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January 27 2005

(SPOILER) Whedon's SERENITY Rides Again. Looks like Universal did another test screening for the movie and an interesting review turns up on Ain't It Cool News (one minor spoiler only).

Nice that a Whedon fan liked it, the comments from non Whedon fans left me a little bit apprehensive.

Eek! I hope this doesn't mean Universal is going to mess with Joss' vision. Seriously, one blind test screening is not worth too much, imo. It's Science Fiction. It's not for EVERYBODY. But I believe that word of mouth will spread and that the trailer will compell people who do like sci-fi to check it out.

I'm not letting this bring me down. I still believe this is going to be a hit. I'm optimistic. Still, keep converting your friends with the DVDs! Discuss Firefly with people you know, and get them interested. I think that's the best thing fans can do right now.
Hmmm. Well, I reckon it would be just a bit over-idealistic to believe that everyone who sees Serenity would immediately grasp its innate wonderfulness....

I'd expect that some non-Whedonists would grumble at the mix of SF/western genres, lack of fancy space gadgetry and monsterific latex-y aliens, but I hope that doesn't dim Universal's support for the movie, and willingness to let Joss keep it cut his way. He knows he's making this movie for people who will get it; I hope they know that, too. Some people won't, but they probably wouldn't have gotten it anyway, even with the gadgets and aliens. You can't please everyone (sing it!), so you got to please yourself.

Anyway, if the movie's good, it'll stand on its own merits. I have faith. And there's time for Uni to infilterate the Net and get some buzz going for other media to pick up on, if they care about reaching the audience who will appreciate what Joss has to offer. We flans can only do so much on our own, but if the studio can get the marketing ball rolling, we'll all pitch in to shove that bad boy where it needs to go. :)
Oh great. No wonder why a lot of today's American movies are utter crap, pandering to the lowest common denominator. I'll always remember the version I saw last month as being Joss' definitive version.
I think a word of mouth campaign could really work for Serenity. But isn't it time they jazzed up the official website a bit to create a bit more interest online instead of it just being a graphics-free glorified fan forum? Some pics would be nice, and even if we can't have a trailer yet, how about some juicy clips from the series to tempt the uninitiated?
The truth of the matter is that a sizeable portion of the population couldn't care less for SF. And this is just one person's opinion on what he heard. OK, that's my 'glass half-full' statement. Hopefully, someone will leak the audience questionnaire results so we'll know the real story.
If "Why don't they have lasers" is their biggest problem, then I'm not worried. If they had watched Heart of Gold they probably would have seen the downside of lasers.
And if I'm not mistaken, Twelve Monkeys had crap test screenings, the studio still decided to stick with basically the same cut and looked at how that movie turned out. Twelve Monkeys is an excellent movie that got great reviews and a really good box office.
Stating the bleeding obvious: Whedon’s work splits people down the middle. You either love it or you don’t get it at all. I have met very few people who have no opinion either way, so really negative comments surprise me not one tiny bit.

If the studio understands this, good, if not, we are going to have one hell of a problem.

This concept was always going to be a tough sell, but word of mouth is the biggest factor in selling a film, so we just have to keep plugging away (and lending out those DVDs).
those comments made my blood boil. Grr Argh!
I tried (and tried and tried...) to like Firefly when it was on the network; however, I could never get into it. Joss Whedon is a genius but I could never get "hooked". However, I decided to buy the box set and I watched every episode over the course of three days. Without having to wait a week between episodes I finally learned to love this tale about cowboys and cowgirls in space.

Count me as one who will pay the price to see Serenity on the big screen.
You know, we can't take it as a given that the movie is going to be good. It could be, should be and probably is, but it just might not work. It's too fanboyish and unrelaistic to presume otherwise.
WannaBlessedBe, yes we can. As long as Uni continues to leave Joss alone to realize his vision, it IS going to be good. I doubt it will blow the roof off the box office, but it will do decent numbers. And the content will be fantastic. Does that statement make me a 'fanboy'?
It may not do great at the US box office but don't forget about the overseas market and the DVD sales. Universal will recoup their costs and make a tidy profit to boot.
Good point, Simon. Several movies perform much better overseas.

I think any person familiar with Joss' art of storytelling will attend this movie and enjoy it immensely. Just from the few spoiler tidbits I've been brave enough to peek at, I know I will. As far for the people who do not know Joss' work, guess that will depend on the stir the movie makes on the box office especially the second opening week-end. If the numbers are good, many people will go just to see why. I'm not too concerned at this point about Universal 'stepping' on Joss' toes, they've been good with giving him free rein with this movie so far. Again, I'm more curious with those questionnaire results.
One thing that I forget to ask was, does anyone know if the movie was exactly the same as shown at the first test screening? Curious to know if any special effects had been added.
Why didn't they have a laser? Because not having a laser automatically makes Firefly and Serenity a better and more realistic sci-fi product than what else is available.
"Why didn't they have lasers?"

If I hear anyone say that on opening day as I'm watching the film, I swear I'm gonna throw my popcorn at them.

What makes Whedon's Firefly world so interesting is precisely the fact he didn't cater to the passe stereotypes of the scifi genre. Using both western and eastern influences is something never tried before in this manner. He avoided the obvious cliches of robots and aliens and yes even lasers. Instead, he focused on a grand view of humanity, and how historically we tend to not learn from our mistakes. Whedon presented some possible solutions to some issues, but that they'd only create new problems. Other things he just let be worse. The idea that an unrestrained corporate-driven free market would inevitably lead to indentured servitude for many? The idea that prostitution would inevitably be legalized under a government controlled guild-based system? Far-fetched? Not at all. Whedon kept one eye on the past and one on the present, the cut close to the bone as he molded a possible future.

It's an aquired taste, not cuz it's so fantastical, but because in some ways Whedon's vision of the future hits a little close to home. We live today in a world where governments believe they have to restrict the human rights of individuals in order to insure their freedoms..? Particularly in the third world, but sometimes that happens in supposed civilized countries too.

Think of the Core Planets as blue states and the Outer Rim as red states. Then reverse the politics. The turmoil in Malcolm Reynolds is that he's an honorable man caught between two extremes. The Core consists of martial law to protect the self-centered rich from the working class. The Outer Rim becomes place where education is secondary, and so the criminal element thrives and short-sighted superstition rules the mind. Is this societal mentality really five hundred years away, or are we seeing elements of this fantasy in our own reality? A film that deals with these issues is not an easy sell. The network suits at Universal are probably looking at this thing completely flummoxed at how they can sell it to people who don't like entertainment that makes them think.

I'm concerned that these special screenings are being orchestrated by suits because they're debating presently whether they want to spend millions of dollars on a publicity blitz to get Serenity into Blockbuster territory, or if they want to just send it straight to video. They know they're gonna make a killing with DVD sales, but the box office is not as much of a certainty. I first got scared of this scenario when they pushed back the date. They obviously feel Serenity can't compete with Star Wars 3 and The Fantastic Four. Those brand names are more solid in the minds of the american masses. Now they're wondering if Serenity can compete in the box office marketplace with brand names like Pink Panther, Zorro, and Curious George.

Serenity's going to surpass those films from a critical standpoint, and I can say this with confidence without seeing it. I trust Whedon's going to be true to his vision and still tell a story that's going to entertain me. I know it's going to be a fun roller coaster ride.

Many people out there prefer to go with the familiar. They don't have the confidence in Whedon that you and I have. We're in a world today where Broadway is bombarded by brand names and conventional 'safe' investments like Hairspray and Fiddler On The Roof. More daring material that's not readily known by the public goes off broadway, because people who go to the theater don't pay for unfamiliar material as readily. The same thing often happens in movie theaters. A sequel of something that was already successful has a better chance than a film based off a tv series that only lasted half a season.

Serenity is already a cult success. That's a given. However, is it going to make more than forty million dollars on opening weekend? Can they afford to spend another twenty million on advertising and publicity, or are they going to lose their proverbial shirt in this deal?

That's what the suits are losing sleep over right now.
Simon, are you still staying away from Serenity spoilers? And I'm talking about the big spoilers, not the minor plot summaries.
Maybe Joss will comment on this thead and tell us what he thinks. He popped up last time to talk about the first test screening. Joss, if you're lurking, Hi!
Simon, are you still staying away from Serenity spoilers? And I'm talking about the big spoilers, not the minor plot summaries.


Serenity will premiere in the UK probably after a month it is released in the States, so there was very little hope of me staying spoiler free for the movie. So yes I do know the big spoilers. And I still don't want them to be discussed here for the time being.
I'm not too worried at this point about the overheard statements by the non Whedon fans. It was most likely a big theater and maybe this guy just happened to be around a small group who wasn't a fan of this type of genre. Unless he did a poll himself he really can't gage how the entire audience felt about it. If he stated that the audience sat there in dead silence throughout the whole movie, I'd be more concerned but that didn't sound like the case.

Now, I know a lot of people on this board are Kill Bill fans but my husband and I both hated it and actually left the movie. And there was another couple a few rows above us who appeared to have left before us. If we had been at the screening for that I'm sure we may have made statements about how horrible we thought that movie was but we certainly didn't represent how the entire audience felt (and the majority of people who went and saw it). So I'm not going to be alarmed that there were people at this movie who apparently didn't get it and hated it. It's not a surprise to me. Isn't the purpose of the screening to find their target audience and see how they want to market it and who they want to market it to?
MySerenity said: those comments made my blood boil. Grr Argh!

Yes?

Seriously though. . . I'm so excited to see Serenity I'm beside myself with anticipation. Glad to see the boys at Ain'tItCool liked the show - I think that's a fabulous sign. Perhaps Serenity won't garner the StarWars(Round2) fanboys or the Isn'tTheMatrixGreatPhilosophy folks, but they aren't the sum of all movie watchers, are they? Surely there's a world of Whedonites, Sci-Fi smarties, and John Ford fans who will find this a fascinating little mix.
ZachsMind: your take on why Firefly is just so darn good? Well, if I had an entire day, my fill of coffee and ciggies, and was feeling particularly pleased with myself and with life in general, I still couldn't have said it better. Thank you.

Firefly Flanatic: This isn't a board for expressing extreme negativity, thankfully, but have to join you in your Kill Bill dislike. It looked incredible, Uma Thurman was amazing, but I'm increasingly unable to get past the spiritual hollowness that I find to be at the core of pretty much all of Tarantino's work. Joss's worlds are oftimes harsh, and tragic things happen, but there is real love and passion and happiness, emotions that I just can't find in KB and various other highly-touted movies.
GrrrAargh, it would be a pity if a lot of the fans ( or at least audience of ) Star Wars and/or The Matrix couldn't be convinced to see Serenity because this is a huge part of the SciFi audience, these are the people with ( somewhat) open minds ready to be 'converted'.
On the other side there is a huge number of people who just doesn't go see films with spaceships in them no matter what, the SciFiovermydeadbody crowd will probably never see the past the surface of the film, which is a pity ( and their loss).

ZM, yes trying to make something unique will always be a more of a gamble than following the well trod path of remakes and sequels but is this really a problem for Serenity ? the film does carry some name recognition in the SciFi/Fantasy community and will be given some ( a lot of ) free publicity by riding on the Whedon name, even bad marketing moves should enable the film to make reasonable numbers at the theatres and the film will gather the real money on DVD's of course.
A decision to go direct to DVD at this stage would show a major failure of nerve and reflect very poorly on the studio suits who made it.

SNT and FF, sounds like we use different criteria to evaluate a film, for me Kill Bill 1/2 is a very entertaining way to spend an evening 'spiritually hollow' or not :)
I have a question, which borders on off topic. I've heard it mentioned in several forums that September is a horrible month to have a movie premiere. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that, and why?
I wasn't trying to start a Kill Bill debate, just pointing out that I hated it and it's obvious I'm in the minority. If I happened to be at a screening for it, I would've voiced my opinions about it but just because it was overheard that some in the Serenity audience didn't like it doesn't mean they represented the entire or majority of the audience. But it's nice to know that I'm not the only Whedonesquer who didn't particularly care for it. Thanks SNT (and I totally agreed with your reasons why you didn't like it).
looking - September is considered a bad month because it's the dead end of "summer blockbuster" season. Movie-goers have spent the previous 3-4 months shelling out $$$ to see the big popcorn flicks, and once the kiddos are back in school, movie attendence just slacks off. Which isn't to say that every flick which opens in Sept. is a failure - it's just not the place studios put movies they expect to open huge. September is generally littered with RomCom's and movies that star Will Ferrell.

This last year's big spring release that got pushed to September: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Sigh.

On the other hand, summer blockbusters have slowly migrated from opening in June to May to April (!!!) these last few years. July 4 used to be the peak of summer movie season; now it's just the epilogue. Trends change - and sleeper hits can happen anytime of year.
Back when I saw the film "Contact", I shuffled along with the crowd exiting the theater and was mulling over what I had jusrt seen when I overheard some guy behind me grouse, "Geez! I sat through TWO HOURS of that f*ckin' crap to find out her father is the f*ckin alien??!!"

Yikes. And, huh?

I hope with all my heart the studio doesn't change Serenity to appeal to the likes of that guy.
"Why didn't they have lasers?"


Well they'd better have fricken' sharks with fricken' lasers on their heads too!

(Austin Powers reference.)
Or settle for mutant sea bass.
Oh m'cookies it took me quite a long time to appreciate Contact. Back then I expected all sci-fi to be aliens and explosions and battles but now I see the genious in that story.

But I still hate Solaris starring George Clooney! The plot just wasn't coherent to me!
Thanks for the explanation, wren, I appreciate it.
Firstly, I don't think the older women who believe violence will go away if they close their eyes are exactly the targeted audience so who cares about their complaints? And with tons of promoting like SMG did for The Grudge it will do really well especially when the say "from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer". That's what reeled us in to Point Pleasant. The movie will have a very decent audience because of that and any Sci Fans will want to see it as well. It's going to do very well even with crap reviews which are tagged on EVERY movie.
People were groaning before they even knew what it was about. They didn't give it a chance.

[ edited by charisma on 2005-01-28 01:20 ]
And again there was a screening, and again I wasn't in it. How the frag do you get into a screening?? Anyway...

I agree we shouldn't be too worried about anything. For all we know this guy happened to sit next to the wrong handful of people. And really, every movie you name, I promise you there were people leaving the theater saying 'that was crap'. I left that way after seeing 'Elektra'. Others here had it with 'Kill Bill' which I expected to only marginally like, but came out really enjoying. Every movie, bomb or hit, oscars or fart jokes, will have people scoff.

And frankly 'why didn't they have lasers' is probably the stupidest complaint I could even imagine thinking of. May as well ask why Captain Kirk doesn't have a light sabre. Or why Han Solo didn't just 'beam' everyone aboard the Falcon. Different 'verses', different cultures and technologies. (and economies, frankly)

"If I hear anyone say that on opening day as I'm watching the film, I swear I'm gonna throw my popcorn at them. "

I'm thinking of bringing something heavier myself....
EdDantes > I was thinking about this question just now, and I just wanted to bring something up. Has anyone else besides me noticed there are no Sci-Fi movies like Serenity in existence? I think that it buys into the epic Star Wars/Star Trek phenomenon...and the Sci-Fi movies that have been released have mainly been earthbound/interior (Resident Evil, Alien) or more artsy (Solaris, for example). I think that one reason there's a lot of gripes from non-Whedon fans about the "lasers," for example, is because this type of SciFi has only been done in recent years on the big screen by Star Trek or Star Wars. An epic space battle movie (for lack of a better phrase) is a rare concept these days.

Just my $0.02
Wasn't Starship Troopers an epic space battle movie? Okay, granted, it was against big alien bugs, but it did have fricken' lasers.
" I was thinking about this question just now, and I just wanted to bring something up. Has anyone else besides me noticed there are no Sci-Fi movies like Serenity in existence?"

Absolutely. That's why there's a decent chance Serenity will either bomb or become the 'new next thing'.

The thing is, Start Trek is what I call 'pure' Science Fiction. Lot of emphasis on technological aspects (warp, beam, lasers, photon torpedos, forcefields, etc) and a lot of concepts that include alien cultures that usually mirror an aspect of our own. It's very cerebral.

Something like Star Wars (Officially 'space opera') is more a fairytale with SF decor. Face it, it's basically LoTR in space. Evil empires, princesses to save, old 'wizards' even sword fights.

And I'm talking about movies that take place in some future and/or in space. Not just 'alien comes to earth'. The only other major thing would be the Alien movies and they're more horror or action movies set in space. Starship Troopers was basically a action/war movie set in space. (With some political satire thrown in)

Serenity will undoubtedly have influences from some of these, but basically on the whole it's a new thing. If Star Wars in is LoTR in space than this is the old definition of 'Western in space'. Which hasn't been done, certainly not like this.

I'm just wondering if 'western in space' as a term will appeal to people on the surface. You know everyone in the media will use it to describe the movie, but it sounds good to the 'unwashed masses'...I'm not sure. (Btw why are they unwashed anyway?)
I don't understand what the laser part is about. Maybe that's a good thing
But EdDantes, do we know if Serenity is playing up the 'western in space' theme? I of course haven't seen it, but didn't one review say it downplayed the cowboys aspect of the verse?

Anyone who saw the screening know or not?
JPR said: "trying to make something unique will always be a more of a gamble than following the well trod path of remakes and sequels but is this really a problem for Serenity ?"

Yes it is. Any name recognition Serenity has in the scifi community is limited to that community. Outside that community, people either know Firefly as a failed Fox effort, or they don't know it at all. That's where we come in, I'm afraid. We diehards have to get the word out somehow. Unfortunately our enthusiasm might be misinterpreted by others as near religious furvor, which could adversely backfire and cause the uninitiated to shirk away even more. We must be cautious.

Less know the connection between the words Firefly and Serenity. In fact, Whedon and Universal are purposefully not calling it "Firefly the Movie" precisely because they're trying to rub off any negative vibes that name might have to the uninitiated. It has been said that bad publicity is still publicity. In this case I don't trust that old adage.

As for 'reasonable numbers,' the cost of production for Serenity is respectable but not reasonable. Forty million dollars is nothing to sneeze at, and that figure doesn't include advertising costs. Outside the summer and Christmas seasons, twenty million is the average success number for an opening weekend. If the Universal suits can't break even after the first weekend, the suits will feel they have failed, and somebody wearing a necktie somewhere will lose his job. So it's forty million dollars the first weekend or bust. If they think they can't do that, they may just drop to DVD and say the hell with it.

"A decision to go direct to DVD at this stage would show a major failure of nerve and reflect very poorly on the studio suits who made it."

Yes. Wouldn't it?

Admittedly I trust suits about as far as I could throw Andre the Giant. Since the dear man is six foot down and gone, that is none.

One would have thought Return of Jafar would have deserved a theater opportunity, being the sequel to the award-winning Aladdin. Went straight to DVD however, which turned out to be a shrewd but accurate strategy.

Looking said: "I've heard it mentioned in several forums that September is a horrible month to have a movie premiere.."

Well ideally you want a show that can compete in April-July or the Holiday season (late October to early January). When Universal moved Serenity from May to September that was forecast for gloom and doom. They are purposefully avoiding the competition with Serenity, because they haven't faith that it could bring in such big numbers.

Studios tend to put their best stuff where they think the audiences will be most strong. Less people attend films just after schools are in session. It is possible that they believe a large college contingent exists among Whedon's fan community, and so kicking off Serenity after school has started will mean young people will flock to see it in groups, which is to Serenity's benefit and therefore Universal. It's a sly strategy to say the least. Still, it shows a lack of faith in the product from Universal's perspective.

Remember that with the first Singer X-Men outing, the studio suits in that situation did exactly the opposite. They pushed the film up in the calendar by almost six months, giving Singer less time in post production but assuring a firm competitive edge in the blockbuster season. The results were extraordinary. Had they done something similar with Whedon's Serenity, I'd feel much more positive about the outcome. They did not. Whedon doesn't placate to the masses like Singer does. He wants to make a buck certainly, but whether he admits it or not, art is just as important to him. He has compromised in the past, but not to a point where it mainstreams his vision of what makes good theater.

A day may come when suits treat Whedon as they once treated Hitchcock: just give him what he wants and leave him the hell alone. It's in affecting a master's work that one risks contaminating it. Suits of today haven't learned that lesson when it comes to Whedon. They think they can improve upon greatness. I'm very frustrated on this issue. Just wind up Whedon and let him go. Quit trying to direct a director.

I would tell you network suits will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes, but Hitchhiker's Guide is being produced by the notoriously suit-infested Disney, so I've no hope at all.
A day may come when suits treat Whedon as they once treated Hitchcock: just give him what he wants and leave him the hell alone.

As far as I'm concerned, it can't come soon enough.
Sort of off-topic, but tonight a friend of mine returned the Firefly DVDs I loaned him and told me he liked the program. He said it's the best space show he's seen. He had seen the occasional episode when it aired but couldn't get interested. He said that what he was missing was seeing the pilot first, which he rewatched after he finished all the episodes (he also rewatched Objects in Space because he loved Jubal Early's dialogue).

We talked about the movie, and he said he'll go see it. So, another Firefly convert. So far I've convinced 5 people to go see Serenity in September. Hopefully those 5 people will bring their friends with them.

And converting another friend gives me a happy.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-01-28 14:13 ]
ZM, Normally I count myself as a pessimist but compared to you I'm a real optimist.
The part of your argument I'm most doubtful about is "So it's forty million dollars the first weekend or bust", after all there is a grey zone between Spiderman numbers and Electra.

I believe that the best comparison is going to be Chronicles of Riddick.
Opening in Aug 26,
Opening weekend 24 mill,
(US+Intl)tot 115 mill
( According to BoxOfficeMojo )

Losing that kind of theatre money because you dont want to invest in marketing doesnt make sense to me.

If Serenity does those kind of number in theatres in addition to the DVD sales, it should be counted as a success.
The cost of producing Serenity is still on the low side compared to many other scifi oriented films (CoR 105 mill + 35 mill mktg, compared to that 40 mill seems very reasonable !)
EdDantes I am just wondering if ‘western in space’ as a term will appeal to people on the surface

That’s a very good point. I must admit that the Firefly DVDs sat on my shelf for a good long time because the whole ‘western’ concept put me off big time.

Please don’t be offended if you are American but John Wayne and the whole western genre to me stands for everything I loathe and detest “Shoot first, ask questions later. Solve problems by violence. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” and so on. There is a distinctive difference between American and European sensibilities here.

I am really hoping they are not trying to market the film in Europe this way, I think it would be a major mistake. Particularly the way America is regarded in Europe at the moment and Bush is seen as a “cowboy”. Again, please don’t be offended, I am just telling you what I see around me. And yes, we know this is not Whedon’s politics, but I am talking about general perception and initial impression here, which may decide if somebody goes to see the film or not.

‘Western’ as a label has baggage, it has connotations. Probably more positive ones in America, but not outside. Probably appeals more to men than to females (maybe that’s just me). Not a good label to apply at this particular moment in time. I wish they wouldn’t use it.
If the Universal suits can't break even after the first weekend, the suits will feel they have failed, and somebody wearing a necktie somewhere will lose his job.

I think this prediction is a little, um, unrealistic. While a movie may be considered a certified hit if it pulls in its total production budget in its first weekend, it still isn't considered an unredeemable bomb if it doesn't. I think if Serenity makes back its total budget twice over, I think it'd be considered a modest hit. Add in overseas profits (increasingly important -- and Whedon's name as the creator of BtVS has pull out of the U.S.), and the studio will in all probability greenlight a sequel. I'm not actually worried so much about a direct-to-DVD release -- the movie's too expensive to do that to -- but that it'll get cut to smithereens by the studio forcing changes. Unfortunately, we have lots of time till Sept. I'd prefer a direct-to-DVD version of Joss' vision over a theater release of his altered vision. Any day.
I prefer NOT to call Firefly a "Space Western" just because of that bad western movie connotation. I will call it a Space Western if I understand that the person I'm talking to will hear listen to things I have to say about it. Most of my friends will give something a try if I recommend it enthusiastically.

I got someone interested (he hasn't been able to watch the series yet, but oh, he sure is going to) in the show by talking about the characters and a little bit about what they are like and maybe a rough outline of a few of the relationships. I think that pitch works really well. Because the bottom line is, it is science fiction, and it has a western style, but that's not what the story is about. It's about the characters.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-01-28 14:19 ]
I do find it amusing that westerns are such a huge mass of films, filled with some absolute classics of American cinema, as well as Italian, and yet it has such a negative connotation.

Space/Western sounds fine to me. Considering Joss' love for the genre, the western dialects, the western enviornment, the western stories, the gunslingerness of it all, it's kind of odd that we back away from it somewhat while describing the series.

[ edited by rabid on 2005-01-28 16:06 ]
Ok, I am going to explain this once more with feeling, because I obviously wasn’t clear enough in what I was trying to say:

My concern is not with what Joss loves (no disrespect), or the creative vision or elements of the series or elements of the film.

My concern was simply and plainly with the commercial end. Marketing. Selling Tickets. Getting people through the door. Selling DVDs.

The question was asked, “will the term ‘western’ put people off”. I was describing my emotional response when somebody mentions ‘western’ and it is a negative one. I understand it is a huge genre. I have seen lots and lots over the years. There are even westerns I have enjoyed (though few). But to pay good money and see one in the cinema, you’d have to drag me down the street kicking and screaming. ‘Space western’ put me off the DVDs. The moment you say that word to me, I get major mental shutdown. No it’s not rational. Yes it is intellectually lazy. Yes I am being stupid. But at least I am being honest.

Now, if that is just me or if I am in the total minority, who cares, but I just don’t think so. Disagree with me if you will!

I hope eddy is right and it is being downplayed for the movie (marketing wise). It would worry me if the film had descriptions attached to it which will put people off rather than draw them in. And I am particularly thinking about markets outside the US here, as well as about gender issues.

It’s a thin line between misrepresenting a film or a DVD and finding a more neutral or positive way to market it and I don’t have the answers (I’d give it some thought if somebody sent me a copy of the film to watch ;) ), but hey that’s why the marketers at Universal get paid good money to deal with these issues.

Sorry to all you western fans out there. Be comforted, one day you’ll grow up and learn to love rom-coms. :)
Let me add that I myself wasn't even talking about how they are going to market the movie. I meant critics, news anchors and tv movie programs etc, are going to describe Serenity that way.

It may be Universal doesn't want to hammer the 'western in space' aspects in the campaign, but the media will need a short, easy term to toss out there in the 30 seconds of time they have in between commercials and they most likely will just go for 'it's kind of a western but in space.'

Another aspect of the show was that...how do I put it, if it's futuristic machinery combined with clothing that *is* futuristic but *looks/feels* like it's from the past, that many people get a Mad Max-Waterworld feel with it. Which also may not be a great thing.

"It’s a thin line between misrepresenting a film or a DVD and finding a more neutral or positive way to market it "

Absolutely, and to be clear, I love Firefly and I'm counting the hours till Serenity finally hits the theaters, but how they are going to sell this movie to the mainstream has always been something I both wonder and worry about.

And let's face it, 'from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer' may not be a good line either for that same mainstream group...sad as that is.
There have been a lot of "coming attractions" type articles that list the movies coming this year. It really bothers me that they all describe "Serenity" as Joss Whedon's failed television show "Firefly". You'd think that Universal would have a description available for the show that doesn't mention where it came from and that it's based on a failed show.
Riddick was released in June, not August. August is when it left theathers(2 months cause it was a dud). And the movie wasn't successful, look at the production budget and marketing costs, didn't break even at all even when you include worldwide gross.

[ edited by eddy on 2005-01-28 19:58 ]
"It really bothers me that they all describe "Serenity" as Joss Whedon's failed television show "Firefly"."

Ah yes that's another aspect I forgot to mention. Also not working in the movie's favor just by the sound of it.
miranda: I totally get your feelings about westerns. Me, I love them. (And I'm european by origin. OK, I'm English. It's similar, except we eat worse food and shun lousy europop).

As you and others have said, they come in such different stripes, and can be political, subversive, existential (definitely existential), conventional, reactionary, anything you like really. I'd certainly see it as a masculine genre, if only because the lone guy on the horse was, more often than not, a lone guy on a horse. But check out Destry Rides Again for commentary on that. And if you haven't already, you have to watch The Searchers, Johnny Guitar, Leone's stuff (particularly The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), Unforgiven (although I actually prefer The Outlaw Josey Wales), Sam Peckinpah's movies, and a bunch of others that aren't coming to mind right now. Westerns, like other genres, reflect the age in which they are made (and to over-generalize, how America is feeling about itself at the time): the classics of the 40s and 50s have a self-confidence and optimism that is lost by the late 60s and 70s

And, hey, there are plenty of rom-coms I like too. OK, maybe not plenty, but a couple . . .

But as to the broader point about marketing, yes, it's one I've tried to express here before too. As EdD says, how are "they" going to sell this to the mainstream? We flans know our duty; but does the studio know its role?
SNT re the studio - elegantly put. Thanks for the film tips. I am afraid I am rather busy watching ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, but maybe I could catch a little Peckinpah later before I go to bed. Might need something soothing. :)

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