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October 08 2005

Serenity's second Friday Box Office performance. Whedon's film pulls in an estimated $1.51 million for its second Friday, dropping down to ninth place.

This really isn't a bad drop. It has an outside shot of falling under 50% for the weekend, which is almost unheard of for a sci-fi film.
Whoa. 9th place. Kinda depressing.
Looks pretty bad to me.
Are these true estimates, or are they HSX's figures? I don't think the estimates are out yet, but could be wrong.
ah shit.

im taking 8 people to see it tonite......where are the browncoats???!!
Who are these guys and how accurate are they?
I don't know how to interpret this. How to interweave The Dark Shape's interpretation with that of Apocalypse's and Paul_Rocks?

I saw it last night in a theater that was 2/3 full. And yes, WHERE are the Browncoats? There were hardly any obvious Browncoats in the theater last night. Maybe one or two. This is just my experience of course, but it belies the "scarily devoted Browncoats" theory circling the web. There are several Whedon groups in my area. Where were their members last night?

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2005-10-08 18:41 ]
Seriously, I warned everybody not to have high expectations. A 59% drop is really, really good -- and with as many new openers as there were, chart position doesn't matter at all. By comparison, Star Trek: Nemesis made $1.21 million its second Friday, an 85% drop from its first Friday.

Generally, if numbers come out of HSX (where quite a few people work in the industry), they're true -- or very, very close.

[ edited by The Dark Shape on 2005-10-08 18:39 ]

[ edited by The Dark Shape on 2005-10-08 18:40 ]
They do appear to be just HSX's figures so I just hope the're wrong...
lol Star Trek Nemesis sucked, even trekkies didnt like it.

This is Serenity........we've anticipated this movie since forever and kinda vowed to give ourselves a sequel.

but i guess below 50 % would be impressive. below 40 would be awesome.
By comparison, Star Trek: Nemesis made $1.21 million its second Friday, an 85% drop from its first Friday.


Yeah and Nemesis was a failure that pretty much killed the Star Trek movie franchise, not really what we want to be compared to, even favourably.
phlebotnin, things are definetely bittersweet today. The fantastic U.K. Box Office earlier, and then this which aint so good. I think I'm going to focus on the U.K one for tonight.
Nemesis was a fanboy-heavy sci-fi flick. It's a pretty direct comparison.
Indeed, these figures are roughly the projected ones if they are true.

But it's still bad. This will disappear from theatres. Quickly.

It's a real shame. Still, international markets may just come to the rescue if the UK model is repeated elsewhere.
The question asked earlier remains valid...where are the Browncoats? I went again last night...10 people there counting me! I spoke with eight of them...not a Browncoat among them!
Is it really asking all that much for every browncoat to buy at least one Serenity ticket this weekend, I mean, how much does one cost, between $5-10. If we all bought just one ticket we'd be making much more than this, you don't even have to see the film if you don't fancy watching it again so soon (can't imagine why), just give your ticket to one person out of a group in the streets in the hopes he'll decide to use it and the people with him will tag along too, consider it your $5 contribution toward a sequel. Hope it picks up today.
i know friday is traditional the stronger day with box office numbers, but i think serenity's numbers will pull through better today simply because its a movie that already came out. Last night was a chance for those new movies to get their big audiences, I think Serenity will find a bit more people today, and did i mention im taking 8 people, lol.

Everyone, please call your friends and tell them to go see it again and if you have no friends please stand outside and tell people to go see it.
The fact with the browncoat thing is, as I keep saying over and over: there really aren't THAT many 'hard core' fans. Yes, there's a lot, but not as many as people may make out. Those LiveJournal bloggers? They'll go once and enjoy it. As they should.

The other thing is this: I've been running around online saying to everybody "Look, you NEED to go see this, it's in real trouble" and people respond with "Numbers are ilrelevant! You can't stop the signal!" and such.

The skimmy is this: Serenity is a commercial property of Universal Studios. If those hardcore fans understand anything, it needs to be this: it's not pulling the numbers it needs to. If they want to boost the movie, now IS the time. It's not a case of fancy slogans to dismiss the problem. It's a case of money. Money speaks volumes.
Serenity's box office will rise today, probably to somewhere in the $1.9 - $2.1 million range.
This is strange, Wallace and Grommit is only getting roughly what Serenity grossed last weekend. I would have expected it to have done far better. Are we facing a general drop off at the box office for everybody ?
How do you figure that, TDS? I'm presuming at least some fans turned up on Friday, which will have inflated things. Although, nowhere near as badly as last Friday.

If Serenity raises on Saturday, that'll be a better omen.
Hmm, this is kinda despressing. But then again, I'm getting a case of estimation and number tiredness. I don't know what to make of the numbers anymore, but if people say this is bad, I'll believe 'em.

At least the UK numbers are looking up. I convinced two people to go see Serenity today when it opens in The Netherlands. Hopefully the battle won't be over by the time it opens here (November 17th).
Because it's been open for over a week. It dropped last Saturday because the fanbase rushed out opening day. This week that factor isn't nearly as high. If Serenity drops today, it'll be one of the worst performance in history. *Nothing* drops on Saturday if it's not opening weekend.

[ edited by The Dark Shape on 2005-10-08 19:02 ]
I'm a little wary of linking to forums or HSX. Once the sites we've been linking to during the week come up, I'll change the link.
Hubby and I watched it again last night. 7:20pm show. Theater was maybe half full. And I think they were all zombies. No one started laughing at the funnies until about 3/4 of the way in. Really diminished my enjoyment, cuz you feel weird being the only people laughing in a theater.

9th place. Oy. We were gonna see it again today, but last night put us in a depression, and I'm not sure I wanna tell hubby about the numbers...

Ok, go UK. Give us a boost....
Does Monday count toward the weekend box office, being a holiday and all?
http://boxofficemojo.com/daily/chart/?sortdate=2005-10-07&p=.htm

Serenity pulled in 1.51 million which is lower than the above 1.56 projection. That is even more depressing.
Technovamp has a really good point. Wallace & Grommit pulled in $4.1, by these estimates. That's not that much higher than Serenity pulled in it's first Friday, which as I recall was $3.9. W&G has a huge "family" draw to it. Are we seeing something bigger here in the industry as a whole?

(BTW, I'll be buying my tickets tonight.)
The estimates on BOM say 9th place with $1,510,000 for Friday.
Wallace and Gromit will have a stronger Saturday and Sunday due to it being a family film. It will also likely have better legs than Serenity which is a sci-fi film so the situations are different.

[ edited by RangerM11 on 2005-10-08 19:09 ]
Well I did my part. I went to see it Friday. I liked it more than I thought I would since I was someone who never really got into the series. I watched the series, but not with the same interest as I had watched Buffy and Angel. If anything the movie did a much better job making me care about these characters, and the annoying and jarring western references were missing thank goodness. There were only about ten or twelve people at the 12:30 pm matinee showing, but this is at a smaller complex in the suburbs. Actually there were only about 50 people in the whole theater at that time on a Friday morning, many of them grandparents bringing children to see March of the Penguins or some other childfriendly movie.
are there any rich fans who can buy out an entire screen and just give them out at the theatre, cuz remember this is a word of mouth campaign. This people watching this movie for free will most likely enjoy it even more...........thats wat free does to you. And its more likely they'll tell their friends
Does Monday count toward the weekend box office, being a holiday and all?

I've never gotten Columbus Day off from any job I've had, so I guess it really depends where you're at, if Monday will be a 'movie day'.

Maybe we can try to get the Federal and State employees to go see it on Monday????

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2005-10-08 19:13 ]
i wonder if George Bush would go see a movie like Serenity.
The BOM figures show drop off rate is around 60%.
I've changed the link over to the Box Office Mojo link.

Personally I think that Serenity is pretty much dead at the US box office (I would dearly loved to proved wrong on this btw ).

If people want a sequel, it might be better if we focus our efforts on the international market and coming up with some sort of campaign for the DVD release.
Indeed, international and DVD is now where it's at. Personally, to be honest, I can't see this getting a sequel.. Nobody official will say that, because - well, it's pretty obvious why. But don't pin emotional hopes on a sequel, folks.

Be glad of what's there. I'm so very, very glad Serenity wasn't completely open ended.

It's still a great film, it'll still eventually turn a profit, and it's still critically acclaimed. And I love it.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-08 19:18 ]
Personally I think that Serenity is pretty much dead at the US box office (I would dearly loved to proved wrong on this btw ).

You won't be.
It feels too early to admit defeat like this to me. Yes, international market and DVD sales'll be important, but the movie is still playing in the US and every sold ticket'll help further the cause, right?
GVH - still go and see it. Still get friends to see it. But it'll start disappearing from theatres very quickly, unfortunately. As I said the other day, Doom adverts will now appear everywhere and Serenity will disappear quickly I suspect.

I'd love to be proved wrong.
State employees, at least here in Florida, do not get Columbus Day off work.
Heh, wish I could, unfortunately I'm in the international market as well. It just seems to me with the US being the size it is, even if Serenity does badly there, it'll rake in more money than in most European countries, for instance, in a weekend like this.

Plus, it kinda gives the wrong message if it seems that even the fans are giving up. Then again, the people who that message might get to have probably already seen the movie. Erm, am I still making sense? ;-)

Ah well, this'll just motivate me more to try and make it the biggest succes possible when it opens in The Netherlands.
I don't think anybody is giving up, GVH, I just think it's really important people be honest about the performance. So many people are CONVINCED it'll get a sequel, when the reality is...

You know, look at the figures.

Just don't be too emotionally attached to the idea of sequels, and enjoy the movie. It's still critically successful, and will more than likely make it's money back eventually. And, you know, think of all those Sci-Fi classics which didn't do too well at the box office - the list is very, very long.
Yeah, I get what you're saying, and I guess I know you're right. It's just, well...you know.
Still too early to give up yet I think. Next weekends openers don't look at all impressive. If Serenity can hang in there every cent will help with the International box office and DVD sales.

I still don't know anybody who has seen either the series or the film who hasn't loved it. Anybody you can get to see the film is likely to be another purchaser of the DVD's for the film and the series.
Just don't be too emotionally attached to the idea of sequels, and enjoy the movie. It's still critically successful, and will more than likely make it's money back eventually. And, you know, think of all those Sci-Fi classics which didn't do too well at the box office - the list is very, very long.

That's what I've been saying, and thinking. As people say, 40% drop means you're doing really well. 50% drop is standard for most movies, 60% drop is standard for genre/niche movies that are not Star Wars or LotR. Still, hard not to be pissed when I look at the crap that's successful.

On the other hand, I have to say, that looking at the numbers of all those other movies that are opening this weekend, it's pretty piss-poor overall! I mean Wallace & Grommit did about the same as Serenity last week on friday and all of the others are well below that! And that's movies with Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Cameron Diaz, etc. It's a small, petty comfort but to someone as bitter as I right now, it's still a comfort;-) (Btw, "Gospel"? WTF? "Waiting"?? People actually go to this stuff??)
i dont think anyones giving up, everyones just kinda bummed its looking gloomy. We can't be surprised? Joss Whedone was never a mainstream success, he's our guy. But we still gotta work hard to keep doing what we can. It doesnt matter if we spend 50 dollars hoping to get the movie numbers up, it matters that we took a part in something we believe in and love....and if u've watched Serenity you understand what I'm talking about.
Joss Whedon will be mainstream. You know, Wonder Woman. And, you know, Goners.

Firefly, as a concept, was never about being mainstream. It was about subverting the big guys and being underdogs. Same with Serenity. Serenity added some mainstream elements, but not enough for the US it appears (abroad... maybe).

I'm willing to bet you all 20 that Doom does much bigger opening weekend numbers. Aliens, guns, The Rock, no intelligence... it'll do grand.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-08 19:51 ]
I sort of wish Joss would tell us it's all right or something. I know, I know, this is a deeply selfish and childish desire. Gotta believe in the film and all that is behind it. Bottom line: it was miraculously made and it is a critical success (and how!). That the masses aren't going to see it but are seeing "Flight Plan," "Gospel" and "Waiting" instead, well, that proves what I've always thought. Maybe you can't stop the signal if there are heroes out there to see that it can't be stopped, but there are a lot of crappy non-heroes out there, too. People who wouldn't know quality if it came up to bite them in the ass. Let's hope the Brits and the rest of Europe have a higher standard of taste. I'm counting on you folks!
But he's not mainstream now, thats why we're fighting for this movie to be seen.

and god, i wanta know more about Goners.
I think a sequel will still be possible even if the box office doesn't improve. One of the main reasons I think that is how well the Firefly DVDs have been selling this year (#4 at amazon right now, was as high as #2). If Universal is paying attention (and if the Serenity DVD sells big), I think they'll realize the fanbase is still growing as we speak. 2-3 years from now, we may have twice the browncoats we do now (not an educated estimate, just a possibility). I think a sequel will do better than this, maybe Universal will see that.
I'm willing to bet you all 20 that Doom does much bigger opening weekend numbers. Aliens, guns, The Rock, no intelligence... it'll do grand.

Plus almost every kid in the demographic who owns a computer has played the game and doesn't understand that game to movie translations are uniformly awful.
I did my part last night and saw it again with my kids and one of their friends. The friend wasn't a fan of Buffy, Angel or Firefly and went in completely blind and she absolutely loved it. I went to the same theater and the movie was being shown in a smaller room and there were about 35-40 people there.

The numbers are depressing but a lot of you have made good points about other movies not doing so great in their opening weekends that definitely should have done better. If Serenity doesn't last at the theaters very long here in the US there still is the dvd sales to hopefully do well. And I think they will if you go by how well the series dvds are selling. I am wondering if a lot of people are deciding to buy the dvd set before seeing the movie. If that's what is happening we should see a lot of new eager Firefly fans wanting to get their hands on the movie when it comes out.

The saddest thing to deal with is knowing what a great movie it is and when people who don't know the show have seen it they still love it. But people just aren't going. Why are people so resistant to go and see a movie that the critics love?

[ edited by Firefly Flanatic on 2005-10-08 20:08 ]
Why are people so resistant to go and see a movie that the critics love?


It would appear that the influence of the critics is greatly over-rated.
Just think... a decade from now it can pull a Star Trek and Kaylee not only will be chubby again but she'll look like James Doohan.
It would appear that the influence of the critics is greatly over-rated.

While this is true, it's also true that I remain unconvinced that the last-minute burst of very short ads did much to even tell people that the movie had fantastic reviews across the board.
Please people, don't give up. I think Universal knows there is a strong dedicated fanbase for Firefly/Serenity and I believe it even rivals fanbases of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate. So maybe instead of producing another movie they might end up relaunching it as a series on the Sci-Fi Channel or doing a series of straight to DVD releases. I think a lot of people see Serenity as something they will watch on DVD. It's a long way from being over.

We didn't throw in the towel when Firefly was canceled so why should we throw in the towel now?
I don't think there was really anything done to really pull in non-fans. There was a lot of online stuff (which only a small percentage of audiences would have heard of.) Two trailers, I saw most of the big releases and saw only the first of the two (which wasn't all that good) at Batman Begins. Finally there was a lot of TV spots, which I don't think really would have appealed to those who didn't know what it was.

So yah, it got amazing reviews, it has a terrific rating on IMDB and audiences who saw it loved it, but most people didn't see it. It sucks.

[ edited by rabid on 2005-10-08 20:21 ]
Here's the example I gave yesterday, I'll restate it:

- Cinderella Man
- Oscar Winning director
- 2 star names
- Both Oscar Winners
- Critics RAVED over it. Higher Rotten Tomatoes Fresh score than Serenity

Nobody went to see it. Well, hardly anybody.

Why? I don't know, is the simple answer. I don't think it took peoples fancy - 1930 depression era dramas, not so much with the love.

Serenity, so far, is doing well in the UK. It had pretty low key marketing in the UK, it has to be said.

It's pretty complex, and I won't pretend to know the answers here.
I am missing hearing Neil Gaiman speak tonight so that I can see Serenity again and go to the shindig afterwards. If it doesn't look as though we are having a good sized shindig, worth going to, people don't show up - there is a critical mass thing going on here. This will be my 6th time seeing the movie, and I am still seeing new things and so are others - we talk about it afterwards and agree that we have to go see it again.
But Neil Gaiman..... sob.
All of this hand-wringing aside, it apears to be doing fairly well here in Portland, Oregon. Theater I saw it in for last night's 7:00 PM was almost completely full. At least I've managed to be living in a clueful town, heh.
I went to the 4:00 matinee yesterday and took my husband and two kids. There were about 6 or 7 other people there with us.
Don't want to hijack the board with this but Kaylee was never chubby! Being a stick is not normal!
Seriously, folk...first of all, it ain't over 'til it's over. Second of all, it's only just starting. As long as it's in theaters there's always at least a slight possibility for a "Big Fat Geek Wedding" if you pardon the expression, though I admit that's a giant longshot.

However, there's international and, if it's strong enough, a possible U.S. re-release (happens every once in a blue moon), the admittedly iffy possibility of an Oscar nomination for something (most likely for Chewitel E. or possibly an adapted screenplay nom., and I'm not sure but I think they're may be a new category for stuntwork), there's DVD. For sure, this may mean that any sequels will be slower in coming but I personally will be very suprised if they never come at all, though it might take several years, I admit.

However, despite what Universal is saying (they're trying to motivate us!) and some internet prognosticators have said, DVD sales have driven a number of sequels (all those movies that have sequels that cause me to say, "hey, didn't the first one bomb?") and, in the case of "Austin Powers", extremely successful sequels. Sometimes it just takes a while. Maybe another "Firefly" rerun on Sci-Fi, a strong DVD push, an award or two, international attention...it can all add up slowly.

So, even though I'm not big on dragging people to things against their will (always seems to backfire for me), I'm going to bug my Firefly-curious friends to all see it this weekend and hope for a bit of a rebound.

Stranger things have happened. Huge movies have been dissapointing on initial release only to become giant films later on ("Blade Runner," "Bonnie and Clyde" and I'm sure many others I can't think of right now).

[ edited by bobster on 2005-10-08 20:27 ]
I keep hearing people say that there have only been 40 or 50 people in the seats when they see it. I have seen it 5 times since the 30th and every time there has been 125+ people in the seats. Last night someone yelled out "How many Browncoats are in the audience?" and a good 25+ yelled out or raised their hands. I keep wondering why I see so many people in the seats and the reports I get from friends and family are similar to mine... maybe it's a geographical thing?

*perplexed in Wa State*
So we are approx. Worldwide: $15,282,054 without UK numbers yet?
It ain't over 'til it's over and, in many ways, it's only just starting. As long as it's in theaters there's always at least a slight possibility for a "Big Fat Geek Wedding" if you pardon the expression, though I admit that's a longshot.

However, there's international and, if it's strong enough, a possible U.S. re-release (happens every once in a blue moon), the non-impossibility an Oscar nomination for something (most likely for Chewitel E. or possibly a screenplay nom.) there's DVD. For sure, this may mean that any sequels will be slower in coming but I personally will be very suprised if they never come at all, though it might take years.

However, despite what Universal is saying (they're trying to motivate us!) and some internet prognosticators have said, DVD sales have driven a number of sequels (all those movies that have sequels that cause me to say, "hey, didn't the first one bomb?") and, in the case of "Austin Powers", extremely successful sequels. Sometimes it just takes a while. Maybe another "Firefly" rerun on Sci-Fi, a strong DVD push, an award or two, international attention...it can all add up slowly.

So, even though I'm not big on dragging people to things agains their will (always seems to backfire for me), I'm going to bug my Firefly-curious friends to all see it this weekend and hope for a bit of a rebound.

Stranger things have happened. Huge movies have been dissapointing on initial release only to become giant films later on.
Don't want to hijack the board with this but Kaylee was never chubby! Being a stick is not normal!

Uh, Jewel herself has described the series Kaylee as chubby.

And I read it, it described her as 'a sweet, flirtatious, chubby, nineteen-year-old girl'.

SpookyRiverFan, you're seeing the same thing we're seeing here in Portland. Traditionally, the Pacific Northwest is both a literate/well-read and genre-accepting/tolerant region, so it's not surprising that the movie is doing well here.
Once again with me getting all pissy about the gloom and doom.

Compared to the rest of the box office haul, these are not good numbers. No, they are not, and I admit to that. Everyone kept going on about "the crucial second weekend"...was I the only one who was almost positive that the second weekend wouldn't be any better? Serenity is a quirky niche film, and for it to have placed as high as it did in the box office last weekend was quite impressive. Plus, it's already made back almost half its budget.

What I really do not understand is the whole, "Oh my God! We'll never have a sequel!" If Joss can make an unsuccessful TV series into a film, I'm thinking he can probably make a sequel to a moderately successful film (yup, I didn't say failure, it's actually not doing too badly considering what it is and how much it cost).

We all should've known that Serenity wasn't going to blow up at the box office. That's the only reason I can imagine everyone getting all depressed; there's no way it could've surmounted the fans' high expectations (in terms of box office take, not quality here, folks).

Serenity is the kind of movie that will blow up on DVD, and you know that as well as I. I've used this comparison before, but since apparently no one was listening to me before, here it is again:

2004's The Punisher, a movie based on a character little known to anyone who's not a comic book fan. It had a budget of $33m, just $6m less than Serenity's $39m. It opened up almost exactly like Serenity, #2 at the box office and with $13m, just $3m above Serenity's take (I'm going to attribute this to the fact that The Punisher is better known than Mal or Zoe, plus John Travolta). It slowly, over the next few months, slid further and further down the box office, often taking in less than $1m a weekend, and then came to a close at the box office with a $33m gross. Not exceptional, I'm sure you will agree. However...when it hit DVD, it finally found its audience, and guess what? The Punisher 2 is out in theaters next year, directed by the same man, Jonathan Hensleigh, and once again starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. And people, this is a movie that people didn't even like.

Serenity's box office pattern will likely follow The Punisher's, only armed with good reviews and, well, us. Browncoats, I know that we sure as hell can make Serenity a huger hit on DVD than The Punisher was, and, well, after that? I'm thinking sequel.

(And about Wallace & Gromit's huge underperformance, like I said before, that property is dead in the States. Try talking to a co-worker or a fellow student. No one knows who the hell Wallace and Gromit are. It's a shame, yes, and I'm seeing it tomorrow night, but the majority of U.S. audiences have no clue as to what it is.)
Everyone kept going on about "the crucial second weekend"...was I the only one who was almost positive that the second weekend wouldn't be any better?

That "everyone" includes, rather importantly, both Universal and Joss. Hence the focus on it.
From San Francisco here (hence my name), and I went to an 8:30 showing and there were about 200 people there, the theater about 2/3 full. My guess is it's doing pretty well in urban markets...
That "everyone" includes, rather importantly, both Universal and Joss. Hence the focus on it.


Yep, I know, and I also remember thinking that they were being pretty crazy. To me, Serenity was never going to have these great week two numbers that everyone was predicting.

Maybe this is like Shiny Happy People. Everyone is blinded by love for Joss, and I'm the only one who saw through the love (which I do share, though I guess it doesn't make me less of a realist).
I kind of missed Kaylee's "chubbiness." Joss wanted her that way for a reason and she just wasn't the same in the movie.
Ah, the Pacific Northwest is truly enlightened.

Saw Serenity again last night (and paid for extra tickets at a different theater). The room was perhaps 2/3 full. And mostly subdued. A handful of people, including me, laughed in the right places. Occasionally a breath of excitement would sweep the room, and then die down. My friend - a huge Buffy fan, who didn't really get into Firefly - thought it was great. But a young woman leaving the theater told her companion "I'd give it a B-, maybe C+".

Mostly I'm sad that, although I don't think the movie was ever going to have truly mass (SW, LOTR) appeal, I do believe there are many many people out there who would enjoy it, if only they could tear themselves away from the syndicated drip-feed of the commercial media. Ah well. Still and all, it was one great ride while it lasted.

UnpluggedCrazy, thank you for your optimism. :) I didn't know the Punisher story, and I find it rather instructive. And let's face it, folks, hardly a one of us really knows what we're talking about when it comes to box office prognosticating.
To me, Serenity was never going to have these great week two numbers that everyone was predicting.

Universal and Joss weren't predicting a large second weekend. They said that the second weekend performance was vitally important to the movie's future. That's two entirely different things.
Unplugged Crazy and SNT make excellent points. What is confusing is that although Joss and Universal have publicly placed great emphasis on the second weekend results, neither party has cited a specific figure. (If I'm wrong on this, please hasten to correct me.) How are we to know what would be considered a passing grade? We can speculate till the cows come home but we aren't insiders.

Ronald_SF, in terms of urban, highly educated markets, it seems to be doing fairly decently in D.C., too. (D.C. having the highest concentration per capita of advanced degrees in the U.S., or at least it used to.) Interesting. The theater I went to last night was 2/3 full and the vast majority were clearly not Browncoats. And by the look of them, not your standard hardcore sci fi fans, either. Yet there was significant laughter at most of the right spots and very, very little rustling about during the quieter moments. I think most people enjoyed it. However, I didn't overhear any reaction because I was engrossed in conversation with the people I went with.
I live in a really rural area so I'm not too surprised at how few seats were filled at the theater I go to. The lobby of the theater seemed to have hardly any people in it so I doubt the other movies were doing much better filling seats.

I still think there may be a lot of interest in seeing the movie but people want to watch the series first to know the backstory. A lot of the reviews were great but some of them made it sound like you'd need to know the characters to truly appreciate the movie (and that is true). I think it's a good sign that the Firefly dvds have been selling so well - it means there is definitely a lot of potential Serenity DVD buyers out there if the movie is gone from the theaters by the time they finish the series.
And let's face it, folks, hardly a one of us really knows what we're talking about when it comes to box office prognosticating.


*Chuckles* Yeah, I guess you're right. :)
2004's The Punisher, a movie based on a character little known to anyone who's not a comic book fan. It had a budget of $33m, just $6m less than Serenity's $39m. It opened up almost exactly like Serenity, #2 at the box office and with $13m, just $3m above Serenity's take (I'm going to attribute this to the fact that The Punisher is better known than Mal or Zoe, plus John Travolta). It slowly, over the next few months, slid further and further down the box office, often taking in less than $1m a weekend, and then came to a close at the box office with a $33m gross. Not exceptional, I'm sure you will agree. However...when it hit DVD, it finally found its audience, and guess what? The Punisher 2 is out in theaters next year, directed by the same man, Jonathan Hensleigh, and once again starring Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. And people, this is a movie that people didn't even like.

What you say about The Punisher is true. However, having worked at the production company that did The Punisher, I'm keenly aware of one fact you're forgetting. And that's that Johnathan Hensleigh happens to presently be married to Gale Anne Hurd, who produced The Punisher and also has a tremendous amount of power to get things made because of having produced The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, etc. I think that's more than a little bit of a factor in The Punisher 2 happening. ;)
Universal and Joss weren't predicting a large second weekend. They said that the second weekend performance was vitally important to the movie's future. That's two entirely different things.


That's getting kind of nitpickish. I'm aware that neither Universal nor Joss expected a large second weekend take, but they did say that it would hopefully grow and stick around. Apparently, U.S. audiences aren't willing to open up their minds just a teensy bit, and I'm not writing off Serenity's weekend possibilities yet because this is just Saturday, but if it's going to continue with the Friday numbers, I'm thinking that Universal's optimism at some point flagged. The whole "finances reserved for a second-week boost in marketing" turning into "three or four ads showcasing a couple quotes" kind of backs up my theory.

They were overly enthusiastic, and now we're seeing their reaction to it. I'm pretty sure they know how big this will be on the DVD front, and that's probably where they're focusing their attention right now.
Remember when it was just Firefly, the canceled TV show?

We've already done the impossible. We've already gotten 2 extra hours of that 'verse. And some comics. And probably a good bunch of tasty dvd extras.

Want more? Of course. But this isn't really a cause for depression. Just sayin'.
What you say about The Punisher is true. However, having worked at the production company that did The Punisher, I'm keenly aware of one fact you're forgetting. And that's that Johnathan Hensleigh happens to presently be married to Gale Anne Hurd, who produced The Punisher and also has a tremendous amount of power to get things made because of having produced The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, etc. I think that's more than a little bit of a factor in The Punisher 2 happening. ;)


Gorram it.

Then again, much as love (or marriage...da dun *DUN*) blinds, she wouldn't have let him do a Punisher sequel if she thought it would be a huge financial loss, would she?

Would she?

*crickets*
that is very true StarHawk, this is nothing to wat we felt 3 years ago.

More people have seen this verse than when Firefly was on TV.

[ edited by ChosenOne5376 on 2005-10-08 21:02 ]
Hey at least, by BOM's estimates, we still beat Into the Blue again yesterday.

Well, only by like $10,000.
I suspect that Serenity might develop legs, but not when it comes to US box office. It's not unlikely that some powerful foreign market really, really loves it though. (Stranger things have happened: ie. the Japanese made Lars von Trier's handheld-camera arthouse musical melodrama "Dancer in the Dark" their number one movie for a few weeks back in 2000.)

There are also the DVD sales and the merchandising. Merchandising is what makes Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars so commercially successful franchises beyond their box office numbers. It's not just the number of sold tickets, but also the number of sold toys, posters, soundtracks, keychains and toothbrushes.

And last but not least, you can legitimately sequelize the heck out of this franchise. No one can shoot a "Titanic 2", but you can shoot a "Serenity 23 - Whatever Happened to Jubal Early." And if the DVD is really successful, it's possible that there will be more people standing in line for the sequel than for the original, simply because they saw it on DVD and now wanna know what happens next.

I guess, it all comes down to Universal believing that the franchise can grow legs, rather than the movie itself. If they believe this weekend numbers to be representative for the franchise's potential in whole, there won't be a sequel.
Sorry about the off-topicness, I can't help it, I have to say this:

I don't care if Kaylee is 10 (even 20) pounds lighter OR heavier. She looks beautiful and healthy to me either way. Rock on, Jewel.
I'm as disappointed as the rest of you, but I do think we have to look at the economy as a major factor here. The malls at my home town are virtually empty during weekdays, and even on the weekends, I'd estimate the number of people there is half what it used to be. When I went to see Serenity yesterday, there weren't more than twenty or thirty customers in the entire cineplex. The only shopping lots I see full are those at Target or Walmart or Dollar stores. I just paid my gas card bill and nearly died from stickershock.

My guess is that the DVDs will sell quite well (assuming Universal puts a "two thumbs up" on the front), as everyone here expects. I just ache to think how Joss and the actors and everyone involved feel about the disappointing theater figures.
(And about Wallace & Gromit's huge underperformance, like I said before, that property is dead in the States. Try talking to a co-worker or a fellow student. No one knows who the hell Wallace and Gromit are. It's a shame, yes, and I'm seeing it tomorrow night, but the majority of U.S. audiences have no clue as to what it is.)

I must live in a fairly enlightened town when it comes to British programs because I and everyone else I know is familiar with Wallace and Gromit.
I watched Wallace & Gromit last night in Seattle. The crowd was very sparse. I'd say 20% full tops. Of course I went to the 9:50 pm showing to avoid seeing it with throngs of talkative and (yes, let's be honest..) stinky children.

W&G is a lot of fun, btw.

I'm seeing Serenity again at least once this weekend.
Unplugged -- I agreed with everything you said, except about W&G. I do think that studio and theater owners were a bit foolish to put it in so many theaters (over 3000, I think) on opening weekend. But I'm actually against the entire current models for how films are released because it tends to favor movies that are, well, crap, fosters a tendency to treat movies as thoroughly unimportant disposable products with no sense of event -- and then everyone wonders why overall attendence is down!

Still, W&G is very, very well known and beloved at least among a certain subset of the U.S. market of which I am a member. Admittedly, I'm a liberal securar Jewish geek, born and bred in West Los Angeles, but I'd say about 80% of the people I know (including some at the place I now work in the Orange County/Riverside area, which is a red state inside of a blue one) know and love W&G. Admittedly, some of them have post-graduate degrees, but they're people too....

The other thing going for it is that the one and only safe bet in Hollywood is that a half-way decent family film will always do good numbers. And a family film that parents actually love and enjoy even more than their kids will do fantastic, Pixaresque numbers, and W&G should certianly qualify. Also, "Chicken Run" did well here and the Aardman style is well known, if only through a series of gas station commercials. I'd be surprised if it doesn't do very, very well.

And, since I'm being so off-topic, let me say that I do prefer the plumper, cuter (to me) Kaylee, but since Jewel says she's naturally slender, I say let Jewel be Jewel!

[ edited by bobster on 2005-10-08 21:41 ]
Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life and Citizen Kane were all box-office bombs and now are regarded as classic films. I have no idea why the public hasn't initially taken to Serenity but I do know Joss made a fantastic, original movie.

I would love two sequals but if that doesn't happen Joss should still be proud of Serenity and have faith it will eventually find a wider audience through DVD sales and television showings.
Holy crap. I somehow wound up in a Twilight Zone where:

* a movie came out a week ago and all anyone cares about is the sequel, even though there was no cliffhanger ending

* megacorporate media conglomerate Universal Studios has an audience worrying on its behalf about advertising campaigns and international box office figures for their latest action movie, people pledging to buy more tickets as if it were a moral stand on the level of giving Mother Theresa a glass of water for a starving Ethiopian moppet

* people expect an actually good movie to place in the top ten of the same American box office where Adam Sandler and Vin Diesel rule the roost

There's no place like home... There's no place like home... There's no place like home....
gossi - I think one of the problems with the critical response to "Serenity" is that most critics *liked* it, but they didn't *love* it. They said, "This is a fun adventure movie," not, "This movie is the best film of the year and *you must see it*." Which is their perogative, but is not so helpful for the BDM. (And incidentally, among the "top" critics polled at metacritic, "Cinderella Man" has a metascore of 69, five points lower than "Serenity".)

All of that said, I think that critical reception has a lot more to do with the success of smaller, independent films, where the tiny segment of the population that actually *reads* reviews is actually enough to make a movie financially successful.
i just posted on a board the link to the first 9 minutes and got a response from some idiot saying that he liked it the first time when it was called the 5th element............can anyone point out how that makes sense??

I think people still think this movie is about River when its about Mal.
Hey on the upside at least by the end of today Serenity will have passed the movie version of Buffy in US Box Office total.

Buffy Total US Gross - $14,231,669
Serenity Current US Gross - $14,179,000

Any good news is good right.
Well, I know that Wallace and Gromit have their supporters, as I am one of them (A Close Shave rocks!), but I guess it must just be where I live...no one here knows them...
ChosenOne5376 - I have heard that a lot. An insane girl holding the secret to the universe who can kick ass, with something bigger than her trying to stop her - that's what people are thinking. I could see some very basic simlarities between the 2 but they are just surface comparisons.
ChosenOne, the guy's comment was rude, but can you blame him for thinking the movie's about River after seeing the first 9 minutes? I actually don't distribute that link, because they're probably my least favorite 9 minutes of the film, since . I like the next 9 minutes a lot better. =)

[ edited by jam2 on 2005-10-08 22:38 ]
Hey on the upside at least by the end of today Serenity will have passed the movie version of Buffy in US Box Office total.

Buffy Total US Gross - $14,231,669
Serenity Current US Gross - $14,179,000

Any good news is good right.


Buffy did worse than Serenity, but it got made into a TV show. The same could very well happen to Serenity! Personally, I would prefer a resurrection of the TV show than two movie sequels.
I'm a very pessimistic person by nature, but this thread is just... overwhelming. I was holding back tears reading through this.
I appreciate the realistic viewpoint, but I truly hope that people won't give up just yet. I'll still be buying tickets, and next week, I'm going to hang up more fliers. Things are very grim, indeed, but if we stop going altogether, if we just quit, then things are really over.
I agree obsessed, no giving up just yet, please :-). Then again, people are not really talking about giving up, but it's just pretty disapointing news so far.
And remember, in the words of Alfred Hitchcock, "It's only a movie." Take it easy, folks.
To everyone of my friends, the entire appeal of the movie is BECAUSE of River, and not Mal.

But, yeah. *sigh* Guess I'll be buying another ticket. I am completely broke for atleast another two weeks after today, but the things people on minimum-wage do for fandom, right?
Serenity will make a bomb on DVD. Good reviews, cult support, huge internet buzz. A lot of people will skip the trip to the cinema but will take the chance on DVD. It's happened umpteen times before, and it's always with this kind of film.

What's more, second to The Punisher example, there's also Pitch Black/Chronicles of Riddick which is perhaps even more relevant. Pitch Black was a cult sci-fi film that didn't really find an audience till DVD, but when it did Universal became interested in a sequel. Greenlight, go.

But before we go getting all sad and disappointed, or getting all wrapped up on whether or not there'll be another film, let's spend some more time just enjoying that there's THIS one, and that it's awesome. So awesome, in fact, that it inspires badly structured run-on sentences.
Heh. Of course, 'Pitch Black' (which I liked) had the added bonus of Vin Diesel who had become a HUGE name by the time that Riddick (which I didn't like) got released. So I'd say that it was more on his name that it got a (huge budget) sequel than anything else.

But, like Joss has always said, there are no models that compare to Serenity. So maybe there's nothing else to do than wait and see what happens. I'm certain that Serenity will make a profit with the combined taking of US BO + international BO + DVD-sales. If it'll be enough to warrant a sequel, who knows?

The fact remains that a sequel will have a built-in audience which is still growing (just look at the DVD sales of Firefly). So let's say that Serenity makes a small profit with $50 milj take-in, which would be dissapointing in itself. Then they might just greenlight a sequel which costs less ($30 milj) and still have a comparable, or maybe even higher, take-in after all is said and done. And that's enough. Right?

But then again, I know next to nothing of movie marketing, so I might be completely wrong.
I love the "It's only a movie" line, really I do. It's a perfect perfect illustration of a society in which one's culture is not actually supposed to MATTER to you, or MEAN SOMETHING to you, you're just supposed to "consume" it and move on (which of course is the mindset that led to the demise of "Firefly" in the first place).
Let's refrain from 'skinny is not normal' comments, lone fashionable wolf. Just because you are overweight, or "healthy", doesn't mean everyone who isn't is abnormal.
charisma, while I can't speak for others, I know that my Kaylee comment was directed at the fact that Joss said he wanted Kaylee to be a "real" girl. He wanted her to look "healthy" and like someone who really enjoyed life. I'm not saying skinny isn't normal at all, I think that the point of Kaylee was that she was really wholesome and didn't really care about her weight. There was something very endearing about the roundness of her cheeks and I think some of that innocence is lost in the movie.
charisma, it's quite charming of you to assume, but I'm not overweight. All I'm saying is that when Hollywood ideals mean that Kaylee (Firely Kaylee, not Serenity Kaylee) is considered chubby, it doesn't reflect reality. Lots of people have a hard time with thier bodies. I'm obnoxiously happy with mine, but I have a close friend with Body Dysmorphic Disorder who hasn't left her house for 2 years so I think it's an important point.
Mods, apologies for being OT.
@GVH: The problem is that if it does take in $50 million, that isn't making a profit for Universal. They only get around 50% of what's taken in at the box office.
The comments seemed aimed at the fact that an actress who isn't a stick figure girl is considered chubby. Kaylee was about the weight of the majority of women I know, meaning "film chubby," which I would not refer to as overweight. Making an asumption that lone fashionable wolf is overweight for the statement, whether is is true or not, isn't the issue.

[ edited by rabid on 2005-10-09 00:26 ]
All I hope is that Universal understand that they've invested in the start of a new franchise, and not the end of one. Most people still do not know about Firefly/Serenity, but that it slowly changing.

I'm sure the DVD sells like gangbusters... there's still life in the 'verse yet.

Of course, it would still be nice if the film takes off in an unexpected international market, bringing in the full $80 million that would guarantee sequels ;).

I buy virtually no movies on dvd - I just don't see the value. The last one I bought was probably ROTK extended. Serenity, though, I'll pre-ordering. It'll be interesting to see whether the December release for the 'bare bones' version is accuracte.

Hopefully Universal don't jump to any decisions... and they wait to see how the film ultimately plays out.
charisma: Caroline warned you three days ago about your behaviour, you obviously haven't listened so you're banned.
Didn't Universal already say that the movie needed to make $80 million for a sequel to even be considered? So it's really not an issue whether or not there will be one as long as the movie makes less than that.
@GVH: The problem is that if it does take in $50 million, that isn't making a profit for Universal. They only get around 50% of what's taken in at the box office.


Ah, yes, you're completely right of course. This also explains the $80 mil treshold. It's probably what they need to make a fair profit, taking in the percentage of ticket sales they get (although that changes over time) and the extra promotional costs and the likes.

Still I could see a sequel with a lower budget happening as long as the DVD sales are good. Or maybe there could be a sci-fi channel miniseries or something. That'd get them the DVD Sales with a way lower budget. I'm just saying, even without a movie sequel there might be life in the 'Verse yet. If Joss would consider an option like that, of course.
Didn't Universal already say that the movie needed to make $80 million for a sequel to even be considered?


This is something I have been wondering about for a while. I probably just missed it, but did Universal actually issue some kind of statement saying a sequel would only get the green-light if 'Serenity' achieved an $80 million worldwide box office gross?

It just seems like a very odd thing for a studio to do, making such an unambiguous statement up front. I would imagine a number of different factors are taken into account when deciding whether or not to go with a sequel. While the box office gross is undoubtedly important I find it hard to believe it is the only consideration.
I'm at the end of me tether on this now. I've been doing my bit. I went on opening day, twice that saturday, and again on Sunday. I just went again last night, and I went again today. 6 times, and I have a thing for 7's, it's a fair bet I'll be seeing the Big Damn movie one more time tomorrow.

I know, as well, that I don't exist in a vaccum on this endevour. There are Browncoats all over this country who are doing the same or better... and yet, our movie is failing. America is being spectacularly apathetic toward the best sci-fi movie to come along in a long time. Nobody's going and seeing it, or at least nobody in any appreciable numbers.

I hope for more, but I can't expect Universal to look at these numbers and even consider making another Serenity flick. I discovered Firefly on DVD, so I wasn't around to feel the pain of it's cancellation, but I guess I feel a little of that now. And for them that's going through this a second time, I just can't even guess at how rotten this must be for you.

I really can't wait for this to come on DVD. It's just getting painful to watch it knowing that it's like to be the last time I see these folks or that ship again. I need the distance that DVD will bring it, rather than sitting in an only partially filled theatre, knowing that every empty seat is hurting it.
This is something I have been wondering about for a while. I probably just missed it, but did Universal actually issue some kind of statement saying a sequel would only get the green-light if 'Serenity' achieved an $80 million worldwide box office gross?

It was a comment from them in a news article, which someone here probably has quicker access to than I. Also, much more recently, Joss himself gave the "$50 million domestic or $80 million worldwide" figure as the mark.
Does anyone here have a Premiere account with Box Office Mojo? Can anyone find the entire performace breakdown, weekend to weekend of the first Austin Powers flick?

I can only get the first weekend of $9,548,111 on 2,187 screens... as opposed to Serenity's $10,086,680 on 2,188 screens. That's $538,569 more dollars on 1 extra screen. It's total gross domestic was $53,883,989 before it left theatres. Of course, it cost less than half of what Serenity did, but it seems a remarkably similar performance thus far. It would be interesting to know how Austin progressed to the point where it got a sequel.
I just saw it again at a 2 pm matinee and the theater was packed. I hope Sat. numbers are better.
The $80M worldwide number was in the print version of an Entertainment Weekly article. Here's a transcript (it's near the bottom).

Now, I'm sure Universal won't just plug the numbers into a computer to decide on sequels. I imagine they'll look at the bigger picture of DVD sales, increasing fanbase, Joss's increasing clout, etc. Hopefully the box office will be a positive part of the equation, not a negative.
Thanks jam2...

Here's a thought. The sequel to 'Pitch Black' came four years after that film. In the meantime, Vin Diesel had big box office hits with 'The Fast And The Furious' and 'xXx'. I assume Joss Whedon's next project is 'Wonder Woman'. What happens if that turns out to be a box office blockbuster? Presumably that would have an influence on any decision made by Universal should Joss still want to do a sequel to 'Serenity'.
jam2 and dashboardprophet, you're both right, and thanks for bringing that ray of sunshine into my cloudy brain. With WW and Goners, Joss is becoming more and more of a name. Universal might well want to be a part of his classic-to-be sci-fi trilogy. Hop on board the Joss-train! Choo choo!
ETA: an 's'

[ edited by lone fashionable wolf on 2005-10-09 01:51 ]
I'm not a Pollyanna by any means. I mean, I'll pick up on a negative vibe as quickly as anyone, sometimes even faster. I can read numbers and extrapolate a trend as good as anyone. Yet, for some reason, I've still got a vague optimism with this movie. I'm not willing to give up quite yet.

But, (and here's an awful thought,) let's say "Serenity" does't do very well overall. Is there some risk that Joss will get the old Kevin Smith treatment with "Wonder Woman" and "Goners" (remember when "Green Lantern" was yanked from Kevin after "Jersey Girl" flopped?)?
In my opinion, one of the repercussions for Joss may be that he is no longer able to cast an unknown for Wonder Woman.

But then again, X-Men, Spider-Man (and the new Superman) have had a lot of unknowns - they've just had familiar faces as well. So he might still be able to get away with an unknown Wonder Woman so long as there's a big-name playing a villain.
Goners is Joss's script, and Universal paid seven figures for it and for Joss to direct. I don't think that can be taken away from him. And Universal seems to be happy with Joss, with his coming on on time and under budget, and they certainly knew the risks they were taking with a first-time director and relatively no-name actors. So I am totally upbeat about the fact that Joss will have many more opportunities to please his fans -- AND the mainstream.
"Jersey Girl" was a critical failure as well as a box office one. Serenity is loved by critics and the box office is still open to suggestion. Therefore "Wonder Woman", where the general public will already go see it because they know the premise, will have a better chance of being a success with a writer and director that suprised critics and movie goers with his first movie. Joss won't get yanked.
On a similar vein, the chances of a Serenity sequel would surely be greatly increased if any member of the cast became a huge star in the next couple of years. Nathan may well be the most likely to breakout, but Morena or Summer or any of the BDHs have the potential to be much better known in the not too distant future.
Well, we've seen it for our 4th and final time. Very nice crowd for a 1:30pm showing. And they got it. So I'm happy. It was a nice good-bye. For now. I don't have hopes for a sequel, but I certainly wouldn't say no to one!
Do you think there is any chance the movie will be pulled from the theatres after this week?
Well, we've seen it for our 4th and final time.

Uh, honey? We've seen it 6 times.....(sometimes I worry about her)

Anyway, I think Joss is only beginning as a movie maker. I doubt anyone puts this on him. It was an unlikely project in several ways, and Universal knew that going in. Joss got this movie made, the reviewers loving it is a good indication that by critical standards he made a good product and he did it at a far lower budget than other SF/Fantasy movies and got it in on time. Also he managed to keep it in California and those elements have apparently earned him a lot of brownie points in the industry.

No, Joss' career is the last thing I'm worried about. The actors...that's a different thing. Nathan and Summer are able to shine the most and hopefully it will help them, but I don't know if overall the cast will get a that much of a boost from this. (It obviously should, but given the way it goes often...) Which is sad because they really are good, and there's so many crappy people more famous than they are.

And I gotta say, with all the pride and love and whatnot that I feel, yes, the most-likely-lack of sequels does sting me. Today when we saw it again, I really found myself looking at the characters in the final scene and trying to fight the thought that this is truly the last I'll see of them. BtVS' characters we had for 7 years. Angel's for 5 which could've been longer but it was still good. But this....Joss was on a roll with the FF/Serenity 'verse and it was rife with possibilities for future stories that I would've loved to have seen.

I am happy and grateful for the movie, but I'll never stop feeling that this, perhaps more than any other show/franchise that I've seen cut down before its time, deserved to continue.

[ edited by EdDantes on 2005-10-09 07:05 ]
Do you think there is any chance the movie will be pulled from the theatres after this week?

Not across the board. But if the Friday-versus-Friday drop of 60% is true for weekend-versus-weekend, I would think the number of theaters would drop.
And I gotta say, with all the pride and love and whatnot that I feel, yes, the most-likely-lack of sequels does sting me. Today when we saw it again, I really found myself looking at the characters in the final scene and trying to fight the thought that this is truly the last I'll see of them. BtVS' characters we had for 7 years. Angel's for 5 which could've been longer but it was still good. But this....Joss was on a roll with the FF/Serenity 'verse and it was rife with possibilities for future stories that I would've loved to have seen.

I am happy and grateful for the movie, but I'll never stop feeling that this, perhaps more than any other show/franchise that I've seen cut down before its time, deserved to continue.


Just quoting this to say that I agree 100%, EdDantes. That is the truly sad part, that this might be the last we see of these characters.

But then again, like I said in other posts, I'm still not convinced that this will be the last we see of them. I think Joss may just love this 'Verse to much to let it go even after this movie. We may still get a sequel, and if we don't, we might get something else, somewhere down the line, who knows.

I might be wrong, and if I am wrong than this Dig Damn Movie was one hell of a way to say goodbye.
I went again today. Small crowd. I love this movie. I did my part. If we don't get sequals, well, it's a shame, but, we did get this one. I wish it could've been a bigger showing here in the US.
My concern is what this does to Joss's track record in Hollywood, where movies are concern it's not the best. Of all of his films in the last 10 years, only 1 film has made back it's cost which had his name attached as more that script doctor. Serenity is not just about what Joss can do, but what Joss will be allowed to do in the future by his rules. With 2 movies in the works and with a poor preformance at the box office by Serenity, what do you think will happen on his next film. Hollywood is a town about what have you've done for my pocketbook lately. He will be under greater scrutiny from producers and studios to create a commerical success which may mean white washing his work, to work more for the escapism of the mass market audience. Serenity needs to at least cover it's cost, to keep the studio and producers hands off Joss's future work.

2005 - Serenity - writer/director - Joss Whedon
Production Budget $50,000,000

2001 - Atlantis: The Lost Empire - treatment - Joss Whedon
Total US Gross $84,052,762 - Production Budget $90,000,000

2000 - Titan AE - screenplay - Joss Whedon
Total US Gross $22,751,979 - Production Budget $75,000,000

1997 - Alien: Resurrection - writer - Joss Whedon
Total US Gross $47,795,018 - Production Budget $60,000,000

1995 - Toy Story - screenplay - Joss Whedon
Total US Gross $191,796,233 - Production Budget $30,000,000 & Prints and Advertising Budget $20,000,000
I agree k8cre8. Not including the prescreening, I've seen this movie four times (just got back from #4 an hour ago). Probably a better showing than opening night in my theater. The people got it. That's what matters. I just can't get enough of this movie, everytime is like the first time except for the fact that Joss' brilliance continues to unravel through the plot each time I see it. I keep noticing things for the first time, then I question how I could have ever missed such important aspects.
The fact that Mary Parent is a Joss fan, that Universal specifically wanted to work with him, that Joss will probably be working with Universal for some time (Goners and whatever else he comes up with after Wonder Woman--btw, which studio is Wonder Woman with? Warner Brothers?), and that some of these cast members may grow in popularity and recognition...even if we have to wait four years for a sequel, won't a lot of little factors like those have some bearing on our chances of seeing more Serenity?

While total box office grosses (plus DVD sales) may be the largest and most important factors, it feels like we're not taking into account all the little trap door possibilities that may provide a way in for sequels.

[ edited by Kris on 2005-10-09 04:40 ]
Does anyone think that the reason Serenity didn't do as well as expected is because there were too many pre-screenings of the film? Is it possible that because so many of the hard-core Browncoats had already seen the film before opening day, Serenity didn't do as well on opening weekend?
Does anyone think that the reason Serenity didn't do as well as expected is because there were too many pre-screenings of the film? Is it possible that because so many of the hard-core Browncoats had already seen the film before opening day, Serenity didn't do as well on opening weekend?


Nah, I think the problem is that we Browncoats are only a small fraction of the movie-going public. I think that since we participate in active and vocal fandom communities, nearly of all of which had high Serenity awareness, there's a sense of disbelief that others might not have the movie on their radar. But the box office is a tough business, especially these days.
Kris - Mary Parent has left her old position at Universal now. She was a very significant driving force behind Serenity - she started the motion of the boat and kept it flying.

Joss does have ties with Universal. Goners is very much ready for development at some point (Joss actually reads GonersMovie.com, if anybody is interested).

I wouldn't totally rule the idea of Serenity sequels out, but in terms of any kind of announcement any time soon... It's just not going to happen. There is going to be some very serious mud sligning in the Whedonverse community very shortly, which I'm really NOT looking forward to, as Serenity's screens are quickly reduced and Universal roll out Doom in it's place. It really is going to be a bad time for those invested in this, as many people simply aren't getting it: domestically, Serenity is in real trouble.

Still, there's another few months of international releases of the movie. Fingers acrossed and touch wood this movie bucks the trend internationally - that would give it a longer term chance of a sequel. It's a long shot, though.

In the mean time, keep flying. (Never thought I'd say that).
While this weekend may be key, it's today (Saturday) that will tell the tale.

It's pointless to compare this Friday with the opening day, because browncoats distorted that figure too much. That's why last Saturday's box office actually declined, in contrast to all the other films.

Browncoats alone aren't going to make this movie a success, it has to be "civilians". We'll see that with this Saturday's figures. If it breaks 2 million, I think Serenity should fly just a little bit longer.
Not sure if this means anything, but I got back from Serenity not too long ago, and the theater was pretty well packed. The audience seemed to dig it. Maybe I'm just being a Pollyanna, but it could be a good sign.
Sadly, it seems that all the hope this community put into the film's second weekend is not going to pan out. It seems pretty clear now that film has failed to reach very far beyond the core audience of Firefly fandom. I sense this is the end of the Firefly/Serenity verse but direct-to-video series like The Crow and DVD hits that produce sequels like the upcoming Punisher hold out hope of some kind of future for the crew.

In the end, this film's box office success was as difficult to imagine as it was easy to hope for. No simple hook to get casual audiences involved. No stars to lure in audiences (although if Nathan Fillion doesn't become one I'll be surprised). Some have wondered why the stars weren't on chat shows and the most likely answer is that chat shows didn't want them, they simply weren't famous enough.

Universal did themselves no favors with a bland poster and trailers/tv spots withe little wit or orginality which is admittedly not something you see a lot of. Almost all Trailers/tv spots have a certain design they follow depending on the film's genre, & Serenity was no different. I am not a Sci-fi fan but I do see a fair amount of big Hollywood movies and the ads would not have made me see Serenity if I didn't already love the universe.

The Browncoat campaign was a good idea that feels mismanaged. The publicity depatment pushed the fan angle to hard which only made a film based on a failed TV show seem all the more insular to casual audiences. The screenings were a brillant idea but they needed to be in August not May. The lag between the Browncoat screenings and the actual release allowed some of the postive will toward the movie to curdle into backlash. I think this factor is being overblown on the net (but isn't that waht the net is for) but it probably did keep some audience away from the film.

Serenity will do huge business on DVD, both in sales and (I believe) rentals. I was talking to some industry friends (benefit/curse of life in LA) and we don't think this will hurt Whedon too much in the long run. He is now what he was before Serenity. An immensly talented writer/director who is beloved by the media & has a deeply loyal fan base but is unable to make a cross over to the mainstream. I am certain it will come. Whedon is where Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi were a few years ago. I think Goners or Wonder Woman can put him over the top.
The audience I sat with today was definitely more populace than last night's crowd... and last night's crowd included a bunch of early teens on their own who thought it would be funny to talk and throw M&M's at each other all the live long film. I eventually just moved to the front of the theatre and I was treated to seeing the movie in explicit detail from that point.

I sat in the front pre-emptively today, and while I missed the context that back row gives me, I appreciate all the little details I could spot better when viewed close on.
Much of the northeast was coping with torrential downpours and flooding and such. I'm not sure if that kept people away from the movies, but it kept me away.
Didn't keep me away, Nebula. I still got out to do my duty... but then I have nobody that would miss me if I crashed.
Big fan of Joss Whedon (shocker!) and all the actors in Serenity, but it doesn't sit right with me that Browncoats have to buy extra tickets (at the rate many seem to be doing) for this movie. If Universal had done more TV publicity the returns would be at least somewhat higher, and that's a fact (ok, a strong opinion!). I'm very grateful they invested in the project to begin with, but confused they dropped the ball (bad cliche) in the home stretch. That said, don't think the movie can't still be a hit, or that Universal didn't do a GREAT THING investing in the movie.)

My opinions about how Universal handled this are not meant as mud-slinging, but mainly to tell Browncoats to go easy on themselves. WE did not fail to do our jobs as fans, in fact if being a fan was a job pretty much every Browncoat I know would get a promotion. It saddens me to think of people emptying their wallets to buy extra tickets, when some can barely afford it. The actors and most people involved in producing this movie make a decent enough living, I don't think they'd tell people to buy a bunch of extra tickets for empty seats.

I also feel disappointed about the domestic returns, but as others have pointed out, at least European returns and DVD sales look to be good, so it's not all bad news. Word of mouth takes time to spread (like viruses) :) so it's still possible Serenity could be a slow-spreading type sleeper hit.

[ edited by Cygnet on 2005-10-09 23:50 ]
Grounded said:

Plus almost every kid in the demographic who owns a computer has played the game and doesn't understand that game to movie translations are uniformly awful.


Ahem? Mortal Kombat? Cheesy it most certainly is, but in that cool kind of way. If you don't have a little love in your heart for a movie that has Christopher Lambert AND a techno theme song, plus some truly awesome-looking sets, then you need to be de-Grinched.

Sorry about the box office numbers. I drove over an hour to see the film, and I'm not driving that far again. I'm still really mad about some things in the film, but at the same time, I do want this movie to succeed...too bad the American public isn't seeing it our way. (Bright side...maybe they're all staying home to watch Bones, Reunion, and How I met Your Mother or Kitchen COnfidential, and don't have time to come out. Yeah, I know, it's a long way to look for a bright side.)
Once again, another good-sized and responsive crowd in Portland, 7:45 PM showing.

It's actually getting a little difficult, repeatedly seeing the movie with good-sized and responsive crowds, because it's beginning to remind me that for some reason that isn't happening everywhere, heh.
In my fantasy world, Serenity continues to plug along, like the little (space) engine that could. It gets released on DVD, sales are spectacular, it becomes a cult classic. It begins to bleed into the mainstream consciousness, is 'discovered' by various influential daytime talk show hosts; people read about it in magazines while waiting for appointments. Suddenly, everyone wants to see it, to understand all the references, to be in the know. The studio decides to rerelease it in theatres, right before announcing a sequel.

Alternately, after the enormous success of Wonder Woman and Goners, folks go back to look into the past of this Joss person. There is a general clamour for more of that quirky space western & the studio, feeling confident of the movie's likely success, now the public 'gets' Joss, acceeds.

Fantasy aside, we went to see it for the third time tonight. The theatre was about 2/3 full and Browncoats were indeed in attendence, with the audience laughing and gasping in turns and enjoying it all the way.

My 83 year old mother gave me $20.00 to buy tickets to give away at random, since she was unable to attend again this weekend. I thought that was a lovely can't-stop-the-signal gesture.

Regardless of the future, of sequels or no sequels, I'm so happy this movie is here for us all to enjoy.

May it live long and prosper.
Rogue Slayer and EdDantes, you two crack me up. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face! Wait, I already had a smile 'cause I got to see the BDM again (#5 for me and the kids and #6 for my sweetie). Yes, she went without me. I had to work, the kids were in school and Sandy was successfully recruiting.

Just read through all of this in one shot. Amazing. Folks, we got an infusion of fresh Joss-verse. I'm so happy about that! Yes, I want more! Yes, I want sequels! Yes, that was plural. Just go see the movie and enjoy it. Sit up front for one viewing and sit in the back row for another. Enjoy the difference that position in the theater brings. Enjoy the Jossness of the movie!

I can't worry about these numbers. Why? Because I don't know what they mean. I know what other folks think they mean, but since the opinions are all over the spectrum, I just don't know what to think of the numbers. My solution? Gotta go see the movie again! Maybe we'll sit in the middle this time :-)
Rogue Slayer and EdDantes, you two crack me up. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face!

You're welcome. We do have this effect on people. (Sometimes even when we intend to!;-)

I can't worry about these numbers. Why? Because I don't know what they mean. I know what other folks think they mean, but since the opinions are all over the spectrum,

Yeah I know what you mean. I think most would agree with this though: It didn't bomb like was feared, and it didn't catch on in the mainstream like was hoped. It'll make money in the end but odds are good there won't be a sequel. Still, nothing's set in stone.

Something like that.
Just got home from a Chinese dinner with some of the Browncoats who went to the 7:45 Portland showing. I had a great time. The theater was 75% full according to the ticket lady, and everyone enjoyed it. I could tell that a lot of them were Firefly fans.

Seeing this movie with fans is the best experience. It's much more enjoyable when there's more than four other people and I'm not the only one clapping at the end.

This was my sixth time seeing Serenity and I still noticed things I hadn't seen before. I love when that happens.

Like b!X, I just don't understand why people aren't seeing this movie! There are 50 reasons to see Serenity, and they all come from the critics. Do people even read reviews anymore?

But I'm not distressed. I don't know what's going to happen with the B.O. numbers, here or overseas. I think that Joss has a bright film future ahead of him, and that could give him more power to bring us Serenity sequels. I'm just looking forward to his next production, whether it's Wonder Woman or Goners. I can't wait to fall in love with a new 'verse of his again. I'm excited, and bad U.S. numbers can't bring me down!

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-10-09 10:15 ]
Indeed, EdDantes sums up common opinion about these numbers pretty good. It did NOT bomb. It will almost certainly make it's budget back eventually (studios look for a 2 and a half times budget return on investment - so $100m, or $80m for sequel consideration). However, it hasn't done as well domestically as hoped - none of the estimates from the box office prediction sites were correct, they all over predicted the type of response this would get.

Fans should in NO WAY feel personally responsible for the fate of the US box office. The initial opening weekend figures were hyper inflated with fan numbers - 40%+ of the opening weekend were fans, according to Universal's own exit poll data. Universals marketing, put simply, should have reached more people. The huge drop from 1st week to 2nd week is because it simply hadn't reached more people.

Want some good figure news? If 40% of the people 1st weekend were fans, as Universal say, and then 2nd weekend was a 62% drop... If you assume not that many fans went 2nd weekend, it roughly means the drop off rate was much, much smaller than previously thought for Friday.

Todays figures (Saturday) will tell you everything. If there is a drop off from this Friday to this Saturday, well, that's unthinkable. That can not happen. If it increases by a reasonable fashion, some theatres will choose to keep it.
studios look for a 2 and a half times budget return on investment - so $100m, or $80m for sequel consideration

Yeah, is that including things like DVD sales though? Or are we talking purely theater gross?

Universals marketing, put simply, should have reached more people

I agree and I'm afraid I still stand by my feeling that they should've pushed MUCH harder with the second week 'critics rave/two thumbs up' trailers. That's the trailer type that gives people the idea that something's happening, it makes them go "oh so that's actually good, they say?" I've seen some really crappy, failing movies still be heavily promoted that way, and that really wasn't done here.

I understand they already took a chance with all this and I understand they probably preferred to keep the overhead low where they could, but I really think it could've made a difference. If I hadn't been checking this board I could've sworn the entire promotional campaign just disappeared after the opening weekend.

And those masses of mainstream people generally don't do things like checking this board...
Well, 2nd week advertising is always poor across the board for movies nowadays. I'm actually quite surprised there was any advertising.

Fact is, they tried. They spent a LOT of money on TV adverts - I'd say at least tens of millions on the spots I've heard about alone. Lots of money. If those were the right type of adverts... Couldn't say. Certainly, to me it seemed like they were trying to please fans, throwing up everything on screen. In retrospect, I watched the 2nd trailer last night, and it's a real mess from a newbie point of view. Too much going on, little context.

All the money in the 'verse won't buy you an audience if you don't connect with that audience. How you connect Serenity to people, I don't know.

When the DVDs are out, I think somebody should set up a challenge to see who can reedit a better trailer which is more appealing for newbies, to see if it's possible.
Maybe the mass audience just feels burned by SF flicks in general. People turned out in droves for the Star Wars and Matrix prequels/sequels, and those movies weren't any good. Maybe the 'wait for the DVD' approach is fast becoming a trend. And don't forget, this is also a year in which (with one or two exceptions) box office figures across the board have struggled to meet expectations. I can't speak for the US, but here in Britain I've seen at least 3 or 4 different publications run features on this issue, with the general conclusion being that people just aren't going to the cinema in the same numbers they were even a few years ago. DVD is the future, people, and the future is now. I think the idea of simeltaneous cinema and DVD releases is going to be with us sooner rather than later - maybe as early as next year...
Y'know, I've seen a lot of criticism of the promos for Serenity and, although I certainly won't deny they were kind of sucky (I never thought they would appeal to anyone but us fans), I've got to defend Universal a bit here.

Serenity is pretty dang hard to capture in one to two minutes!

It's a very complex show/film and a good chunk of its appeal is that complexity. It's funny, it's exciting, it's emotional, its concept of the future is very smart, imo, but only if you sit and think about all of its elements and why it makes sense. The depth of the characters is much of the appeal, but how do you convey that in a short commercial?

I have a bit of sympathy for whoever had to create these commercials. It had to be a daunting task. Granted, I do think they should have pushed the critical acclaim a bit more. But then, many people ignore critical reviews anyway.

Before you get too mad at Universal, remember to give them the credit they deserve for not butting into Joss' creative process. They left him alone to make it his way and I'll always appreciate that.
Outsider - I know I feel that way - I prefer to stay home where I am comfortable and watch a movie at my convenience rather than pay $9 to sit in a smallish theater where they turn the volume up so high it is all distorted, it is usually too cold and I have to plan to get there at a set movie start time.

I love the Serenity movie but was annoyed at the theather experience when I went to see the movie. Can't wait for it on dvd.

Joss' bitch - Well said and I agree. Also I have nothing but love for Universal for allowing this movie to get made, and allowing Joss to do it on his own terms. I have a new deep respect for Universal, which helps alleviate the deep resentment I have for Fox for canceling the show (and don't even get me started about the WB and Angel). It is great to feel something other than resentment towards the TV/Movie industries.
Uhuh, Universal deserve huge credit. Especially the execs. Mary Parent in particular. Joss didn't have to take this movie to Universal and beg - there was no fan campaign begging them either. Mary took a look at it as I understand it, and said "Write the movie". Joss wrote the movie (and rewrote the movie, and did the dance of confusion, and rewrote the movie, and did the dance of the funny, and killed some goats). Universal supplied the money, and marketed the hell out of the thing the best they could.

Serenity is one hell of a movie to market. 9 characters, no simple premise... We're all intelligent, we know these things. This was never going to be an easy sell.

So, Universal, much respect. Serenity is a risk project. People complain about studioes not taking enough creative risks now, and Serenity is THAT project. The new style of marketing. Involving the fans. Giving the director free reign to make the film he wanted. It's all good.

I'm not saying the marketing worked, though. I'll also say I have no idea how to do it better.

If Fox Broadcast Corporation had tried to release this movie, can you imagine the train wreck before it even got off the ground? See also, Firefly. Universal gave it everything they had, and maybe that isn't enough, but at least they believe in it.

Wow. Nobody will read THIS post.
Before you get too mad at Universal, remember to give them the credit they deserve for not butting into Joss' creative process. They left him alone to make it his way and I'll always appreciate that.


I couldn't agree more. I know we're all feeling bad that the elusive mainstream didn't latch onto our BDM, but I still, even after everything, I still cannot bring myself to join this mutual self-loathing that seems to have overtaken the fanbase. Things could be better? Well, of course they could! When is that ever not the case? But stop and think how many odds have been beaten just to have this film even in cinemas. It was an incredible show of faith by Universal and I, for one, thank them for it. As much as I'd love to be able to repay them with a storming box office, I'm afraid that pure selfishness (ahem) prevents me from feeling too sorry for a billion-dollar corporation. I'll forever respect them for taking the chance they did, and for giving us one last hurrah with these characters.

If this is the last we see of this world, I can live with that. I love this film. It's the best film I've seen this year, and probably the film I've enjoyed most since Return of the King came out. I've recommended it to everyone I feel will give it a chance; they'll either go or they won't. Legal restrictions prevent me from forcing them at gunpoint, sadly. I've bought the novelisation, the soundtrack, and the visual companion. I've seen the movie myself twice, and will go again at least twice more. And I'm sure I'll buy however many editions are released on DVD. I feel I've done my part - we all have. If it wasn't enough, then that's not for lack of trying on our parts, not for lack of desire for this to succeed. It was a cancelled TV show, after all. Cancelled, at least in part, because the audience wasn't big enough for it to continue. If the success of this film depended on our desire to see it happen, it would have happened twice over already. But I'm afraid there just aren't enough of us to will the movie to find a wider audience. "This is why we lost, you know - superior numbers."

That this movie exists at all gives me a happy feeling. That I actually adore it as much as I do, well, that's all the sweeter.

It is, of course, still too soon to give up all hope of seeing a sequel or continuation. But even I have to admit now that it's looking less and less likely (though for the record, I'm very proud of how well the movie seems to be doing opening weekend here in the UK). Am I sad this might be the end? You bet I am. But all good things must come to an end, and if this is how the 'verse shuts its doors... Hell, I can think of worse ways. Imagine being cancelled off TV and having that be it. *shudder*

Like someone else said above (and there now far too many posts for me to try and find who said it, sorry): No matter what happens, we still did the impossible. And that still makes us mighty.

Now, I don't know about you, but I hear there's a good film on at the cinema. Anyone up for it?
Perhaps are sequel hope will now rest in a new market that Universal seems interested in taking the lead in.

- The major movie studios are stepping up their production of movies intended to go directly to the home video market, Home Media Retailing reported Monday. Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau told the publication, "We have a $24 billion business that consumers absolutely love ... and yet there is very little content made only for this business." Many of the new features being produced for DVD release are being described as "franchises". Last week, Universal launched "Universal DVD Originals".

If that wasn't enough we also have other reports that DVD sales may actually be killing the box office.

- "Observing that "ticket buyers are avoiding the box office like stale Jujubes," the Chicago Sun-Times observed Sunday that competition from home entertainment may be the primary cause of this year's slump. ("This is definitely the most pontificated summer ever," Universal Pictures vice Chairman Marc Shmuger told today's Los Angeles Times.) "About 70 million people in the United States have DVD players." CEO of Nielsen Entertainment, told the Sun Times "There is no sense of urgency to see a movie in the theater anymore." Moviegoers interviewed indicated that the home-theater experience is becoming more enjoyable than anything the multiplex can offer. "I find that I can just be more comfortable at home," said one. "There's the problem of rudeness in the theater," said another, who complained about "people who use cell phones, people who ... talk during the movie, even someone who laughs at inappropriate times during the movie. Where are the ushers?"

Oh and one last thing for those talking about DVD saving Serenity, again. Just a note, maybe if it was still a TV show.

- "Although sales of movies on DVD plummeted 28 percent in August compared to a year ago, sales of TV DVD packages came to the rescue of retailers, Home Media Retailing magazine reported Thursday. The trade publication observed that TV DVDs were up 29 percent from August, 2004. In all, consumers spent $898.3 million on videos in August 2005, up 3.9 percent from August, 2004."

Anyway the above news was just released in the last week and I thought it might be of use to be noted in this discussion since it is the logical next step for Serenity, sooner moreover than later it would seem.
To think... there was a time when 'straight-to-video' was the stigma of a truly crap movie that nobody had enough confidence in to even release at a cinema. Now it might be the future of niche, quality movies. What a world... :)

[ edited by Outsider on 2005-10-09 14:39 ]
My moment of fame, asking Joss a Q at the London Q+A, was me asking him why there was a slump in the box office. He said the slump wasn't that bad but that home DVD viewing was a big factor. When Star Wars came out if you wanted to see it your choices were the theatre or... well, the theatre. You could wait several years and then buy the video and watch it on your mono sound twenty inch TV and get maybe 20% of the spectacle, the power of the movie. Now? Who HASN'T got a decent widescreen TV with a Dolby 5.1 surround sound? Watching a movie at home on DVD now compares very favourable to the cinema experience, and that's before considering the sticky seats, people talking etc.

Since DVD income is now far more important to the studios than the theatre box office I could see a sequel being greenlit if DVD sales do well enough. The studio doesn't care where the money comes from.
Exactly! Money is money no matter if it is coming from Box office sales or DVD sales. But, um, I don't have a decent Widescreen TV !! But I do have a decent sized tv and much prefer staying home to watch dvds than the whole theater experience.
Wow. Nobody will read THIS post.


Gossi, not only did I read it but I posted it in my journal for others to see. I agree with you wholeheartedly and I want people be able to put this all into perspective. We did the impossible, and that makes us mighty. There's still hope for the future.
I'm coming to this thread late due to seeing a certain movie last night (eighth time including two preview screenings and the press preview) and (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner preparations today, so probably no-one will see this. However, I just wanted to post my agreement with Outsider and electricspacegirl. This is one fantastic movie that I *still* want to see again. I enjoy it each time I see it - and see new things every time. I bought the soundtrack and have listened to it numerous times already. The theme for the ship, short as it is, almost moves me to tears because that is when we see "Serenity" again for the first time in almost three years.

At the press screening, which was the first time I'd seen the finished movie, when "Written and directed by Joss Whedon" came up on the screen, gorramit and I looked at each other and smiled happily. What a great achievement for Joss!

Of course I want sequels. I love these characters - including Serenity - and want to see more of them. I've come to have great respect for all of the actors, as well. But, if we don't get a sequel or two (and I'm still hoping that somehow we will), what a way to end the series. And I look forward to Joss's next projects. The man has not disappointed me yet.

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