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October 03 2005

Requiem for the Browncoats. CHUD gives their take on Serenity's disappointing opening weekend.

I love that there is an advertisement for "Into the Blue" just below the article. Did they digitally remove Alba's parka from the ads?
I didn't notice that. I could do that later.
But it did argue that maybe Joss tried to put too much story in the movie, trying to balance the nine leads into the movie, and should have tried to write somethig different. Does anyone think that a different type of story should have been the movie?
This makes me angry in many ways. Especially the "it shouldn't be a movie" part. I love when internet critics just ignore a whole boatload of positive reviews to make it sound like their opinion is absolute fact. So according to rottentomatoes, there are 90 critics who would disagree with your assesment. While the box office is not that great, it's also not the end. Joss has always said this will be a word of mouth movie. Even if the word of mouth is only good and not great, the film could still pull in 30 million, and when they add in international grosses and DVD sales, Uni could make a small profit. They're certainly going to do better than the Island, which cost 120 million and opened with 12, or Stealth, which cost 100 million and opened in a similar way, or Chronicles of Riddick, which again had a huge budget. It was a small risk movie for them. The glee some people are taking in seeing Serenity fail just seems unfair. I feel like there is a very small, very vocal percentage of Joss' fans who just create this impression of a terrifying fan base that people love to mock. But people on this site, who would presumably be some of Joss' biggest fans, are some of the most civil and intelligent I've found on the 'net. Oh well.
I don't want to say this guy's full of it, but his eyes are brown. What a self-satisfied "I told you so" article.
I love the movie. However, this movie is a continution of the TV show that is going to appeal primarily to the TV show's audience. Could Whedon have re-invented the concept of Firefly for a movie? Throw out what the TV show did & was and start anew with just his original concept. This may have worked but it isn't what he wanted to do (he wanted to continue the show) and I don't think it's what any of us wanted.

Just read the posts about. I am sorry but I fail to see a the alleged snide attitude in Devin's post. He says plainly that he thinks the film deserves to do well. He isn't cheerleading for the movie but that's no reason to get down on the article. I think it's this kind of thinking that has gotten some people a little ticked off over our evangilsing. It's a fair piece that tries to lay out some reasons for the film's opening weekend.

[ edited by Unitas on 2005-10-03 08:08 ]

[ edited by Unitas on 2005-10-03 08:08 ]

[ edited by Unitas on 2005-10-03 08:11 ]
Every site I go on I get picked at by some troll for being a Joss fan. Do other film maker fans' get so much grief? I am constantly told that I am "in denial" and "drinking the kool aid". Its infuriating.

I don't think Joss should've did a different story. We appreciate Joss for his creative talent but it'd be hard to respect him if he compromised his distinct ideas for commercial reasons. But then everyone's gotta eat, just ask Kevin Smith.
I pretty much disagree with everything the guy said. But having read some of his past articles about Firefly/Serenity I have a lot of trouble even taking him seriously. I'm ok with him having a different opinion. I just don't like the snide tone he takes to express it.


The snide attitude comes in when he says the movie shouldn't have been made - kind of backhands his comment about it deserving to do well. How can a movie that "deserves to do well" not deserve to be made? He says it's lazy writing like it's a fact not an opinion. He acts like he is 100 percent certain there will be fan backlash, saying we will blame Universal. The last paragraph he insults us for our "finger pointing" that I have yet to even see. And believe me, I have been reading Whedonesque all weekend.

[ edited by Odysseus on 2005-10-03 08:22 ]
Oh, does anyone agree with Devin's last comment? Is hardcore fanning (is this a word?) turning people off of some movies? Personally, I don't really see it. Star Trek just seemed to run out of steam (finally). Star Wars is the biggest film of the year. As for Serenity, I have hard time believing that the fan base was so difficult that it literally kept a sizeable number people out of theatres. That seems a little much.
We are doomed if we get into the finger-pointing Blame Game that CHUD predicts. So simply... don't get into it!

Let's let nature take over for a week or two.

I say tone down the Browncoat costume wearing and flanaticism just a bit and let the word of mouth thing happen. We got the film made with all that perhaps its useful period is now past. I believe it is at this point that casual patrons of the film (non-Browncoats) will be telling their friends and co-workers about the cool movie they saw over the weekend. UNLESS they feel they may be labeled a Firefly fanatic of somekind. Don't forget that Firefly DVD sales are still up over at Amazon and that Serenity and Summer Glau are in the top 10 movie-related searches at Yahoo. There is definite interest in the BDM. We Browncoats can keep on loaning out our Firefly DVDs and gifting them through the holiday season, etc. None of that has to stop, nor should it!

This show (and therefore the film) sells itself! It doesn't even NEED a marketing campaign.
neither, I cringed when I finished reading it. You know serenity could make a profit, I mean its the first weekend. Give it time. Ive seen it 3 times in support of the movie(and coz I love it) He also had something against the name and ses Serenity is a geek movie. I completely disagree. Serenity is one of the strongest films this year, it have no idea what makes it geeky. Is it Joss? the fans? I dont really no, I think hes full of it. Just because it has a strong fan base doesnt make the movie geeky. I dont agree with anything he's sed, he seem to be a very negative person.
Also could some1 explain to me what he has against browncoats? He talks about blame and things like that. I havent herd ONE person or browncoat blame anyone for the slowish weekend.
NOT a good article. and it really isnt helping the movie either!
I just don't see why he can justify calling the movie a failure at this point. Number 2 at the box office is not failing in any way, at least not to me. And I think the only people that are really aware of or irritated by "Browncoats" are people like Devin (and myself) who spend a lot of time reading about them online. I don't think the average moviegoer cares or knows enough to be annoyed.

[ edited by NekoDono on 2005-10-03 08:37 ]
That guy is talking a lot of crap. Firefly fans know there are not many of them. That was the point of this, making more people aware and giving a resolution to the show. He makes them sound like they fueled this movie into being and are suprised the whole world didn't bow down to it. What an arrogant person to casually insult a million people.
In other news, fans have called for a recount for the box office performance in Florida.

Bloody hell, I haven't seen this much tension and online activity since Angel got cancelled. And I know some of us are feeling particularly raw at the moment but please remember our golden rule, don't bash the writer of an article.
Odysseus, I guess we will have to disagree on this one. As I said, I see this as a fair article trying to assess the less than robust box office of Serenity. I am pretty confident most impartial readers would agree with me. I will say that the last paragraph is admittedly a little too much. In the end, it's not a positive article but then again, it's not about a positive event.

Oh, Serenity itself is a deeply positive event. I meant that the weekend's take isn't. Just too clarify
Its hard not to Simon when we are called "distateful" and told we should stop "evangelizing".
Sorry Simon, it's just frustrating that the guy is predicting what he thinks the fan base is going to do than scolding them for it even though it hasn't happened yet.
Oh and "more than slightly ashamed that they conferred a weird group identity upon themselves." is a total slap in the face to all fandoms IMO. What is wrong with being part of a group? The thing I can take out of all Joss' shows is that its a good thing to be part of a group who have the same goals and interests and that if you work together you can accomplish anything.
You know waht's funny. I only got on the boards tonight to make a quick post about ignoring the box office & appreciating the movie we all got to see and then I let myslef get sucked into a box office discussion for over an hour. I am a weak man.
For a little perspective on things, most potential movie goers will never visit CHUD (or AICN, or whedonesque for that matter) so their pronouncements & criticisms sort of fade into the black, you know ? Most people don't use the internet as much as, or in the same way as many of us here do, and even in the case of us big internet users... well, for instance I've never visited CHUD, nor do I have any plans to. For the general public it's still the big mainstream critics that you need to get a positive review from, and even then people still tend to decide for themselves. Which is actually the big problem, 'cause most people love garbage. They're fed such a steady diet of junk that they have no palate for anything different or better.

I have hard time believing that the fan base was so difficult that it literally kept a sizeable number people out of theatres. That seems a little much

Again, the average person in the street has never even heard of Firefly, Serenity or browncoats etc. so it's an entirely dishonest charge, or maybe just misguided - it's really easy to think what's going on online, is going on offline, but that's rarely the case.
[please spell check before posting, thanks]

[ edited by Caroline on 2005-10-03 11:05 ]
Wow. He was...umm...cold.

I just wonder what this is going to mean for other projects, like Goners and Wonder Woman.
Why are the people who are lukewarm to Joss or Firefly or Serenity not even considering the possibilty that there will be positive word-of-mouth? I haven't heard anything negative yet about movie itself. This guy says he basically liked it and he's not a Whedonite. Harry over at AICN is not a Whedonite and he liked it. Out of the group of ten I saw it with Saturday night there were 1 Browncoat (me), 1 Tancoat, 1 person who had seen 4 eps and liked them, and 7 No-coats. And they all at least liked it or really liked it. A friend of mine in another city, was also in a group of ten including himself. That group consisted of a Browncoat, a Tancoat, and 8 No-coats. And he said that everyone in his group had nothing but positive things to say. So that's 15 people I personally know about who had no knowledge of FIREFLY and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think there's a strong possibility SERENITY will get positive word-of-mouth and have "legs".

[ edited by batmarlowe on 2005-10-03 09:25 ]
I saw a purplecoat last night. Freaked me out!
What this whole situation reminds me of is when Howard Dean's presidential campaign collapsed. In the months before the election, Howard Dean was regarded as the wunderkind for rallying intense internet evangelism and activism for his candidacy. When the rubber hit the road, however, widespread internet support did not translate to large numbers in the real world. The hardcore activist internet population does not necessarily translate to large numbers in the real world. Everyone was scratching their heads wondering why Kerry beat Dean, and now everyone's scratching their heads wondering why Jodie Foster beat Joss Whedon. Foster is the insider candidate. She has decades of Hollywood promotion as a megastar at her back. Internet activism over a period of months can't overturn massive cultural forces which have been in existence for decades.
Personally, though I'd have liked the box office be higher, I'm still optimistic for the possibility of gradually building a larger audience.

I'm certainly not suddenly furious, and feeling the need to run around blaming people for the modest opening. From what I've seen of most other fans online, they're thinking about things like telling more friends or seeing it again, rather than writing angry letters to Universal or something.
This isn't a personal attack on the author of the article -- just an observation. His assertation:

The film will, most likely, make some money overseas (although I tend to think not in non-English markets) and will definitely earn a bunch on DVD, but domestic box office is generally what itís all about.

... means he is either totally out of touch with the realities of the entertainment business, or has, at best, an amateur-level understanding of the economics of moviemaking.

Some proof? How about this quote, from Variety, courtesy the View Askewniverse:

But as DVD revenues become more important to studios -- in 2003, DVD sales totaled $11.9 billion, according to Variety sibling Video Business, nearly 30% bigger than the $9.2 billion in U.S. box office that year -- studios began to look for talent who could move units at Wal-Mart the same way Cruise fills seats at the multiplex... DVD dollars are worth more to the studios than box office dollars, because they keep the lion's share of homevideo revenues.

Hmm. DVD sales... Anybody here know a franchise launched on the basis of fantastic DVD sales? Not to mention...

Foreign B.O. used to be an afterthought in the movie biz, gravy that could pad studio balance sheets. But as it grew, stars emerged, like Sylvester Stallone or Charles Bronson, whose pics -- hits or flops -- seemed to magically double their U.S. grosses when sent abroad.

I'm not worried about the future of the franchise. At a budget of $40 million, this movie will make money for Universal. And, more importantly, it should make enough, when all ancillary revenues are counted, to earn a green-light for future films, provided they stay in the same budgetary ballpark.

My $.02...
He makes some really good points actually. I always cringed at the "cult phenomenon" marketing. That was a really bad idea if they wanted a blockbuster. I don't think they did. They wanted to hit the sales figures of the Firefly DVDS and they will do that.

I'd say it's wrong to get mad at the article and definately don't be upset with the movie's performance. Of course the studio WANTED another Star Wars. But I don't think they were planning on one.

If they wanted a blockbuster then they should've toned down the cancelled TV angle. If I wasn't a fan of the buffyverse I would've never watched Firefly because I don't like sci fi. I'm not alone here. If it was Babylon 5 the movie I certainly wouldn't have gone until a friend told me to go. Can you see Babylon 5 the movie coming in at 2nd place? Even on a bad weekend? The 2nd and 3rd weeks will tell whether the movie was succesful, but the DVD sales is what will get a greenlight for a sequel.

edit: DVD sales is where the whole movie industry is pointing so don't ignore them. What do you think got Serenity off the ground in the first place? DVD sales.

Oh yeah. That Jodie Foster movie looks really bad. I think this should proof once and for all the NO ONE listens to movie critics.

[ edited by smog on 2005-10-03 10:56 ]
There's a bit of an urban myth that the sales of the Firefly DVD led to Serenity being greenlit. They really had nothing to do with it.
I agree the writer makes some good points, but I found it very hard to look at the article in an objective way with the writer directing a lot of hate at Firefly fans.
How can this guy predict the fate of the firefly universe based on Serenity's first weekend box office? The fact that Serenity got less than expected means that there are now more potential viewers out there than there would have been if Serenity had gotten what was expected.

Who's to say that Serenity won't get a similar number next weekend than it did this weekend. Maybe all the potential viewers went out and picked up a copy or the Firefly DVD set this weekend and next weekend they are off to see Serenity, we won't know until next weekend.

Also who's to say that that Serenity/Firefly won't become this huge phenomenon once Serenity is released on DVD? I don't think anyone can compare Serenity to other movies and say that because a certain film was unsuccessful so will Serenity.

Firefly/Serenity is a franchise, just like Star Trek and Star Wars, the only difference is that people simply don't know about it, like they know about Star Trek and Star Wars. The Cinema release is just the first attempt at informing the general public of its existence.

In all honesty, I always thought it would be the DVD release that would get people really interested in Firefly/Serenity. To me Serenity hasn't shamed it self at the box office and this will ensure that most DVD stores will pick it up as a rental, and then I think we will finally get the reaction we have been waiting for.
I don't think he was directing hate at Firefly fans. He was talking about their/our image - and frankly guys, I believe he's right. Like it or not, believe it or not, Firefly fans have a wierd-geek image. Many people think we're a bunch of nuts. That's the truth. And bashing the guy for saying it is just killing the messenger.

If they wanted a blockbuster then they should've toned down the cancelled TV angle. If I wasn't a fan of the buffyverse I would've never watched Firefly because I don't like sci fi.


Same here. Even becoming a fan of BtVS was a very gradual process with me. And I never would have watched Firefly if I hadn'tve been a fan of Joss Whedon from BtVS, and I certainly would have been very unlikely to want to go see 'Serenity'. It's being sold as 'the next great sc-fi' or whatever and that never would have worked with me, it only would have made me think that the movie was for wierdos (I know I'll probably get slack for saying this but it's true, sorry). What might have worked to get me to go see it was if it were sold as a good 'ol popcorn romp and got good reviews. And I might have thought 'why not?' But if people were trying to push it on me, or trying to make me believe that it was anything more than a fairly entertaining 2-hours or so in the theatre, I only would have been turned off. Not just apathetic, but truly repelled (again, sorry, but it's true). And I think the guy who wrote the article is absolutely right (not necesarily on everything he wrote, but on the things he said about general audiences probably being turned off by the fandom).
But maybe I shouldn't only say negative things. I don't entirely agree with the writer when he says that this is it for Firefly/Serenity - there's definitely still hope for it. Universal said it only needed to make $80million internationally in order for them to greenlight a sequel, and that's not a huge number, really (jenolen is right - the guy doesn't know what he's talking about if he thinks that "domestic box office is generally what itís all about"). It still could very well make that, and who knows, it might do better in the US in weeks to come (I wouldn't count on it, but you never know).
*picks up battle axe, reads Simon's post about being nice; puts battle axe back down*

Threads are going a little crazy. This is what happened at SenOz the day after Joss left the country. We called it the Post-Joss Depression. I think we're having the Post-Serenity Opening Depression day today.

You wait for something for so long to come out and be a reality, and after it happens, there's a little depressive *thud* Nothing to alarm any of us really. All will be well by next weekend.

Edited to add: It's up as Number 2 for IMbd as it's opening weekend!

Honestly, The Transporter got a sequel! The Transporter people!!! ;)
In reality, how can anyone call a movie a failure on it's second day of release?

[ edited by nixygirl on 2005-10-03 12:34 ]
I'm not too offended by this. I think there is a phd thesis in marketing for the person who can analyse the 'Serenity' campaign and the response to it.

The danger I see now is that people have swung from over optimism to defeatism. While its lest than we expected the figures are still respectable and its far from over.

In American terms we're 'fourth and three'.

Above all we need to be out there telling people this movie is *FUN*.
There's a bit of an urban myth that the sales of the Firefly DVD led to Serenity being greenlit. They really had nothing to do with it.

Well I'm sure it didn't hurt. But you're right, Simon. The story seems to now be that the DVDs were released, sold a lot and Universal called Whedon for a script! Whereas Universal commissioned a script long before the DVDs were released.
At a budget of $40 million, this movie will make money for Universal. And, more importantly, it should make enough, when all ancillary revenues are counted, to earn a green-light for future films, provided they stay in the same budgetary ballpark.

My $.02...


Come on, jenolen, how can the movie make enought money if people only give 2 cents at a time? You have to be more genereous than that. ;)
Frankly, I think it's ironic that the author argues that, oops, our numbers are so much lower and our voices less heard than we thought, yet we are such fanatics we turn off virtually the entire mainstream audience.

I think the author raises a couple of valid points, but his laying the blame for the low numbers ultimately at the fans' feet is unfair, when there are so many other factors. The general public hardly knows we exist. There are a variety of factors at play here in the timing of the release -- some of which could be anticipated, but others (like skyrocketing gas prices consuming many families' discretionary funds) could not be. There is no single factor, and it is certainly not the fans' fault.

If this movie is all that we get, then we can pat ourselves on the back for our contributions (however fan support might have figured into the decisions) to getting it realized. Joss performed a miracle to get it made, and he got to tell his story. He will get other chances to spin other stories for us even if he doesn't get a sequel.
I'm thinking of this another way. We're in a recession. Gas prices are soaring and people are cutting back on everything, especially leisure activities that cost money. Movie attendance overall has declined, and unless you already have a well-established franchise, it's going to be impossible to pull in Star Wars numbers. At the same time, TV viewership is up. People are simply skipping it all and staying home. They've taken it for granted that in a few months they can see it on DVD for less money. Also, with kids at school, it's harder to go out during the cheaper matinee performances - and a lot of movie goers try to avoid weekend movies because they tend to be more expensive than weekdays.

I don't think this is a failure of the movie. The movie is sound. The movie is awesome. It beat out most of the competition even though it had no major stars in it. It got good reviews from most of the critics - especially most of the "big" critics.

I see this as more a reflection of the state of the economy and the movie industry in general than of "Serenity."
"...recount in Florida..." LOL. Thanks Simon, I needed that.
People are getting way too depressed over a 10 million dollar take during a time when numbers are down at the box office. Onward and upward, people :)

As for Devin's article, its got some points, and in his usual fashion they are delivered without any sort of diplomacy and in a choppy way. By that I mean the piece seems unstructured and going in several directions at once with its bouncing between 'liked the flick' and 'knew it wouldn't do well' and back to 'liked the flick' then on to things that make it sound like he decidedly did not like the flick.
Most people around here have no idea that fans of Firefly are called Browncoats, er, most people around here have never heard of Firefly. I really don't think it was in-your-face fans that turned people away from the movie. I went to the movie theatre a couple of times this weekend and never saw any in-your-face fans. I did see one person wearing a Jayne hat on Friday night, which made me happy, but non-fans wouldn't know that he was dressing up. It also seems odd to accuse us of playing the blame game and then turning around and throwing around blame himself. Seriously, life isn't fair. That's why things didn't happen the way we'd hoped.
Honestly, the over-the-top evangelism depends on where you're at. It tends to happen mostly at the midnight shows and preview screenings, so its negative impact is probably being overestimated by Devin. Given that, the third time someone started singing the themesong at a preview or the midnight show, I was wishing for a sniper rifle or an anvil to drop on them.
I think it's much too early to say 'Serenity' had a disappointing opening. Actually, all the movies from this past week-end were in a slump. Read today that overall ticket sales were down 27% from last year. Seeing that 'Serenity' opened with 1300 fewer theaters than 'Flight Plan', I think our movie did OK with the numbers it generated. I feel this upcoming week-end will give us a better idea on the fate of 'Serenity'. I also believe the movie will have a strong overseas opening. With that said, I must admit that 80 millon mark is a distant light down a dark tunnel.
I doubt it was fan fanaticism that had anything to do with not doing better. The "costumes" are not so outlandish that they would stand out as being different than everyday street clothing. It's not like people are coming to the movies dressed as Klingons. Only fans of Firefly would recognize what other fans are dressing as. If we're talking of midnight shows (which there were none in the theatres in my area), only fans would have been crazy enough shown up for those, and if the screenings were any indicator, they are actually less rowdy, and more considerate of others than (1) many other fan groups, and (2) the general movie viewing public. Nobody dare had their cell phones on during the movie, nobody was incessantly talking (because of "that special hell" thing), and the fans I saw in the theatre (the first showing I went to was almost all fans) are generally older movie-goers (between the ages of 30 and 60).
I believe the point he's making regarding the fans are primarily for the folks on the internet, the non Whedon fans on the internet forums have probably had Serenity talk to last them two lifetimes by now, reaching outside of the internet is a different story.

Personally I must admit to the small personality flaw that if two or more people tells me that a film is the best film ever I stop looking for the good stuff and start to search for the problems, not that I dont believe them or anything just that proving them wrong will make me very happy. Following the crowd, just not my thing. I suspect I'm not the only one on the internet with this 'personality deficiency'.

The people outside the internet still haven't found enough reasons to go see Serenity and check out for themselves whether the film is any good, I believe some studio people are going to be confirmed in their belief in 'star power' to draw people to the cinema and some others in the belief that good reviews doesnt matter much any more, the coming weeks will tell.
Emma Frost said: I just wonder what this is going to mean for other projects, like Goners and Wonder Woman.

I don't see the WW folks shaking in their boots about Serenity's numbers. Actually, I can imagine the Wonder Woman people are pretty darned excited about what Joss has done here.

And Goners is different.

I KNOW everyone's a bit raw and upset like this, but remember, high BO numbers or no, "Nothing like a major motion picture to help you get over having your tv show cancelled."
Did anyone notice that Firefly is at #3 at Amazon!!
I just don't feel completely disheartened. I think that this is not a bad BO number for such a niche film and that word of mouth will help for next weekend. I think our CHUD writer didn't like the movie very much (which is his absolute right)Perhaps he just feels bad that he isn't "one of us" (snerk) so that's why he seems to be bashing browncoats/fandoms.
Instead of the word of of some internet BO guru, I rather listen to Universal's executives here:


Speaking about the frame's top new performer, "Serenity," executives at Universal felt the results were in line with what was anticipated and hold out hope for growth in the weeks ahead. "The film was right in the middle of expectations," said Nikki Rocco, president of Universal Pictures distribution. "The audience is a niche fan base, and they turned out. And based on the strong exits, the hope now is that word of mouth will help the picture find an audience outside of the core fan base," Rocco said.

Hm. I think I disagree with just about everything Devin says. That sums it up nicely and won't take up much space about him. He's not worthy of more.

"The film will, most likely, make some money overseas (although I tend to think not in non-English markets) and will definitely earn a bunch on DVD, but domestic box office is generally what itís all about."

He's off here too. I lived in rural Japan for two years and could easily rent anything on video that was six months old. Anything. I also went to the cinema in a nearby city sometimes, and also while on vacation in Hong Kong and Thailand. It's easy to catch a US movie in Asia if you want to.

[ edited by April on 2005-10-03 18:08 ]
"Honestly, The Transporter got a sequel! The Transporter people!!! ;):

To my astonishment nixygirl, at last nights Serenity screening I saw a new trailer... for Saw II. I was ecstatic. If Saw can get a sequel, we can too.
I thought Saw was an excellent film and it did make almost 10x it's budget at the B.O. which sadly we're not going to manage. I still have some hope for us though, we are mighty and might yet do the impossible once again :)
I hated Saw but it's success was phenomenal. It cost $1.2 million and went on to make $55 million domestic and another $47 million overseas. Serenity certainly aint touching that domestic take, sadly.

http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=saw.htm
I think it's incredibly churlish to get the knives out this early, at least in my opinion. The movie hasn't even been out a week yet! Has it opened spectacularly? No. Did any of us really think it would? No. Hoped it would, certainly. But this guy seens to have mistaken genuine enthusiasm for something altoether more sinister, and I have no idea why. Other than right here on the 'net (which the average cinema goer actually goes nowhere near) where exactly has all this in-your-face campaigning supposedly taken place? Because the only people I've recommended the film to are people I know - I haven't been stopping strangers on the street. And here I was thinking that Browncoats were the most sensible fandom I'd ever been a part of. Guess I must have been looking in the wrong direction.

It feels like this guy is dancing on the grave before death has even been pronounced. And that's assuming there's even a death to pronounce.

What's worse? He had a point about aome of us blaming the advertising; I've already seen some examples of that, which I also think is really premature (and not a little petty, given that Universal didn't have to make the film in the first place).

Unfortunately, this guy will dismiss everything I just said as the blind dedication of a kool-aid drinking fan, nothing more. Losing battle doesn't even begin to describe it...

[ edited by Outsider on 2005-10-03 20:49 ]

[ edited by Outsider on 2005-10-03 20:51 ]
It feels like this guy is dancing on the grave before death has even been pronounced. And that's assuming there's even a death to pronounce.

Outsider, do you suspect there's even just a teensy bit of glee in that grave dancing? I will never understand the folks who neither get nor enjoy Joss (though I have my very own theories I'd love to share with Joss over coffee), but I see in this article and in much of the anti-browncoat yammering, a kind of jubilant "I told you so"ness to it.
The big problem I have with the article is the way he seems to try to make "Browncoat" a dirty word. And it's not just this CHUD article. I see this additude about genre fans in many places, especially over at Aint it Cool News. I'm sorry, but I like Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars. All for different reasons and with different levels of passion. I am proud to be a Browncoat, to like much (if not all) of what Joss creates.

Okay, that being said, this just popped into my mind. Is it possible we turned evangelical about Serenity? A friend of mine once told me, "Don't talk to me too much about how much I'd like a show...because it will keep me from liking it." Maybe we've been so vocal about our love of this 'Verse, that we've driven away people. I know I've felt this way when people espouse their political or religious beliefs. If there's one thing I'm against, it's the idea that I'm being forced into a belief. Maybe that's a part of the backlash about a fan-based promotion for a movie.
As a more casual Joss fan, I have to admit that I couldn't figure out how people could spend months and months obsessed with a two hour action adventure movie that many of them had already seen through preview screenings.

The only movie I've ever gotten that worked up about in advance was... never. Usually I wait until after I've actually seen a movie to decide whether or not it's going to change my life. And those movies that have changed my life usually have higher ambitions than entertaining an audience with an adventure story. Y'know, stuff like Ingmar Bergman, John Cassavetes, Jean-Luc Godard... guys who never had $40 million to make a movie and yet managed to make groundbreaking films which said controversial and important things about life without internet evangelists dressing up in costumes to help them get the word out.
I'm glad you enjoy Ingmar Bergman, Serapion, but a cursory examination of modern philosophical writings on Post-Colonialism might give you the inkling that Serenity is saying much much more than you seem to give it credit for.

I've been excited about the movie for months. And I'm far from one of the "internet evangelists dressing up in costumes to help them get the word out." Within Serenity's plot lie a variety of philosophical delvings -- from

It's not just a simplistic genre film with dudes and dudettes on a rickety old ship.
I think it mostly is a simplistic genre film with dudes and dudettes on a rickety old ship -- plus witty dialogue and ironic self-awareness of the typical post-Star Wars variety.

The philosophical ideas you mention aren't really that exciting...
Whereas Universal commissioned a script long before the DVDs were released.

*gasp* You mean to say that Universal simply liked the story & Joss' capabilities and so decided they wanted to help tell that story, even tho' it had been a failure on tv (due to Fox being crazyhuhkookoonuts) ? Because if so, that's the most heartening thing I've heard about a big studio, in I don't know how long.
Serapion, it's not just about Book's commentary. I also mentioned postcolonialism and I'll mention it again -- sci-fi is a particularly interesting genre for Postcolonial studies to touch upon, and Serenity is no exception. Moreso than any other sci-fi film, Serenity sheds the colonial attitude of Star Trek and forges fairly new ground.

Further, the idea of the Reavers themselves could be studied from an academic and philosophical perspective as a biological example of some of Paulo Freire's commentary in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, regarding oppressed individuals in a postcolonial world.

So while you think it's MOSTLY dudes and duddettes on a rickety spaceship, I'll take this opportunity to be a contrarian.

Further, philosophical meanderings regarding postcolonialism are far better suited to a genre film that acquires a larger audience than, say, a purposefully difficult or experimental Ingmar Bergman film. While *YOU* may find Ingmar Bergman and Jean Luc-Godard to be the place to find meaning in a movie, that doesn't mean meaning cannot be gleaned from elsewhere.

Were I still a graduate student, I'd be prepping a paper on this right now -- because postcolonialism and Serenity are perfect mates.
Guys, can we remember to invis-text plot details for those members who are still awaiting the opening of the movie?

In response to Serapion's question as why folks are/have been so obsessed, I think the reasons are probably as diverse as the fans. People like causes. People like Joss's art. (Yep, I consider it art, even if it doesn't always wear its philosophical musing on its sleeve). People like the background story - the little canceled TV show that could. And did. I thought the campaign was exciting, and that being part of a movement that believed itself to be relevant (whether or not it actually was) was thrilling.

And also, the fact that "internet evangelists" helped get the word out shouldn't have anything to do with the way you view the movie, right? It's either great or it's not, you like it or you don't, regardless of what happened behind the scenes.
GrrAargh, I'll try to clarify what I'm getting at.

I recognize that popular genre filmmaking can have a lot to say that's deep and relevant. I particularly enjoy the psychological investigations that can take place within the horror genre. Also, I've invested the time into watching every episode of every Whedon show and seen every movie the guy's written/rewritten. So it's not like I'm antagonistic to the guy's work.

That said, "Serenity" did not strike me as that deep of a picture. It was skillfully constructed along traditional Hollywood lines, and had many witty moments (80% of which were unfortunately already drilled into my head by ad nauseum previews on television). But what were the themes of the picture? David vs. Goliath? Fight the power? The bigger they are the harder they fall? Love conquers all?

One of the major themes of the movie -- "you can't stop the signal" -- didn't play with me because as far as I can tell it doesn't sufficiently take into account public apathy, lethargy, feelings of helplessness, desire to conform. Personally, I had a hard time believing the transmission of that video could threaten to crumble a government that entrenched. What effect did the release of the Abu Grabe torture photos have on the U.S. government? Not much. It was blamed on subordinates and the American public went along with the charade. The signal of those photos was not stopped, yet no effect. If our government can successfully avoid blame for Abu Grabe, the absense of WMDs in Iraq, the emasculation of FEMA and resulting tragedy in New Orleans, the establishment of a permanent concentration camp in Cuba where no U.S. or international laws apply, then I think a future totalitarian regime which has mastered subliminal advertising could easily avoid fallout from a scandal on a distant planet no one can get to in order to verify because the place is surrounded by cannibal pirates. (Presumably no one on that planet has living relatives who care about them, as those people apparently aren't very curious about what happened to that densely populated planet where their relatives were living.)

Oh well, you get the idea. I don't think this was a movie about colonialism. There were colonies in it but we didn't really get much of a picture of their relationship with the government. It was all very vague and overshadowed by the onwardly rushing action plot and need to try to flesh out a large cast of characters in a very short amount of time.
What I love about Joss's stuff is that it has so much going on.

Serapion, you can argue with folks here about how simplistic to the point of nonexistence the philosophical or political questions raised are, while I ignore them entirely to watch a rich interplay of character studies and questions about the varied individual human journey and how people deal with the choices they make in their lives. Meanwhile I'll bet at least one person in the theater just wanted something else to happen that would make his girlfriend grab his arm...and it did. ;-)
Serapion - I suppose this is where we digress. You saw "You can't stop the signal" as a relatively mindless plotline (and I'll absolutely give you your Abu Ghraib comparison as it's barely been a blip on the radar of this nation, sadly), but I suppose I see it from a larger picture perspective.

It's absolutely about colonialism -- the desire to conquor others and do "what's best" for them in some sort of bizarre paternalistic mayhem. Meanwhile, as the Postcolonial theorists will always tell us -- those who will not be colonized will stick around to stick it to the colonizers.

For me, this was one of the biggest themes of both Firefly and Serenity. Mal and crew just loved being a hig hairy thorn in the side of the Alliance (I can think of one particular Simon/Mal exchange that supports this, though I fear a spoileriffic hand-slap).

And I think that now - in these very troubling times - something like this is exactly what very many people need to see. It's not necessarily about how people react to the signal. It's about the signal not stopping - because, after all, there are those crazy little anti-colonial thorns flitting about the universe.

In the end, do I think Joss picked up a dog-eared copy of Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"? No. I do, however, believe he aptly illustrates the reaction of the minority to the majority's colonization and paternalistic hegemony. Oh yes I do.

Sodding Nancy - thanks for the reminder and I appologize in advance if we've spoiled anything. . . I'll stop now for fear of going into too much plot detail.

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