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October 15 2005

'Serenity' drops out of the Top Ten for Friday 14th. It's currently at #12 and took an estimated $710,000. The Maggie Grace/Tom Welling horror remake 'The Fog' has taken the top spot.

Link changed as the new page became available

Once the Box Office Mojo figures come out, I'll probably change the URL over to that. We should get a figure for Serenity from them.
Perhaps Senerity needed to be promoted differently, only reason I can think of, or the americans are letting a gem slip through their fingers, they did it with Blade Runner. Senerity might be so good and they don't quite get it at this time.

[ edited by SeanValen on 2005-10-15 18:47 ]
That's what makes us special.
Pleased to report I just got back from my 6th viewing, a 3pm screening and it was pretty full. I don't remember if I've ever been to the cinema on a sat afternoon before so I don't know if it being that full was normal or good, but it made me happy anyway :)

[ edited by Paul_Rocks on 2005-10-15 18:57 ]
Paul_Rocks, you're in the UK, right?

Early indications (touch wood) suggest Serenity is keeping it's mainstream foot hold in the UK.

I've been playing with the US figures for Friday just now, and they suggest it has at least a 50% drop since last Friday to fall out of the top ten. :(

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-15 19:01 ]
Whoa! "Domino" is really eatin' it! Those numbers are on par with such classics as "Leprechan" and "Solo". Yikes, someone needs a few more "Pirates of the Carribean" flicks, like stat. And oh yeah, "The Fog" looks dreadful!
So I guess Orlando Bloom still can't open a movie big as the lead even when its not a action movie.

And man, Domino sure is doing horrible.
I want Domino to do horrid in the UK (did I just type that out loud?) since it's Serenity's main compeition this weekend. I actually just got a text from somebody saying they'd gone to see Domino, but got tickets from the box office for Serenity..
Box Office Mojo had Serenity staying in 7-8th place from Mon-Thurs with a sizeable increase from Wed to Thurs. I expect it to be down considerably in Friday due to new movies coming in and the reduction in screenings.
Bladerunner was notoriously hated by the critics, which makes it quite different from this film. People who see it like it; it's just not getting any interest. It's funny; everyone on the internet sits around talking about "Browncoats good" "Browncoats bad" and all that, but, in the sunlight, not many people know what a Browncoat is. I do blame Universal, mostly for letting us (the fans) do their work for them. They saved money by selling almost exclusively to a niche market (see the ads that cry "from the creator of Buffy and Angel") without ever really reaching out to the mainstream ("...and the Academy Award nominated writer of Toy Story"). Such an approach would have piqued broader interest (well, if it had come with a more aggressive ad campaign; in Los Angeles, film posters are ubiquitous, but, aside from the one in Universal City, there's next to none for the BDM). We were left (willingly) buying the multiple tix, going to see the film dozens of times, paying for preview screenings, when Uni really should have gone for a dual approach. Honestly, their campaign to us was groundbreaking, sure, but I also think it was short-sighted.
Paul_Rocks, you're in the UK, right?

Yeah gossi, Manchester.
I tend to agree with mosie. I think Universal could have done a better job of promoting Serenity to the mainstream audience. Everyone I've convinced to see the BDM has loved it, but it's been hard work to get them to consider even going in the first place.
The PDX Browncoats are partying it up tonight. Dinner Shindig and then Serenity. Some are seeing Serenity before the dinner. Some may even see it before both times.

I'm bringing devilled eggs (it ain't a shindig without devilled eggs) and a very *special* bottle of wine with a very familiar name. I'll upload pics in flickr when I get them.

See you at the movies for my SEVENTH screening of Serenity! Shiny!
Funny, I haven't head or read a single thing about the Fog remake that didn't call it the biggest pile of stinking dung in moviedom.

I tend to agree with mosie. I think Universal could have done a better job of promoting Serenity to the mainstream audience.

Yeah, I still say they should've hit the second week much harder with quotes from the 'raving reviews' and the 'thumbs-upses' and the like. They really did the most minimal job they could do there, and it's where it mattered most.
Yeah, I still say they should've hit the second week much harder with quotes from the 'raving reviews' and the 'thumbs-upses' and the like. They really did the most minimal job they could do there, and it's where it mattered most.

Well, I did some hand-waving after that Universal rep was quoted after opening weekend lying about how it had performed "in line" with what they expected, and focusing in his comments on the "ancillaries" because it seemed pretty clear from those comments that the studio was walking away after that opening.

Nonetheless, it seems odd to me that they'd walk away so blatantly in that post-opening week. At that point, in the scheme of things, it would not have been a terribly large gamble to spray some 30-second ads in prominent places, rather than the least-possible effort they gave with 15-second ads no one would notice, aired seemingly with no particular strategy.

Near as I can tell, it's the only place Universal stumbled. I think they did just ifne with the promotion leading up to that point, but then they didn't make any real effort to close the deal. The initial run of 15-second ads that were practically everywhere before opening weekend was only going to work if, after opening, it was capitalized upon through a concerted run of longer ads with review quotes -- longer ads because that's what would register, and they'd make people go, "Oh, THAT'S what I was seeing advertised everywhere last week!"

*shrug*
"Near as I can tell, it's the only place Universal stumbled. I think they did just ifne with the promotion leading up to that point, but then they didn't make any real effort to close the deal. The initial run of 15-second ads that were practically everywhere before opening weekend was only going to work if, after opening, it was capitalized upon through a concerted run of longer ads with review quotes -- longer ads because that's what would register, and they'd make people go, "Oh, THAT'S what I was seeing advertised everywhere last week!"

Even Into the Blue had ads everywhere telling how great it was. And the reviews for that were universally negative and its numbers were much lower. Couldn't Universal show the same loyalty to our movie that MGM showed that crapfest?
It seems clear to me that Universal maybe just came to the conclusion that spending lots of money promoting the film after opening weekend wasn't going to yield the kind of results that would make it worthwhile. It's easy enough to point fingers, and maybe the film would have done ever so slightly better had they gone with that approach. But I tend to think that as good as Serenity may be, it was just never destined to be a big success at the US box office. For the same reason that huge numbers of people just weren't drawn to watch the show, they weren't drawn to watch the movie. That doesn't mean it isn't a great film and that getting it made wasn't a huge achievement in and of itself.

[ edited by Impossible on 2005-10-15 21:42 ]
$900k on the way towards a $3 - $3.5 million weekend. Not bad at all, all things considered.
i agree with many of you. Universal did great by giving us this movie, but they relied solely on us to promote a film.....we have jobs, school, and children.....it doesnt compare to a poster thats near a bus stop or in a subway station or as a billboard. Those things hang up there fore days. Every hour of the day someone can see them. And I think many of us were blind to this fact when we first heard of Universal's approach to promoting Serenity. We thought, awesome! they'll use us to do it and who better!....although that has brought us in roughly 23 million internationally.........with the posters we coulda doubled those number i think. Universal saved some buxx but they coulda prolly made some with browncoat word of mouth and traditional campaigning.
Saw it again today (4th time), 1:20 pm showing in Raleigh. 40 to 50 people in the audience, including several definite first-timers.

It's not dead yet. Not even pining for the fjords.
True, MissKittysMom, we've just got to nail it to the perch. In a positive way, of course.
Dark Shape -- how do you get $3-3.5 million? Unless yesterday was an anomaly (like last Friday), the Sunday numbers are usually lower than Friday's, $900K on Friday would come out to somewhere around $2.7 million, yeah?
I have to say at least some of Universal's marketing is a bit tone deaf....even down to what quotes they pull. The ad that's running in the O.C. Register, for example, contains a quote that references the Chinese Dialect and how it's cleverly used along with the cowboy patois which is, of course, a real strong selling point to the many linguists in the Orange County, Calfornia area.

On the other hand, the actual capsule review carried in the O.C. register said, if memory serves "Non-stop space cowboy fun!" -- too esoteric, I guess.

Still, while there's life, there's hope! The longer we can keep this thing in theaters, the better -- if only as a sort of promotional tool for the DVD.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-10-15 22:25 ]
For the same reason that huge numbers of people just weren't drawn to watch the show, they weren't drawn to watch the movie.

Well, do you see the solution to the above? People were not drawn to the movie in part because Universal didn't make an effort to close the deal. Hoping that "word of mouth" would carry the day without investing in part of how that word of mouth is generated (like it or not) -- meaning a review-quoting ad campaign people would actually see -- was an error on the part of the studio's marketing people.

Not once in the many, many times I've seen the film with non-fan audiences did I have to suffer an audience which wasn't along for the ride. It was never a matter of whether people would enjoy the movie, but whether they'd go at all.

Fans and pure word of mouth can only go so far. The low-end of predictions for opening weekend was $12 million. When it brought in $10.1 million, someone at Universal pulled a FOX and went, "Well, that's it, we're done" instead of saying, "Only $2 million short of predictions, so spring the follow-up ad campaign."

Much was made about how difficult it would be to market a movie with no stars and no easily-explained premise. But that's precisely why the fantastic reviews were something the studio needed to seize upon in a prominent way -- THEY became the selling point to use to hook people.

Like I keep saying: *shrug*.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2005-10-15 23:06 ]
It wasn't just the number it made opening weekend. It was the drop from it's first Friday to Saturday. That was a strong indicator that this movie was very unlikely to break out in any notable way beyond the fandom.
I saw Serenity for the second time last night (and brought a non-initiated friend, who loved it and is now eager to watch the Firefly DVDs) in St. Louis. The theater was about 50% full at a 10 pm show. One thing that I found interesting is that there was a group of about 8 people in front of me who seemed to have least watched Firefly to an extent since they seemed to get all the in-things, but what really surprised me is that all 8 of them audibly gasped when . So I'm wondering--is it possible that there are Firefly fans who are just now getting around to watching the movie?

[ edited by Caroline on 2005-10-15 23:18 ]
I don't really remember people having much of a problem with the way that Universal were marketing the film until they saw the box office returns and it seems decided that they hadn't done enough. In fact, I remember people congratulating them on the innovative way they were going about things. It's easy with hindsight to say that they could have done things differently, but they could never really be expected to market this film in the same way that they market other films... because the circumstances are so unique. I feel that they did the best they could. I think plenty of people saw the ads. I think the film was always going to have problems in drawing in mainstream America, regardless of how it was marketed. It's their loss since I think many would enjoy the film if they gave it a chance.

If any other $40 million genre film took in $10 million on the opening weekend, with a Friday to Saturday drop, I would not expect the studio to shell out large sums on a second push of advertising. The people here wish they had because this is a film that people here wanted to see do well and believe is great. But if it was any other film, we wouldn't be expecting some kind of second week push by the studio.
Frances, I know a few people who, somewhere around opening weekend, decided they needed to see the show before they could see the movie. You might have been sitting with some "catch-up" fans (no ill will implied, just to be clear) who took a few weeks to clear through the DVDs.
So I'm wondering--is it possible that there are Firefly fans who are just now getting around to watching the movie?


Yes; I talked to one today as I was coming out of the theater.
Sorry, Caroline. Thanks for the edit.
Good point, RambleOn623. My question was meant to be positive--meaning that perhaps all hope is not lost just because not all fans, new fans, or whomever, made it to the movie in the first weekend or two.
What countries is Serenity opening this weekend?
What countries is Serenity opening this weekend?


It is opening in France next wednesday (yes, wednesday is the opening day here), and I think it is the next country. The box offices here are counted in weeks rather than week-ends. However, you should not wait for a big success: the same day, The Corpse's Bride is also opening, with a much bigger publicity (that's quite simple: except for a few posters here and there (mostly inside the theaters, or in the paris subway), there has been nothing concerning Serenity as far as I can tell).
And not to mention Polanski's Oliver Twist (of which I have seen posters in the streets) and a few other french movies...

As some of you know, I saw the BDM yesterday, during a preview. That was strange: I arrived 10' before the movie and I was alone in the (relatively small) room. At 7:30pm (the scheduled time for the movie), 4-5 young people arrived and sat behind me, starting talking quite loud (I was really afraid thet they were going to ruin the movie...). But when the movie began 15' late, they went silent and stayed so during the whole show (well, maybe, if they had talked, the french dubbed voices wouldn't have so much ruined my pleasure ;) ). Then, 10' later (roughly at the end of the opening sequence, when the logo Serenity is on screen), a good deal of people entered the room and sat down (maybe 15-20). Never saw such a thing; they did bother us a bit, but not for long and then everybody sat quietly to enjoy the movie.

That's strange because it felt as if the audience was a "bad" one (the one you expect to talk loud, to make noises, etc...), considering the way they all (both groups) entered the room, but in fact they weren't. And except for an overheard "fortunately, it was free" sentence at the end, it didn't seem to me that they disliked the movie. Some of them even appauded at the end (I did not because I think it is stupid to applaud a screen, when nobody involved in the making of the movie is here to receive those applauses; but that's my personnal opinion).


PS: btw, imdb and boxofficemojo tell that serenity is 1h59m long, but in my theater, it lasted around 1h50m (more or less with the end credits). So, what? Have we the "same" serenity here? Maybe not the same clocks? ;)
What I don't get is that the above link and Box office Mojo are "Estimates" as far as I understand. Why does everybody treat them like gospel truth?

As far as I can tell those estimates are always a bit off - in either direction i might add - and this guessing it up seems to me a bit like a self fulfilling prophesy: sometimes things happen BECAUSE you say or fear them.

I'm going to live in my optimistic denial zone till the sequel is in the theatres :)

ETA***************************************************
OK I looked up some figures. So far BOM has done very badly in predicting serenity:

last week's prediction:
prediction: 7th place with gross 4.8 (total 17.4)
reality: 8th place with gross 5.4 (total 18.0)
prediction accuracy: 88.89%

The prediction the week before:
prediction: 1st place with gross 15.0 (total 15.0)
reality: 2nd place with gross 10.1 (total 10.1)
prediction accuracy: 51.49%

[ edited by Harpy on 2005-10-16 00:50 ]
Interestingly, "The Guardian" put Serenity as number 1 of its film recs today - with Wallace and Gromit at number 3! In the listings it refers to the film as a "big-budget blockbuster" or WTTE. A sort of backhanded compliment, that.
It may be time-speed up that changed the runing time Le Comite.

What does WTTE mean?

[ edited by eddy on 2005-10-16 00:24 ]
Gill are you US or UK? (Forgot which country the guardian comes out. It sounds so terribly english)

Because Serenity seems to be a much bigger success in the UK than in the US.

What does WTTE mean?

[ edited by Harpy on 2005-10-16 00:28 ]
The Guardian = UK newspaper.

The Box Office Mojo ESTIMATES (not PREDICTIONS) are usually very close to the actuals.
no, gossi , even though my first language is not english I'm quite sure I used estimate and prediction absolutely correct. BOM not only publishes estimates after the fact but also predictions the week before. Those are the numbers I posted. I thought it interesting, since the number 11 spot for week three is also a PREDICTION, since it we're still at the beginning of week three. Afterwards you can estimate how far off your prediction was. (Now that was bad english, I know, but if it'S done intentionally is it still bad?)

ETA: I looked up the BOM forecast site and they themselves call it a prediction, so there....

[ edited by Harpy on 2005-10-16 01:09 ]
Yuhu. The figures linked from this topic are estimates though, not early predictions.
yeah, I know. I just thought the predictions were interesting too. Too much off topic for you? Sorry then.

And I just couldn't let you get away with picking at my english, now, could I? :)
BOM estimates for Friday is updated.
Ta IMMORTAL, I've changed the link to the Box Office Mojo url. WTTE = Words to that effect. I think.
Hee, Harpy, sorry - I wasn't picking at your english, you probably understand it better than me :) I think I was just misreading your original post.
Just saw the BOM numbers -- wow. I hope Saturday sees a big jump, like last weekend, but I'm not getting my hopes up ...
I'm still not seeing good numbers for any of the films in the last couple of weeks. Serenity's performance looks comparable to any of the other recently opened movies out there. Does anyone know if this is normal for this time of year or is there a growing problem with low attendance figures generally ?
From what I've heard, there is indeed a growing problem with theater attendance drop-off this year. I suspect the reasons include, more people with HDTV plus services like Netflix, which make it far more attractive to watch your movies at home (oddly, most people I've asked don't even care about the big-screen experience), and the fact that most movies out this year were crap.

And I know at least three Firefly/sci-fi fans who haven't yet seen the movie. There must be more folks who just haven't had time and/or money.
I really feel like seeing it again tomorrow. I'm also curious to see how it does during it's reduced screenings.
I'm a bit dubious about this estimate, last week they where off by 4% and they have 'The Gospel' jumping 180% from Thursday to Friday. I'd be very surprised if Serenity isn't really in the number 11 spot, when the actual figures come in.
a classmate of mine in my French class saw the movie 'The Gospel' last weekend and he said C'etait horrible. As for the UK figures, depends on the 2nd weekend intake to think of it as a success because I see it as it opened number 1 but below $1 mil. I read that most movies open bigger (I haven't actually seen UK box office for other movies).
The theatre I usually see "Serenity" in (6 of the 9 times, including one of the preview screenings) has gone from two theatres to one smaller one, but that one was almost full tonight for the early evening show (Saturday). There may have been a few fans, but judging from the reaction of the audience, most of them were not. (I base this on the fact that people seemed hesitant about laughing at some of the lines early in the show, although they were laughing loudly in the latter stages. Most fans - or people who have seen the show more than once or twice - anticipate the lines or reactions and are already laughing by the time the rest of the audience 'gets' it, at least in my experiences over the last few weeks.)

Once or twice, I even heard a couple of people start to clap, which has happened a few times when I've seen it. Le Comite, the applauding has been for the characters - usually River's power shot or Mal's defeat of the Operative.

I know several fans - some I have recently converted, for instance - who have not yet seen it, even though I have encouraged them to go as soon as possible. I'm hoping they'll go this weekend, and we can keep "Serenity" flying for a few more weeks yet. And I'll be seeing it for the 10th time tomorrow. As someone on the Canadian Browncoats site remarked, it's like a drug - and I was having serious withdrawal tonight after going a week without seeing it!
Mr Universe, usually numbers are bigger for Number One; here is the UK though, only the biggest releases make 5 million or over on their opening weekend, and most of these are hugeley promoted (like for example Lord of The Rings or Titanic) or are 'British Treasures' (Bridget Jones and The Lord of The Rings again).

But the 950 million opening was good. For one it's a sci-fi, and apart from the huge big budget releases, I can't remember a sci-fi getting the top spot. Bear in mind also that the gap between the Number One and Two spot was very close, so I'm thinking that P and P probably took the money that would have made 'Serenity' a typical number one opening.

And I took my mum to see it on Thursday. And well...she hated it. It was "a load of twaddle" (only replace 'twaddle' with expletive and add extra expletive before said expletive), although she admitted fancying Nathan Fillion

There were many arguements after
Yeah, #1 figures are usually bigger in the UK. However, it was scifi, and it was a 15 certificate - nobody below 15 can see Serenity in the UK. As such, the money it pulled was pretty great.
But the 950 million opening was good.


Good? I consider that amazing *g*.
From what I've heard, there is indeed a growing problem with theater attendance drop-off this year. I suspect the reasons include, more people with HDTV


Yes, it does make a difference. Decent-sized wide-screen, non-interlaced video that is sharp, bright, and nearly artifact-free, plus theater-quality sound (if I have the option of turning up the volume without keeping the neighbors awake). The difference between home theater and movie theater is getting very small.

plus services like Netflix, which make it far more attractive to watch your movies at home


Netflix and Amazon, equals not just watch at home, but at a time of my own choosing, any movie without regard for theatrical availability, comfortable seating (or a bed), reasonably priced (and fresh) popcorn....

(oddly, most people I've asked don't even care about the big-screen experience)


Serenity is the first movie in a long time where I've had a real "big-screen theatrical experience." It's not the size of the screen so much, as a polite and quiet audience, and a shared reaction to the movie that's almost like watching with a huge roomful of your best friends. What is most remarkable is that such an experience can still happen; it's so rare that I'd forgotten what it feels like.

and the fact that most movies out this year were crap.


That's a huge aspect of the issue. The shared theatrical experience is a response to movies that are both good and entertaining, and they seem to be an endangered species.

Sorry for the long commentary, but the movie theater is dying as an institution and as a shared cultural experience. Replacing that shared cultural phenomenom is going to be the hardest part; iPod-Movie (or even home theater) is much less of a shared cultural bond.
It is an endangered species,and it's too bad. Except for my first screening of Serenity, I can't recall the last time I had a shared theatrical experience, unless you count all the adults in the audience repeatedly shushing the obnoxious teenagers. It takes a small group of like-minded people to get that experience now, and unless you live near an art-house-type theater, you might as well buy a huge tv and invite your friends over. Hell, the money I'd save in tickets and snacks in a year would probably pay for the tv.

[ edited by zencat on 2005-10-16 17:37 ]
950 Million opening? Now THAT should get a sequel! Unless it's Turkey we're talking about, in which case the exchange rate makes that about thirty dollars...

And the first two preview showings I saw there was uter, complete, silence, except for laughing and gasping in the right places. Rapt attention on screen was total. I could have killed the person seated next to me with a dayglo baseball bat and there would have been no witnesses.

[ edited by zz9 on 2005-10-16 18:51 ]
There are now also estimates for Saturday (and Sunday, although I still don't get how they they can estimate today's box-office). The results are at the same link as yesterday's results.

Saturday's box office results are about as good (or bad?) as Friday's box office.
I actually just got a text from somebody saying they'd gone to see Domino, but got tickets from the box office for Serenity...

Sounds like the ticket machine had good taste...
I'll just quietly change that to 950 thousand...

Actually no. I like it as it is!
I go to see a lot of movies, and the type of theatrical experiences you guys are talking about, I had experienced with 'The Ring' (audible gasps and backs hitting chairs) and 'Signs' (completely engrossed filled theatre on opening night), which were both much greater having seen them at the theatre.

Serenity I've only seen with fans thus far. I hope to see it at a nicely filled cinema when it opens here. Hopefully Dutch audiences will 'get' it and hopefully it won't just be a disruptive loud crowd.
To be fair the third time I saw the BDM was in a large theatre with I would guess a general public audience, as someone said earlier on the were a bit unsure about the jokes early on but got into it quite quickly, and they were virtualy all quiet and attentive, very little talking or noisy sweet wrapper eating.

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