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October 04 2005

Rotten Tomatoes says: Take our heads out of the oven. "With strong reviews and positive water-cooler banter, the flick could see an improvement, but hey ... the thing cost $40 million and it made a quarter of that in three days, so you Whedonites can take your heads out of the oven."

Im not sure but I think he's trying to cheer us up
And just when my head was starting to get all warm and comfy.
Its not so bad in here. The fumes give me a bit of a high.
I'm praying that word of mouth does get more people in.

It is strange, though. It really does seem (from the numbers) that no one beyond Firefly fans turned up. How is that even possible? You'd think that the advertising would have brought a fair amount in (even after some are turned off by the 'continuation of a tv show' asepect).
I was on a wrestling board earlier and one guy posted the weekend box office results. He commented on every movie and then got to Serenity and said "never heard of it". How he has never heard of Serenity when it was advertised on Raw non-stop for a month mystifies me.
I think more than Firefly fans showed up and I don't think all Firefly fans went the first weekend. I'm not normally someone who goes to the theater much at all and I only went because I knew how important it was for this first weekend and next weekend. I'll be going again next weekend too. But I'm sure there were a lot of fans like me who if they go to a movie they never go on it's opening weekend just because they don't want to deal with crowds. I really almost didn't go this weekend because of the horrible crowd experience I had when I saw "The Grudge" on it's opening night.
I guess people are blocking the word "SERENITY", I was talking about the movie with my friend and this guy said "you guys watched a chick flick?"
Chick flick? Maybe they should take their heads out of their a**es! Where the Hell did they get "chick flick" from seeing ads of Serenity? Don't get me wrong, I'm a chick afterall but the movie isn't geared for the female audience (well maybe a little bit with all the beefy hunks in it but that isn't the point!).
Firefly Flanatic, I hear you on the horrible crowd on opening night for The Grudge: tons of teenagers, noisy, disrespectful, constantly talking (to each other and on their cellphones), laughing at all the wrong times and just generally dampening the whole theatre-going experience. I still liked the show (and Ju-On a whole lot more) but that was very annoying.

On-topic now, I went multiple times to see Serenity this past weekend with groups of friends (particularly a group of 110+ area Browncoats and their guests descending on a major multiplex...that was sheer joy!). I even managed to convince, in an effective and low-key manner, some strangers to see the BDM.
This weekend, it'll be me, my folks, other friends and hopefully my sister and perhaps some of her friends all stepping out for a night out to the black. My parents are also big Firefly fans, mucho excited (and totally unspoiled!) for the movie and when I asked why they didn't see it opening weekend their response was pretty much a direct quote of what Firefly Flanatic said above: they just don't want to bother with huge crowds.

Methinks this ship's got legs and I am optimistic (which is a new thing for me).


Yeah, I had two friends, both of whom are VERY pop-culture savvy, who had no idea what Serenity was when I invited them to it. Then they looked it up, and they were like "oh, that movie with the blue poster. Yes I am vaguely aware of it." I have also heard from others who, despite the good reviews, are worried they wouldn't "get it" because it is based on a TV show. Even when I assure them that they would. Sigh.
Was the friend thinking of "Serendipity" by any chance?
FearsomeBrowMop (love the name, btw!), most likely. Today a co-worker asked me if I saw that movie "Serendipity" over the weekend; I respectfully said no and politely reminded her of the film's actual title. I find it somewhat strange that people would get those two mixed up - "Serendipity", although not very old by any standard, still ain't exactly a current movie; it came out in 2001 and I don't recall hearing about its legion of cult fans successfully lobbying to get it re-released to theatres ;-)

ETA: I like boldface.

[ edited by gorramit on 2005-10-04 07:04 ]
I'd like to remind everyone that while the Browncoats were a force this past weekend, Uni's own statistics say only 40% of viewers were fans--which means most people who saw it were newbies! This article has really got me feeling better about things (though for the past few days I've been vacillating between "We're gonna make it!" and "Oh my God, oh my God, we're all going to die!").

Still, if 60% of those who went last weekend were non-fans, we may really get some word of mouth. And continuing to (thoughtfully) spread the word ourselves always helps--I got at least eight people interested in seeing the film today alone (I just emphasize that the movie is good, only reveal my 'coat if pressed for solid details). We didn't take too bad a knock, and we're not beat yet.
Here's another thing to take into perspective, the movie "The Transporter" got a sequel. Here's it's numbers:

BOX OFFICE HISTORY
Week Rank Wkd.Gross Theaters Per Theater Cumulative
Week #1 4 $9,107,816 2,573 $3,540 $9,107,816
Week #2 6 $5,083,217 2,610 $1,948 $17,191,186
Week #3 8 $2,811,751 1,884 $1,492 $21,471,206
Week #4 15 $1,289,040 1,114 $1,157 $23,550,484
Week #5 20 $588,301 569 $1,034 $24,553,455
Week #6 28 $168,959 205 $824 $24,932,291
Week #7 40 $59,448 120 $495 $25,048,198
Week #8 49 $37,208 74 $503 $25,111,469
Week #9 49 $37,564 63 $596 $25,166,416
Week #10 47 $34,325 73 $470 $25,221,889
Box office cumulative figures also include daily grosses from Monday through Thursday (not shown).


VHS RENTALS REVENUE SUMMARY
VHS Rentals Total: $7,400,000
VHS Rentals Opening: $2,560,000
No. of Weeks in Top 10: 5
Highest Ranking: 3

VHS RENTAL HISTORY
Week Rank Gross Cumulative
Week #1 3 $2,560,000 $2,570,000
Week #2 4 $1,900,000 $4,470,000
Week #3 6 $1,290,000 $5,760,000
Week #4 8 $920,000 $6,680,000
Week #5 10 $720,000 $7,400,000




Sorry about the crowded numbers - I did attempt to put spaces between stuff but it won't stay that way. Anyway this movie made less in it's opening weekend than Serenity did and opened in more theaters. It went on to have a sequel. I think we can do better than this movie, especially with all the great reviews and DVD sales that will most likely sell really well.
I was talking to bunch of people at work who aren't Whedon-fans, who haven't so much as seen an ep of Buffy/Angel/Firefly - and they LOVED Serenity. They were quoting the movie - and not just commercial bits. I think the Kaylee line, "Been more'n a year since I had anything twixt my nethers didn't run on batteries!" was the most quoted from everyone I talked to - though there were a lot others as well.

My basic thing for saying this is: Cheer up guys, there's hope. Through word of mouth, we might actually make this through without Donnie Darko-ing it.
I *hate* the fact that (recently) box office numbers have become indiciative of how good a movie is and people use them in arguments. "Revenge of the Sith was so much better than Serenity because it made $200 million". Like wtf? Economics is not going to save us.

GRR. Sorry its a pet peeve. Its like movies have become sport, with the weekend BO numbers the score cards for our frigging teams. Its gorram frustrating. [... and I work in the film industry, so even more grr]

Serenity will probably make half its money back domestically ((in the US), perhaps another 25% - 50% of its budget internationally (if we're lucky). Its sales on DVD will be profit.

Why is that important? Because it means Joss won't get blacklisted and there is the possibility of sequels. That's good enough for me.
Chick flick? Maybe they should take their heads out of their a**es!

Hehe, why Flanatic, if even you are pissed enough to cuss, we really must be in fired-up times. Did bring a much needed smile to my face though.

Firefly Flanatic, I hear you on the horrible crowd on opening night for The Grudge: tons of teenagers, noisy, disrespectful, constantly talking (to each other and on their cellphones), laughing at all the wrong times and just generally dampening the whole theatre-going experience. I still liked the show (and Ju-On a whole lot more) but that was very annoying.

Yeah let me second all of that. (Uhm or third it, I guess). The Gruge was one of the few times we went on opening night and maaan, every single thing you two describe! It made me feel old since I at that moment, truly hated 'them dang teenagers'....

Here's another thing to take into perspective, the movie "The Transporter" got a sequel. Here's it's numbers:

Thanks for that too! Man, lower opening and fourth place....yeah I was wondering about Transporter 1. So it only did 25 domestically in total huh? Still got a sequel. That's encouraging, but it did have a lower budget than Serenity. Although interestingly enough, it's second budget was a lot higher. This stuff has a lot of angles....
Here's another thing to take into perspective, the movie "The Transporter" got a sequel.


(OK, I warn you, I'll be talking about france one more time... that's strange, two times in four days, although I don't especially enjoy my country... don't go mad at me, EdDantes ;) )

You have to consider that The Transporter was a french production. So the "quotas" in order for it to have a sequel are not necessarily the same as the quotas for US movies to have a sequel (in particular, it seems to me that US figures matter most to Universal when considering the success of Serenity than to Besson when thinking about a sequel to The Transporter).

Hence, I am not sure that bringing up this movie to compare its figures with Serenity is really relevant.

I have begun to warm up my friends about seeing Serenity on its opening week in france (we mostly count in "weeks" rather than "week-ends" here). Next level, I'll give them a final choice: see Serenity, or lose my friendship (somehow, I am not really sure this will help Serenity... ;) ).
I've just arranged to go see the film with a friend I haven't seen in a while. Suprise, suprise, they'd never even heard of it.

The wider public hasn't heard of it, either. But that will change.
Oh yes, it will my pet. Just watch Serenity climb to the top and pull in the money. Because it will, no doubt about it. Mwahahahahaa. *ahem*

People are disappointed because they think the normal case of everyone knowing about the film applies. i.e. because everyone knows about it, it starts off at its maximum and then drops off.

Everyone's thinking this past weekend was Serenity's biggest, and it has nowhere to go but down.

The truth is no one knows about Serenity. But if we see lots of the word of mouth like from Emma's colleagues, that will change. Instead of being disappointed about the opening weekend being low, they'll be happy to see consequent weeks bring in even higher amounts :).

Out of interest, Emma, did you note any cases of someone who hadn't seen the film deciding to see it after the rave reviews? Also, had the people who'd seen it been 'prodded' to seeing it by you? (I'm just curious, is all).

[ edited by gooball on 2005-10-04 07:49 ]
I'm all blah-like. I'm not despairing how Serenity did the first weekend, but I'm not elated and I tend to alternate between, "No. 2 is really good!" and "but only $10m". I took Friday off to see the movie twice and the theaters weren't full, but close to it. Saturday night's 10:15 showing had roughly 25 people in the whole theater, which had me worried. I did notice that there were very few people there seeing any of the movies, and did manage to get a couple who were there to see The Exorcism of Emily Rose to watch Serenity instead when I offered to buy their tickets. They both loved it. The people at work that went to see it because of my hype all loved it too, so I'm just trying to remain optimistic for Weekend 2.

I just was not expecting to see the hot item of the day on the Monday following release be some CHUD article. (Joss - you make it so damn easy to be a fan.)

On another note, apparently horror movies like The Grudge don't provide good opening weekend experiences for anyone but teenagers. So I'm fourthing that discussion. But, on the rare occasion that I do go to the movies, I like going opening weekend. I saw all 3 LotR movies opening weekend. The crowds did suck, but once we all sat down, the people that battled the crowds all *really* wanted to see the movies. So everyone was quiet, focused, and respectful. That was my experience with Serenity as well, and a few others I don't need to list. But horror flicks are different. Teenage boys like taking their girlfriends to horror flicks, and I will remember that, and take evasive maneuvers.
yeah I was wondering about Transporter 1. So it only did 25 domestically in total huh?


What, the given figures were for france?

:P

(OK, three times in four days... I think I am searching the stick to be beaten with, especially considering that I answer to EdDantes ;) )
All right! A (mostly) positive thread on the weekend box office for Serenity!

Angela, et al I know many people at my office, even FF fans, who didn't want to go on opening weekend. I'm kinda hoping there are a lot more of them out there in the hinterland (suburbs) who will get in the car on Saturday and park for free at the mall and put down their 10 bucks and enter the ride of the lifetime (that's Serenity, bubs).

I'm totally onside with the "half-fulls" crowd (unless there's Jager, then all bets are off . . .).
Gooball, out of the co-workers that I brought up in my first post, none of them had gone through my prodding them or anything actually, which is why I had brought them up. Granted, there were others who went because of my prodding, or because of their own significant others, etc...but these few that I initially spoke of went because they were intriugued by the ads and stuff like that. One of them was a major sci-fi nut, hence her reason for going.

On an interesting note, some people did sound intriuged by our raving, and so they've decided to go see it. In exchange, they raved about Corpse Bride to us. But yeah...hopefully word of mouth will do us some good.

[ edited by Emma Frost on 2005-10-04 08:24 ]
That's great to hear, Emma. Thanks for the response :). It's good to hear a case of non-Browncoat initiated word-of-mouth ;).

If lots of the Browncoats who went last weekend go again, and there is a lot of word-of-mouth, Serenity should be in for a good week :).
I just wanted to add to the positiveness of this thread. :) I posted my own take on the opening weekend on another thread, but it ran off the front page too quickly! So here it goes again...

I am also of the anti-'doom and gloom' camp. We've seen many crowd-pleasing movies that didn't have big stars become sleeper hits, like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". They were just decent to good, crowd-pleasing films that word-of-mouth helped over time. The key is excited people leaving the theater. Well, we KNOW we've got that! Remember how you felt right after seeing the movie, leaving the theater hearing other people who had never heard of "Firefly" loving the movie? For some of us it only turned sour when we, as Joss devotees anxious about a sequel, went on the net and, with hands wringing, saw that the returns were a few million dollars less than we hoped.

This movie is creating a buzz, people! Most people are not anxious about this spawning a sequel, they're just gonna tell their friends to go see it! Someone's friend telling them "You've GOT to see this movie, it was great!" is more powerful than ANY commercial, or ANY review. Joss has made a real accomplishment here! According to BoxOfficeMojo, "Aliens" (another crowd-pleasing action movie) went on to make 9x what it made its opening weekend, and the original "Indiana Jones" made 7x its opening weekend. And these were two movies that HAD big stars that many people were going to see in the opening weekend.

I'm not saying right away that "Serenity" will be a "hit" per se, but I think it will do well...

It's all about the 2nd week.

Oh, and just wanted to add that when a studio decides whether to green-light a sequel, they have to consider not only the raw returns, but also whether people liked the first movie enough to go see a sequel. "Godzilla" was an utter piece of crap that made $136 million in the theaters, but no one wanted to see it again. Therefore, no sequel. Not true with our BDM.

The cult of Joss WILL grow with this film. The "Firefly" DVD has gone up to #3 on Amazon now that people are seeing the movie... to make a safe estimate, about a million people watched Joss's movie on opening weekend! Universal estimates that 60 percent of them were not already fans of the show. Many of these people will check out the DVD, come to love the Firefly-verse, and then start converting their friends by lending them DVDs or telling them to watch the movie! And in the end, isn't building our numbers of Whedon fans the most important thing we should be aiming for?
"Firefly" dvd is now #2 on the Amazon list.
Some good news. In this IGN article there's this quote:
"Is there a number that gets us a sequel?" asked Rope of Silicon.com in an interview with Whedon.

"I think I heard something like fifty million domestic or eighty million worldwide," said the director. "That would set some wheels in motion."

So "Serenity" would need to multiply its domestic earnings by 5x. When you look at movies this year on BoxOfficeMojo you see that some high-hype, low-quality films (i.e., "Fantastic Four") increased by 2.5x or 3x. Other films that got better word-of-mouth did better: "Batman Begins" at 4.3x, "40-Year Old Virgin" at 5x (and it's still doing pretty well!), and "Wedding Crashers at 6x. If Serenity can have word-of-mouth that's about as good as that of these films, then a sequel is a real possibility.

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2005-10-04 09:56 ]
Mr. Universe, it's interesting you noted that "chick flick". When a guy stopped where I stopped just outside the mall entrance after Serenity let out, I asked him if he saw it too. Unfortunately, he was a mall employee out for a smoke break but he asked me if it was that "girl" movie. So I imagine that mall employee saw the movie poster with River on front and had the impression it was about a girl but knew nothing else. So that is a start. I told him it was awesome and he saw my keyring from the presreening and I forgot I was holding it. I hope it made an impression.

It's cool The Corpse Bride is in this discussion. The only movie I've attended opening night in recent years was Big Fish. Luckily, the crowd was full of Tim Burton nuts and the crowd utterly respectful. It sold out. I saw the Grudge after opening weekend. Same problems but minor and not a big hindrance. I'm not surprised many Whedon fans cross over to his work as well.
It has not even registered on anyone I have spoken to. No one has heard of it before I say something about it. I just do not think the advertising is geared to the kind of people I work with, so they have not noticed it.
So "Serenity" would need to multiply its domestic earnings by 5x.

Keep in mind, though, that this is basically the answer to the question "What would *guarantee* a sequel?" I know it's not worded that way, but clearly a film that doubles its budget in worldwide grosses automatically warrants a sequel.

If it only takes 60 worldwide, then we wait on the DVD sales...

Rottentomatoes is right, it has already taken a quarter of its budget back in three days. Add another million from Australia and it opens in the UK this weekend... Only 70 million to go ;-)
You have to consider that The Transporter was a french production

Ahh of course, I forgot. Yeah hard to compare then I suppose.

And I've been hearing more and more that apparently people think it's a 'girl movie' now. The title comes across as River's name or something and it looks 'girly' to some people. Funny thing is that possibility never even crossed my mind!
I wear my Serenity button everywhere, including work every day, and today one of our regular couriers asked about it and, by the time he left, he seemed to have decided to go to the movie. Some of my other coworkers (even the ones who haven't had to listen to me talk about "Serenity" for months!) are planning on going as well. I'm trying to get them to go sooner rather than later. I'm going tomorrow - for the fourth time since it opened, and seventh overall.
And just when my head was starting to get all warm and comfy.

Hey! Mom left a plate of brownies in the back!

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