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"I like my evil like I like my men... evil."
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August 07 2007

Joss Whedon - the Amazon.com interview. Great discussion about Firefly and Serenity (plenty of material for fans to chew over). He also chats about whether he'd return to a weekly tv series and his love for Battlestar Galactica.

Wait... does he say the commentary is a screen-within-a-screen, and not just the voices, if you're watching in Hi-Def?
I've listened to this a couple of times and Joss certainly seems to say than in Hi-Def the commentary is a screen-within-a-screen. But I don't understand because this isn't a hi-def release as far as I know. Perhaps there will be an HD-DVD Serenity Collectors Edition.
"The movie in theaters, did make money, but not the kind of money that people rush out to make sequels."

What a dupe this guy must be. In two separate interviews he has implied that Serenity made money, while in theaters. So what if he has it in writing from Universal. As so many have pointed out here, that isn't possible, because of the way other movies have been handled in the past. Surely Universal followed the exact same pattern that is always followed, so either Mr Whedon in lying or he is being lied to and he is not smart enough to check it out, before he makes two separate statements in two separate interviews.

It's not like he does lots of interviews. It's not like he doesn't know that others will be following his every word when it comes to this property. It has to be one or the other right? Either he is lying, or he was lied to and did not check into it, there by helping Universal milk the fans for more money, right???
I think it just might be that Joss is neither a liar nor a fool. Call it a hunch.
Wow, no offense to Amazon because they get A LOT of my money but that interviewer kind of sucked. No personality whatsoever. Joss was cracking jokes (the way he does) and that dude was just silent. What a toad.
This was a great interview - might even be forced to transcribe this one for the sheer quotey-ness of it all. I especially enjoyed his remarks about Battlestar Galactica as "the next step" in genre's portrayal of strong women: "...they're not the point. They're in the mix - they just matter."

And yeah, Pointy, not only do I have that same intuition about the Jossir, I can't help but mention out that I think it's rude to call him either. Ya know, call me old-fashioned, but...
What a fun interview! Thanks for finding this Simon, you've made my day! Just hearing that Joss is open to returning to television is exciting for me.
Great interview, but only because Joss was in it.

The interviewer needs to practice emoting less. His questions need to be posed drier, with less reaction and more awkward silences, especially after the interviewee tells a joke. I could almost tell the interviewer was a real human being with actual feelings. I would recommend he go for the "cardboard delivery." You know, stiff and non-reacting, like a Vulcan, or maybe like some primitive artificial intelligence with a monotone voice.

We, the buying audience, always go for that bland lack of emtion stuff.
I partly suspect that the interviewer might have re-recorded his half later on, accounting for the disconnect.
Obsidian Mon this isn't the first time you've made derogatory comments like this. So tone it down considerably. If you want talk about this further feel free to email me.
Oh, I thought Obsidian Mon was being sarcastic about the fact that so many people online seem to know so much more about the business and the money Serenity may or may not have made than Joss does.
“Shakespeare and the Greeks…” I love it… good interview. I love that we are still talking about Serenity and getting new interviews nearly two years later. Anyone still talking about Flight Plan? I don’t get why all the hostility over whether or not Serenity made money or didn’t… Does it matter at this point. Sure it does to somebody somewhere making decisions about the future of the franchise but I mean to us as fans. I’m sorry it wasn’t a huge hit because it deserved to be, but otherwise I take it for what it is… Not worth us arguing over for sure… LOVE brothers and sisters… ;-)
Yeah, Obsidian Mon needs to learn the sarcasm font, if we still have one ;). He's been complaining about our number noodling and lack of faith on the other threads.

Can't. Get. Interview. To. Play! :(
Oh, I thought Obsidian Mon was being sarcastic about the fact that so many people online seem to know so much more about the business and the money Serenity may or may not have made than Joss does.

Rereading the post with that in mind, I'm inclined to agree with you.

And I love interviews. Not a novel thought, I know, but I really do. Especially interviews where Joss says he would like to return to TV. Gives me smiles.
I think it just might be that Joss is neither a liar nor a fool. Call it a hunch.

Makes sense to me. But wait a minute wouldn't that make:

Either he is lying, or he was lied to and did not check into it, there by helping Universal milk the fans for more money, right???

a blatant false dichotomy designed merely to inflame ? You know I think it just might ...

The interviewer's inflection is uncommonly flat/a bit unusual (it actually sort of reminds me of Kenny from '30 Rock' crossed with Andrew from Buffy in the way that it sometimes doesn't match the actual words ;). Re: not laughing etc. maybe he just turned his microphone off while Joss was answering ?

(not sure if he re-recorded his questions - though he might've and just mixed it pretty well - because when he asks about the industry trend of strong women Joss, clearly warming to an important subject, actually sort of talks over him. And yeah, 'Charmed' kinda did miss the point a bit didn't it ?)

Nice interview. The stuff about the women of BSG being 'just' other characters was spot on, they're really just well rounded people among a whole bunch of well rounded people, some of whom happen to have compelling bumps ;).

(it made me wonder, has that happened for gay characters yet, in mainstream TV I mean ? I think it has for black characters - or characters played by black actors rather)

And "Well, Shakespeare and the Greeks" made me chuckle out loud ;). Wesley, BTW, is a classically tragic character if ever there was one IMO.

Oh, I thought Obsidian Mon was being sarcastic about the fact that so many people online seem to know so much more about the business and the money Serenity may or may not have made than Joss does.

Err, is that really that hard to believe ? If Joss said he'd discovered a Grand Unified Theory tomorrow and a physics grad on here called bullshit, would we all sit around saying "Oh come on dude, this is Joss frikkin' Whedon !" ?

(we've simple been going by figures published at the time, for all to see and the not unreasonable assumption that marketing costs money, like, stop the presses, right ? And rather than snarky rhetoric, counter-arguments would really be cool, y'know ?)
Saje said:
"If Joss said he'd discovered a Grand Unified Theory tomorrow and a physics grad on here called bullshit, would we all sit around saying "Oh come on dude, this is Joss frikkin' Whedon !" ?"
Ah but we have the opposite situation here:
We have people who have never made a movie or run a production company saying that they know more than a man who has done those things.
embers: "Oh, I thought Obsidian Mon was being sarcastic about the fact that so many people online seem to know so much more about the business and the money Serenity may or may not have made than Joss does."

Ahhh... if, as dreamlogic says, he's been vocal about folks' lack of faith, the added context must make me conclude sarcasm. (I think our sarcastic sarcasm font was either this or this, but if one's not completely sure people know you well enough, a simple "/sarcasm" will do...

And yeah, b!x, I agree absolutely that the questions were re-taped later, and inserted, thus adding to the lifeless quality of the interviewer.

And also yeah, embers, for the most part, I think you're right...

...now I can barely post past the server's hiccuping...
No, we have people who, in the past, have strongly hinted that they work in finance for an entertainment company/studio. And we have people using articles from people who also claim the same. And we have people whose jobs depend on being skeptical about hidden assumptions and the examination of evidence.

If I wanted someone to look at a narrative and just know what was wrong and how to fix it, I would call Joss Whedon above any other living person I can think of. If I wanted someone to look at accounts, analyse numbers, be pedantic about definitions, understand the power of figures to obscure and generally be skeptical about evidence then, no offence to Joss, but he wouldn't be my top pick.

Joss knows how to make films/TV, IMO better than pretty much anyone else alive. That's not the same as knowing how film and TV accountancy works and it's not the same as having the sort of personality that must question every piece of evidence presented to him.
Saje, if you are referring to me, I do not work for a studio, never have and have never claimed to. I may soon (if the interview gods are with me).

Let's see if this actually posts...
Yep I was, in which case I retract that portion of that post.

(and good luck TamaraC ;)

OK, we know nothing, rhetoric wins the day (ah, 'twas ever thus ;).

(and Milo, dude, get scriptin', i'm all Grr ... Aaarghed out ;-)
To Troll or Not To Troll
Did any of you note the scathing anti-Joss comment posted on Amazon by someone in response to the interview? (Revisit the link and then scroll down on the page.)

While I don't go seeking out anti-Whedon sentiment (life being too short, etc) I was kind of taken aback by the vitriol...

Firefly was a ripoff of Outlaw Star (anime) anyway, and he's a tool for not even answering the questions about their similarity. The man can barely write a comic book and should stick to campy teenage pseudo-supernatural shows. Hollywood is full of tools and hacks already. They don't need fanboys backing them up.

Are any of you familiar with the Outlaw Star issue that has the poster so hot and bothered?

<sarcasm> I'm sure he's right, of course, about Joss stealing ideas from others. Originality was never his strong suit. If I only had a dollar for every time I've said "Oh. Not the teenage ex-cheerleader-saving-the-world bit again. What's his next cliche? An episode with no dialogue? A musical? Oy." </sarcasm>

But I have to admit - If I did have a dollar, I'd probably just spend it on Buffy stuff anyway.
ofcourse I was being sarcastic. I don't know the man, never spoke to him, so it would be completely idiotic of me to call him a liar or a dupe with any sincerity.

When Joss Whedon says that he has, in writing, something from the studio, that says Serenity made money while in theater, I tend to believe him, not because I am wearing "Joss" colored glasses, but because I believe that it is possible that the studio could have gone about their business in a different way for this movie.

I don't think that they gave Joss a financial statement, detailing all of their dealings, but they gave him something that convinced him. Some people here seem to want to tear it down and Firefly / Serenity is one of the biggest reasons I come to this site. Enough said about this. My apologies to those who did not get that I was being sarcastic and no more about this, will I say.
Most of the issue regarding Outlaw Star centers around one of its main characters appearing curled up in a box.
dreamlogic, when I downloaded the interview, the title was "JossWhedon_Serenity.wma attachment." I had to rename it on my desktop and take out the attachment part of the title so my Quicktime recognized it as a .wma file (I'm on a Mac). Hope that helps!
Yeah, I had a comma (",") at the end of the filename when I downloaded it (on XP Pro), deleted that and it was fine.

I didn't read the comments but there's been that and worse posted about the J man. The Bell curve tail enders can be pretty insulting about supposed rip-offs, lack of talent etc.

Whatever and each to their own, I get a lot of enjoyment out of what he does and I think you could make a pretty decent case just from a technical ability stand-point (structure, dialogue etc.) that Joss' got the chops (not that i'd bother, guys like that - and it's almost always a guy - aren't gonna be convinced by anything and that's if it's even a genuinely held opinion rather than just a troll).
Thanks for the tips. I'll try them as soon as I get back to my own computer. I really want to hear what everybody's talking about.

About the speculation, I don't think it was mostly meant as being as deadly serious as some took it. Some of us just enjoy that kind of stuff, especially if there's numbers, 'cause, y'know, nerds?
I can't believe someone still thinks Firefly/Serenity is a rip off of Outlaw Star. The only similarity at all was in the pilot episode, and it wasn't even that huge anyways.
Hmm, I could see the comma, once Saje pointed it out, but I couldn't fix it, on Firefox. When I switched to IE, it fixed itself. New conspiracy? Anyway, great interview. I think the Greeks depend a lot on the translator, and the most literal is not necessarily the best, for us non-Ancient Greek readers, while we can still read Shakespeare in the original, and that does matter.
"Joss" colored glasses

Are they purple?
Remember you can still add to Serenity's Theater Box Office Gross.

Imdb.com US map of Serenity Screenings

If you have seen Serenity on the Big Darn Screen in 2007 or 2006, see if the theater might screen Serenity in August or September. Tell them fans are celebrating the release of the Serenity Collector's Edition DVD and want to shindig at their theater and that you will come hungry!
That interview sucked, and not because of Joss. The interviewer needs to find himself a new job. One which does not involve communicating with human beings. Cats, maybe. Maybe.

And I totally got the feeling he re-recorded his questions.
Hmm, still don't know why he'd deliberately mix in Joss talking over him if he re-recorded his questions, trying to fool us maybe ?

About the speculation, I don't think it was mostly meant as being as deadly serious as some took it. Some of us just enjoy that kind of stuff, especially if there's numbers, 'cause, y'know, nerds?

Yeah, i'm guilty of forgetting how seriously some folk take apparent criticism of Joss in any form, this has been a bit of an eye opener for me. I see the (apparent) contradiction as a puzzle i.e. fun to solve and talk about and maybe even a good way to learn something new about Hollywood's numbers. Oh, and obviously I think Joss is totally evil and eats children.

It does kind of annoy me to be told just to totally suspend whatever reasoning faculties I have because it's Joss. Arguments from authority (no matter who the authority is) just don't sit right with me, haven't since I was about 11 when I suddenly started getting a lot more time in bed on Sunday mornings ;).

(and of course, the ultimate authority on this is Universal, who've come in for a lot of flack in the past for a variety of reasons but now, suddenly, they're great, they're totally reliable ? Not buying it quite yet myself, YMMV ;)
I owe an apology to TamaraC, as I got their job wrong in another topic. Hey: sorry.
It does kind of annoy me to be told just to totally suspend whatever reasoning faculties I have because it's Joss.


I don't think (certainly I hope it's not the case) that anyone is saying people should suspend reasoning because Joss said the film made money in cinemas. But he very specifically said that he had been shown written evidence, direct from the studio, relating to the theatrical take. Now, it is, of course, possible that the studio, for whatever reason, bamboozled him. Or that he misinterpreted what he was shown. But the one fact is that Joss has seen, direct from the studio, something which none of us have, and on the basis of that, has made a statement in a couple of places that the film made money in cinemas. It may well be that this was meant only in a very narrow sense, and that it only made real profit (assuming it did at all) once DVDs, TV etc. are taken into account.

I assume that's all people are saying: that Joss has some information which we do not, and that it should be taken at face value. Not that because something comes out of Joss's mouth it must be true.
... and that it should be taken at face value. Not that because something comes out of Joss's mouth it must be true.

Y'see, the first part of that contradicts the second IMO. If we're to take it "at face value" is that not the same as saying "Well, Joss said it so it must be true" i.e. to not express doubts or apply reason and our own knowledge ?

Other evidence (e.g. the original published BO figures, the fact that marketing costs money, the fact that with every other studio film we know about a portion of the box-office goes to the cinema etc.) contradicts what Joss has said, for me that gives us room to doubt (and play ;). And I wouldn't mind at all if people were just saying, "I take Joss at his word, he's seen figures that we haven't" but they've been (effectively) saying "How dare anyone doubt Joss's word, he knows, we don't, STFU" - or that's how it's sometimes come across anyway.

Personally, I suspect there's maybe more than one meaning of "in the black" or "made money" being used and if we all agreed on one set of definitions then we'd also all agree whether 'Serenity' ended up in profit based solely on theatrical take (and by 'all' I mean, we on here, Joss, Universal etc.). I don't know that of course, it's just speculation but i'd rather not assume malice on any side until i'm forced to.
(IMO obviously) It would be hard for anyone who has actually seen Outlaw Star and Firefly to say that Firefly was a ripoff of it. They both took place in space and there was a girl in a box. Everything is wildly divergent from there (plus, neither show invented suspended animation or the idea of human smuggling). Melfina (Outlaw Star's girl-in-a-box) is an android, and the OS universe is overflowing with aliens and FTL travel and a mythology involving Galactic Leylines. Its like, to paraphrase someone here, saying Lost is a ripoff of Gilligan's Island.
Gossi, no apology necessary. I do work in Finance for an entertainment company (just not in the studio division) so you got it two thirds right. :)

And someone above said something about nerds and numbers. I'm guilty. The whole "how can Serenity be in the black from the theater box office conundrum" is a big ole fun puzzle for this math geek. I'm sorry that so many took it as some weird attack on the word of a man I admire greatly.
Saje> Maybe I used the wrong words there, when I said "should be taken at face value" (although I did spend time thinking about them, and thought they were the right words), as I in no way meant that to imply they what Joss had said had to be taken as factually correct. Originally I had thought of say that it should be taken "seriously". What I was trying to say was that I thought the words should be taken as meaning what they seemed to mean - so that Joss's interpretation of what he had been shown was what he said, not some other thing.

To me, the interesting thing is not that it was Joss who said these things, but that what he was reporting was information direct from the studio, and specifically relating to this production. I do not deny the possibility that the figures could have been, deliberately or otherwise, misleading. And it may well be that they omitted costs over and above straightforward production costs, and maybe even showed takings rather than income. Maybe they were no more accurate than comparing Box Office Mojo's figures raw, ignoring the fact that the studio doesn't get all that take. But these were studio figures, and that is why I thought them of interest.

Of course, none of us have seen them, so it's only further speculation, anyway.

And at the end of the day, we all know that the box office wasn't great, wasn't what we would have liked to see. It sounds as though DVDs, TV, etc. probably gave Universal some profit, and I'm glad for that, simply because I think they deserve some profit for having made Serenity at all.

I'm not trying to prolong this. I just wanted to clarify what I was trying to say, as it looks as though I maybe wasn't as clear as I thought I was being, is all.

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