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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Strangely fitting in a grotesque fashion."
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November 01 2005

"I'm not the boss of this". Joss responds to Israel apparent pulling of Serenity. I believe the letters and artwork Joss is referring to is from cidergirl's Joss Thankyou project book (reg required).

Oh man. That sucks. I have a copy of the lovely Ciders Book on pdf, and those guys put a helluva lot of effort into what they gave Joss.
It was really impressive at how many of them there were. I know I was impressed, and it wasn't even for me!
Like I said on the other board, in case any of them are reading this.
Have a Shindig, and hire out a projector when it gets released. I'd totally do that. I got the impression that a lot of those fans were a fairly solid community, so I hope they do get to watch it together hey. It just enriches the whole experience.
Translate the Hebrew. Please.

ETA: D'oh! I just noticed the link.

[ edited by nixygirl on 2005-11-02 06:03 ]
I have much sadness, too.

We've been waiting for so long and we were all very excited about the movie coming out to theatersin Israel. At this point, it had only been shown once, in a sci-fi/fantasy convention last month. Some fans got to see it, but the large majority couldn't get tickets. We kept telling them that there will be more chances to see it in November, and not to worry. And now this. It's so unfair! :(

Joss' message means the world to us, as you can imagine. We put a lot of effort into Cider's Thank You Joss project and one of the reasons was that we wanted to say "Hey, we exist over here, we want to see this movie". So, at least we got the "we exist" part right :)

Thank you, Joss, for this message. "The Sunnydale Embassy in Israel" will do all in its power to allow more fans to see Serenity on a big screen, as they (and it) deserve.

With love and sadness.

[ edited by zeitgeist to remove signoff on 2005-11-02 16:09 ]
For TheZeppo: Let me know what you would like to be translated to Hebrew, and i'll gladly do it.
I have to say this is sad news. Watching Serenity for the very first time, completely unspoiled, with a room full of happy Browncoats, on a big screen and with popcorn and Coke in hand, was a pretty amazing experience.
Damn and damn.

Can someone please copy and paste his message for those of us who are not registered?

I saw it in Tel Aviv, and the applause when the movie began was tremendous. There are plenty of science fiction fans here in Israel who are being denied something special.
Which Witch - here's the article.

Post subject: A Sadness
I just wanted to say that I've gotten packets of letters and artwork and collages and just huge, lovely feedback from the Israeli fans and so this news gives me a sadness. If any of you guys are reading this, I just wanna say, uh... find a friend with a big TV. And sorry. I'm not the boss of this. -joss.

Thank you, Zeitgeist.

Basically the Hebrew says:

"Due to failure in the US and in spite of success at the ICON Festival screening, Globus has disappointing news for Joss Whedon fans: commercial release of "Serenity" in theatres has been cancelled. Instead, Globus will hurry to make the DVDs available upon release."

As Xander would say: "Um. Yay?"

"Due to failure in the US"

Is the BDM now considered to be a 'failure'? I know it didn't bring in the expected high returns, but surely with international sales and the DVD Universal would make a profit, if only slight.
The Israeli fans are saying much the same thing in response to the article, ncr.
As of Monday the movie grossed $34 million worldwide since it's release, 24 million of that was domestic. If the film cost 39 million then it is not a failure but a poor preformer. However, other sites have reported the actual budget was closer to 50 million then yes the movie could be classified as a box office failure.
RavenU - the $40m figure excludes advertising, print costs etc (the prints for the US alone will have cost millions). They need to make around $80m-$100m to break even.
I don't think it's that high. Universal relied more on low rent advertising (word of mouth) but I agree with gossi's point that the movie is in fact a US box office failure. Anytime your movie doesn't make more then the cost or just break's considered a box office failure. That comment in the article is in reference to box office.

In the end Universal might....might break even or post a small profit come DVD sales time. However, I would hardly think that would motivate Universal to make a sequel. Hence many people wil still consider it a failure.
Well, I believe the people have failed. Not the BDM. Not the Browncoats. Not Joss or the cast. Apparently "the people" are satiated by high-effects-low-plot scummy little pieces riding on a 30 year old reputation. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Vapid little movies with big budgets, big names, and teeny eeeny weeny scripts.

Sigh. Forgive my momentary lapse from positivity. I'll be shiny tomorrow.
Oh no. I should stay away from whedonesque ... :(

And gossi: See? You did it again.

Well, losing the theatrical outlets overseas is certainly very sucky, from the fan point of view. However, I'm guessing that pulling all these international releases is a cost-saving measure for Universal. So, the less they spend for theatrical releases, the more total profit when box office AND dvd profits and ancillary revenue streams are added together. Just trying to see a glass half full, guys! I know, it still sucks.
Gossi, ppl are starting to think your a harbringer of badness?
Actually...come to think of it....?

No, I jest. We love ya gossi, you bring us all the best violence.
Haw. All I speak is the truth. Or what I'm told is the truth, anyway. Apparently studios want to make two and a half times the production budget back on a movie on release, to cover things like TV spots, print costs etc. Which is about $100m. There was a Uni exec quote in Variety saying they were aiming for $80m total box office (theatre release), which left $20m for DVD and licensing, which was perfectly achievable.

That hasn't happened. Sorry, it just hasn't. Worse still, the DVD packaging, quite frankly, ain't going to do big business I suspect at all. And the lack of international release dates (which isn't handled by Universal - they were getting a percentage of the profit via UIP) is also a big problem.

In other words, it's gone horribly wrong. I'm not pleased about this.

I don't think the movie is a failure. I think it's a thing of beauty. I'm sure it's a movie people will still mention in 20 years time with a fondness in their hearts - I will. I also think people will look back in 20 years and go "Boy, that movie had a message about the decade they lived in".
Well, even if the box goes out as shown (and I agree that will be a BIG, quite possibly fatal, limitation) and the thing really doesn't set the world on fire on DVD either, there's always the chance that "Wonder Woman" and/or "Goners" will become giant hits as well as the very real possibility that one or more BDH's become Big Damn Movie stars, as well as the fact that "Firefly" fandom will probably continue to grow, and the special edition DVD which, please God, will not feature skankiefied River or lamas or the cast of "The Ten Commandments"...any of these can get us to the magic number, whatever it is.

But even if not, I am reminded of this quote from a semi-forgotten Bruce Springsteen song most likely inspired by a semi-forgotten Louis Malle movie...

"Well I guess everything dies baby that's a fact/
But maybe everything that dies someday
comes back...."
punkinpuss: Yes, as gossi mentioned release outside of US and Canada is the responsibility of UIP. I don't think that Universal likes their decision.
nixygirl: I'm just pulling gossis leg (I have to use the other one the next time, they already start to get uneven). I guess he already got a new nick, as the latest bad news (about the BDM not screened in Finland) was posted by someone named "hypocrite opportunist". Very clever ploy, gossi ...
Hee... And Mwhahahaha. Etc.

(I'd say well spotted, but unfortunately I wasn't clever enough to think to do that).
Hahahaahah, that would have been some smart thunkin there!!
Peope are not going to skip the DVD because of packaging. If a fan says well I am not buying it because the package stinks....well in my opinion is not a fan to begin with and was never going to buy it. In the reverse, I never met someone who I don't know anything about the movie but the packaging is so neat I am going to buy it.

Get a grip people. Fans of the movie will buy it no matter what the packaging looks like. Most people who didn't see in the movies will probably rent it. If they like it, they will buy it. The packaging might tick the fans off for sure. The packaging will make such a minimal impact. It's not like Uni just lost millions because of the packaging. That's not realistic.

Also, the standard 2 1/2 times does not apply in revenue for Serenity. This studio didn't spend what it normally would have for a sci-fi release thanks to Uni's LOW RENT advertising. I am sure they wanted to make 80 million at the box office. However, the studio in this case didn't do 41 million worth of advertising. THAT IS A FACT.

The average advertising costs for studios is around $35 million per film and that includes big films. So we are suppose to believe that Serenity had a 41 million dollar advertising budget?!?!?! Yeah right. They didn't even have a 35 million dollar budget. I would bet that the advertising budget was more around 10 to 20 million AT THE MOST. That would put the dollar figure around 49 to 59 million to break even including adverstising costs.
You're ignoring that fact that people become fans at something they see first on a very casual, superficial basis. It's kind of a seduction process that goes on.

It's sort of like trying to look your best on a first date -- that way you're simply encouraging the person you're to get to know you well enough to become a "fan." If you come wearing checkered paints, a striped tie, Bozo-hair and Groucho eyebrows you'll probably scare off the person who, otherwise, could have become your biggest fan.

[ edited by bobster on 2005-11-03 17:55 ]
So that's my problem.

Note to me: Lose the checkered paints, a striped tie, Bozo-hair and Groucho eyebrows.

(I always wondered if they were too much with the rest of the outfit. Thank goodness I can keep the hiking boots, bright blue eyeshadow and black lipstick at least.)
Well, that second look might work.
back on topic here.....
To my Israeli friends - here's the world's WORST transliterarion ever! Especially since this keyboard doesn't do hebrew and my hebrew is quite rusty -
Boi po! Y'eshly ha"Serenity" b-Denver va ani rotza she ha kol "fans" b-yisreal "could see" hafilm po. Aze chaval chavarim sheli, aza chaval! (please accept all my apologies ahead of time if I just accidentally asked you all to vacuum your asparagus or some such transliterated nonsense.) But really - this is very sad and I say - come to Denver while it's still playing!
I even have room in my house for a few of you. Never mind the crazy airfare! But dang it - I wish you all could have seen it at the theater.

*kicks the stupid distributors for their unfair decisions - first Finland, now Israel - is there NO JUSTICE in this world for SERENITY?*

*goes back to take more cold medicine*

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