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April 04 2007

Sales of Serenity in the UK receive boost from SFX poll. The magazine's website reports "before news of our poll broke like a tsunami upon a flabbergasted nation, Serenity was a humble 144th on Amazon's DVD chart. Twenty-four hours later, it had leapt to 15th place, with an 860% increase in sales".

At this time of writing, Serenity is at no. 18 in Amazon UK's DVD chart (by comparison it's at no. 107 on Anyone like to hazard a guess as to how many sales of a DVD it would take to get to 15th place?

Looking at some of the comments at the end of the article. Not everyone impressed. Some of the posters hate it! Must remember that flamers use the 'net to start sh*t.

Or they're danged deranged.
Hah, that's pretty funny (and also very cool obviously, in the 'increased sales' sense). Maybe we should have a regular 'meaningless' poll, just look what it 'means' for sales !

They say 16th but it's now 18th ? Shit, don't post anymore articles Simon, clearly doing that knocked it down 2 places !

Or in other words: Correlation is not causation (though i'll admit it'd be a hella big coincidence). Also, where do they get an 860% sales increase from ? Cos I know they didn't just work out that 16 is ~ 144/8.6, right (since that supposes no other title's sales rate changed at all) ? I.e. 'Serenity's sales rate could've stayed exactly the same while that of others fell etc. etc. blah, blah, head/brick wall, need more coffee ;).

Just shows though, rightly or wrongly, big clouds condense around small particles.
I usually just ignore polls like this b/c they're just proof of how much time one fandom or another has on its hands, doesn't really show what "the average guy" thinks. But if this has boosted sales -- then YAY US! ;-)
A truer test might be to see how the DVD sells in the likes of Tesco, WH Smith, HMV and Virgin. If the DVD appears in those stores' top 40 chart next week, then we'll know the poll has made a big impact.
Agreed. Without the actual figures we don't know if it sold 10 more than the day before or 10,000.

And an Amazon buy is also, obviously more of an impulse purchase. See (on poll), want (to find out what the fuss is about), take (and for only a fiver too). It'd also be interesting to see if there's a run of "No way this is better than Star Wars" reviews up on Amazon in the next few days.
This is going to make me unpopular here, but I have to agree with some of the commenters at the SFX thread. It's a bit annoying to see polls distorted by fans who are bussed in (metaphorically speaking) to boost their favourite production. I also think it shows the fandom in a poor light, making us look like obsessed fanatics. (What's that? We are obsessed fanatics? Oh, OK then.)

Personally I'd only rate Serenity a 4 star film (shock! horror!). Others are perfectly entitled to think otherwise. But do they have to keep flocking to every online poll and producing results which are not representative? Some of the commenters at SFX complained that they were misled into buying or renting the Serenity DVD. Maybe there are some here who think that's a good thing, as it boosts the figures and makes Joss's work look more popular than it really is. But I think it's counterproductive.

I'll be in my bunker.
Heh, have a flick through the "Is Serenity better than Star Wars ?" thread downboard tichtich. It'll need to be a multi-person bunker is all i'm sayin' ;).
It's a bit annoying to see polls distorted by fans who are bussed in (metaphorically speaking) to boost their favourite production..

We had this debate yesterday. Things were said and there was almost tears before bedtime. So I've no desire for Whedonesque to go down this path for a while.
This doesn't surprise, as BBC News is a *hugely* well read website. It's right up there in the top of internet news worldwide. The BBC News story caused a storm of articles across the web, which has lead to fanboy blog and forums wars.

Which, folks, is all equal to publicity, which is equal to sales.

Do I think Serenity is the best Sci-Fi film ever? No. Do I think it deserves a bit of attention? Yes.
tichtich - hear me out. It was very obviously mostly voted by fans, but you can say that about most sci-fi movie polls. To me it shows that Serenity is the best or at least most loved sci-fi movie of the last 5-10 years or so. New always gets more attention (just look at IMDb) but that doesn't mean it's not indicative. Serenity is apparently loved by many and we knew that before. It might not be the favourite of the "average" audience, but noone has said it is (at least I don't). If people buy it and don't like it then it's their fault. If someone saw a poll where Star Wars was the first (assuming she for some reason hasn't seen Star Wars yet), buys it and doesn't like it, would you be complaining?

Fans are there for a reason - that's what most people don't get. You have to become a fan somehow. If there are many fans it means something.

Star Wars imo isn't the best sci-fi movie ever, neither is Serenity. Alien and Aliens are. The Matrix before Alien? Of course it's fans voting! Script, directing, etc, there's no question: Star Wars is not the best sci-fi movie ever. It might however be the favourite of the most.

SFX - Serenity first. Good, very good.
BBC - Serenity second. Good, very good.
Sales boosted - Good, very good.

No harm done. Let the snobs or whoever don't like it whine all they want (not saying everyone should like it, though). I'm used to that. Don't ask the fans to hide their love. I sure won't. Serenity & Firefly get my vote any day (I didn't vote, didn't know about it and so on).
He's standing right there, yo !

Ah, shits, giggles, all the good stuff ;).
Well, this is quite unexpected. Although, in hindsight, it does make some sort of sense, with the coverage this received. Anyway, if increased sales are the result, it's not a bad thing, to win an otherwise meaningless poll ;-).

And fadalow, quit taunting Simon just to get a laugh. We appreciate the gesture, but dude, dangerous! :-p
Simon's cupboard is full of buckets.
I think this is just great news. Because of this poll and all the news coverage more people are going to be introduced to the world of Joss and Firefly. I think that is great. I mean isn't that what it means to be a Browncoat? Spreadin' the word and bringing others into the fold?

I'm delighted! Hugs to all the Browncoats who made it number one.
Hee! It's at times like these when I feel the need to slip on my Union Jack vest and wave the flag. Go us!

Serenity must be SO in profit now. Just think how much the sequel will make, Universal!
Who'd have though yet another Star Wars vs Serenity poll would give the Serenity DVD sales (and sequel likelihood) such a boost. I hope this new wave of attention is helping the cause, but I personally wouldn't go as far as saying Serenity is better than Star Wars because it will be turning a lot of potential fans (i.e. the Star Wars fans) against us. I think a close second in the poll might've done us better.
One can always count on Saje for a laugh. Screw the humorless IT world, I say. You should be writing comedy.
Awesome. Maybe we will get a sequel after all.
It's just that...I got all...emotional!!!

Will be quiet now.

ps. There's a "Best sci-fi movie set in London?" on IMDb right now. I tried to vote Serenity but they don't give it as an option :S:(

[ edited by fadalow on 2007-04-04 15:21 ]
So, whether Serenity is better than Star Wars aside (like I said in the earlier thread, who gives a crap as long as you like one or the other?) is this kind of media attention and sales boosting actually going to realistically alter the chances of a sequel happening? Does what has happened here have the potential to provide us with further Serenity goodness? Any Whedonesquers here "in the know" about this kinda thing who can give an honest, balanced opinion?

Regardless, it's always nice to see Serenity getting some attention. That attention leading to more from Mal and his crew would just be the shiny icing on the cake.
Does what has happened here have the potential to provide us with further Serenity goodness?

A heck of a lot of money pouring into Universal, ultimately. The cast fall out of contract in a few months time, and they're off doing TV and movies and such anyway so it would be a way off, and it needs a lot more than the coverage seen 'ere. Uhm, sorry. The movie didn't find it's audience, but maybe with time it will.

On the plus side, Jewel recently mentioned the idea of a sequel being set up with more aged members of the crew (ie older, further down the line). Never say never.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-04-04 15:48 ]
Thanks, gossi. As much as I want to see Serenity 2 I'd rather hear a realistic opinion on how things stand than a "rose tinted glasses" one. No point in raising hopes too high if the facts don't support it.

The one bit of realistic "rose tinting" I suppose we do get to have is that we have a cast and creator who genuinely love the characters and would, I'd imagine, be willing to make the effort to fit a Serenity sequel into their busy schedules if the possibility ever arose, contracts or no contracts. Better than nothing.
I think the best chance for a sequel will be if one of the main cast hits it big and they become bankable. Then how much Serenity made will be irrelevant. And while I admit to knowing next-to-nothing about sales figures and what Serenity has made thus far, I doubt a one or two day spike in sales on Amazon will bridge the gap in Universal's mind from "not profitable" to "profitable". But then, I know next-to-nothing...
If it achieves nothing else, it has a smile on the faces of the fans. And that can only be a good thing.
For me, I don't really do the poll thing. I guess I am just too lazy hehe. I also don't see much use to them, and yes there is that inevitble backlash, but I have to say yay for Serenity getting some sales and exposure from this. As someone suggested on the thread on the site, it should not have been best film, but most favourite.

And while some find that the fandoms passion is "scary", I have to say its good there is passion. Our world is sooo depressing and dreay(reading bbc news does that to me) its nice for me at least to see people expressing soemthing positive and being passionate about it. Whether its the enviornment human rights or a little sci fi show and movie. I am very passionate about it myself, to the dismay of some of my labmates of course :P.

And I have to say that while Serenity is not the best movie of all time for me, that experience of wathcing it the first time, is something I will remember for the rest of my life. I guess it was like the effect of Star Wars to the previous generation.

[ edited by kurya on 2007-04-04 17:08 ]
[total rewrite following Simon's comments - hope this is better - don't even use the p-word]

I think this has proved to be a win-win for just about everybody.

Serenity has received a nice boost in sales. SFX has attracted all kinds of traffic to their site and received a huge amount of publicity, which I am sure was their objective all along. And the mainstream media has been able to play up a non-story to create nice controversial headlines and attract readers.

I say its Miller timer (or substitute an actually good beer)

[ edited by AlanD on 2007-04-04 20:01 ]
AlanD, do read what I wrote several posts up. The poll discussion (and all the emotional baggage that came with it) has talked itself to death.

We're happy that Serenity is doing well in the charts.
Simon: "We had this debate yesterday. Things were said and there was almost tears before bedtime."

Made me laugh.

It's all fun and games until somebody pokes an eye out.
QuoterGal: "It's all fun and games until somebody pokes an eye out."

If Buffy taught me anything, it's to never utter anything that resembles those words in any shape or form.
We had this debate yesterday.

That'll teach me to miss my daily Whedon fix. Or fix my daily teaching by Miss Whedon.
By the way, sorry if my earlier comment seemed a bit high and mighty. Well, perhaps I was high, and the pot was mighty. Anyway I've stuffed a few ballots myself. But they didn't taste nearly as good as peppers or aubergines. What I'm really trying to say is this: girl with skirt up runs faster than man with trousers down. And if that's not clear enough, then I'm a monkey's uncle. But then we're all monkey's uncles according to evolutionary theory, so what does that prove?
More accurately we're very distant monkey-cousins, tichtich. But that's a charged debate for a bulletin board very far away from this one. (In fact, perhaps in a different solar system entirely.)

Oooo Serenity sales are still up today on So pretty. Do I dare wish some US magazine will have a similar poll now? Maybe in a few months.
Serenity has dropped down to 27th place at now (shame on you, DVD buying public) but was the Firefly boxset always selling as well as that? It's currently just a little further down the list in 38th place.
how the DVD sells in the likes of Tesco, WH Smith, HMV and Virgin. If the DVD appears in those stores' top 40 chart next week

Having being involved tangentially for many years in book publishing, the impression I get is that best seller lists should generally be taken with a grain of salt. They're a marketing tool, and I don't even know if they are subject to truth in advertising laws.

I'd be surprised if Serenity suddenly showed up on many of these lists, and I don't think anyone here should be too dis-heartened if it doesn't.
I think Simon meant it'd give us a better idea of the actual numbers sold (if it crops up in those charts it'd be a healthy amount).

The Amazon chart unfortunately doesn't tell us much about that. For instance, 'Serenity' is back down to 30th place right now, so does that mean sales have dropped off sharply ? I suspect not but that means, to be consistent, i'd then also have to say the rise to 15th place wasn't much of an increase either.

Still, it seems fairly safe to assume some increase in sales (despite what pre-caffeinated me pointed out, everyone else's sales rates dropping off by pure coincidence seems extremely unlikely) and definitely in exposure, so basically A Good Thing. Plus, 4 day weekend coming up, w00t ;).
Thanks Saje, but I got what Simon meant. What I meant is that it if it shows up on an outlet's best-seller list it may mean that it sold a lot of copies, or it may mean that it didn't sell well, but that they have a lot of copies in stock and want to capitalise on all the buzz by making people think it's a really hot seller.

And if it doesn't show up on the chart that may mean it didn't sell well, or it may mean it sold a ton of copies but they don't want to waste a best-seller spot on it because it's just a short-term anomaly and they're low on stock and don't want to re-order more if sales aren't going to continue, and wouldn't it be better if we just used the spot to promote this other movie my friend at MGM is really pushing for, and how do you like my new MGM pen set - it's real silver you know.

Just sayin'.
I agree with Simon, but honestly every time I see Serenity top or finish respectably in such polls I am glad simply because it will draw more people attention's to the film and increase the sales figures. Every DVD sold is another one on the record and another tiny arrow in Joss' bow and it all makes a difference. The likelihood of getting a continuation to Firefly as we knew it is increasingly distant (if not impossible) but every time Firefly or Serenity scores a small victory, whether it is doing well in a poll, converting a new fan, selling another DVD, or getting a positive review or mention, it will only make more people, both audiences, networks and film studios, interested in giving Joss the power to continue the 'verse in some form and be allowed to finish his story this time.
I'm not sure if Amazon UK is anything like Amazon US; however, the US version updates its sales figures every hour. Therefore, regardless of whether it is at #15 or #30, it is still selling at a much higher rate than it was previously.

Serenity has received a pretty significant boost on Amazon US the past few days as well.
You know I think there are a lot of people who do not even know Serenity is a Science Fiction movie. So this has been a good thing.

I wonder if SFX will get more sales of their magazine.

Also I liked that the BBC website had a picture of the crew and not just a picture of one of the movie posters.
From the SFX article:

Serenity DVD has suddenly leapt into their "Movers and shakers" chart of titles with the biggest day-on-day increases in sales.


Hey, wonder if this whole thing will show up on an SFX cover.
...and there's the problem with online voting campaigns.
Just read the second comment on the SFX page.
Everyone buys the thing expecting to be blown away, and most of em are disappointed and never go near Whedon product again.

I love Serenity. It's intelligent and witty and involving and everything that TV / film should be.

But you have to discover it for yourself.
... or it may mean that it didn't sell well, but that they have a lot of copies in stock and want to capitalise on all the buzz by making people think it's a really hot seller.

Fair point AlanD. So given that knowledge and the fact we don't know actual figures for the Amazon rise, we have to take any sales chart with a pinch of salt, even if it tells us something we want to hear.

I'm just saying, let's not start printing the "I totally supported Serenity and all I got was this brilliant sequel" T-shirts quite yet. We all have a tendency to leap on any positive news as the best thing ever and spin any negative news out of existence, sometimes I find that a bit ... tiring.
Saje - "We all have a tendency to leap on any positive news as the best thing ever and spin any negative news out of existence, sometimes I find that a bit ... tiring."

Yeah, I'd have to agree. As I said further up the thread, I'd rather that we treat these things with the correct amount of realism and not make assumptions based on very little actual fact. I want a Serenity sequel as much as anyone but wishing isn't going to make it so.

That said, this is a very positive step towards it happening in my opinion and I absolutely would wear one of those t-shirts that Saje suggested, although I'd go with "shiny sequel", myself. ;)
We all have a tendency to leap on any positive news as the best thing ever and spin any negative news out of existence, sometimes I find that a bit ... tiring.

Heh. For me it's the other way round. Occassionally when something good happens, it can be talked to death and then turn negative.
I meant to start out (more) negative, dunno what came over me cos normally i'm nothing if not consistent while still being occasionally inconsistent but only for, y'know, consistency's sake ;).

Hey, if we keep talking I might feel good about it again ...

(or, let's not ;)
I hope it's ok to comment about the film itself, rather than the poll. As in, why I believe that fandom aside, Serenity deserves if not *the* top spot, certainly to be way up there with the best ever. Because all this discussion made me think a lot about "why do I really love this movie so much"? And the conclusion I came to is that it really doesn't have as much to do with the fandom, for me, as it does with the fact that Serenity actually *is* one of my favorite SciFi flms of all time.
I love a big sweeping perplexing metaphor driven film like "2001", but I think the brilliance of Serenity lies along very different lines. The flashback to a young River's "they meddle" speech in school, tells us everything we need to know about 1)why the Alliance is a "big brother" government and 2)why she was chosen by the Alliance for their experiments. That is in my book, great storytelling.
And I would argue that Joss's trademark stunning visuals and odd-angle shots put him right up there with the finest directors in the business. River's dream/vision sequence, walking with her lovely bare ballerina feet through over-sized flowers glowing with diffused white light ... that is IMO a take your breath away thing of beauty that compares favorably with the finest visuals of any of the other films mentioned, and surpasses most.

And I really believe that the argument that things like this poll do as much harm as good, are way off the mark. Of course there are going to be flamers and bashers and haters coming out of the cyber woodwork, but that always happens, no matter what. I say ignore them & take every opportunity we find to promote Joss and any & all his works that we deem worthy.
"Everyone buys the thing expecting to be blown away, and most of em are disappointed and never go near Whedon product again."

Being introduced to something with too high expectations is always dangerous (which is why I try to never to oversell things) but there is no way to know if *most* of the people are disappointed. The ones who are disappointed/angry are probably more likely to come on-line and tell people...especially if they were expecting a movie that was like Star Wars. Happy people are usually less likely to take the time to make a comment. Ecstatic people are probably investigating FFF or some other site.

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