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August 03 2007

Rope Of Silicon interview with Joss Whedon. A great discussion which covers the Serenity Collector's Edition DVD and the chances of a sequel: "Hope for it probably rests with this DVD". There's also some insight into what happened with Wonder Woman and there's even a Goners mention.

I hope the special edition of Serenity sells well enough for REAL talk of a sequel to start. Wouldn't that be sweet?

[ edited by Daburcor on 2007-08-03 10:09 ]
Hey, I've been busy with summer school for several weeks, did I miss anything big, 'cause I -- HOLY FRAKKIN' FRAK!!! :-D

Hope? There is actual Joss-sanctioned HOPE, even if it's still only a little teeny tiny bit? OK, folks, you heard the man -- we need to buy eleventy kabillion DVDs, NOW, yo! :-D

I've been lurking all summer, reading all the stories and posts I could [ESPECIALLY deanna b's amazing coverage of Joss's Comic-Con panel], just didn't have time to post -- in fact, I should be either working or sleeping right now, but Joss-brand Hope For Serenity(TM) on TOP of the Ripper/S9/Cabin in the Woods announcements? Dudes -- HAD to delurk, yo! ;-)

Stay shiny -- back to homework (just another 3 weeks, grrr) -- bye! :-)
Hey, billz, dude, good to see you after so much study-hibernation. Come back again when it's all over and frolic with us.

You came out just in time tonight to hear him mention being all Goners-buzzed after a meeting and mentioning - even just loosely - the potential for the S-word.

Would that be a 13th clipboard? Or is it one of the 12 already up there? It's worth buying a few jillion kabillion just to find out.
Twin billz! I have missed you and all your twinliness.

And, well...hope for a Serenity sequel still feels farfetched at this point. But, I mean, obviously Universal realizes there's still interest in it. Just I'm not gonna be holding out for anything. I know it's only a movie, but I don't wanna get hurt again.

Now, after that dose of pessimism...
*promptly hyperventilates at the mention of a possible sequel*

Though, y'know, the highlight of that interview is obviously at the end, when Joss says redonkulous.


Tee hee hee. Redonkulous.
With the board hating us like this, I've found the safest thing to do is copy your comment before you send it, then if it seems to fail, go back to home and check before you send it again. Might work.

I never knew about Iron Man. Joss probably doesn't tell fans these things unless he really thinks they're going to get done. Which makes all the things he does tell us about sound even more solid.

The trailer for Stardust is really bad. I hope it's just a bad trailer.
I love that there is at least a chance and I love that Serenity was in some form a success to Universal! I look at this site everyday looking for some Serenity 2 hope and I have been since before Serenity came out... I'm so glad that even though there has been little said good in terms of a future for Serenity, that I keep checking. I've since fallen in love with both Buffy and Angel - and that's come directly from spending time with you guys here... Now I'll take a little positive word on a film future for Serenity - make the good times even better!!! (I'm really excited about the new DVD - regardless of the impact it has on the future)... Can't wait for green lights...
redonkulous... Take the ass, the stubborn donkey - and no, this isn't the beginning of a joke, those nouns reference the same beast - and getting it to move is, like, hard. You know? And then, when all is settled, you find you gotta move that ass again. Redonkulous.
I have excerpts and a link to the whole article on the www.bigdamnsequel.com site, if anyone needs to share it with anyone else in an easy fashion.
This is very good news for every Browncoat everywhere, that took it on the chin about the BDM not making any money for the studio.

Joss says that the movie was in the Black in it's theatrical release. That means that the 40 million dollars included marketing.

Any news about a chance for a sequel in good, but news directly from Mr Whedon is fantastic.

We would ask The Buffy / Angel people to join us, in an attempt to make the CE Serenity number 1 on it's release. If the CE DVD does well the chance improve, if it doesn't, then there probably is no chance at all.

Help us out here people. Buy, Buy, Buy
I still can't understand how 55% of $39 million minus $40 million is a positive number. It simply isn't possible.
Theatrical was a disappointment, as everyone knows, but it did go into the black.


It is so awesome to finally hear that officially (unless it was said before, aside from the speculation... I haven't heard it officially until now).

[ edited by dispatch on 2007-08-04 02:40 ]
http://homevideo.universalstudios.com/details.php?childId=36897 Just in case, anybody wants to order the DVD direct from Universal as a Thank you and More Please!
That article prints up real pretty in color. I'm going to take one to the comic book store Saturday.
I still can't understand how 55% of $39 million minus $40 million is a positive number. It simply isn't possible.

Obviously there's context here that's escaping me. Fill in the blanks for me?
I think she means 55% (usual percentage spent on marketing, advertising, and prints, of the production budget) X $39 mil. (production budget) + production budget - $40 mil. (world-wide theatrical gross [first run]). If all the amounts are correct, it is a negative number. The part that's questionable, though, is the 55%. Did Universal really spend that, because it seems like one of their executives recently pretty much admitted that they skimped and hoped the Internet publicity would make up for it.

Plus Serenity's had theatrical showings after first run, which is not so common anymore.
TamaraC is correct here. Using any sort of industry maths used in movie financing departments, Serenity made a deeply negative amount of dollars on release. If Joss was told differently, somebody lied to him.

Serenity cost $40m production budget. You add a certain percentage on that for markeing (which, yes, was below what you'd normally spend for Serenity as I understand it, but not by a wide margin). Plus prints, distribution, promotion etc.

Theatres take a percentage of the $39m Serenity made at the world box office -- up to 55% in the US. Abroad, UIP also took a percentage on top of that. If you total it up, Serenity cost about $80m to make, give or take, and made around $18m for the studio in total which any kind of math. That's about $58m that movie lost Universal on release.

I've no idea how much it made on DVD, but suffice to say it's enough to justify another DVD. What I can say if the DVDs will be used to fill the financial hole from the movie release. Which isn't something Hollywood looks at as a successful franchise. Hence no sequel.
Gossi, I know that you're a much more film industry connected person than I am, but you're taking a hell of a lot on faith, in terms of the numbers. The numbers are not public. If they were, I could crunch them. I am a reasonably well-trained number cruncher and I suspect that rather than Joss is being lied to, to induce him to create new product, for no money to the owners, we are being lied to.
An ass, a stubborn donkey and a horse walk into a bar.

The barman says, "What's with the long faces ?".

"Fuck you" says the ass, on account of his nature.

(it's not funny cos it's not true ;)

Hey billz ! Hope we're not the reason you're in summer school (I remember you saying you should've been working when you were on here - that bloody QuoterGal, terrible influence ;-). Stick at it (and keep rockin' ;).

... because it seems like one of their executives recently pretty much admitted that they skimped and hoped the Internet publicity would make up for it.

dreamlogic if you mean that exec's comment in Variety last month then that is the spinniest spin i've heard all week, kudos ;).

(here's that "admission" for those interested: [of Joss posting on here about 'guerilla marketing' the BDM] "He was not persuading anyone who didn't have a vested interest," says one Universal marketing executive. "That's what mainstream marketing is for.")

I'm loathe to contradict Joss about his own film but up to now $39 million has been the widely accepted final theatrical take and to somehow 'wish' that into a profit on a $40 million film (nevermind all the extra costs people have already mentioned) seems slightly revisionist.

That said, eleventy kabillion coming up boss ;).

(in fact, should we play it safe and aim for twelvety gisquillion just to be sure ?)

ETA: Here's an interesting article on box-office and costs as far as studios are concerned, very illuminating.

[ edited by Saje on 2007-08-04 11:06 ]
I think I made a valid point, that Saje may also get when he's sober. I welcome all criticism.
Hah, it was five to 11 in the morning when I posted dl, much as I enjoy a tipple that would be extreme even by my standards.

What exactly did I say that would indicate being non compus mentis ? And where exactly did Universal pretty much admit anything ?

(or in other words, in time honoured Whedonesque tradition, play the ball old stick, if you don't mind)
You suggested that both Joss and I were are crazy. I'm not going to claim sanity for myself but, dude, it's Joss.

I really think that the published accounting for Serenity is wrong. They're asking him for something more from it, why?
Err, where in my post does the word crazy (or even the implication) appear dreamlogic ? And if your problem is with something i'm supposed to have said then take issue with that, please don't try to dismiss any and all points i've made by claiming i'm drunk.

I can't claim to know the actual figures for Serenity's box-office but the figures published at the time were saying it wasn't doing that well (why would Universal falsify box-office figures - or allow false figures to spread - at a time when that would, if anything, damage the film's prospects ?).

Also, couldn't they be asking him for something more from it in order to try to turn a profit (or break even) on what at the moment is a loss ? As the article I linked to mentions, studios make a lot more money on DVDs per unit sold than they do on box-office and Joss' stuff has a hard-core fanbase that are likely to buy his stuff to keep.
You know Joss may have been told theater release was in the black or may have been told some legal terms in writing. Here is the quote.

It's a success to the studio or else we wouldn't be doing a special edition DVD. They actually admitted as much on paper, which you know studios are loathe to do, and that was actually from the theatrical. Theatrical was a disappointment, as everyone knows, but it did go into the black.


In the black may mean that the theater release made more than budget even though Universal stopped the theater release to make sure the movie made less than budget. Because something bad happens when a movie makes more than budget. Maybe they have to send out a letter to Writers/Directors saying your movie has made more than budget or some legal mumble jumble.

And looking at that article that Saje posted on box-office. It definitely looks like the USA deal for Serenity would be added into Serenity's column. Also I would think HBO, Showtime, Cinemax (and they keep showing the movie) .

And USA just picked up the rights to air Firefly recently.
From Universal Home Entertainment: Serenity Collector's Edition on DVD August 21, 2007

Hey, I'm gonna print up the article and the press release for the libraries too. They could just buy the DVD too! And maybe they will post the articles in the library.

And remember some libraries have a FREE purchase suggestion request form you can fill out!

START FILLING OUT THOSE FORMS!
I really think - despite what Joss says - that the only reason a Special Edition DVD is happening is because the original version of the DVD sold really well. It's got nothing to do with the theatrical release. Overall, studios are making more money in the home video market than they do with theatrical releases anyway - so if they think they can make money from a Special Edition DVD, they will.
It definitely looks like the USA deal for Serenity would be added into Serenity's column. Also I would think HBO, Showtime, Cinemax (and they keep showing the movie) .

That's a fair point Anonymous1. If the money from those various deals is included in the box-office figures then that would seem to put it over the production budget so, by one - IMO fairly narrow - definition, the movie may well be in the black (whether it is after you add prints, distribution, marketing etc. to its costs and then take out the hefty percentage the cinemas themselves take from box-office receipts is obviously open to debate).

... that the only reason a Special Edition DVD is happening is because the original version of the DVD sold really well.

Exactly. Taken separately and given the high profit margin with DVDs i'd say 'Serenity' on DVD is doing very nicely for Universal and has the sort of fans that are likely to double dip if the extras are in any way worthwhile (which it sounds like Joss has ensured they are). Hell, i'll be buying this release (to sit beside my other two editions) and will very likely buy the HD release too if and when I get a player. Doubt i'm any different to a lot of folk here in that respect.
Theatrical was a disappointment, as everyone knows, but it did go into the black.


Headline: Cap'n Joss Pilots Serenity 'Into the Black'
Someone's conveniently leaving out the context of the Serenity marketing quote. Let's look at that context now:

The DVD was such a hit that Universal produced "Serenity," banking that Whedon's loyal "browncoats" would launch the movie. Unfortunately, "Serenity" never broke beyond those cult followers. "He was not persuading anyone who didn't have a vested interest," says one Universal marketing executive. "That's what mainstream marketing is for."


I emboldened the context Saje left out, becuase it informs the real meaning of what the anonymous marketing executive says at the end. The admission here is implicit, not explicit, and is obvious to anyone who remembers that Universal didn't actually do any meaningful mainstream marketing for the movie.

So when a marketing executive says "that's what mainstream marketing is for" in this particular context, the unspoken and understood part is "of course, we didn't actually do any because we were banking on Browncoats to launch the movie".
I provided the link to the actual article and if you check back to the thread (and my posts in it) you'll see that what you're suggesting was one of the interpretations I (among others) put forward.

The text you've emboldened was, of course, not part of what the Universal exec said, so was, in fact, part of the interpretation the Variety writer put on his/her quote. Which is why it's still incorrect to claim they admitted to anything and is a pretty much perfect example of how misinformation spreads on t'intarwebs (someone interprets a quote, someone else interprets that interpretation and before we know it we're all whispering in Chinese).

The truth is we don't know what context the marketing exec was commenting in, we only know the context the Variety writer placed the comment in. It's strange to me that for nearly 2 years we accepted that the film was not a financial success then after one quote from Joss we just about turn and see it as the other thing, but there you go, people are strange (in the good way ;) and are keen to believe whatever they're keen to believe.
It is my understanding that marketing costs are not usually added to the production costs for purposes of deciding whether or not the movie went 'into the black'. Certainly when you look at an extremely expensive film (War of the Worlds, Evan Almighty, and others which got huge promotions from the studio) they still only discuss the actual production costs versus the box office sales.
The text you've emboldened was, of course, not part of what the Universal exec said, so was, in fact, part of the interpretation the Variety writer put on his/her quote.

Or was in fact the context or background of the conversation, but the reporter just didn't use a direct quote.

I suppose it's just the three years covering local politics that prompts me to read such paragraphs in certain ways. Through that lens, it reads like an admission.

*shrug*
embers: It may not usually be taken into account in outside discussions like these, but I guarantee the studio number crunchers are keenly aware of the marketing/prints/theater-take amount. I still don't see how Serenity could possibly be in the black from theatrical release alone; with DVD profits, maybe.

ETA: About the TV rights, USA Network is a tentacle of NBC Universal, so there is no real sale of the rights. Any revenue from TV will come only from advertising.

[ edited by jlp on 2007-08-04 19:27 ]

[ edited by jlp on 2007-08-04 19:32 ]
Yeah theonetruebix, we all bring our own stuff to everything. My own first instinct is to always read everything in the most cynical light possible (I am, in British vernacular, "a right neggy bastard" ;) so I constantly fight against that and the best method for doing so (for me) is to try to approach everything literally and then, by application, carefully test increasing levels of cynicism until I get to the straw that breaks that much abused Camel's back ;).

Having something of a sciencey sort of mindset I guess i'm also very conscious of unstated assumptions, however much I might want to believe them (probably especially then, on those occasions when I manage to be honest with myself).

In an ideal world, if that was the verbal context the exec gave then the reporter should've included the entire quote but it isn't and she didn't and so we're left floundering in the dark. So it goes.

(and haven't we all seen enough internet daftness, even around Joss, to wonder about the veracity - and context - of every quote we read on here ?)
I'm sorry about the "drunk" comment, Saje. It was because of the odd joke you made, that I didn't understand (the one with the donkeys). Still very rude of me.

Another comment Joss made recently, and I can't remember whether is was in this same interview or not, that they all worked for "pennies," could shed light on why or why not he might be told the truth about the gross. If he doesn't have gross points, and he wouldn't have been a position to negotiate for them, or even wanted to try to, probably, they'd have no reason to lie to him about it. The studios do lie about things like that, and they get away with it, but always with a profit motive. If they're trying to butter him up now about the profitability, I think it means they want something.

Of course this is all speculation. But because we're so interested, we try to read those tea leaves.
Madame, you overestimate me, I am more than capable of being odd as well as uncouth and inappropriate without being drunk (i.e. accepted and with no hard feelings ;).

(upthread, RhaegarTargaryen had said: "Take the ass, the stubborn donkey - and no, this isn't the beginning of a joke ..." which was like the proverbial red-rag to what was intended to be a start of the weekend, playful bull ;)

Yeah, Marvel films did the same thing to Stan Lee. He had 10 points on profit which was, on 'Spiderman', somewhat surprisingly (even 'amazingly' ;) given that at the time it was one of the highest grossing films ever, NOT very much money at all. Stan took them to court and also, thankfully, to the cleaners but it shows what can happen.

However, whenever studios have tried that sort of thing (AFAIK) they do it not by falsifying box-office figures but by 'creating' expenses which push the film out of net profit so I just don't see what Universal would gain by lying about the box-office receipts at the time (course, that doesn't mean they didn't, just that I can't see why - I don't work in films or finance so i'm far from an expert).
I'd like to echo Saje on the need to consider all the context that we *don't* know when reading a quote. We don't know if "That's what mainstream marketing is for" was a comment about Serenity's marketing in particular or about the purpose of mainstream marketing in general. We don't even know if that particular Universal exec worked on Serenity's marketing campaign. (I would mention the number of years I've spent in journalism if only it were less appallingly large.)

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-08-04 20:56 ]
I guess the notion is, at least for me, that we all accepted that Serenity was a financial loss in the theatres, but then we have someone who is near and dear to all of our hearts who we all respect and admire, say that Serenity is in the black from theatrical, well, I guess it gives us pause. Now I am not going to think that Joss was "lied" to , or that he was fibbing to the interviewer. I am not going to dismiss the notion of financial loss(I try to be realistic, even though my hope is unrealistic), but maybe Joss made a mistake, and may have meant something else, and that it made a profit from everything combined, not just theatrical revenues. Maybe the interviewer misheard the quote from Joss. Anyways either way, it doesn't matter. I bought my special edition, and I am waiting with antici .... pation. And I hope against hope that we have more of the verse.

Hopefully with vehicles like Babylon 5 lost tales, dead like me direct to dvd movie, and the Stargate franchise direct to dvd movies, Sanctuary internet webisodes, that we will have more of these genre stuff that a smaller audiance will be able to get(and the studio will make money off of).
Ok, i tried editing my previous comment, but its just giving me error upon error, so creating anew comment. Anyways, I forgot to add that they will be making (only small few minute long though) webisodes of Farscape. I think if all of these franchises produce profits, that there are more chances of Firefly/Serenity coming back, although like Joss said, earlier the cast were willing to work for pennies, dunno if that would be the case for either direct to dvd or online webisodes for more of the 'verse.
Saje, you're right that expenses are how they usually falsify, but...

Oh, this is going to be a long post, and meaningless and boring to most, I apologize in advance.

Math and science is not a good background for this kind of tea leaf-reading. Not that I know what's really going on, I don't, but I was trained in creating the b.s. numbers, so my cynicism runs deeper than yours. The math professors who had to teach business students at my university used to complain about having to teach "cookbook" math. They were right, but missing the point. Money math can't use the entire number system, it's limited to real numbers that can be rendered to no more than two places to the right of the decimal point. Not that they don't try. As a finance student, I had to learn a formula stalking the ever-elusive cost of capital that used the quadratic formula. That always produces two results. If they're both real numbers, you interpolate them. If one of them's complex, you just toss it out because there are no imaginary numbers in money math. We don't need no steenking rigor!

Of course adding up box office should be just addition (if they're honest), but analyzing profit is complicated, and over the heads of you simple folk, and involves stuff with divining from animal entrails that you don't even want to know about.

That's just the technical difficulties. Money numbers are also often polluted with greed-driven guile and perfidy. Short version - just because something is written in Arabic numerals, doesn't mean it's really a number.
Saje: "...that bloody QuoterGal, terrible influence ;-)"

*flounces off in high dudgeon, but shimmies back when she remembers that a) she had something to say and that b) his allegation is true.*

1) The art of quoting is the very dickens.
("The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him."-- Robert Benchley)

2) No one in the history of mankind has ever truly known the net of a film besides those at the studio's very tippy-top, except maybe an accountant or four, who were probably secretly killed and buried under cover of dark beneath a sound stage. This is part of the long, mysterious history of "creative accountancy" also known as, "Hollywood Math."

3) I assume "in the black" - (oh, happy phraseology) meant that Universal had said to Joss that ginormous DVD sales had helped them re-coup Serenity expenses.

4) Here's what I found most interesting from the interview (aside from the *yay!* Goners-mentions and the fact that Joss continues to sound pretty damn bouncy):

ROS: "So give me hope for a Serenity II."
JW: "Hope for it probably rests with this DVD."


Whatever anybody else says, that means something to me. Joss doesn't say stuff like that lightly, knowing how it'll be chewed up, digested, released and spread around in the wild.

Since I'm fully confident that Joss doesn't play us for DVD profits, he has reason to believe this is so. I find that meaningful, and I'd betcha all those actors would travel through the fabric of time itself to work with Joss again. As we all would to see it.
Well even in science, throughout academia.. when presenting results... there is always the "massaging" of results, where the they are put in the best possible light, and 20 different parameters are set to have those results(and sometimes they don't give you those parameters) So I have had experience where trying to make sense of and implement an algorithm where the results look nothing like what they presented...very frustrating but when you find out how much massaging parameter tuning, it becomes virtually impossible to replicate the results, unless you do some voodoo divinitation (or get the person's code).
I really think that the published accounting for Serenity is wrong.

I don't think so -- Universal publish the numbers, and they are accountable to parent companies, shareholders etc. They certainly wouldn't fudge numbers to make them look low.

There's a great link above on how box office numbers are crunched, and here's another excellent link on how movies are budgeted. In it, you'll find the complete budgets for several of the biggest Hollywood films of a few years ago. In tiny, tiny detail. Somebody leaked them to The Smoking Gun. In it, you'll see where money is pissed up the wall in movies. It's quite entertaining seeing actors who are on the screen for 2 minutes costing more than the entire special effects budget for Serenity.
They are the spending records, not the budgets per se, gossi, and there is a lot of information about each film's financials that they don't show:

The records provide a line-by-line account of spending on each movie up to its completion, but do not reveal what the studio paid after that point for marketing and advertising (that secondary sum usually adds tens of millions to a movie's total cost).

And though it is in some ways very revealing spending-dish, I'm sure that it doesn't even contain a fully accurate picture of the spending. Expenses are fudged and shifted in most enterprises all the time, depending on who needs to make who look good, and who look bad, and who's got the power to do it.

And gotta say, anyway, gossi - I've been around too long in both 1) non-profit budgeting & reporting and 2) the world, to be much convinced by anyone's official papers. The real truth is inside some people's heads, and that is all.

Hundreds of people were involved in the myriad reporting that went on to assemble these reports, in addition to the legions involved in the reporting that was gathered for the marketing expense reports and the ultimate crunching not shown here, and they all have different motives for skewing their piece of it higher or lower. There is no one concerted motive of making the take look high.

This is not to say that I necessarily believe that Serenity made more money than folks have been told. I'm just saying that I don't believe financials just because they were reported or on paper or submitted to TBTB, and that different players on any one movie have different motives for making certain aspects read higher or lower.

I'm very sceptical about little pieces of paper with numbers on them is all. I've seen too many people in too many places write fiction with 'em.
Well "wrong" is such a harsh, gutteral, anglo-saxon-y word. I shouldn't have used it. Annual reports are produced for stockholders, usually in the case of a big company audited by one of the big accounting firms (who went down one number in the fallout from the Enron debacle, remember). They show the rosiest possible snapshot, at a particular time, of a very complex set of internal books that don't share that artificial deadline with the reports, but are ongoing. In the case of the studios, they're always trying to minimize revenue reported to profit participants (like I said, I doubt Joss is one), while maximizing revenue to get ready for their face time with the Home Office.

"There is no truth" might have been said of accounting, especially studio accounting. I think QG's description was apt. I still think that if they're talking sweet to Joss, they're either making money or anticipating it.
Heh, that's pretty interesting gossi. Bryce Howard (and Halley Joel Osment) only got $150,000 ? And by my reckoning the drivers got paid nearly the same hourly rate as the teachers. No offence to drivers but that seems a bit off. Still, gotta say i'm with QuoterGal to some extent, there are certainly a lot of round numbers on that document and that doesn't scream accuracy to me ;).

That always produces two results. If they're both real numbers, you interpolate them.

What a mess. I reckon we should bin it all and just go back to swapping chickens ;).

See that's the thing dreamlogic, with some numbers (admittedly in the ideal case) the very point of accumulating them is to have them be accurate, to understand more about what they represent. As soon as other considerations (profit, or as kurya implies, stuff like tenure or grant money or a passing grade) become the aim or part of it, the data are prone to corruption.

("The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him."-- Robert Benchley)

Heh, I like that ;), sort of a semi-recursive, semi-paradoxical quote (it's too sensible to make a monkey of him with, which therefore makes a monkey of him ;).

ROS: "So give me hope for a Serenity II."
JW: "Hope for it probably rests with this DVD."


See, I believe Joss means that too QuoterGal but I also think he doesn't like breaking hearts unnecessarily (cue comments from Tara fans ;) and, taken literally, what he says is absolutely true. If the DVD sold by the millions then Universal would be stupid (and uncaring about profit, like, err, all huge multinationals ;) not to do more with the 'verse. But that's a slim hope IMO, even if it is still hope.

(to me Joss as much as admits this in his answer to the next question: "Well it's probably not being discussed in boardrooms right now, but the fact of the matter is if it makes enough money sooner or later they say "hey, this is money!"")

(or get the person's code)

Yeah, I was a bit aghast when I found out (from a blog so not exactly totally reliable) that publishing source with results isn't that common. I mean, even at the most basic level, if data are generated by a program then you need to at least know the program's correct (or anything you do using those results is suspect, built on sand).

Still, all data have "outliers" kurya, it's just some data have more "outliers" than others ;).
ETA: About the TV rights, USA Network is a tentacle of NBC Universal, so there is no real sale of the rights. Any revenue from TV will come only from advertising.


As far as the film division goes, it's as valid a source of income as any other. The various divisions in conglomerates such as NBC/Uni keep an arms length relationship. It was an expense to USA and income to Universal. (Remember when Time-Warner Cable had to negotiate to use the WB film division's Road Runner character to market their cable modem service? It was embarrassing since they'd already named it Road Runner. Just because they were all "family" didn't mean they could skip the inter-business formalities and accounting.) Universal film got the income from the deal with USA, USA will get the ad revenue.
Wm54, thanks. People forget that divisions under a big corporate umbrella still act autonomously and that goes for all financial transactions between said divisions.

The money has to be accounted for somewhere when corporate rolls up all the separate divisions to report to Wall Street. The easiest way to do this is for all divisions to keep separate accounts and treat sister divisions as different entities.

In other words, USA will pay as much to Universal for the rights to show Serenity as they would pay to Paramount, 20th, or Sony.

Universal will then report that as revenue attributable to Serenity.

(or get the person's code)

Yeah, I was a bit aghast when I found out (from a blog so not exactly totally reliable) that publishing source with results isn't that common. I mean, even at the most basic level, if data are generated by a program then you need to at least know the program's correct (or anything you do using those results is suspect, built on sand).


From my experience as a former academic ghostwriter, most of them don't know the code if you asked them. They just use the program, and have no idea if they even inputed the data correctly, certainly not having any gut instincts from actually comprehending and applying statistics from the courses they're somehow credited with.

It's satanic, like accounting.
FWIW, the interview has a FFF.net post regarding some of this.
Please note my response to Laremy as I'm addressed personally in his post on FFF.net.
I don't want there to be a misunderstanding as to what he was responding to.


(Edited because the FWIW was a failed attempt to quote Bix properly and when I posted I didn't notice it stayed. It was late...and I'm still none too good at posting here. Sorry about that.)

[ edited by FollowMal on 2007-08-05 21:25 ]
I printed the article and UNI press release and left them at two comic book stores today.

I tried to pre-order (they are checking on it) the Serenity Collector's Edition at Borders today. I showed the article with Joss's pic and the DVD cover and said I wanted to pre-order this movie. Boom, I found a Serenity fan who didn't know. That employee turned to the next employee who came by and told them about it.

Barnes and Noble stores that have DVD departments can pre-order the SCE DVD.

Will try FYE sometime next week.
A guy who sat down at the table next to my outside my regular coffeeshop this morning saw my local charity screening shirt and said, "You know the special edition is coming out soon."

Fortunately, I avoided saying anything snarky.

It only occurs to me now that it would have been more interesting to say, "Really?" and see what he'd say about it. Heh.
Hmmm, Universal DVD department is paying attention. USA loves characters or something similiar is their motto. USA fights for the rights for Firefly with the Sci-Fi Channel and wins. Already has the rights to show Serenity. I'm excited! And I've got plasticy money!
B!x,

You missed your chance to plug Nathan being on Desperate Housewives. Snark. Snark.

Hoping a bunch of One Life to Live (Nathan 8/17/2007) fans and desperate housewives buy the Serenity CE DVD. I think there are a couple million of them.

I wore my Serenity Cast Photo t-shirt today! Wore my Serenity logo Shirt to work Friday. Gonna wear the 2007 Can't stop the Serenity shirt next Friday.

[ edited by Anonymous1 on 2007-08-05 08:04 ]
Theatrical was a disappointment, as everyone knows, but it did go into the black.
dispatch | August 04, 02:40 CET


And that is why there's a Special Edition coming out.
Uni sees that the movie (and the Firefly boxed set, I'm sure) are still making money and that's the important thing to the corporation and the shareholders.
"Holy crap!" say the corporate exec reading the numbers from the DVD sales. "This thing is still selling!"
"We gotta put out a Special Edition, and if that has legs, we're gonna have to do a sequel...and make some more money!"
It's all about the Benjamins.
As for me, I have a model of Serenity (the ornament) on my desk at my new job. To my surprise---well, not so much as I work with engineers, scientists and geeks---many of them know about Serenity. Some even know about Firefly. I've got my DVDs loaned out to 3 different people 1 disk at a time.
And the common reaction after viewing is always: "Is there more? Whaddaya mean they canceled it?!? Are they crazy???", and "When's the sequel come out?"
On Monday, I'm going to be wearing my "Dear Buddha..." t-shirt.
: )
Reading the audio transcript of the interview over at FFF, I still don't think Joss meant that the box office profits (PROFITS, not revenue) made the Serenity go into the black. I think he was referring to box office plus other revenue streams and I say, "Yay" to that.

I'm so glad it has become profitable. That and the Farscape webisodes (Browder and O'Bannon are on board) gives hope to this eternal pessimist and cynic.
Saje, dude, thanks for the sympathy. The classes I'm making up are actually ones I screwed up not this past year, but the year before, just being a smartassed teenaged smartass. With a little ADD, in my defense. But, if you are feeling terribly guilty, please feel free to send me cash to soothe your guilty conscience, and I'll be happy to forgive you, yo. But, please note that this does not in any way lessen QuoterGal's terrible influence. ;-)

And speaking of QG -- I agree with her that the most important thing in the whole article wasn't the profit announcement, but that Joss, who has always said don't hold your breath, nothing's happening, is suddenly saying there is some kind of hope somewhere, and it happens to be resting on something we can affect -- Special Edition DVD sales. You know that I have always been one of the first to piss on dampen the pie-in-the-sky wishes of people who bounced onto THIS black with unrealistic hopes. (Mmmm, pie.) Joss is not one for unrealistic, so when he merely repeated the word "hope," that gave me some, at long last. ;-)

TamaraC, your explanation sounds reasonable -- box office plus other revenue = profit finally. I also wonder if maybe there was some overseas revenues that came in very late and were never included in the $39 million we hear, but is in that overall amount that made it go into the black?

I would also guess the "in writing" Joss was talking about was some kind of formal report the studio had to issue him as a writer and director, rather than a public document (press release, interview, etc.) that we might have seen. This sounds like behind-the-scenes stuff, not news for the public.

*fades back to lurkdom to finish his gorram paper for Tuesday*
But, if you are feeling terribly guilty, please feel free to send me cash to soothe your guilty conscience, and I'll be happy to forgive you, yo.

You know, I think I can find a way to live with it billz ;-).

FWIW, please note my response to Laremy as I'm addressed personally in his post on FFF.net.
I don't want there to be a misunderstanding as to what he was responding to.


FWIW, I didn't really have much doubt that Joss said what he said (to we fans at least it's a fairly big deal so the journalist/Laremy would be pretty daft to just outright make it up), though I do still wonder at 'Serenity' being in the black overall. I mean, if the total budget for everything was $40 million (i.e. including marketing, prints, distribution, MPAA fees etc.) and TV deals/other revenues are included in the box-office then I could maybe see it (even allowing for the cinema's take). But if that were the case and I were Joss i'd be shouting from the rooftops that I made a film that, in parts, rivals $100 million films on looks for something like $20 million. And didn't he say in a few interviews at the time that he had to compromise in order to make the movie for $40 million ? And don't reported budgets for films usually never include things like prints, marketing and so on ?

(I don't see how we can include DVD sales though - unless Joss just got things wrapped around his neck and showed his 'The Core' lovin' clay feet again ;) - because he explicitly says "theatrical")

There's bad information somewhere along the line but I suspect we'll never know where (though I certainly don't lay it at the journalist's door - that said, it was interesting to read the transcript and see the little variances in emphasis that happen just by cleaning something up for public consumption, in an ideal world, i'd love for all online interviews to include a link to the raw transcript at the bottom so we could judge for ourselves if/how the 'cleaning' changed things).

And though I don't read his comments about sequels with anything like the hope others do (to me "Hope for it probably rests with this DVD." means only that this is probably one of our last chances to make Universal enough money to consider a sequel, even through cheaper channels, because there won't be any more releases - until the 10th Anniversary Special Special Edition of course ;) i'm glad other people are happy.
Saje: "i'd love for all online interviews to include a link to the raw transcript at the bottom so we could judge for ourselves if/how the 'cleaning' changed things)."

Oh, man, I second that, bigtime. And more than online interviews, too... Having personally cleaned up too many interviews to make severely inarticulate people sound coherent, I have a pretty healthy scepticism about most of 'em... except, of course, in Joss' case, where you'd just have to deal with the mountain of verbiage he'd fling at you, and remove his place-holder words.

And Saje, I'm one of those people has never had any hope for a sequel, and I used to just get annoyed when other people did. But this remark just seemed like a slightly different class of thing - not a big hope, by any means, but any hope at all was the big shockeroo for me. Like billz suggested, the standard Joss-thing for many moons has been "Well, I never rule out anything in this crazy universe, but don't hold your breath..." This just seemed a little - a very little different is all, and I thought, "Well, that's interesting... But not tons more than that...

And I'm really just saying all that to exert more of my turrible, turrible influence (yo, billzy, the "check's in the mail.") I hate the thought of anyone ever logging off the board, and say, going to sleep or something, 'cepting maybe me, and like now.
You know what I find interesting? Anything that Joss says about Buffy / Angel / Fray / Goners and now Ripper, is absolutely gospel,
but when it comes to Serenity, Joss is either a liar or a naive dupe to Universal. This is amazing to me.

It doesn't seem to matter to some of you that Joss has access to actual numbers that we don't. That's all good, everyone should believe what they choose, but it makes me wonder.

I see a lot of people saying what "usually is" and what "might be" but only the studio and Joss know the truth and since the studio is not releasing anything, you will either have to believe in Joss or not.

All of you naysayers might be absolutely right in saying that this is all wrong and there is no future for the franchise and that the CE DVD is only an attempt to get more money for Universal. I can only say this. I will be buying the DVD because doing nothing only guarantees nothing, doing something, may get something.
Anything that Joss says about Buffy / Angel / Fray / Goners and now Ripper, is absolutely gospel, but when it comes to Serenity, Joss is either a liar or a naive dupe to Universal. This is amazing to me.

That's because what he says about "Buffy / Angel / Fray / Goners and now Ripper" doesn't contradict every other piece of information we've previously had about those projects, what he's saying about 'Serenity' does.

And I don't think anyone's claiming this is all wrong or that there's no future for this 'franchise' (just can't bear to use that word without the quotes, especially about 'Serenity'), we're merely expressing doubts, like free, independently thinking folk should do. Presumably you only find that admirable in fiction Obsidian Mon ?

As i've already said, i'll also be buying the DVD though not in the hope that we'll be 'repaid' with a sequel, just because I think it's a great film and I think Joss has taken pains to make the extra extras worth owning.

I see a lot of people saying what "usually is" and what "might be" but only the studio and Joss know the truth and since the studio is not releasing anything, you will either have to believe in Joss or not.

No, only the studio knows the truth. And I believe that Joss believes them, I just don't believe that Joss has never been wrong in his entire life or believed something that's not true (or has been 'spun' in a certain way, it doesn't even need to be a straightforward lie, there might be no malice on any side). Jokes on here aside, he's not a god, he's a man and makes mistakes, just like me.

The facts are, the final theatrical take for Serenity (as reported in several places at the time) did not equal the film's budget as mentioned by Joss at the time (even before the cinemas took their slice and we add costs for prints, marketing etc.). So, presumably, you're claiming Universal misrepresented the figures then but now they're being completely aboveboard ? Why, because what they're saying now is what you want to hear ?
As far as the possibilities of a Sequel goes, I think a paraphrase of "Safe" is in order...

"It's a Long-Shot."

"Yeah, but it's Our Long-Shot, so let's do our best!"

What Saje said. No one is doubting Joss' veracity. We are just trying to understand a statement that makes no sense.

Thanks, Saje.
Show business accounting has always been...fluid. Definitions change according to what is best for the studios. For instance, as has been said, if someone has a cut of the profits, there will never be any profits. If they are telling Joss that the theatrical run made it to the black, I'm guessing that the definition of "theatrical" is a little different than most people are assuming...because...fluid.

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