This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Have a nice day. Don't get killed."
11973 members | you are not logged in | 14 July 2020


April 17 2005

Jewel Staite interview with Sci-Fi Talk from the recent I-Con event. It's available as a podcast or direct download (21 mb). Well worth listening too especially in regards to what she says about Serenity, her cast mates and Joss.

This is a really wonderful interview and Jewel (as always) comes across as a very kind and sincere young woman. However, the interviewer falls into that trap of 'strong DVD sales got the film greenlit', as though that was the only factor. Didn't Joss himself say recently that the DVD sales really played no part in 'Versal's decision to go ahead with "Serenity", that it was just icing on the cake (or words to that effect)?
Oh I loved this interview, lots of insight without getting spoilery. Jewel is so nice and so open, you really feel that you are getting to know her reactions to her cast mates and the filming of 'Serenity'.
And I love the information that Joss is making this movie exactly the way he wants. That is all I ask. I know I will love the film if it is totally the creation of Joss' brain and not some compromise (altho I did love 'Firefly' even with the difficulties presented by interfering network suits).
I cannot wait until September 30th!
Jewel comes over amazingly well in this interview and I was very pleased to hear that she thought Joss had already written the opener for Serenity 2.
Is it just me or did the interviewer keep saying Josh Whedon?
Is it just me or did the interviewer keep saying Josh Whedon?

LOL...yes pixxelpuss, I noticed that too and found it just a mite annoyin', although the guy did seem to be otherwise familiar with Joss' work. My mom, also a big Firefly fan (along with my dad, aunt and uncle) also makes the same mistake, but from from her, it's just cute ;-)
"I must have horseshoes up my you know what."

She's a peach. =)

They put the dining room on hydraulics! Cool! That would have really helped "Out of Gas" if they coulda done that for the series. Good to hear the western aspect of the story is still there, even if it's toned down a bit. ...So there will be a trilogy IF they make their money back. The option is there. It's strange in the recording that whenever Doctor Howard Margolin asked Staite a question, the reporter felt he had to step in and narrate. He must not have had the doctor mic'd when he recorded it.

It is unfortunate to hear that when Universal optioned for the film(s), Fox insisted they can't make a new tv series for ten years. Shame on Fox for insisting on that. Yet another reason why I'll avoid supporting the Fox network in any of its future endeavours. I wish we fans of television could somehow put the squeeze on Fox to remove that clause, so we could get Firefly back on the little screen. The plus side, if we could see the glass as half full, is that if 2002 was the cutting off point, we only have to wait seven years before that possibility could reappear. Unfortunately that'd be 2012. Not sure if that would even work.
Fun interview. She is a peach.

I think it was just TT's Eastern accent that made it sound like "Josh," but I could be wrong. What annoyed me was that every time Margolin asked a question it was "Doctor Howard Margolin asked..." Couldn't it have eventually shortened to "Doctor Margolin" or "Doc Margolin" or "DHM" or something? :-p

Anyway, though Jewel is wonderful I see this as a further sign--not of the Apocalypse but that Canadians are very down to earth people. (No, I'm not Canadian, though I wouldn't mind working for BioWare.) :-)
Canadian celebrities seem more down to earth, I don't know about the rest of us. Possibly because Canadian film and television doesn't seem to get the same rabidity of fans. No matter how much I loved Due South, I wasn't camping out outside Paul Gross's house. (BioWare is good if you don't mind working for peanuts and sleeping under your desk).

Regarding what Serenity has to make to get the triology going... What makes a movie a success? What kind of opening weekend box-office would we need to see? I just want to gauge how many times I need to go see it the first two weekends.
Well, IMDb claims the budget for Serenity was approximately $40 million. So I imagine if the film doesn't make at least $45 million in its first weekend, there will be suits at Universal questioning whether or not a sequel is warranted. I'm not saying that anything less than that rules the sequels out, but it won't be a certainty for less than $45 million. If it does less than $25 million in the first weekend, we can just kiss 2 and 3 goodbye.

It's a given the film will eventually break even, with rentals, DVD sales, merchandising, etc. However, what'll make and break the trilogy is the first weekend.

[ edited by ZachsMind on 2005-04-18 16:15 ]
So how many times does anybody think one person should go?
Well, if we need to break $45 million (which seems maybe low), then we need to sell 450,000 tickets (tickets at $10). has just over 26,000 members right now. Assuming that, what 40% of them live outside of North America (which seems safe, there are lots of Brits and Australians and Germans on there, as well as lots of soldiers stuck abroad), that's 10,400 Firefly fans we can count on (there are probably at least another 7,000 or more not fanatical enough to join up, or without internet access). So almost 20 thousand. I'd say we need to go twice opening weekend, and maybe one more time for insurance.

But that's just me. Joss owns me that weekend.
I would be amazed if Serenity made 45 million in its opening weekend. To be honest I think Universal will be looking for a 10 to 15 millon opening. The Firefly fanbase is a strong one but it is a small one, word of mouth will play a very important factor in the selling of the movie. So it's the second weekends figures I would be more interested in seeing. If they hold up, then Universal know they are onto a good thing.

If anyone is interested, here's some relevant links:

Film Box Office Database Opening Weekend Figures

All Time Box Office Opening Weekend Figures
A $45 million (or better) opening weekend is quite a tall order. You will not find all that many films that have achieved this kind of result. Twelve films did it in 2004, but these include titles like 'Shrek 2', 'Spider Man 2' and 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban', films with a much bigger profile than 'Serenity'.

Please don't misunderstand me. I think 'Serenity' will be a hit, both critically and commercially, but I'm not entirely convinced it is going to be a box office blockbuster. Maybe I'll be proved wrong.

Edited by dbp to say I was writing this at the same time Simon posted his message. Mine is now largely defunct!

[ edited by dashboardprophet on 2005-04-18 17:52 ]
WheelsOfJoy & pixxelpuss - I’m not in North America, so I can’t influence the opening weekend, but I’d be looking at ‘how many new recruits/less fervent fans can I take with me?’ rather than ‘how many times will I go myself?’ That way the others can be extolling the films virtues while you’re in the cinema getting another fix!

If I can’t rustle up a large group through sheer enthusiasm my plan is to get to undecided friends via their stomachs by offering to cook dinner for them afterwards. Any waverers will get free food as an extra incentive and word of mouth will get an extra push if the evening on which they see the film becomes more of an event.

However, I’ve little doubt that I’ll be seeing the film more than once during its first week - for selfish as well as supportive reasons.
I plan to go at least two or three times, and will probably drag along my family and friends, none of whom has yet to experience Firefly.
I would say that if Serenity manages to get a worldwide box office over $70 million then we're definately good to go. We could probably do with less aswell, the only difference then would be that Joss would get less money for the second movie.

And Zachsmind, first weekend box office isn't all that important to suits. They only care about how much money they'll earn in the end. If it takes Serenity 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months to reach 40 million is less important. The reason why Saw, Underworld and The Grudge sequels for example got pushed for after the first weekend was because they already made back the budget. It doesn't even have to break even in the US alone. I mean, the $100 million movie Constantine only mangaed to make $74 million domestically but thanks to the $123 million it made abroad it's still a major success for WB and a sequel there wouldn't be a surprise to me.

[ edited by Djungelurban on 2005-04-18 20:42 ]
pixxelpuss – sorry to correct you, but 45 million at $10 per ticket equals 4.5 million tickets, not 450,000

ZachsMind – I love the way you state your opinions with complete authority thereby turning opinion into fact ;) The only things she said was that the film needs to break even, she didn’t say anything about a timeframe, nothing whether this refers to cinema receipts only or includes all revenue from DVDs and merchandising.

Let’s assume for a moment ‘breaking even’ refers to receipts from all cinema tickets worldwide when the film comes out and ‘versal is relying on everything else to make a profit eventually (which is quite a sensible assumption). Let’s assume a total of 50 million incl marketing costs (which is a conservative estimate).

Doing a quick search it seems that studios get between 80-90% of first weekend ticket sales and the percentage drops as time goes on, to bring the total to an aggregate of approx 55-50% of ticket sales overall. So let’s assume ‘versal gets 55% of the ticket sales overall.

At a very rough gestimate: $50 million to get for ‘versal, $10 a ticket, 55% of the $10 to the studio 45% to others = approx 9 million tickets worldwide to sell and a total revenue from cinema of approx 90 million needed.

The only thing that is missing is how long the film will run for. Everything changes so quickly these days – does 6-8 weeks sound sensible? If we assume 8 weeks, this means an average of just over 1.1 million tickets per week. (note to self: must make more friends between now and autumn). It all sounds challenging but very doable. (Come on Constantine made 200 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo)

purplehazel – you made me smile, that is exactly how I am planning to convince my wavering friends to go to the cinema with me: dinner on condition of going to the cinema with me first. I reckon nothing like a free meal to get people to do something.
There is a weird rule of thumb I once heard about the way the film industry in Hollywood assesses the commercial success or otherwise of a film. I do not know if there is any truth in this whatsoever, but it was said that to break even a film would need to double its production budget at the U.S. box office. Anything that happens at the box office throughout the rest of the world seems to be entirely irrelevant. The fact that 'Scooby Doo 2', a film with an alleged $60-80 million budget, took over $180 million worldwide and was still deemed to be a commercial flop would seem to bear this out.

I was trying to think of any recent films that might give an indication of the likely box office we might expect from ‘Serenity’. The only one I could come up with is ‘Constantine’. This film took $74 million at the U.S. box office and, amazingly, a further $123 million throughout the rest of the world.

On a slightly different note, I have recently finished watching ‘Firefly’ for the first time. I must admit I wasn’t entirely overwhelmed on first viewing (I’m not a big fan of sci-fi in general), but I will be watching it again and I am sure its subtleties will become increasingly evident when I do so. However, my wife watched one episode, offered no more than an incredulous "It’s a western in space!" afterwards, and has decided that she doesn’t want to go to see the film. I’m working my charms on her (actually, maybe that's not such a good idea. There will be no hope of persuading her to change her mind!)

I do mention this for a reason. There is a huge potential audience out there who know next nothing about Joss Whedon, have probably never even heard of ‘Firefly’ and quite probably have never watched ‘Buffy’ or ‘Angel’. This is the audience the film might need to entice if it is to become a truly big box office hit. That won’t necessarily be easy.

Edit by dbp: once again I have been writing a message while something very similar has been been posted. I always seem to come in second! Miranda's message says it much better than mine.

[ edited by dashboardprophet on 2005-04-18 20:59 ]
I second Djungelurban's statements. Initial takings aren't as important as the big picture. Bare in mind that the suits at Universal greenlighted the film despite the shows initial ratings on TV, due to it's long-term success on DVD.

I really think Serenity is a highly marketable film. Doesn't matter that a lot of people won't be familiar with Joss or his work. It's a sci-fi action adventure about crime, guns, and pretty people. I've seen the blurry, shaky, camcorder recording of the teaser that's been shown at various conventions around the country, and if THAT were the initial trailer, it'd get some decent attention from mainstream audiences. It looks like ass kicking fun. Sure, I'm certain it'll have the normal Whedon wit, the metaphors, the universal human truths, etc etc. But the ass kicking is what'll reel people in, and there's nothing wrong with some exciting, adventuring fun.
I think it all comes down to the marketing. The die hard FF fans (or flans...) will go see it come what may and there are far more of them than just the active internet posters. At the other extreme there are people who will go see a movie and pick from whatevers playing at the cinema when they get there, a hot babe (or guy) on the poster may swing it so we've got a very good chance of grabbing them. In the middle there are millions of people who will see the adverts, TV spots, posters, reviews, magazine covers etc. and could be persuaded to come along if the movie is sold the right way, which in my opinion, is a great story with cool writing and great actors that just happens to be set in space.

But I'd really like to see a great opening weekend. Nothing gets the ball rolling like an instant hit out of the gate and, as mentioned, the studio make far more money in the first week than they do thereafter. Wasn't Grudge II greenlit the Monday after the first one opened? That's what we want! In fact lets go the Matrix way, make II and III at the same time, only just not suck quite so much.
I bet a good friend $20.00 that Serentiy will open at $20 million or more. I figure that ALL (I know) the people that bought the DVD's will go that first weekend, plus all the friends that they converted by loaning out the series and lastly, all the Joss fans looking for a quick fix. I really think it is going to happen. Your thoughts?
Thanks for that link Simon. After reviewing up to about the "H"s I think it's safe to say that Serenity won't need to get anywhere near 40-45 million to be considered a hit. I saw many movies that were thought to be very successful that came no where near that their opening weekend.

But, as fans, I think it's our duty to still try and help it get as close to that number as possible!!

Leaveittoreaver, I think that is more than possible. If the movie is promoted to attract the Star Wars and Trek fans I think it will do quite well and then just throw in those of us who are already fans and maybe it will surprise a lot of people in Hollywood!
What's the current opening date? I plan on going twice on opening night, then once on Saturday with friends. Then try to drag a few other folks along that first week. I figure, I've watched the DVDs four times now, I can watch the movie at least that many times.
Miranda- Thanks, Math is Not my strong suit...
I think the best equivalent to Serenity that I can think of is Hellboy -- a name director (among fanboys and people who follow movies, del Toro has some cachet, much like Joss), a cast of unknowns (especially Ron Perlman as the lead), based on a small-ish sized comic fandom and the movie cost about $66 million, which is relatively cheap for a comic superhero movie. It made $59 million domestically, did $40 million overseas, for a total $99 mill take, plus 2 DVD sets (one theatrical cut, one special edition w/ the director's cut) AND a sequel has been greenlighted and scheduled for 2006. For me, if Serenity can break even production costs in the US and make the same amount overseas, with strong reviews and DVD sales, I think Universal would be quite eager to make sequels.

The thing that no one has mentioned yet is that box office numbers are really important, but it also matters that Joss comes up with a compelling narrative for the sequel, something that he can pitch to Universal and make them greenlight the sequel.

For my own plans for the movie, I'm planning on dragooning as many people as I can possibly get to go see the movie. Family, friends and friends-of-friends. Whether they like it or not.
The thing that no one has mentioned yet is that box office numbers are really important, but it also matters that Joss comes up with a compelling narrative for the sequel, something that he can pitch to Universal and make them greenlight the sequel.

I don't think anyone has mentioned that yet because I don't think anyone who reads this site has any doubts about Joss' ability to come up with a compelling narrative. If he can sell a failed tv show then he can definitely sell a sequel to a successful (and it will be!) movie. I have already converted as many people as I can to Firefly's cause, however I will be dragging as many more to Serenity as possible.
I successfully converted two more Serenity fans over the last few weeks! All I had to do was loan my dvd set to a couple who really like Buffy and Angel. They pretty much loved it and have decided to see the movie. I'll spread the word about opening weekend sales.
As for myself, I had already decided to see the movie at least three times. Since money is the bottom line, it's not like execs will be worrying about the fans who pay two or three times.
*scratches head and wonders who else she can convert*
Thanks, Paul_Rocks. I've been assuming that the hard part on getting the sequels going will be the business end, not the creative.

I'm working on converting all of my friends and family to Serenity fans. It's the onlyy thing I'm really evangelical about. So far I've gotten about 10 people. I'm also considering having my birthday party two months early so I can force even my non-firefly fan friends to come.

How long will they hold off deciding about the sequel? Until worldwide ticket sales are over? Does that include second-run? Until DVD sales are up and running?

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home