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October 21 2005

International Serenity openings being canceled. Argentina, Thailand, Taiwan, Brazil and Singapore have all decided to drop Serenity. International fans waiting for cinema release should check with UIP to see if it is still being released in their country (reg required). Greece and Germany also appear to be pulling out, but not confirmed yet.

That's too bad. I would be crushed if that happened in my area. Wish there was something I could do for the fans over there.
Ditto. I believe UIP Tiwan has pulled out now as well.

It's too early to speculate, but if this forms a pattern for the rest of the locations... ouch, for the fans. I do wonder if Japan will bother now, as they could get it out on DVD before they are scheduled to launch with it now.

ETA: It looks a bit like there's more of a story here than it first seems.. Sigh. The country in question had movie posters out and such, but opted to change to DVD. DVD is much cheaper to launch. International fans may have a struggle in terms of theatre performances with this now, it has to be said.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-22 02:52 ]
Actually all the countries listed may have a second reason for why it will not be released in the theatres and they will have to wait until DVD. Those countries mentioned are known as havens for movie piracy.
That is too bad. Buffy is really popular in Argentina, it's still on every day on Fox (and I think it was even on some of the non-cable networks as well, something that doesn't happen with most US programs). SF does pretty well there too, so I'm surprised that they didn't go ahead with Serenity.
This is depressing.

Now I go to slit my wrists...

Well, no. Not really. But this is some fair-sized suckage.
Man this is depresing.
Just got an email from UIP Brazil stating they've just pulled Serenity, also, also over here. It'll go directly to DVD/VHS.

So whoever want to watch it on the big screen over here there are still two showings of the BDM on the Sao Paulo International Movie Festival.

SERENITY - A LUTA PELO AMANHÃ (SERENITY), de Joss Whedom (120'). EUA. Falado em inglês, mandarim. Legendas eletrônicas em português.
RESERVA CULTURAL 2 23/10/2005 - 23:00 - Sessão: 205 (Domingo)
CINE BOMBRIL 31/10/2005 - 22:30 - Sessão: 775 (Segunda)

This must've been something that was just decided like within this couple of days. My friend saw a trailer before Brothers Grimm and I just saw it before Transporter 2. And I just started seeing posters being put out in several theaters around Sao Paulo.
Additionally, Serenity it's listed among upcoming market releases, in all these booklets from the Film Festival.
I'll try to delve deeper into this matter to get some reason for being pulled out. I'll get back to you guys with additional info as soon as I get them.

Gossi, would you mind changing the subject listing all the coutries that the BDM has been pulled out as far as we know.

[ edited by Numfar PTB on 2005-10-22 06:19 ]
Numfar - done. From what I can tell this decision has just been made - they're pulling it from international release, which is a hugely bad deal. I'm trying not to be negative, but this is insane.
I thought it was doing pretty well internationally. Between the pullout of advertising after the first weekend in the USA and this, I am totally confused. :-(
newcj - it's start hard to establish the scale of this. The UIP offices will be closed this weekend. If we find out Germany have pulled out on Monday, I'd pretty much presume all of them have pulled out. If all of them have pulled out, I'm going to go sit in that bath. Possibly seriously. For the simple fact I only worked with the UK UIP people, but I presumed (always a mistake) the other terrorities understood the product.

Gotta be honest. To me, it seems like there's loss cutting going on here. They think it'll make more on DVD, with less expense, I think. Either that or they want to concentrate the areas on other movies (UIP is owned by both Universal and Paramount, so they promote a lot of movies).
*flicks over to the good news channel*
Bad Kitty - is there one? :)
It's no longer listed at UIP Singapore.
Talk about self -fulfilling prophesies. If you don't release a movie in theaters it will most certainly make more in DVD's than it did in the theaters. If you do not promote a movie to a main stream audience it will not do well with mainstream audiences...

I could go on, but none of us want me to, especially me.

Don't take this too to heart Gossi. I know you have a lot invested in this, and it is frustrating, but...where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Oh hell Gossi. This is really crappy, but just remember that you did what you could. Let the rest go or it will make you crazy. (twitch twitch)
My heart goes out to all the fans (and potential fans) in these countries. :(
I think RavenU may have nailed it, actually. Poor reception in the biggest market (U.S.) means no carryover buzz to international markets, which might have helped, and no extra NorthAm cash profits available to cover any offshore losses. So every UIP branch has been told to take as much cost out of the project as possible. Then as RavenU points out, one way to maximize return is to haul in those profits from DVDs before pirates flood the market with VCDs.

But, wow, I'm so sorry to hear the bad news for our friends in Argentina and Brazil. And I was going to catch it in Southeast Asia next month. Well, crap all to hell!
Out of interest, how much of the international box office revenue would these countries have accounted for?
Well, it's not that horrible news. None of these countries are very big markets and besides, there is money to be made on DVDs as we all know. The only ones I feel bad for are the fans in these countries that won't get to watch it on the silver screen where it belongs.
If they do not release it in the cinemas it won't sell well, either.

The ad on UIP Italy is still there, I really wish I could see it on the big screen first... [link]
Our man in the UIP (in the Netherlands) was talking on our official board just 2 days ago about which theaters Serenity was being released in. Moreover I think he would have posted news like this even if he heard it in the weekend, so I am guessing he hasn't heard it has been cancelled yet. However the dutch release has been messed with a lot, so I shouldn't be 100% surprised if they pulled the movie.

Europe is an altogether different market from those countries now mentioned so I hope (for the european fans as well as the box office) that Serenity will still be released here.

Back on topic: Go se
Yep, Celebithil, I agree that we would've heard had our man in UIP heard that Serenity was being pulled. He did hint at the fact that he has some influence with movie releases. So seeing as we're already having a very limited release, I think we'll keep those twelve theatres. And we'd better. We've just started our last-ditch campaign, after all.

But other than that, I just don't understand this. There's movies making less money than Serenity, that are still heading towards the theatres internationally, right? It just doesn't make sense.

Also: this will hurt international DVD rentals/sales a lot I think. To most people this will now look like a straight-to-dvd sci-fi movie. And let's face it, straight-to-dvd sci-fi movies usually suck beyond the telling. Only way to salvage some of that is put some of the incredible review-quotes on the cover and hope people think it's more than just some B-movie. Rental places'll probably buy less rental copies as well, I think, for a movie that has not seen a theatrical release.

It's just bad all around, honestly.

ETA: typo

[ edited by GVH on 2005-10-22 13:41 ]
Hmm, this feels an awful lot like when the Independents surrendered at the Battle of Serenity. Funny how life immitates art.
Well, there goes our sequel.
Why? Is it really that expensive to show it in the cinemas?
No ads in the DC or NYC papers as of this week, and now this. The grey, crappy weather we're "enjoying" is just perfect.
I know some studios are predicting DTV being a much more important market in the future and are talking about making quality DTV movies so there may be some people inside the Studio concerned here thinking of this as a positive step. However the way it's going to look is of "giving up" in a theatre release and "only" have a DVD release. It does look like a panic decision.
Out of interest, how much of the international box office revenue would these countries have accounted for?

Estimates are about 5% of the worldwide gross. So not a great deal. As long as the European release schedule holds firm, these aren't great losses to the overall take. But it is unfortunate that fans from those markets can't see it on the big screen.
UIP Malaysia still has Serenity up for January 12th, but I hope it's not because they haven't gotten around to updating their sites.

I know it's not a big deal to lose those markets, but it means a lot to fans like me who have been waiting to so long to see it on the screen.

Gorram-ed execs.
My main concern is that, at least in the U.S., a theatrical release -- even a brief one in just a few theaters -- is sort of a tool to promote the DVD, if only to sort of get that "direct to DVD" stink off the thing.

This may have already changed in these countries here and may slowly be changing over here. (I remember when a few years ago a bunch of surprised good reviews actually got me to rent, and enjoy, Dave Foley's "The Wrong Guy", a Canadian comedy which went straight to DVD in the U.S.)

This is sort of off-topic, but if any of you have been to any film festivals lately, you may know that there are actually all sorts of actually good-to-wonderful films (along with the not-so-good-to-crummy) that never get proper theatrical releases in the U.S. and therefore never really hit our radar. Hope that doesn't happen to "Serenity" in any market.
UIP Germany are apparently going to either limited release the movie (a handful of cinemas like in the Netherlands) or drop it completely.

ETA: When I say direct to DVD, I mean people in these countries will be able to purchase the DVD like everybody else when it's released - it's not coming out early on DVD in these countries.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-22 18:26 ]
UIP Greece have dropped it, I believe.
UIP Germany's website still lists Serenity as opening on November, 24. They've also made a half-hearted effort at revamping the official movie site using the international site as a template and have added a second trailer here.
This happened on November, 16 and 17, so they might have changed their minds since then.
The movie site is still partly in English (webmaster programme) and the quiz seems to be missing. The translation of the crew files is terrible - Inara's elusive has become deceptive. There's also a slightly embarrassing spelling mistake in the site name.

[ edited by sister_ray on 2005-10-23 13:51 ]
They still haven't changed the 'Serentity'??
I can't believe it won't be showing in Greece. All my family lives there, and I have told every single one of them (except for the old timers lol) to see this movie the day it comes out. I've been bugging them since I went there this summer. Ugh, this is sooo annoying! And as others have been saying, Buffy is popular in many of these countries, so when fans hear that Joss has a movie out, they'll probably want to go see it. After the first two weeks in the US, I kinda knew that the $50 mil domestic Joss said would get us a sequel was probably not going to happen, and I was really pulling for the international box office to make it happen. This is so disappointing. I really hope Univerval goes by DVD sales, or we are in big trouble...

And it's not only bothering me that the movie won't make as much money now, it's just the idea that there will be thousands of people who won't get to see a really great movie. Movies that are out now really suck, and this was the best one I've seen in a while.

And what's with all the theaters dropping it this weekend? Another 800?? WTF!?!?!?!?!??!?!?
I think that's horrible for the fans, because everyone who wants to deserves to see Serenity on the big screen. Hopefully Universal will still hold a few of the screenings like the advanced screenings in order to soften the blow?

Personally I think this is probably due to Serenity's mediocre box office performance in the US, but I went again today for the fourth time and the audience was unusually large. The first time was at a pre screening, one time on a Sunday evening it was nearly empty, but that is now twice that there have been a suprising amount of people there. I think if it is still pulling in crowds here in the UK/Ireland, then perhaps other international audiences would warm to it. People have said before it is more likely to please a European audience, whereas generally US audiences might not appreciate the witty humour.

I mean the film's already been made, surely the costs of marketing and such would be worth paying in order to make some money from the film in those countries.
Man this stinks! Just when I was making peace with it! The main surprise is the possibility Germany might pull out though. I thought Buffy (and thereby to some extent Joss) was huge in Germany. And I don't know about Thailand but Germany is one of the biggest european countries and also fairly densely populated. I was actually waiting to see what it did there, and now they're pulling out?? For frag's sake, even tiny Holland put it up in 12 theaters!!

The translation of the crew files is terrible - Inara's elusive has become deceptive. There's also a slightly embarrassing spelling mistake in the site name.

Yeah....see, that stuff don't help none.......

I kinda knew that the $50 mil domestic Joss said would get us a sequel was probably not going to happen, and I was really pulling for the international box office to make it happen.

Yeah and it possibly might have for all we know. But with all these idiots pulling out... crap! Man and when I think of some of the stinkers that do make it to most foreign markets and don't do anything there when they open...

This stinks. This movie deserves so much better.
I'm interested to know if anybody has told Joss about this in advance. I bet a small amount of cash he's found about this reading this site.

Razor - the cost is in terms of printing the reels, getting exhibitors to play it (the problem in Germany, apparently, is none of the big chains want to play the movie now), translating the movie (dubbing) etc.

It looks like the movie is being unloaded to Universal Home Video to deal with now, which is both a real shame for the fans, and financially... I'm really not sure how the movie is supposed to make money internationally when it's not being released in lots of places.

And, whilst not wanting to drive people to those razor blades... Doom took over $6m opening night in the US, and probably won't suffer the Friday/Saturday drop Serenity had, so it's going to make a lot of money this weekend.

Yes, ladies and gentleman: people suck.

Stick a critically acclaimed sci-fi action film about the right to be wrong, indiviuality (if only I could spell) and moral concepts in front of somebody, and a critically savaged sci-fi action movie about GUNS and EXPLOSIONS alone: they will go for the later. I really despair sometimes.

[ edited by gossi on 2005-10-22 20:06 ]
I'm sort of also assuming now (maybe gossi can poke some sources to find out?) that this might also spell trouble for the expected later-on special edition DVD with the larger set of bonus features such as the R. Tam Sessions and the full-cast commentary track?

Will all of this new maneuvering/running leave us with only the initial bare-bones DVD?
No, theonetruebix. It's the other way around. DVD now becomes absolutely critical for Universal to earn money back on this. So they'll go for at least 2 versions of Serenity on DVD now.
DVD now becomes absolutely critical for Universal to earn money back on this.

Well, I understand how this makes sense, but I guess my question is what the cost/benefit analysis is of multiple DVD releases. Given whatever math UIP is doing in terms of theatrical releases, what math is Universal doing on DVD releases? In general, what's the cost/risk of DVD production?

(I'm not asking those questions because I think my previously-posted assumption is inevitably correct and gossi is wrong -- I just don't have any idea what sorts of factors they get weighed.)
Well, they've already put together the first DVD set (it's finished). And I know they have a lot of material for a 2nd DVD set already (in fact, they might have already put together an extended version, I don't know).

I wouldn't worry about DVD releases - many releases nowadays make a mint on DVD, so studios concentrate on them a lot.
I do wonder if the decisions taken in these countries were not the studios but down to the local theatre chains? With any movie there is haggling about the share of box office between the theatre and the studio, a Spielberg/Cruise movie will have the theatres salavating so the studio can demand every cent of the BO for the first week at least and leave popcorn and drinks as the profit earner for the cinema. For week two, three and after the percentage changes in the theatres advantage. With a movie with no big name or draw the studios have to give away a big chunk of profit and beg the theatre to show it.
So, I can imagine asfter the (bizzare) poor showing in the US the theatre chains in these countries told the studio they wanted a much bigger cut or else. In this case I cannot blame the studio for saying "Fine. Sod you. We'll go straight to DVD"
I do wonder if the decisions taken in these countries were not the studios but down to the local theatre chains?

There's a post over in the FFF thread suggesting that UIP "execs got involved midweek, and pushed for the 'straight to dvd route' as a cost reduction exercise."
No, theonetruebix. It's the other way around. DVD now becomes absolutely critical for Universal to earn money back on this. So they'll go for at least 2 versions of Serenity on DVD now.

And I'm definitely going to buy both.
I've been to the UIP site -- it nearly made my computer crash -- and it's not clear to me how why know that all this is actually happening. Maybe Gossi could explain. I don't usually follow international release patterns, but given the movie's UK success, Buffy's success in some of these countries, and the frequent success of U.S. "bombs" in the foreign market, I find this pretty surprising.

On the other hand, I once had a job in the International Sales division of a small company with a big library of B-movies. The distributors all wanted two things and two things only -- a decent story, and recognizeable stars. Well, one out of two ain't bad....
and it's not clear to me how [we] know that all this is actually happening.

For one thing, bobster, many of the UIP sites for individual countries have pulled Serenity from their "upcoming releases" pages. And, if you click through to the post on the Browncoats board, you will see that, in some cases, people received word directly from UIP.
theontruebix -- There is probably something behind those deletions on the pages, but I won't be 100% sure until they get confirmed next week.

Regarding the posts on the Universal board, I saw those, and I'm sure everyone's being honest to the best of their knowledge. However, those posts are in the category of "rumor" until they are confirmed.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-10-22 22:29 ]
bobster... I'm 100% Brazil and Argentina have pulled it. I also know UIP Germany are looking at a limited release. Regarding the rest, we'll have to wait until Monday to find out officially where each region stands (people will have to contact UIP directly and see if they can get confirmation of release dates).

You can judge this a rumour at the moment anyway, but I don't think the situation will look pretty on Monday - it looks like this one has been called up high in UIP.
I really don't understand why Serenity's being pulled from all these countries. The movie may not be a breakout success, but it's not a total flop either. If Universal gives it the chance, Serenity will at least make back the money spent to make it, but now it's looking like the movie may not even make that much back! And if Universal's strategy is to make the movie more money with a straight-to-DVD release, then their strategy is wrong. The only people who are going to buy it on DVD are those who have either already seen it in the theater or are already Firefly fans.
To give some insight which might be relevant (apologies if people already know this):

UIP release Serenity internationally. UIP is currently owned by Universal and Paramount Pictures. They release movies for both studios. This means each area has a very small number of staff divided between both studios films - so if Paramount thinks it has a more important film, they can try to pressure UIP into concentrating on that release, and vise versa.

I know Universal were very heavy on both Serenity and Doom - they believed both pictures can do the numbers, so UIP got a lot of focus on Serenity.

To combat this split promotion issue, a few months ago it was announced Universal and Paramount are parting ways. As a result, UIP will cease to exist from January 2007 effectively. Universal will estalish it's own distribution chain in each country, with those staff concentrating purely on Universal movies.

I don't know if that had anything to do with it. But there you go - some useless information for you all :)
Well, given all this activity, I'm sure we'll be hearing from folks, one way or the other, early next week.
I can vouch for Gossi about being pulled from Brazil . I got word directly from their press agent, so it's done (read my previous post: I got an email directly from them). The deal's closed, and they did pull it from the upcoming release list in their website.

What I'm trying right now, it's to get an official statement from them about why the opted for this, but I believe that the cut loss thing is almost for sure.

It's sad, because everyone deserves to watch it on the big screen.
I just checked the website of my cinema. Serenity is still on in Norway! Thank God! I already saw Serenity while I was in London last weekend, but I want to see it again on the big screen before I'm reduced to DVD-viewings at home.
Well, this is some sad news. But, we still did get our BDM. I'm so grateful for that. I wanted sequels so badly I could spit, but at the end of the day. We have Serenity, and what a beauty she is!

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