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August 11 2005

Serenity's Path Brighter As Paramount Moves Aeon Flux To December. Paramount had penciled the film in for a late September release, which would have pitted it against Serenity. (With Charlize Theron starring as well as it being a sci-fi film, it would have taken a chunk of the audience.)

This isn't the most groundbreaking news in the world, but it is good news. With Aeon Flux gone, the only competition Serenity has is Into the Blue (with Jessica Alba). Of course, Alba has never successfully opened a movie on her own and I doubt that will change anytime soon. The lack of competition bodes well.

At least internationally(if not everywhere, at least in Brazil), both "Serenity" and "Aeon Flux" are being distributed by UIP, isn't it the same in the US?
I swear if "into the blue"(a film that has been shuffled now for about a year) does well i'm gonna...do nothing since I have no power :( Seriously,the only threats that I can think of is "The Corpse Bride"(sept 23rd), Wallace and Gromit(oct 7th) and i'm a bit worried about "Zorro 2"(date not set,originally sept 23rd)hopefully they will release it in November. I really think SERENITY is gonna kick ass,with nothing really that threatening. Remember peeps, see this movie as many times as you can within the first 2 weeks! Let us show the world what we have known since the fall of 2002.That this universe is amazing!
There's another movie coming out that weekend that's almost a guaranteed critical hit which I suspect many Whedonesquers will also see -- eventually -- and that's David Cronenberg's film of "The End of Violence" with Viggo Mortenson. Cronenberg and the screenwriter, whose name I can't remember right now, previewed a couple of scenes from this at San Diego, and it looked very, very strong. It's also been getting a lot of critical attention on the festival circuit. (It's sort of based on a comic book written by the screenwriter, but it's so loosely based that Cronenberg didn't even know there WAS a comic book until they were shooting!)

Of course, this will be positioned as sort of a semi-arthouse film and is almost certain to get a pretty hard R, so it's not in direct competition for those big youth dollars, but among older filmgoers who might be looking for something different and intelligent in a genre way, it might seem like a safer bet than what they only know as the latest space opera.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-08-11 18:36 ]
Isn't the Viggo movie a limited release. I'm thinking Serenity will be on about 2000+ screens.
At least internationally(if not everywhere, at least in Brazil), both "Serenity" and "Aeon Flux" are being distributed by UIP, isn't it the same in the US?


UIP are handling the international distribution, but domestically Serenity and Aoen belong to different studios.

:( Seriously,the only threats that I can think of is "The Corpse Bride"(sept 23rd), Wallace and Gromit(oct 7th)

Nowadays most films (especially sci-fi ones) make most of their money during the opening weekend. I doubt Serenity will be any different. I imagine the opening weekend will basically give us an idea of how the film will do over its run. Hopefully it'll be one of those slow earners that hang in there even with big competition.

Of course, this will be positioned as sort of a semi-arthouse film and is almost certain to get a pretty hard R...


It's an R. I think Newline are releasing it through one of their specialty divisions, which would indeed make it an (sort of) indie film.
Actually, bobster... ;-)

The Cronenberg film is A History of Violence (not The End of Violence), and it's based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, adapted by screenwriter Josh Olson. It is indeed rated R, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

That said, it is nowhere near as big a threat to Serenity as Aeon Flux was, as Flux is pretty much targeting the exact same audience as Serenity (while Violence is most certainly not). In fact, we should probably all be sending flowers to Paramount to thank them for handing Serenity an extra several million on opening weekend. (Okay, not literally send flowers, but it's the thought that counts, right?)
what happened to mirrormask? that would be huge competition for serenity...
My prediction: Serenity will do moderately well during the first two weeks after release, and then audiences will remain the same size for several more weeks because people have heard other people say how much more exciting it is than all the other movies they've seen lately. It will make a lot more money in the long run. They'll just get Browncoat dollars first. Hollywood knows they won't get a gazillion bucks opening weekend, as nice as it would be, because of the general moviegoing audience's reaction to the "unecognizable names" factor. I'm not worried about any other movies during opening weekend, not at all. Zorro 2 is such a big name it would make sense to release it before Thanksgiving. I also predict the only other movies making news around the time of Serenity's release will do so because they aren't great.
Just expanded your link title, VJP666, to help those ignorami (like me) who didn't see the relevance to Whedonesque at first.

Ooh, The Corpse Bride, Serenity, then Wallace and Gromit? What a tremendous late September-early October trifecta!
what happened to mirrormask? that would be huge competition for serenity...
MirrorMask is still openning on September 30th, but a very limited release of just 7 theatres. It will likely be weeks, maybe even a month or so, before it's in wide release.

[ edited by Matt_Fabb on 2005-08-11 18:57 ]
(Sorry to be correcting two people in one thread, but...)

Actually, VJP666...

It is exceedingly rare for any film to make most (meaning more than half) of its theatrical release box office gross on opening weekend - though obviously most major releases make more money on opening weekend than any succeeding one. (A good place to track box office numbers online is BoxOfficeMojo.com, btw.)

But yes, A History of Violence is most certainly going to be released on significantly fewer screens than Serenity, which further minimizes its threat (though I do concede it - and every other film in the market at the time - does pose some threat/competition).
Robogeek, I was thinking of films like Resident Evil and The Ring 2. RE2, for example, made 25M during its opening weekend and did 49M overall (off the top of my head). But I guess that's one in a million.

(though I do concede it - and every other film in the market at the time - does pose some threat/competition).

Especially if Columbia markets Into The Blue as "Jessica Alba in a bikini", which they most certainly will. But I figure that Serenity still has a decent chance at coming out on top.

[ edited by VJP666 on 2005-08-11 19:09 ]
One dare not underestimate the power of Jessica Alba in a bikini.
I am a bit concerned about Burton's Corpse Bride, which I saw a trailer for last week, and it said it was opening on Sept. 30.
Well Jessica Alba in rather fetching underwear as Sue Storm didn't save Fantastic Four . . . or did it? I'm a bit hazy as to how that film is doing.

'Course, it was only the one scene. Pity.
Woops, Robogeek -- "The End of Violence" was a Wim Wenders film. I needs me some gingko. At the panel, I got the impression that Olson felt really free to radically change the story because it was based on something he had created himself, but I guess I misunderstood. (Though if it was based on someone else's work, you think that would have been noted on the cover of the screenplay that Cronenberg must have originally read, in which case he would have known he was making an adaptation of sorts and not an original screenplay.)

In any case, if it's a limited release and it's not playing in many cities or playing in very few theaters, that obviously limits the "threat." (Though it's also a sad commentary on contemporary entertainment.)

"Corpse Bride" could be another story entirely, however, if it's the same weekend.

Re: "Mirrormask" -- haven't heard anything about the release, but I saw it at Sundance and I dnn't see a lot of commercial possibility in it, unfortunately. I suspect they'll only give a very limited arthouse release in a few cities. It's a honorable effort, but I felt (and those I spoke with agreed) that it doesn't really come together at all.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-08-11 21:09 ]
Well, to me, I think that the one thing that Into the Blue has going for it is the fact that they are plugging it like crazy in the theatres (at least out here). Of the three movies that I have seen in the theatre this summer, all three had the trailer for Into the Blue and only one had the Serenity trailer. Since most of the trailer for Into the Blue contains either violence or mostly nekkid Jessica Alba, and the audiences this summer seem to be rather teenager-ish, I imagine that it will actually do okay in the box office wise. Batman Begins (for which I saw the Serenity trailer) had a much more select audience in it, and I think that Serenity will not get the same kind of exposure audience wise. I am really worried about Serenity. I saw a poll on ISOHunt the other day about how well Serenity will do ( http://isohunt.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16912 ) and most people had not even heard about it yet! Come on! A month and a half to go and STILL the word is just not out there! Universal, start pulling out all the stops! Advertise yer lil' butts off! We want SEQUELS!!
Well Jessica Alba in rather fetching underwear as Sue Storm didn't save Fantastic Four . . . or did it? I'm a bit hazy as to how that film is doing.


It did well enough to earn a sequel (unfortunately). Regardless, ITB is the first time Alba is selling a movie. FF was sold as a comic book since none of the actors are A list, and Sin City was sold as an ensemble as opposed to just Alba.


The Corpse Bride is opening the week before Serenity. It'll only do moderately well if its anything like The Nightmare Before Christmas.
It actually seems like a lot of movies are fleeing from Serenity's release date which I find peculiar and very nice.
Fantastic Four was a success as far as Fox is concerned. Now The Island, Kingdom Of Heaven, Cinderella Man, and Stealth? Those were the big bombs of the summer.
James Leary poked a lot of fun of the movie "Stealth" during our bus tour of Buffy and Angel sites - there were big billboards for the movie all over L.A.
Heh, if the Jessica Alba flick does bad, I wonder if any leftover Dark Angel fans will be having huge hate-ons for Serenity again, like they did when Firefly "replaced" their series. If I see any bashing, I'll try to encourage them to actually go out and see Serenity. So they can have hard-ons for it instead.
Personally I thought for a while that Aeon Flux had box office disaster written all over it, never thought it was serious competition for Serenity anyhow. Suspect the studio moved it because of 'flop failure' (we've all been there) instead of threat from Serenity.
I have to say I derived much pleasure from last weekend's box office – the fact that Stealth (in its second week of release) and the Island (in its third week) were both solidly beaten by March of the Penguins, the little documentary that's been out for seven weeks and is only gaining steam. Just nice to, every now and then, have the big corporate blockbusters that get money lavished on them and have zero artistic merit crash and burn. Sort of upsets all the Hollywood business models and occasionally means other nontraditional fare will get a chance in the future.

Back on topic – nice to see that Serenity will have less competition. Also, Genia, I must be seeing different movies than you, because I've been to probably 8 or 10 films this summer and haven't seen a single preview for Into the Blue. I've seen Serenity previews twice. Personally, I'm very much loooking forward to "A History of Violence," which got mostly raves from Cannes, but I agree that it won't be much competition for Serenity.
Universal and Paramount own UIP, who distribute Serenity internationally.
It's a shame we don't live in a ideal world.
In an ideal world, "Serenity" would have some really tough competition, and we'd see it soar up to the top easily, and beat every each one of them.It would show how good movies, could still linger.
In an ideal world, we wouldn't be talking about avoiding as much competition as possible, instead we'd be discussing in how many ways "Serenity" will beat the rest of the competition.
Haven't seen the 'Into the Blue' trailer either, but seen 'Serenity' previews twice as well. Looking forward to MirrorMask as I am a huge Gaiman/McKean freak, will look out for 'A History of Violence'. Looking forward to seeing 'Serenity' in full release with non-verse fanatics to see how it plays.
***POTENTIAL "FLIGHTPLAN" SPOILER IN THIS POST***
***POTENTIAL "FLIGHTPLAN" SPOILER IN THIS POST***

You have been warned ;)

Yeah, Serenity is pretty lonely on the 30th by now =) The Early Report says on estimated number of screens (the rest are limited):

- Serenity: 2500+
- Into the Blue: 2250+
- The Greatest Game Ever Played: 1500+

The week before (September 23), the major players are:
- Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride: 2750+
- Flightplan: 2500+
- Roll Bounce: 1500+
- The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: 1500+

While "Corpse Bride" looks to be good, I doubt it'll be wildly popular - except it's really the only thing for parents to take their kids to around that time - but they're not the audience for Serenity anyway. "Flightplan" looks like yet-another-thriller-soup that people will flee from before the opening weekend is over - at least the trailer is trying to sell a "supernatural/psychological mystery" plot that's revealed early on in the film as very mundane and trite, if the old draft for it hasn't changed a lot (doubt it has, since it's really a high concept film).

The week after (October 7) is as lacklustre as the week before, making sure that October really lives up to its reputation as dumping ground =) Only worthwhile material I can think of is Wallace and Gromit, but rather different audience. Only if "The Fog" gets lucky, will there be a real threat.

Now "Serenity" just needs more marketing =P
Serge,

Marketing is coming, and is going to have our babies.
"I was thinking of films like Resident Evil and The Ring 2. RE2, for example, made 25M during its opening weekend and did 49M overall (off the top of my head). But I guess that's one in a million."

I never bothered to see The Ring 2, but I have RE2 on DVD. It's no wonder that it's numbers tailed off, because it was terrible. I don't think that's a concern with Serenity.

"In an ideal world, we wouldn't be talking about avoiding as much competition as possible, instead we'd be discussing in how many ways "Serenity" will beat the rest of the competition."

This isn't sports.

The less competition, the more people will "settle" for Serenity. The more people that see it, the more people will go nuts for it and propell it to blockbuster status (at least, if we're still talking ideal worlds).
Marketing is coming, and is going to have our babies

I hope you're right, because outside of what I look for(and sometimes not even then!), I can't find any Serenity promotion going on. I know some folks have seen trailers in front of some movies and some specials on tv, but it certainly wasn't in front of the Batman I saw, nor on tv where I've seen.
What I have seen is a few promotional ads on the net, which always make me smile, but I'd love to see a full trailer 3 times during House or something! *coughalaStealthcough*
This is a subject of sadness to me, concerning the release of Serenity: no matter how good I sell it to my friend and manage to have them go see it the day it is released, this will do nothing (or very little) about its figures as far as Universal executives are concerned.

Two reasons to that: I live in france, and it is released here the 19th of october.

:(
Le Comité, don't get depressed, it's only opening over here in Brazil, in November 11th. That's like 20 days later than France, and more than one month and a half later than the US release date.
Besides which, if each of us converts a handful or two of friends to the 'verse, those numbers add up FAST. Don't get depressed, browncoats, hunker down for the final assault. We're too pretty to die :)
This is a subject of sadness to me, concerning the release of Serenity: no matter how good I sell it to my friend and manage to have them go see it the day it is released, this will do nothing (or very little) about its figures as far as Universal executives are concerned.

Two reasons to that: I live in france, and it is released here the 19th of october.

That's not true, as quite a few movies rely on the international market in order to turn a profit. Example, the new Batman movie costs around $200 to make and promote. Yet it's only just about to pass the $200 million mark in North American box office (a good part which goes to the movie threates). Only it's considered a success and Warner Brothers are talking about a sequel because it's made $160 million in the international markets. Now the DVD sales will be pure profit for Warner Brothers instead of looking to DVD sales for the movie to beging turning a profit. So the international market can effect if there will be a sequel to Serenity or not, if the movie doesn't make enough in North America.
Rogue Slayer - it is coming. However, it's also too early to start a media blitz yet. I'm not going to post a big thing about marketing as, to be honest, you can post it over and over until your fingers are blue but it still won't be seen by everybody it needs to be seen by.

Serenity's first trailer - which marked the first wave of initial advertising, went out with a least 3 of the largest films of this season. Because theatres often have to cut the trailers themselves, they didn't always have to attach Serenity. See also: Batman Begins. The exception is when it gets hard locked with Universal releases (see also: all early Land of the Dead screenings).

2nd wave WILL kick off in September. TV spots will hit two weeks before release. This is all very very standard stuff. Bare in mind the film budget, and the potential marketing budget. This ain't War of the Worlds - it's a percentage of that budget.

I went to the first major press screening of Serenity last night. They loved it. They lapped it up. As they left, several of them went and got Firefly boxsets on the way home.

Patience is needed for the 2nd wave to begin, ultimately. And I'm sure people can wait. Honestly, Universal has absolutely no intentions (at all) of trying to bury Serenity. They actually like it. This is the best chance of something Whedon produced I've ever seen, and by gosh - I'm hyper to see everything unfold over the next few months. Right now, there hasn't been a better time to be a Whedon fan.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-08-11 23:20 ]
Aww gossi, that was a great pep talk for all those with woes. I've gone to see plenty of movies because a) the trailers and ads were cool b) it got good reviews and c) I've met people who raved about it. That's usually the kicker. Serenity will do well, I have zero fears.
Wow that is awesome news Gossi!
I'm very glad the press screening went so well.

In Australia, we the fans have petitioned UIP to utilise us in thier advertising... click here
They've taken us up on the offer... Here
So, it's gonna be fun and interesting to watch this pan out. I personally just want more Big Damn Sequels.
(Oh and for Joss to succeed)

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