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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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February 27 2006

Successful Serenity DVD Sales becomes one of Diggnation's Weekly Top Stories. A very popular podcast (~150 thousand listeners) discussed a story about Serenity apparently making more money on DVD then in theaters while giving some love to both the 'verse and Joss himself.

Right now only the high-mp3 version is available, although on Tuesdays they make a video version available if you want to see that as well. The discussion begins 16 minutes 20 seconds into it (16:20). Very interesting, and the article they discuss can be found here while all the stories they discuss can be found here - in case you get hooked into the rest of the show. This is my first post so I hope it hasn't already been posted and works out alright. Hope you enjoy it at much as I did when I was listening last night!

Once again, Joss defies the odds and brings Serenity into the black. So does this mean there's still a possibility of a sequel? If the total budget of Serenity was $50 million for the film and advertisement and it eventually pulls in $60 million plus after DVD sales and TV broadcast rights, is that enough profit for Universal to gamble another $50 million on a sequel? Does Universal still think the 'Verse could be a Star Wars-type franchise? Would the studio be happy with Serenity as a sci-fi cottage industry? Interesting questions to ponder...
That story came from this Newsarama forum story which was largely discredited in this Whedonesque thread. So it's a charming urban myth spread by some very sloppy and perhaps irresponsible reporting by
I would think that good DVD sales would warrent interest in a sequel as there has already been sequels made based off high DVD sales so to me that is not a quesiton.

The question then becomes, how well does the DVD have to sale? Now while DVD's do not have an artificially small time limit imposed on them I would hypothesize that time is still a factor in DVD sales. To give a very rough and completely inaccurate example; it would certainly seem to be better to sell 1 million units over a 6 month period than over a 3 year period.
Thanks for providing the links, Simon. This sloppiness has already spread far and wide on the InterBunny and is causing all kinds of unrealistic expectations.
Oh boy, Simon, I figured that as soon as I saw the title of this link on the main page. Should people email sliceofscifi to ask them to retract those statements of news? Because it was not news, it was a poster trying to do calculations, it was not meant to be official. At least I gathered that was Matt_FabB's intent. Oy.

ETA: TamaraC this wouldn't be the first time not-official-news spread through the interweb causing unrealistic expectations, and it won't be the last.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-02-27 21:05 ]
One the blogs out there quotes a Universal exec about the DVD sales - except they have quoted me from a post on here. I think I banged my head when I was appointed a staff member of Universal. Or a spokes person. Or an exec. Man, do I get my own parking space now? Can I claim my cat food on expenses? Somebody send me a memo to let me know.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-02-27 22:38 ]
I say anything that spreads the "'Serenity' a late-blooming success meme" is okay.

I'm sure it will eventually happen. I just hope Gossi's cat is alive to see to see the day.
My cat secretly runs Universal. She knows her action set pieces.
The unfortunate truth is, that making 10 million dollars on a "niche" movie probably isn't enough. They are looking for the "real" money, and would rather flush money down the drain on junk like Gigli in the hope that it will make big money rather than take a safe bet on a few million dollars by greenlighting a sequel.
As the person who wrote that original post on, I'm sorry for several sloppy mistakes and had no idea it would travel so far when I threw the numbers together. It was posted on, where anyone with an account can post threads on whatever topic they want, which is completely different from official news stories from Newsarama. On a lot of people had debated for quite some time how much or little money Serenity made or lost. I figured it would just be the regular crowd that would respond and maybe later post it on the forms to get more feedback. I was quite surprised when linked to it, then even more surprised as it travel around the web so quickly, in some places as news story instead of just the latest entry in an ongoing debate on the Talk@Newsarama board.

[ edited by Matt_Fabb on 2006-02-28 00:30 ]
Let's be fair about the "sloppy" calculations; even shareholders of the studios never know for real what a film has made or what its expenses were. The best anyone can do is make estimates. So adding together all the Variety figures doesn't quite match reality...reality itself may never be known.

Another matter is the harsh opinions about whether a studio would make another sequel. Heck yes, a studio would make a sequel. It is easier to return to a known property than to take a blind risk on an unknown property. (For many reasons - the initial investment of advertising has already reached the public's eyes; an easier time projecting audience size, and the resulting easier time calculating what kind of budget would be sensible to ensure profit.) If that weren't so, we'd see more original films and fewer sequels.
Thats an interesting argument willbueche, I never thought about it in that way, but in terms of reaching the public's eyes... there may be a bit of debate on that.

And Matt_Fabb, I doubt anyone could have guess what would happen, and in terms of sloppy mistakes, it is all a guessing game, since the studio never releases the figures.
Wow. There have been SO many Serenity stories on since the the movie was released. I was wondering when one would make it onto the actual podcast. Thanks!
I actually think this is one piece of misinformation that we could benefit from. People all mass are sort of sheepish, if something is popular even more people tend to flock around it. Sure, the Newsrama statement might be wrong but if it's passed around as fact people will start believe in it and be more willing to check it out. Since this misinformation doesn't really hurt us, I'd say let it be. Let's get the gossip train to work for us for once.
And Gossi's cat will be that gossip train's engineer!

(Unfortunately, my own has no interest in genre films. She only watches the cable news shows, ESPN, and anything with birds in it.)
I actually think this is one piece of misinformation that we could benefit from.

No not really. I'd rather have accurate reporting to reflect what is going on. I don't want fans being hoodwinked into thinks things are fine and dandy. It gives false hope and that's wrong in my book.
Well, I'm more talking about fooling the people that aren't fans into checking out serenity due to it being so successful. Most fans have more in depth channels via which they can acquire accurate info, such as Whedonesque or Fireflyfans etc. It's those other people that I'm hoping will be go "Gosh, maybe I should check what all the commotion is about". You know, money talks or whatever. And if money have the chance to talk to roughly 150000 people, then I'm all happy about that.

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