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September 16 2006

A Browncoat talks with Universal about Serenity's Perfomance [perhaps]. A browncoat says he's contacted a wearer of a larger than standard wig at Universal and spoke of the Serenity Numbers with him directly. Take it for what it's worth. It might be true, might be so much internet hoey. But it seems legit, and the poster has a long history.

Nice to know we're so close to profitability even with marketing factored in - I was always leary of people saying it must have made an overall profit when we didn't know how much they'd spent on marketing.

But did Universal make a substantial amount off the charity screenings? Enough to eventually push us into the black? I was always a little fuzzy on that...
I seriosuly dobut it , since the charit yscreening proceeds go to charity(of course), and the cost to screen the reel varied from place to place, but on average 250 american(it was 250 Can for the screening in Montreal). Multiply that by 47 screenings...and doesnt make a dent in the overall picture.

ETA: the posts seems to be quite level-headed and reasonable.. but I guess I can't help being a bit of a skeptic, since it is IMDB and all. Although if the user has a long history of postings on IMDB(ie not a troll...)... then well maybe it is true.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-16 00:25 ]
Is it common for a film that cost $40 million to make to have a a marketing budget "not much less than $40 million"?

Given the wide circulation of the "River Tam" videos


Among the fans yes. But I really didn't see any buzz about them outside the fandom.
Sorry, I don't buy it for a second. A "extremely senior" person at Universal, giving behind the scenes business details of Serenity to a student for a media class project? I mean he doesn't even say that he's friends with this senior person, which would have been more believable, just that he phoned them up and "waved my credentials" and managed to get someone really senior on the phone! Because senior members of Universal have nothing better to do with their time than talk to film students about the business of their company.

Plus as Simon as pointed out the "not much less than $40 million" sounds so incredibly off for a movie that was only made for $40 million. Especially for the amount of advertising seen did not compare with movies that really do have $40 million advertising budget.
If this is legit (sounds more or less close to the truth of the matter even if the poster isn't legit) and Serenity is close to making some kind of profit, then I don't think it unreasonable for the company to spend a little cash on putting out some kind of special edition DVD that the fans would devour and rekindle some interest in the franchise. There's probably 50 corparate reasons that it's not viable, but it makes sense in the eyes of a hopeless Firefly addict.
Tell me about it noplaceIcanbe, I mean I guess there are costs to producing and marketing and distributing the DVD... but one would think it would still make a killing among the fanbase.
Are you listening, Universal? Now is the time to make R1 and R2 versions of the Australian DVD and start distributing them. You want a profit, give us that little bit extra and we'll gobble it up, no worries.

Although I have to wonder, how much profit do they need to make the sequel a (relatively) sure thing?
Studios generally look for around 3 times the production cost back for sequel material, although obviously it varies project to project. Serenity needs to look at above $120m after DVDs.

And I'll let ya'll into a little secret: I haven't spoken to anybody at Universal about exact numbers, but if it was near that, the buzz would be going around folk for a sequel. So it ain't near that.

With regards to the Can't Stop The Serenity screenings making money - even if every penny went to Universal (it went to charity), they'd still only make a few thousand dollars from it. It's much the same for the preview screenings Universal ran early last year. The money it made at the box office, for the most part, came from non-fans. Which is a good thing.

And yes, Universal really, really need to get out another DVD with extra features and such. They don't even need to advertise it: plonk it on Amazon, and it'll sell.

Is it common for a film that cost $40 million to make to have a a marketing budget "not much less than $40 million"?

It depends if that includes international. In the UK alone they had the tube posters, tube River ceiling things, flew nearly all the cast here for a week for EIFF and had them in 5 star, flew Nathan+Joss+Summer back for release, the premiere at Odeon West End, the 2 rounds of preview screenings, the 25 cinema prescreening they did with Empire (which they paid for, and was free to punters), all the posters, fliers, free books + magazines for fans, TV advertising (in Corry - 15 million viewers, international football), flying the Sci-Fi UK crew out to interview the cast, flying Joss over for the DVD promo etc etc etc. In the US they went for season premiere TV spots which is very expensive (Lost - 22 million viewers), they did multiple rounds of preview screenings with cast in attendance (which probably cost them money overall), they likely paid a fortune for the Browncoat site etc.

Despite some people saying Serenity's advertising was cheap, I'm willing to bet it wasn't. Yeah, they tried a lot of stuff they haven't done before - but flying cast members across to the UK and then flying them to Birmingham for a movie screening literally has never, ever happened before. That sort of thing will have cost a lot of money all totalled up.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-09-16 02:07 ]
I think this info is fake. On this thread, TensersFloatingDisk posts a link about HATING SERENITY, and someone recognizes him as a troll from another forum. I think he's just messing with the Browncoats.

[ edited by Succatash on 2006-09-16 02:01 ]
Back in 2001 or so, the instructor of a film overview class I took pegged the avg movie budget as $60 mill and the avg movie marketing budget as $40 mill. I would guess that those numbers are both higher these days, and even then Serenity marketing would have been just below average.
I think this info is fake. On this thread, TensersFloatingDisk posts a link about HATING SERENITY, and someone recognizes him as a troll from another forum. I think he's just messing with the Browncoats.


I think you're onto something, Succatash. I put all the skills I've acquired obsessively watching Veronica Mars to task, and took a closer look at Tensers' earlier posts about Serenity.

I found this little treasure:

Gee, are all Firefly's fans this charming? No wonder you get the reputation you have. And to think, your show was cancelled. What a soo-prise.


Unless he's been miraculously converted, this guy is no Browncoat. Oh, and I bugged his car.
Don't take this guy's word for it. He's been haunting several boards on IMDB trying to get people revved up and/or pissed off. This is probably just his way of blowing up a little hope balloon that will pop later on when we don't hear anything.
Just my two cents, but I haven't found him to be really trolling. He's upset I think an unrealistic expectations that some Browncoats have. In that first comment, posted, I think he was saying, the original poster wasn't alone, but showing with the Tomatometer that the poster was in the minority.

Anywho, I can't say for sure, but Tenser has always seemed to be simply fighting for a realistic accounting of the release.

I hope it's true personally, because if it is the DVDs have been selling much stronger that we'd hoped. If it's almost broken even and there was 30 million of promotion, it means the DVDs have sold many millions.

Add to that the idea of a special edition, I see the BDM soaring into the black.

Anywho, I just thought it was food for thought. Who can say what is real until we see an actual sequel on the horizon.
I know you meant the best, lobohan, by posting this, but "TensersFloatingDisk" seems to live on various IMDB boards, and enjoy fighting, flaming, and possibly long walks on the beach. You can go back for months and read more of his/her self-contradictory and contentious posts than you would ever care to -- me, I just sampled a few and found this:

"Hold on there, bucko. I'm happy to announce that I'm neither a troll nor a browncoat, but someone interested in mocking both sides equally..." -- TensersFloatingDisk (Tue Jul 18 2006 16:58:44), IMDB "Serenity" message board

His position & intentions seem, in general, pretty negative, and this post, in my opinion, is flame-bait. (It's a shame he/she can't find a way to use their power for good instead of EVIL.)
Well I posted a response up there of one of his posts... (EDIT: the span class quote thing doesnt work :S) The main guys comments are the ones not in quotes he was responding to another poster.... the comments in quotes were of that other poster

------------------------------------------
-"I'm sure there are plenty of smart people who didn't like the series. Smart people with short attention spans."

Gee, are all Firefly's fans this charming? No wonder you get the reputation you have. And to think, your show was cancelled. What a soo-prise.


--"You can be condescending all you want. Just don't include the words "friend," "sport," "squirt," or "kid" when you do it. It irks me."

Since at least half of the point of condescension is to "irk" the target, I guess I should thank you for the ammunition. Squirt.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-16 04:10 ]

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-16 04:11 ]


[ edited by Willowy on 2006-09-16 04:25 ]
And I've been waiting to see how this thread turned too, although perhaps not in the way Willowy was. Although I appreciate that motive may play a part, can we keep speculation about/information regarding/invective towards/quotations by this particular individual to a minimum, please? Y'all know it's not our way. Cheers.
The author makes it hard to play his ball, and not the man.
Having gone a few rounds with TFD in the past, I will say this post refutes his own guesses as to the movie's post-box office revenues. That's just circumstantial evidence for its veracity. of course, but since he's been repeating the same low figure for a long time...

It suggests revenues close to what I'd guessed, but I assumed the marketing was more in line with other films with similarly sized releases. Universal did send the cast to a lot of places, though (including an outdoor premiere held at the Alamo movie set near here).

I wonder if Universal has started contracting out the foreign TV rights yet?
And yes, Universal really, really need to get out another DVD with extra features and such. They don't even need to advertise it: plonk it on Amazon, and it'll sell.


From your mouth to Universal's ear, gossi. They must know from their market research that we'll buy it, right? I rewatched all the R1 DVD extras after the first showing (it showed twice yesterday, I know there were earlier showings) of Serenity on HBO yesterday and they're just a little lean for me.

edited for clarity

[ edited by dreamlogic on 2006-09-16 16:58 ]
I'm really surprised Universal hasn't gone for the double-dip DVD yet... I thought that was a given in any fan-driven property. Looking at how the series and movie have sold so well on DVD, and now Firefly is #1 in Amazon's Unbox... surely it's a no-brainer to release a special edition? What the reason for not doing it? It can't cost all that much. Heck, just add all the extras from all the releases into one package, and maybe have the cast do a commentary track or two, and you'd have a solid seller for very little money.

[ edited by dizzy on 2006-09-16 18:22 ]
Hm, I find it hard to believe it hasn't made the money back by now.
I just can't believe after a whole year and all the DVDs I've bought and passed on (not to mention all Browncoats who have done the same), our BDM hasn't made $40 million yet. It just doesn't feel right.

And I don't trust this guy either. We need to send him out to reaver territory. Sign him up to be a banquet.
And I don't trust this guy either. We need to send him out to reaver territory. Sign him up to be a banquet.


Read what SoddingNancyTribe said above and play nice. If there's anything to be gotten from this ramshackle disaster of a thread, it's got us talking about the future of Serenity.
I think the numbers he quotes sound fairly reasonable. (Disclaimer: I don't work in the film industry, though I've done some reading/research about it.) The fact that it's relatively level-headed inclines me to think it's legit, too--I expected it to be either wildly optimistic or pessimistic about a sequel. Reading his posting history, I don't think he's a troll, exactly. He comes across to me as someone who likes the show, but isn't obsessive about it. . .as a lot of us can be, honestly.

I won't be buying advance tickets for a sequel based on this, but it's a possible data point. I don't think it changes the basic situation, though. What probably would need to happen for a sequel is for Joss and/or Nathan to hit it really big with something, plus very solid long-term DVD sales. Don't hold your breath, but far stranger things have happened.

Edit: And the fact that he says letter-writing campaigns aren't going to help lends credibility to his claims, I think. If he were really trying to get people's hopes up, he'd have encouraged fans to write letters, call Universal, and all sorts of other silly things. I think he's being realistic.

[ edited by JesterInACast on 2006-09-16 19:41 ]
Hmmm writing letters to Universal if to say thanx at least, I wouldn't consider silly, but maybe thats my non-important opinion. That won't stop me anyways I still plan to send that letter. ETA: Plus looking at his posts(Im not calling him a troll)... he doesnt seem to be the enthusiastic fan type... so he wouldnt be telling people to do fan-ish things.

And in terms of the special edition DVD... I mean does it cost that mcuh to make? Anyone want to make an educated guess how much a Special Edition costs to remake? And I agree that advertising it shouldnt be a big deal, since it would not be directed at the general market but to the fandom for the most part(and people who may like the movie but love to get all sorts of juicy details). Putting it simply on amazon... is probably the easiest things. Browncoats if nothing are obsessive, and will pick up on it instantaneously and will broadcast it through the fandom...

And there is so much that can be put on it....

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-17 01:31 ]
I'd agree that some sort of Special Edition DVD is a no-brainer. A majority of the people who bought the first one are probably going to pick up anything that comes with more goodies--Serenity fans are nothing if not voracious. I'm a little surprised it hasn't happened yet, but they might want to squeeze every dollar they can from the original DVD release first.
Late to this thread, but I don't feel it's very likely that a real live official person from Universal would just spill this kind of finances/planning information to just some guy. OTOH, I remember reading somewhere like a million years ago that most movies cost about the same amount to market as the budget for filming, so that part seemed accurate. Overall, especially since the post was at IMDB, which has a shaky reputation for accuracy as far as I am concerned, I'm not sure I believe this information.

But I definitely agree that it would be great for 'Versal to release a special edition DVD with the famous extras our friends in Oz got. Browncoats would definitely buy thousands, and get all our non-Browncoat peeps excited about them, too. Very little extra investment for the studio, lots of new income for them, and very happy fans! :-)

Plus, please please please please oh you PTB at Universal, please get the cast together to make extra commentary tracks! Our BDHs are all so funny and make with the gab so much, I doubt you could even hear it clearly if they all sat in one room and did a 9-way commentary, but maybe it would work to have like 3 commentary tracks -- one with Nathan, Alan, Gina and Morena (that way, they could also talk about all the dynamics in the relationships); one with Ron, Adam and Jewel (they were so funny together at I think it was Dragon*Con; I heard a tape of their panel on FireflyTalk) and maybe Morena as well on that one (or on that one instead of the Nathan/Alan/Gina one), since she and Jewel are pals (and, on Done the Impossible, really play off each other well); and then the Tam family track -- Sean and Summer.

Oh, a boy can dream, can't he? ;-)
Simon, I guess you would have to know me personally to know I was just teasing. So I will be more careful in the future. If I was going to be mean about it, it would have been much worse.

I personally don't care what this guy, or anyone else for that matter, says about our BDM. I know in my heart we will get a sequel. Why? Because I'm a believer.
Hate to say "I told you so," but I did tell you so.

-TFD
You must not hate it too much, given that you resurrected a five year old thread to post that. ;)
I'm confused - TensersFloatingDisk, according to your profile, you joined Whedonesque today and this is your first comment - where and how did you tell "us"?

Is we us'ns? And vice versa? Or what?

I am Kerflummoxed and other confusions starting with "K".
The original link (no longer working) was to a piece by TFD, so that'd be where we were told. I'm pretty sure it's the same as what's here. Nonetheless, I find the sudden quasi-taunting appearance a bit weird.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2011-11-16 02:14 ]
Ahh, thanks, b!X, the link currently going to an essentially empty imdb page, coupled w/ their recent membership was not edifying - so it now makes logical sense, if not emotional...

Huh.
I'm not entirely aware of the history here but I think I have a good enough idea to close the thread for now. As usual, we talk about the topic here, not other posters. If you have a problem with what someone says here feel free to email us. Really. The off-topic press releases get lonely.

This thread has been closed for new comments.


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