsey temperament categories and display none of the variation one human can possess. I liked how the people from Firefly were poor, and how most planets and moons did not possess the technology that the Alliance planets (in the minority) did, because it’s rather close to how it is in real life.

    I don’t deny that Serenity did poorly at the box office. I expected it would, because for the most part people who are attracted to science fiction are expecting an element (light saber fights, robots running around screaming “danger, danger”) that Serenity was bold enough to steer clear of. Serenity was not as good as the series, but hey, it was something. If you’re not satisfied, perhaps you should go glue vulcan ears to your head and hang out with other overweight, forty year old losers, because obviously you’re not looking for something new or of high quality. Firefly/Serenity dared to be different, but I guess some people like the same old crap the sci-fi channel spews out 24-7.

  94. “Who’s the good guy? The white man with the vaguely southern accent, who fought for a cause patterned after the American Confederacy, played by an actor descended from a Confederate General.”

    To continue what I was saying, this comment bothered me immensely. It is a rather stark generalization, and I find little parallels between the Browncoats and the Southern Aristocracy, except for the fact that they both sought independence, lost and were forced to reunify. The reasons behind their independence movement are completely different, and I doubt you could find specific examples to compare the Browncoats Indepedent movement with the Confederacy’s. I could sight a million examples of people who have fought to free themselves from what they deemed to be an oppressive ruler, and I bet well over 3/4 will have more in common with the Browncoats than the Southerners did.

    I did not know that Nathan Fillion was descended from a Confederate General, and I doubt 99.9% of others out there do either. I do not think that is relevant at all to your argument, as that does not support the claim that Serenity is rightwing. Do you mean to say that if an actor is descended from a Nazi, but in no shape or form today supports any of the beliefs that initially formed the Nazi party, that such a history can affect a role he plays or a film he plays in that has absolutely nothing to do with Nazism to begin with? That seems a little more than ludicrous.

    So is the argument that because Firefly did not have gay characters, it must be rightwing. Oh, christ almighty. I suppose because I have no friends who had abortions, I must strictly support pro-life. That, of course, is ridicolous, and so is the assertion that anything without gay characters is conservative.

    Also as an aside to the poster with whom I am arguing with, I doubt you have a handle on what a “good” movie is, as you appear to like Star Wars, a consumer driven, piece of pop trash fueled by fans who would get up and cheer at three hours of Yoda dancing the macarena and then see it eight more times. Serenity was not the best movie ever, far from it, but I cannot stand when someone rather immaturely labels a movie as conservative propaganda simply because they did not care for it. You have a right to not like something, but please, don’t place it on the same level as “The Birth of a Nation”.

  95. “First of, I’d like to say that I despise science fiction as a genre, and find it for the most part cheesy and ridicolous.”

    That’s because you don’t know what science fiction is. Star Wars is not science fiction, it’s just fantasy with science fiction trappings–just as Serenity is a western with science fiction trappings. Star Wars was top-rate fantasy, at least as far as the first two films are concerned–they’re among the finest fantasy films ever made. Serenity hardly qualifies as one of the finest westerns ever made. Whedon doesn’t understand science fiction or westerns. He was out of his depth.

    “I hate Star Wars; the only thing more intolerable than that George Lucas crap is the stupidity of Star Trek.”

    You know, it’s that attitude, as much as anything else, that had Star Wars and Star Trek fans staying away from this movie. Obviously neither qualifies as the highest possible cinematic achievement, but they’ve endured the test of time, and entertained countless millions of people, as well as conveying some messages worth hearing. I’m still trying to figure out Serenity’s message–I think it’s mainly “JOSS WHEDON IS NEVER WRONG!!!”

    ” To me, that brand of science fiction is for drippy, odd-looking nerds who have more action figures than they do friends.”

    That description fits the Firefly/Serenity fans I’ve seen a lot better, frankly. You might want to check out the article linked below, where a reviewer who liked Serenity (but apparently not enough) talks about how Serenity fans are basically the most fanatical nerds in genreland.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/logout?blogid=3&entry_id=1077

    “Firefly/Serenity was different, in my. I was introduced to the series by a friend who adores Joss Whedon/sci-fi, two things I didn’t really care for, and only watched it after some severe nudging on her part. I surprisingly loved it, finding it deftly written and the characters round, diverse and rather grounded for a genre usually more focused on its odd aliens and robots than its flatly written characters. ”

    Well, we don’t agree. I found the Serenity characters to be basically a collection of poorly rendered western stereotypes, enacted by charisma-deficient actors. But again, you’re assuming science fiction means Star Wars and Star Trek, and boy are you missing out.

    “That is why it irks me to see someone insult Serenity or Firefly, or to call it badly written.”

    Well, it irks me when somebody calls the work of Gene Coon and Dorothy Fontana “badly written”, but it’s still your right to think so. I think the fact that people are still watching and enjoying their Star Trek episodes, 40 years after they were written, tends to argue against that opinion, but again–subjectivity rules.

    “Jesus Christ, for sci-fi, Serenity was freaking Shakespeare compared to the crap that comprises the bulk of the genre!”

    Btw, does it bother you at all that one character in this distant star system, 500 years in the future, references Revlon Cosmetics, but nobody mentions Shakespeare?

    “I mean, I’m certainly not comparing it to Citizen Kane or anything like that, but it was undoubtedly one of the best damn science fiction movies ever.”

    I’d be interested in seeing your top ten list. Well, luridly curious would probably describe it better. (g)

    “Also, for anyone to claim or imply that Serenity is rightwing is absolutely proposterous and is certainly reaching to come to that conclusion.”

    Well, that may be so, but if you checked out the links I posted, you’ll see that the top American rightwing magazines all thought that it was a stirring endorsement of their political beliefs, as well as a cracking good piece of entertainment. I’d have posted reviews from Mother Jones, The Nation, The Progressive, The New Yorker, In These Times, Rolling Stone, etc–except there weren’t any reviews of Serenity in those publications.

    It is a simple undeniable fact that rightwing bloggers were courted by a paid PR firm working for Universal, to gain their support for this movie. They were given free tickets to advance screenings, and all kinds of other perks. And so were progressive bloggers, to be sure. And btw, I wasn’t saying EVERYTHING about the movie was rightwing, merely that a section of the rightwing really loved the movie, and had good reason to do so.

    “On the utmost surface, Serenity preaches a dislike for big government, something that the good old Southern boys usually stand by (God bless the USA).”

    Feel free to start pointing out where I was wrong, anytime you’re ready. (g)

    “Perhaps I wouldn’t label Serenity as “progressive” in terms of race, but I wouldn’t call it counter progressive either.”

    Again, I never said the movie was actively racist. It just assumes that White People are the center of the universe. Literally. Even in a universe ruled by Chinese People.

    “It simply isn’t true that any character who wasn’t white was killed off”

    It simply isn’t true that I said that was true. But since there are only three black characters in the movie, killing one is a pretty big deal–and a pretty old cliche. You know–the black guy always gets it first?

    “if that were the case Zoe would be dead instead of white-as-you can-get-Wash.”

    Zoe might as well have been dead, for all her relevance to the story. But again, there are three black characters–one is killed off, one is simply not important to the story in any way, and one is the bad guy.

    “And I wouldn’t call Zoe marginalized; I think if the character could hear you imply that about her she’d sock you in the face.”

    Oooh! I’m so scared the badly written fictional black woman from the future will come and kick my ass!

    In my opinion, however, if Zoe suddenly popped into flesh and blood existence here on our mortal plane, the person she’d want to punch in the face would be Joss Whedon, for making her such an insubstantial and irrelevant presence in the series and the movie. There have been many far more compelling and central black characters in the history of genre film and TV. Gina Torres has been kicking ass throughout much of her acting career. Why give Joss Whedon credit for casting her as the general type of tough-talking ass-kicking character she’s played in the past–and then mainly ignoring her?

    “As a person of color, I get so sick and tired of people telling “us” how oppressed “we” are. It’s more insulting than Serenity could ever be.”

    Well, I wasn’t aware I was in the presence of somebody empowered to speak for all “persons of color”. So I guess that completely invalidates the comments from that Asian blogger linked near the top of this thread (which I strongly suspect you didn’t even bother to read) who felt the movie basically used Asians as a gimmicky plot device, and had no understanding of Asian culture, even though the world of Serenity is supposedly dominated by Asians? I guess being a person of color, you get to tell other persons of color what to think? Is that how it works?

    “I do think Firefly is progressive in terms of science fiction.”

    And you say this from the perspective of somebody who hates science fiction, and obviously knows very little about it. Hmm. Convincing.

    It was very progressive to cast a black woman as a crew member of the Enterprise, back in the 1960’s, when black characters on any TV show were rare, however marginal her character usually was. It was progressive to have the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise be a black man, back in the 1980’s. It was somewhat progressive to have the Chief Engineer of the Starship Voyager be a half-latino/half-Klingon woman (whose captain was also a woman), back in the 90’s. And I still think Voyager sucked, but that’s a whole different argument. (g)

    It is not progressive to have one black crew member in a movie released in 2005, who basically has almost no dialogue, and no compelling reason to be in the story at all, other than that she was in the TV series the movie is based upon. There have been many many science fiction movies with black characters far more central to the story, and far more interesting than Zoe. If you don’t agree–well, I can’t say as I much care, since you obviously haven’t seen very many science fiction movies. You probably didn’t like Revenge of the Sith very much–frankly, neither did I. But I note in passing that the head of the Jedi Order, and the most powerful Jedi alive is played by Samuel L. Jackson. And The Matrix movies, for all the flaws in the last two parts of that trilogy, put a LOT of black people in center stage, to the point where you could go through whole scenes without SEEING any white people.

    But in a universe supposedly ruled by Chinese people, nearly everyone we see in Serenity is white. It’s not racist, I suppose. It’s not particularly anti-racist either, now is it?

    “Part of the reason why I liked it is because it had none of the flash of Star Trek, whose Enterprise would probably cruise right over Serenity if they ever came to exist in the same imagined realm.”

    You sure like imagining what fictional characters would do in highly unlikely situations. You don’t by any chance write any fanfic, now do you? (g)

    “The characters in Firefly were certainly more realistic than the ones from Star Trek, all of whom wore sparkling neat suits on a sparkly neat ship and seemed to fit rather tidily into Keirsey temperament categories and display none of the variation one human can possess.”

    The characters in Serenity were a collection of badly drawn stereotypes drawn from a battery of poorly digested influences. They didn’t strike me as real people at all, or as interesting fictional people. So I disagree with your assessment. And judging by the box office, most people disagree with your assessment.

    “I liked how the people from Firefly were poor, and how most planets and moons did not possess the technology that the Alliance planets (in the minority) did, because it’s rather close to how it is in real life. ”

    I didn’t like how that idea was never consistently developed, since they somehow always had the technology they needed when they needed it. And I thought it was kind of odd that the planets on the outer fringes of this supposed “Mega-System” were all hot and dry, and the planets closer to the sun were lush and temperate. It was almost like Whedon wasn’t thinking about what life in such a system would really be like, but was just looking for a way to justify having a lot of different worlds for his characters to visit, which would roughly correspond to various western movie stereotypes, but which wouldn’t require faster than light travel.

    “I don’t deny that Serenity did poorly at the box office.”

    Ah. So you do acknowledge the validity of basic mathmatics? (g)

    “I expected it would, because for the most part people who are attracted to science fiction are expecting an element (light saber fights, robots running around screaming “danger, danger”) that Serenity was bold enough to steer clear of.”

    What movie were you watching? Serenity used every cliche in the book, other than aliens and robots (actually there was a robot–a sex toy robot–ewww). I mean, this is a movie involving CANNIBAL ZOMBIES.

    And anyway, who says only science fiction fans go to movies like this? Look at the box office for Return of the Jedi–you telling me there are THAT many fangeeks out there?

    “Serenity was not as good as the series,”

    Speaking as somebody who digs all kinds of TV shows, and whose favorite show right now is “Deadwood”, I found it very hard to watch Firefly for more than five minutes. I thought it was just a flat, badly conceived, poorly written, badly acted failure of a show. And again, I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer before most Joss Whedon fanatics had even heard of the show.

    “but hey, it was something. If you’re not satisfied, perhaps you should go glue vulcan ears to your head and hang out with other overweight, forty year old losers, because obviously you’re not looking for something new or of high quality.”

    I’ve actually never been to a Star Trek convention in my life, nor do I dress up as characters from my favorite shows/films. I have respect for the more intelligent elements within genre fandom, but I appreciate Star Trek and other genre shows for their intelligence, originality and wit, none of which I found in Firefly/Serenity.

    However, you really ought to know that you just insulted the hell out of Joss Whedon, a major major fanboy, who embodies every single stereotype you just mentioned, except maybe the Spock ears–I think he was more of a Kirk fan. The hubris would have appealed to him. (g)

    “Firefly/Serenity dared to be different, but I guess some people like the same old crap the sci-fi channel spews out 24-7.”

    Gee, with rational well-mannered supporters like you, it’s hard to see why Firefly/Serenity isn’t more popular among genre fans in general. :-|

    “To continue what I was saying, this comment bothered me immensely. It is a rather stark generalization, and I find little parallels between the Browncoats and the Southern Aristocracy, except for the fact that they both sought independence, lost and were forced to reunify.”

    That’s as may be, but Whedon specifically said the Browncoats were inspired by the American Confederacy.

    “The reasons behind their independence movement are completely different,”

    But see, here’s what you don’t get. The reasons behind their independence movement are basically the same as what the rightwing revisionist historians of the Civil War say the reasons for the Confederate rebellion were. You’ve got to understand that there’s a lot of people out there saying “It wasn’t about slavery, that was going to wither away over time–it was about the developed industrial North crushing the undeveloped agrarian South, whose people had a different more independent type of culture.” That’s what makes Serenity so attractive to some rightwing people. It basically rewrites history–these Rebs didn’t have slaves. That we know about. Hell, there’s hardly even any black people at all. And the villians are basically descendents of Communist China.

    “and I doubt you could find specific examples to compare the Browncoats Indepedent [sic] movement with the Confederacy’s.”

    Again, it’s not about real history, but how history is repackaged for political purposes. Again, you just don’t want to acknowledge how much many dyed in the wool conservatives liked this movie–and why they liked it.

    “I could sight [sic] a million examples of people who have fought to free themselves from what they deemed to be an oppressive ruler, and I bet well over 3/4 will have more in common with the Browncoats than the Southerners did.”

    Well, most Confederates saw themselves as fighting to free themselves from an oppressive ruler. And hey, wasn’t that what the rightwing kept saying we were doing in Iraq? Helping Iraqis free themselves from an oppressive ruler?

    “I did not know that Nathan Fillion was descended from a Confederate General, and I doubt 99.9% of others out there do either.”

    I highly doubt 99.9% of others out there could pick Nathan Fillion out of a police lineup. (g)

    “I do not think that is relevant at all to your argument, as that does not support the claim that Serenity is rightwing.”

    I never said it did–merely pointing out why people who ARE conservative might find it one more reason to like the show and the movie.

    “Do you mean to say that if an actor is descended from a Nazi, but in no shape or form today supports any of the beliefs that initially formed the Nazi party, that such a history can affect a role he plays or a film he plays in that has absolutely nothing to do with Nazism to begin with? That seems a little more than ludicrous.”

    Well, ludicrous is what conservatives do best these days–if only some so-called progressives weren’t every bit as blinkered and ignorant, we’d have a much better chance of demonstrating that, I think.

    “So is the argument that because Firefly did not have gay characters, it must be rightwing.”

    No, the argument is that Firefly/Serenity is an easier show for conservatives to tout as ‘their’ genre franchise, because it avoids having any gay characters, and is heavily centered on white people who seem to share a lot of their core beliefs about government.

    Would you like me to repeat that argument again, using smaller words?

    ” Oh, christ almighty. I suppose because I have no friends who had abortions, I must strictly support pro-life.”

    I suppose you will run out of the raw materialsa to make all those strawman arguments with eventually, but you do seem to have put in quite a large supply.

    “That, of course, is ridicolous, and so is the assertion that anything without gay characters is conservative.”

    Agreed, and I never made that argument. Anyway, a lot of conservatives liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer too–but understand something. A lot of Whedon fans say “Whedon is progressive because he has gay characters in his shows.” Well, leaving aside that he’s only ever had three gay characters, all of them attractive lesbians designed to appeal to straight male fantasies, that argument is toast now, isn’t it? Thanks. (g)

    “Also as an aside to the poster with whom I am arguing with, I doubt you have a handle on what a “good” movie is, as you appear to like Star Wars, a consumer driven, piece of pop trash fueled by fans who would get up and cheer at three hours of Yoda dancing the macarena and then see it eight more times.”

    Whoa! Impressive rant! :-D

    I actually only like the first two movies that much, but Star Wars is something most people have enjoyed at one time or another. Sorry you didn’t. I certainly agree there are many far superior movies. I don’t agree Joss Whedon has made any of them.

    “Serenity was not the best movie ever, far from it, but I cannot stand when someone rather immaturely labels a movie as conservative propaganda simply because they did not care for it.”

    I didn’t label it. I merely pointed out that many conservative bloggers and writers and mainstream magazines have raved about how good it is, using language surprisingly similar to your own at points. They hate Star Wars too, you see–because they see it as being an attack on their politics. They see Serenity as being a defense of their politics. Take it up with them, please. ;)

    “You have a right to not like something, but please, don’t place it on the same level as “The Birth of a Nation”.”

    A deeply and unforgivably racist movie–which is also one of the greatest cinematic masterpiece of all time. And there’s not a movie out there that isn’t influenced by it, including Serenity.

    After all, isn’t a central image of Birth of a Nation the scene where a young white woman is stalked by an evil black man, and avenged by a righteous white man who fought on the losing side of a civil war?

    However, in this case, the young white woman isn’t helpless, and the black man isn’t evil so much as misled, but even though the young white woman is the best fighter, it’s still the righteous white man who fought on the losing side of a civil war who gets to fight and defeat the black villian who fought on the other side–isn’t it?

    You can’t make Birth of a Nation today, because black people won’t let themselves be victimized like that in the movies anymore.

    However, since 99.9% of black people will never even SEE Serenity……

    Hey, you’re the one who brought DW Griffith up. I never even thought of that parallel before.

    Nice catch!

    :-D

  96. Pisher, you need to get a life. Serenity sucked, I agree, but I didn’t go posting five million rants about why I hated it and how it’s basically the boner of the rightwing party. For someone who hates Joss Whedon, you seem to know a lot about him. I don’t like Ashlee Simpson, but I don’t go about learning every lurid detail about her life. You seem to have a lot of time on your hands, so why don’t you go argue something that really matters, instead of losing your head over a stupid movie that nine people saw. You’re insulting, and seem to like arguing for the sake arguing, and I think you need to get away from your computer screen. Who cares if the people from Serenity were marginalized? Only you seem to care- I have a tendency to care more about REAL oppressed peoples. Reality, remember that?

  97. Because I felt like it, I took out all the F-words in the previous comment. It now reads quite a bit better. Sloop, for future reference, profanity is like fine seasoning; a very little goes quite a long way.

    Now, let’s all behave like good children.

  98. I get the feeling that the F-words were the most original things about his post.

    “Pisher, you need to get a life.”

    Case in point. (g)

    “Serenity sucked, I agree,”

    You heard him, Browncoats! Rend his flesh! Devour the infidel!

    “but I didn’t go posting five million rants about why I hated it and how it’s basically the boner of the rightwing party.”

    Um–that’s hyperbole, right? Because I doubt all my online posts on all subjects combined over the past ten yeasrs would total much more than 25,000 or so. God help me.

    I’m responding to people who respond to me. I’m posting this response right now because you responded to me. If you hadn’t responded to me, I wouldn’t be responding to you. Do you now see the fallacy in your argument?

    “For someone who hates Joss Whedon, you seem to know a lot about him.”

    Such as? And who said I hated him? I’m sick of hearing about what a genius auteur he is, but I have no personal feelings towards him.

    I know a fair bit about his professional career, very little about his personal life, and do you really think it would be preferable to know nothing about a person whose work you were subjecting to criticism?

    You know, for somebody who doesn’t seem to like me, you act like you know an awful lot about me–only you clearly don’t. (g)

    “I don’t like Ashlee Simpson, but I don’t go about learning every lurid detail about her life.”

    But you know there are lurid details to be learned, obviously.

    I don’t think about Ashlee Simpson, because nothing she does is remotely relevant to my interests. I’m not interested in trashy pop divas and their reality show lives. I am interested in science fiction, genre TV, and movies in general. And I do try to inform myself about a given subject before I discuss it. I can see how this would strike you as bizarre and incomprehensible. :-|

    “You seem to have a lot of time on your hands, so why don’t you go argue something that really matters, instead of losing your head over a stupid movie that nine people saw.”

    Um–remind me again–you’re arguing AGAINST my point of view? Or are you just mad that I’m expressing your point of view, only more intelligently?

    “You’re insulting, and seem to like arguing for the sake arguing, and I think you need to get away from your computer screen.”

    Great! Just send me a few million bucks, so I can quit my job and travel the world with my girlfriend, and I’m offline for good. :-)

    “Who cares if the people from Serenity were marginalized? Only you seem to care- I have a tendency to care more about REAL oppressed peoples. Reality, remember that? ”

    Remember this article link?

    http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/blog/archives/2005/10/inscrutability.html

    I found it on this thread.

    To remember reality, you have to know what it is to begin with. Good luck with that.

    ;)

  99. hello everyone. you know why serenity is not doing well? because joss [deleted for spoilerage]. What the hell was he thinking?

    Anyway, that’s why no one cares about serinity anymore, it’s because joss thought by adding his “ooooo! Look at what I can do! I can KILL off people because that’s what real life is like! OOOOO!!! Look at what I can do! It’s realistic. It’s drama! OOOOO! OOOO!!!”

    Well I and about half your loving audience have some realistic stuff to shove right back in your face Joss. Your movie sucked because you killed off major characters, therefore, your sales sucked because half the loving fans pumped you the middle finger, and saved their money for Harry potty five. Screw you Joss, you jerk.
    :p

  100. When I like a movie, even a performance, I see it multiple times in theatres. Saw LOTR: Two Towers 6 or 7 times. Saw POTC 9 times (not a good movie, but a great performance–I kept taking friends to it). I even saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen twice in theatres.

    I LOVED Firefly. But I only saw SERENITY once in the theatres. Why? Simple. Some parts of it that mattered to me were just too sad. Not because i can’t deal with a death in a film–Theoden is one of my favorite characters in LOTR: TT, and his death is really sad. But because the deaths were such drive-by events. No follow on. No obvious impact on the other people. No, “X would have liked this” lines.

    I wanted to wait to see it again until I had a fast forward button at hand.

    I think most blockbusters happen because people go, like it, and go again with their friends. If you can’t get me to see SERENITY twice, there’s a problem with the movie.

  101. Wow! Serenity was a fantastic movie experience I was so impressed I loved it! I was clueless about the series and the movie….a friend told me about it. We finally saw the movie and were so impressed and entertained. I bought the series on the spot and we have watched it over and over. The movie did not last long at the box office and we didn’t have a chance to to see it again…. If it wasn’t for a friend raving about it… We would have missed a fantastic movie. There was no advertising done on this picture. A sequel should be done because the word it out! Truly a creative series and movie. We passed on our experience to friends but,the movie was pulled the week after we saw it. Tis was pulled way to soon !!!! I think people are catching on to serenity and it would have been a blockbuster if given a couple of more months. Re-release in theaters atleast through christmas. It will take off. Should have done more advertising on this one also !!!! My family and I are true fans of serenity !!!!! And really are hoping for more to come.

  102. Wow, a spiteful, angry, personal, and vaguely stalkerish attack on me–and I MISSED it–shucks!

    Yes, I post my opinions on the internet. This means I have no life, and am a miserable pathetic person. I know. I know.

    You didn’t mention all the people on that board who agreed with me. Lots more where they came from.

    Face it, guys–the movie tanked because the movie sucked. Sure, Universal could have promoted it more–and lost even more money than they’re going to. How were they supposed to promote it? They did air ads on shows like Monday Night Football, and Lost–but the ads sucked. There was no way the ads would NOT suck, because the only material they had to work with was the movie, and showing scenes from the movie was not going to encourage anybody to go see the movie. Neither was telling people it was “From the mind of Joss Whedon, Creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel”. Or telling people that it was based on a TV show “beloved by millions”. I guess in the sense that the last episode of that series was watched by over two million people–barely.

    ;)

  103. “Yes, I post my opinions on the internet. This means I have no life, and am a miserable pathetic person. I know. I know. ”

    That wasn’t the issue. The issue was whether you were obsessed. And you clearly are. It’s important to you that Whedon falls on his face. Probably ’cause you can’t get over the Trio, which was a mean-spirited and pathetic attack on fans, but not a deal-breaker.

    “You didn’t mention all the people on that board who agreed with me. Lots more where they came from.”

    Oh, you mean “rightandwongs” who joined in July of this year and who only pops in, it seems, to remind everyone he agrees with you? Most people on that board tend to just ignore your little tangents. And several people have said you don’t speak for them. Or as one person put it:

    “I did like Serenity, though. But I’ll discuss it more in-depth on other boards with folks who don’t have their entire emotional capital invested in it utterly sucking and tanking.”

    Of course, most of the activity on that board is you talking to yourself, Pisher- you chased away most everyone.

    Face it, guys–the movie tanked because the movie sucked.”

    That’s your opinion. Of course, a) you only saw an hour of it, according to that thread, and b) what you wrote about it was, to be charitable, the nitpickiest of nitpicking, from a guy who seemed to LOOK for stuff to hate about the movie.

    I liked it, and I still think “The Train Job” is one of the worst things Whedon ever put his name on, and that Firefly as a whole was pretty flawed. But the movie fixed everything, because Whedon made an effort this time. Now if only he could bother to do the same on Astonishing X-Men

    The thing is, pisher, you insist you don’t REALLY care. But you do. You want everyone to think like you, to BELIEVE… until the show starts sucking (Or more accurately, when a female character you’d like to bang gets in a long term relationship), then it’s convincing everyone around you that no, this doesn’t work, this is bad, everything that Whedon, Kemper, Carter, Abrams, et al just wasn’t that good to begin with. You say you don’t care, but you do.

    If anyone’s bothering to read this far, go to that forum and punch in “Railgun” (who I am not, BTW) and read some of the threads. Then tell me if pisher’s not obsessed or not.

  104. “That wasn’t the issue. The issue was whether you were obsessed. And you clearly are.”

    Obsessive, heal thyself. (g)

    “It’s important to you that Whedon falls on his face.”

    Well, that would be pretty pathetic, I admit–if he hadn’t, in fact, fallen on his face.

    “Probably ’cause you can’t get over the Trio, which was a mean-spirited and pathetic attack on fans, but not a deal-breaker.”

    You assume I must be one of the standard-issue cliched geek stereotypes The Trio were supposed to represent. I’m not. I’m not a convention-goer, I don’t amass collectibles, I just dig genre-stuff–when it’s done right. My beef with the last two seasons (and really the last FOUR seasons) of BTVS is that the show kept getting worse.

    “Oh, you mean “rightandwongs” who joined in July of this year and who only pops in, it seems, to remind everyone he agrees with you?”

    Actually, I fight more with R&W than anybody else there at the present time. And you forgot a few others. Conveniently.

    “Most people on that board tend to just ignore your little tangents.”

    Most people on that board, like most people in the world, aren’t remotely interested in this ‘franchise’.

    And the person you quote next who said she liked Serenity went on to say that she was repelled when she actually took a look at the online fanbase. Well, she wasn’t the only one.

    “Of course, most of the activity on that board is you talking to yourself, Pisher- you chased away most everyone.”

    So folks–you getting the impression this person isn’t exactly a disinterested observer? But rather a bested former opponent, smarting over the absolute failure of his predictions regarding this movie’s success?

    “That’s your opinion.”

    It’s got to be the opinion of a fair percentage of people who went to see the movie, elsewise I think it would have done a wee bit better in subsequent weeks.

    “I liked it, and I still think “The Train Job” is one of the worst things Whedon ever put his name on, and that Firefly as a whole was pretty flawed. But the movie fixed everything, because Whedon made an effort this time. Now if only he could bother to do the same on Astonishing X-Men…”

    If you mean the comic book, that could happen someday. Once he realizes that comics are the only field left open to him.

    “The thing is, pisher, you insist you don’t REALLY care.”

    No, I care. I care a lot. Bad movies should all tank the way this bad movie tanked. I only wish they all did. There’s something very wrong when people who should KNOW better acclaim such rubbish as genius, instead of a massive step backwards for science fiction film/TV.

    “You want everyone to think like you, to BELIEVE… until the show starts sucking (Or more accurately, when a female character you’d like to bang gets in a long term relationship),”

    Since I didn’t want to bang anybody on Firefly (always the high road, eh?), that theory falls kinda flat, don’t it?

    ” then it’s convincing everyone around you that no, this doesn’t work, this is bad, everything that Whedon, Kemper, Carter, Abrams, et al just wasn’t that good to begin with. You say you don’t care, but you do. ”

    I do. But not the way you think. You don’t really understand what it is to care about the work itself, as opposed to a fantasy image you cultivate about the people who do the work–the work you wish you could do. But can’t. So you have to live vicariously through them. And thus, take it personally when your idols are critiqued.

    “If anyone’s bothering to read this far, go to that forum and punch in “Railgun” (who I am not, BTW) and read some of the threads. Then tell me if pisher’s not obsessed or not.”

    And while you’re at it, notice who won that fight. On every level imaginable.

    ;)

  105. To save some people the effort, here’s some posts from “Railgun” to the forum recently mentioned–

    “By the way, I’m very happy to hear that Whedon has teamed up with Clint Eastwood’s cinematographer, the brilliant Jack N. Green, for SERENITY. This film is shaping up to be better and better. I’m seriously betting that this will turn enough profit to spawn a sequel – hey, it happened with Pitch Black.”

    “Actually, The Chronicles of Riddick takes place ten years after the events of Pitch Black, and there’s not much difference in the basic character of Riddick, so far as I know. He’s still a mean-spirited malevolent bastard who only cares about himself and is forced into battle by politcal puppeteering. And he’s still capable of near-superhuman feats when pushed to his limits — this, after all, is a guy who popped his shoulders completely out of socket to escape from cuffs and defeated several alien beasties mano a mano. And hell, several other characters from Pitch Black show up in this film as well.

    Sorry, it’s a sequel. Is it bigger, better, more expansive, and does it kick off a brand new story? Yep. Still a sequel. Quit arguing semantics. A film that features the same characters undergoing further adventures is a sequel, period.

    Incidentally, Diesel was a nobody when PB was released — it was a small scifi film directed by a notable script doctor featuring a cast composed of novices backed by a few character actors. It was middle-budgeted and managed to pull in an okay profit, after which it went on to develop cult status on video. Hell, the sequel was greenlighted less than a year after the first film’s release.

    Whedon is a notable script doctor who has an immense cult following, and he’s directing a middle-budgeted scifi flick filled with novices and a few character actors. The guy has proven to be just fine as a writer/director on smaller projects, and now he’s hiring just the right sort of talent for his feature debut. Good for him.

    Look pisher, I know you hate Firefly based on your limited viewing of it. I get that, due to your endless grousing about it. But you know what? I don’t care one bit about your opinion of it, because I thought it was a marvelously-realized show filled with exceptional actors that didn’t get the chance it deserved. I consider it to be one of the best cancelled shows in the last decade. And I can’t wait for the film — it’s one vanity project that I find completely worthwhile. I hope it makes a boatload of cash, because I want to see more from Whedon, a guy whose work I find genuinely intriguing. I’m glad that it’s getting made in the wake of all these endless sequels and remakes that are peppering the multiplexes. That’s a GOOD thing, in my book. And hey, a couple of my friends are now working on it — even better.

    So just know that you can bitch about it and predict its failure all you want, and it still doesn’t make a difference to me, because I’ll be there the day it opens to fork over my hard-earned cash to see it. And I doubt I’ll be the only one.

    Predict its failure all you want. Seems to me that you were just recently predicting it would never be made. You’re developing some Criswell-esque accuracy, aren’t you?”

    “Well, here’s a prediction of my own. The Firefly movie will be a modest success that will gain even more attention due to backend sales and will spawn a sequel two years later. And you will be proven wrong. Again.”

    http://www.paperstreetprod.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=206&hl=serenity&st=0

    Yeah, that worked out real well, didn’t it?

    Feel free to come back to Endies to gloat over your startlingly accurate predictions, Criswell.

    ;)

  106. Hmmm, can’t believed I missed this article from months ago. Well, this is one Browncoat that won’t disagree with you, John. As a financial endevour, yes the film could “unchairtably” be called a flop. As a fine piece of storytelling, it succeded on every level I consider to be important.
    To add into the discussion: As a longtime Whedon fan (I provide mucho chi to his fan-fu), in general, and a Firefly fan in specific, I felt that the movie did indeed go over the heads of any non-fan in the theatre. If, and this is a big if, there were any there to begin with. I saw it for the first time three days before opening night at a preview screening.Most of the audience I saw when I attended , for the second viewing, the day after opening night, I reconginized from the prior preview screening. It has a limited audience, and a limited appeal. Still, I love it. I am not holding my breathe for a sequal. For all intents, the story is over, and it ended on its own terms. I have to end on a cliche, but this is one fan that will Keep Flying, however.

  107. Having seen “Serenity”and now wading through the Firefly DVD’s, I can safely say… I don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Sci-fi western? Yeah, didn’t that end up stinking bad as one of the many jumped dead sharks on Battlestar Galactica? The rogue Cylon?

    I don’t find the dialogue witty, I find it contrived and forced and unrealistic. The design of the ship is weird, not particularly realistic nor interesting. I didn’t care about any of the characters.

    “Serenity”‘s conclusion just made me say even more, “What’s the big whup?” the ending was a dud. Ooh, they tried to make things perfect with drugs and some people went apathetic and some went batshit crazy.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Reavers can have them all.

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