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May 18 2006

SciFi.com video interview with Joss Whedon. In it Joss discusses the possiblity of a Serenity sequel (at the moment, it's doubtful) and whether in regards to the Wonder Woman movie, he'll be faithful to the comic book.

Though it's not stated, most likely this interview was conducted at the recent Saturn Awards.

And cheers to blueblazer for the heads up and hey SciFi does video interviews now! Too cool.

Darn. I'm unable to temporarily disable popup blocker at work and that's how my puter reads the video stream.

ETA: Anyone care to summarize (very briefly) what he said? I can't watch it at home because I don't have an Internet connection at the moment. :(

[ edited by April on 2006-05-18 20:56 ]
The previous video - the Battlestar one - has some spoilers for next season. Although, it makes me want Battlestar back on. Now.

Summary: Joss would like to do a Serenity sequel, but it is unlikely to happen as Serenity's numbers aren't the kind you associate with a sequel. Which, sadly, is true.
I have a question that maybe some of you who are more familiar with the way these things work can answer.

Why does Joss need the go ahead from anyone else to make a sequel to Serenity? Is it not possible, at least theoretically, for him to make this movie without the backing of some big entertainment conglomerate? I'm not being glib...just not really sure how these things happen.
Yes, he could. If he was mega-rich like George Lucas.
It seems like there are plenty of non-mega-rich folk out there producing their own films. I'm still missing something.
It seems like there are plenty of non-mega-rich folk out there producing their own films. I'm still missing something.


Not too many with the kind of FX and sets that Serenity uses.
Plus, the actors + Joss (as much as they love the 'verse!)
would like to get paid, I'm sure.
I have often wondered myelf why Joss doesn't go ahead and create his own independant company, etc. But I'm sure we'll never know unless somone asks him personally.
A lot of the "non-mega-rich folk" as you put it make independant, low-budget movies. And while Serenity was fairly low budget compared to most other big Hollywood movies, they'd still need money for special effects and actors' salaries (they all seem to love who they work with, but they still need to get paid), and various other costs of a movie that I don't think Joss quite has enough pocket money for.

Also if I'm not mistaken I think Universal may technically own a lot of the legal rights now. So Joss would need their go-ahead.
Well the budget for Serenity was around $40 million from what I remember. I don't know what the domestic and international marketing budget was but I'm going to guess it wasn't cheap.

I'll go out on a limb and say that for the financing of a Serenity sequel to be released in the cinema, you'd need somewhere around $55-65 million upfront. And that may be on the low side.

And then there's the amount of man hours etc in trying to get it all together. You'd need a major organisation behind you to get that done. And last I heard Mutant Enemy was just Joss and his assistant.
Skeezy, I think you may be underestimating how much it costs to produce a movie like Serenity. I can't remember off hand the budget difference between Firefly and Serenity, but I think it was a factor of ten or more (maybe even a hundred). You have to account for casting (which is gonna cost more this time because each actor has gained a little standing after the first movie), special effects, plus the cost to market the whole thing (and this time do it a hell of a lot better than the marketing for Serenity OR Firefly) and a million other things. Fan support is an amazing thing and I'm sure Joss appreciates what we're able to contribute, but it comes nowhere near the cost to make a movie of this magnitude. It's one thing to make "Blair Witch Project" or "Slither," low-budget films that see limited distribution and don't need to sell so well to make money because costs are so low, or to make TV-movies like "Mammoth" (and I use "movie" VERY loosely here) or direct to DVD releases (cost of distribution is much lower, I think), it's another to make "Attack of the Clones." And knowing how highly Joss thinks of his own work, I don't think he'd be satisfied to make "Blair Witch"-esque sequel.

When you couple this with the fact that Joss doesn't have too many active projects right now generating income (still writing Wonder Woman, so not much money there; comic books NEVER generate a lot of money; no TV shows on right now to help sell merchandise), I get the feeling that Mr. Whedon doesn't have nearly as much money as we may think, just because his work is so amazing. I'm sure he lives quite well, just not well enough to make a movie out of his own pocket.

ps. I'm not a film or marketing major, so I could TOTALLY be talking out the back of my ass here.
Just to be clear, something like "Good Night and Good Luck", George Clooney wrote, produced, director and starred in himself. He didn't get an upfront fee for doing it. So, how did he make it? He got a few indys to fund it, the actors did it with no upfront fee, and then they took a cut of the cinema/DVD profits. So, they basically got a lot of money from it as it was financially fairly sound. The same story is true for a lot of indy things like that.

Ultimately, I doubt Joss has $40m+ lying around to fund another film. And if Universal wouldn't risk funding it, would smaller companies? Probably not. And would I want Joss having to fight to fund his own films from his own cash? Nah.
Unless Universal wants to make a sequel, or sell the movie rights to a bigger or equal deep Hollywood pocket, then I think we'll only see the continuing story of our favorite crew in comics, books and our sweet, sweet dreams

It was a short vid, but cool. Thanks for the post
Thanks guys. It is all much clearer now.
Yeah, short but (bitter)sweet interview. I know that there most likely won't be a Serenity sequel--but yay for the comics!--but I liked Joss' answer as to how faithful he's going to be to the Wonder Woman comics. For the longest time I thought he was gonna really piss off the fanboys, but were I a WW fanboy, I would be pleased with his answer and how much thought he has put into it.
The news just keeps getting better. No more Firefly and no more Buffy or Angel. I am hoping for a mega hit with Wonder Woman. That's the only thing that could give Joss the license to do what he wants.
What scares me is that 'what he wants' may well be more big-screen shenanigans. I'm looking forward to Goners and I trust that whatever Joss does I'll love, but I'm not finished with the things he's already made. I still love them.

I wonder if, career-wise, Joss won't want to move forward rather than expand the wonderful things he's already done. In which case we're still without the 'verses we love. Not taking away from the new ones I'm sure I'll love, but still. Makes me ache.
Buffy could still come to the big screen. We won't necessarily see the Universe die. I believe the fact that Joss is writing for season 8 of Buffy in the comics indicates he isn't done with this Universe.

Just because Joss can't find backing for the straight to dvd movie featuring Spike, imo, doesn't mean he couldn't get the funding needed to bring Buffy back to the Big screen.
By Buffy I mean Buffy, as in SMG.

Speaking of Serenity...I guess I'm of the mind that anything is possible. Things have a way of changing at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it sucks, like with the cancellation of ATS and Firefly but eventually it comes back around. Especially if your name happens to be Joss Whedon.
Big screen shenanigans from Joss? Sign me up! ;-)
Don't get me wrong with what I'm about to say here because I'm a really big Highlander fan. However it amazes me that no matter how badly each one of those movies seems to do, eventually they will get the go ahead to make a sequel. I was really glad to hear that Highlander 5 was happening (particularly as it is under the control of those who made the series, rather than the previous movies) but it occured to me how unfair it is that Joss is having such a hard time getting anyone to invest in his creations when they must be a lot more profitable than the Highlander is. Surely the Buffyverse has a fanbase larger than that of Highlander.

I know budget plays a big part in what is given a sequel but I have to believe that anything Whedon related (particularly Buffy and Angel) is going to make a decent profit. When a 13 episode, cancelled series can sell bucketloads of DVD boxsets it should be a no-brainer that a brand new movie or three will sell just as well.
When a 13 episode, cancelled series can sell bucketloads of DVD boxsets it should be a no-brainer that a brand new movie or three will sell just as well.

...but, to present a business point of view (which is evil and in line with the devil): Serenity didn't make vast amounts of money. Sure, it'll turn a profit soon, but it's not the kind of numbers to make 3 films with.

All credits to Universal for trying. They really didn't have to. It was very much a gamble in Joss' -- and ours -- favour, and in many ways it worked for them - they didn't loose money on it longer term and they didn't get bad reviews (actually, it got really good reviews). It just wasn't as big as it could have been, which is why you don't see Serenity movies flying off the shelf like Highlander DVD movies.

Or, in summary, Universal took the chance with Serenity that many people claim studios don't. I'm proud of that film, regardless of if it gets sequels.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-05-19 14:26 ]
The thing is that I don't remember the Highlander movies exactly flying off the shelves either, especially not the third and fourth movies. Over time they have paid for themselves but it certainly wasn't an instant profit, as far as I'm aware.

I know that I'm probably looking at this from too much of a "big picture" perspective (we all know that the business suits at the networks and movie studios have all the longterm vision of a mole with cataracts) but I still don't get why nobody can look at things from the point of view of the fanbase, particularly one of a cult show such as Firefly or Buffy and Angel.

The fact is that we pretty much never go away. Okay, sales may not be phenomenal immediately but for something like a direct to DVD Serenity movie or a series of Buffyverse DVD movies the potential for longterm profit must be immeasurable. I mean, just look at the countless re-releases of the Buffy and Angel DVD sets that we keep on buying. The complete series boxsets. The sets themed around specific characters. The list goes on and on and the fans keep on buying. Fox must be aware that if they invest in a Spike movie or a Serenity sequel that eventually they will easily make a profit. Especially with the Buffyverse, which is immediately cheaper to produce than a science fiction concept like Serenity.

I honestly cannot understand, after over forty years of seeing what a cult fanbase is capable of (thanks to the near unconditional love of the Star Trek fans), how those in the suits can't appreciate that they have a potential goldmine in keeping the cult television viewers happy.
Long and short is that Serenity didn't make the kind of money a studio would want before they would invest in a sequel. It's just business.

cheryl I think if they aren't prepared to back a DVD release featuring arguably the most popular and enduring character of the verse, they aren't going to fund a big screen movie, even if it was about Buffy. Buffy's story finished in Chosen anyway. Her journey was from childhood to adulthood and that has been done.

I think Donnie Darko was produced for 4 million and shot in 28 days. Maybe something less SFX based could be done.
Well, the thing is - and this is just my opinion - why spend a few years and millions making a cult movie which, overall, makes a million or so in profit - when you can produce a 'Meet The Fockers' instead, with mass appeal, that makes $100m in profit in the same period?

Of course, without a business head on, I'd totally choose Serenity over another 'Meet The Fockers', as Serenity had something to say about the world.

If anybody can answer that financially, cult movies would be everywhere. The reason we're seeing some Lord'o'the rings'alikes is because that proved you can tap into a 'cult' thing and make it a massive pop culture hit.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-05-19 16:32 ]
I see your point but I'm not really talking about movies that take years and cost millions. Seriously speaking, how much would it cost to make a Spike movie? Or a Faith movie? Or really anything based in the Buffyverse. How long would it really take from getting the greenlight to having it ready to release?

Ultimately, all we are talking about here would be glorified television episodes with fancier credits. For instance, when discussing the Spike project the term 'movie' has been used but in fact this could be more along the lines of the Farscape miniseries which was, for all intents and purposes, just four episodes of what would have been series five. Surely the Spike project, done under those sort of conditions, would not be massively expensive and certainly not outside of the realm of possibility for making a hell of a profit.

Admittedly, something done on the scale of Serenity, no matter how good it ended up being, was in danger of losing money if it didn't find an audience outside of it's cult following. If the Buffyverse projects were to follow the Farscape model then I would dare say that the end financial result would be a lot more favourable.

[ edited by The Big Bad on 2006-05-19 16:45 ]
How long would it really take from getting the greenlight to having it ready to release?

Well, example: if Spike was greenlit at the moment, and they still wanted to keep Tim (the prefered choice of writer & director), they'd have to wait until Tim is free from drive (which, if it doesn't get picked up will be around, uhm, August, assuming nothing else is lined up, and if it does get picked up for 13 episodes, about next May). And you'd also need James, Amy and Jay free.

So, potentially, from green light now you'd be talking another year until the shoot - which would take weeks, then post production, then release on top that.

If you were making a low budget film with out of work actors -- ie Highlander, no offense folks -- you could do it quickly, and cheaply.

Now, of course, I'm presenting the negative side here which is never a good way to be liked. I'm not doing it to be a dick -- I'm just trying to shed some light on the kind of problems this thing faces. It might be possible to rush through a poorly budgeted thing with missing actors and writers/directors who weren't first choices, but really - do I want to see something badly put together? Not me. If they're going to bring back something in the Buffyverse, I want it to be for a reason, and I want it to be good -- otherwise you're just pooping on great memories in the service of capitalism.
No, gossi, I absolutely get where you are coming from and that there would always be potential problems in the speed that anything could be put together but at the same time I have to believe that Joss wouldn't be prepared to do this without the right people and conditions in place. Therefore I'm talking about a situation where the writer, director and key actors are all onboard. Of course, none of us want to see a rushed product done badly, just for the sake of making the money. I'm pretty certain that Joss would never let that happen though.

So putting aside those issues and going back to looking at this situation purely from the perspective that the execs at Fox will be using, that being money, and assuming that the personnel involved both in front and behind of the camera were onboard, I'm still at a loss why they aren't seeing this as a possibility. Again, going back to Farscape, that miniseries was never going to sell much outside of the core fanbase and yet it got made, sci-fi special effects budget and all. As I understand it, it made a profit but hardly a sizeable one. Still, there is discussion now of a major movie. Highlander, regardless of the actor situation (and they haven't been as out of work as you might think) continues to be granted reprieve after reprieve. The X-Files 2 is being discussed again today over at SciFi Wire. Hell, Star Trek 11 has just been announced, and there is no series on the planet that has had more reason to struggle in continuing than Trek after Enterprise was axed.

I guess that my main point is that I can see absolutely no good reason why the Buffyverse is finding it so hard to prosper when other cult shows keep on rolling, in one form or another. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, even from a business position.
"Well, the thing is - and this is just my opinion - why spend a few years and millions making a cult movie which, overall, makes a million or so in profit - when you can produce a 'Meet The Fockers' instead, with mass appeal, that makes $100m in profit in the same period?"

Artistic integrity. Vision. To quote Billie Piper "Because we want to." Joss has all of these.

TBB Good point about Farscape. I'd forgetten about that.
Lynnie...Dr. Who reference...very cool. I have another, really evil and unwarranted idea: maybe Joss Whedon simply wants to move on from old work. Everything I've ever read or seen from him indicates that he takes the work he does very seriously and thinks incredibly highly of it (and coming from a graduate of Wesleyan University with many film major friends, this is standard intellectual fare). As the artist he perceives himself to be, perhaps he feels like returning to these old stories would be a step back. Now, I love these characters and want to see these stories too, but perhaps Joss feels, and I'm inclined to agree, that art should be first and foremost an expression of its creator and not a panderance (and I mean that in an entirely inoffensive, neutral way, not meaning to offend or belittle anyone) to the audience. Therefore, to return to old stories, especially one that hasn't proven YET to be as fiscally rewarding as anyone might like, might be perceived as a breakdown in artistic integrity also.

Making "Meet the Fockers 2" might be a bad artistic idea, but PERHAPS, in Joss's mind, making "Serenity 2" might be almost as bad an idea (although I'm sure Joss still loves his old creations, as any artist does).

This is why my preference is not to see more movies or old stories, but rather more TV from Joss. His greatest talent is his ability to create characters with whom we form these deep emotional bonds, and TV series provide the time necessary to best accomplish that. Based on Joss's track record (although, to be honest, I didn't think Angel was that great a show, even in the later seasons), I'm sure the next project will be awesome.
BoltRider, those are all good points, except Joss has not said any of them. Quite the opposite. He has indicated that he falls in love with his creations and enjoys having them continue. He seems to satisfy his need to do new things by...doing new things...too.

Even though he said he was pretty satified with BtVS ending when it did, here we are, what, three years later(?) with Joss dusting off Buffy to hit the comics and tell what happened after Chosen. You know it isn't for the money. Buffy comics are not going to make money like any of the other things Joss is doing. It isn't because he has nothing better to do because...well, he has plenty of stuff going on.

He says what he wants to do. He has said he would like to do more Buffyverse and he would like to do more Serenity/Firefly verse. I see know reason to doubt it. The thing is, we don't always get what we want, at least not right away...even Joss.
My guess is the truth is between newcj's and BoltRider's suppositions. Joss clearly is very much still into his old creations, and enjoys working with them. Certainly doesn't see them as a step back, I think, and would be delighted to make more adventures.

At the same time, he must always be dreaming up new worlds and looking for fresh challenges - even if he hasn't said it, that's who he is and what he does.

Even as a big part of me would love to see more Buffyverse or Serenifly, possibly a bigger part of me wants shiny new things. After all, each world spins off so much in the way of fandoms and discussion that we get exponentially more goodness that way . . . (OK, I'm not a mathematician - but you know what I'm trying to say).
"Especially with the Buffyverse, which is immediately cheaper to produce than a science fiction concept like Serenity."

Actually, is it? Yes the series' were. But every Buffy story involves latex masks or creature effects. With Firefly for instance you could film a entire episode on the ship's set and it'd fit.
Hmmmm, didn't mean to imply he wasn't into doing new things, quite the contrary. Since he is doing lots of new things with both Goners and WW, I was just trying to point out that he has not indicated a desire to leave the old stuff behind as he moves forward as some artists understandably do. So, yeah, what SNT said.
Actually, is it? Yes the series' were. But every Buffy story involves latex masks or creature effects.


I vaguely recall an article saying Lorne's makeup cost a fortune which is why we did't see much of him in Angel season 5.
cheryl I think if they aren't prepared to back a DVD release featuring arguably the most popular and enduring character of the verse, they aren't going to fund a big screen movie, even if it was about Buffy. Buffy's story finished in Chosen anyway. Her journey was from childhood to adulthood and that has been done.


I will always believe the most enduring and popular character in the verse is Buffy herself.

I'd prefer to let Joss decide when her story is finished. I would assume that hasn't happened yet. He is continuing Buffy's journey via the season 8 comics. They, as I understand it, are to be considered canon and written by Joss. At least the first four issues? Anybody know for sure?

My only point was just because it won't be Spike via Dvd, doesn't mean it won't be Buffy via Big Screen one of these days.
My hope for more "Buffy" will never die.
I have to agree with cheryl. Buffy's journey is done when Joss says it is done. In my mind, the end of the series was merely the of a certain phase of Buffy's journey. The Sunnydale years, if you like.

I mean, Buffy was what? 22 at the end of the show? Well, I'm 30 and I can assure you that I've done an awful lot of developing as a person since 22. Certainly Buffy will do the same. With that in mind there is an endless amount of new stories to be told about her.

And yes, the new Buffy comic series will be considered canon, as Joss is going to be either writing or at the very least controlling the events seen within.

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