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From Scotsman.com


Joss Whedon slays them with his film debut at "Serenity" World Premiere

By Tim Cornwell

Tuesday 23 August 2005, by Webmaster

Creator of Buffy slays them with film debut

THE big screen debut of Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival yesterday, with hundreds of fans descending on the Scottish capital for one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the year.

Spawned from the cancelled TV series Firefly, the new film, Serenity, sold out within hours of the festival box office opening last month. Two extra screenings were hastily scheduled to meet the huge demand, both of which also quickly sold out. In fact, tickets sold out so quickly that they crashed the festival’s computers and led to a bidding war on eBay.

Strong reviews for Serenity, the story of a small band of galactic outcasts set 500 years in the future, promised to seal its place as the big film of this year’s film festival.

Extra crowd control staff were laid on at Cineworld to cope with the large numbers of fans expected to turn up as the entire cast of the $45 million film descended on Edinburgh for the premiere.

The stars included Nathan Fillion, whose leading role as a disillusioned spaceship captain has had fans putting his performance on a par with Harrison Ford’s in Star Wars. "What I do is not so much an homage to Harrison Ford, as copy him," he said.

And the actress Summer Glau, a slender former ballet dancer who plays the deadly River, told an enthusiastic audience of film writers and critics how she built up her combat skills for the movie.

Whedon said yesterday that the Serenity story was inspired by Western tales of frontier life - "how people lived in an age before everything was convenient and could be beamed to your house".

"To be premiering here is exactly where I want to be," Whedon said. "Not just because I love it here, but because we do have fans who wouldn’t expect to be the first people to see this. There’s a lot of people in LA going, ’What?’"

Serenity, which opens in the United States on 30 September, was an unlikely choice for Edinburgh. "It’s almost a cult movie, but it’s going to be very hot and popular," Ginnie Atkinson, the film festival’s managing director, predicted.

However, there is evidence that the film’s appearance at a festival away from Hollywood is part of a carefully cultivated marketing campaign. Entertainment Weekly reported recently that the film has had more than 60 "sneak previews" to try to boost interest among internet-busy fans.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a huge hit in the UK, with some critics noting a British sense of humour - even traces of Monty Python. There is a similar feel about Serenity.

Whedon and his cast joked that the making of Serenity was "revenge" after Firefly was cancelled by an American TV network after 11 low-rated episodes.

His next project is the making of a new Wonder Woman film, but Whedon is already thinking about a sequel to Serenity, he revealed.

A very different film, Tsotsi, a tough tale of redemption among the gangs of a South African township, is leading the vote for the audience award at the festival, according to Ms Atkinson. "Tsotsi is obviously a very heart warming and interesting film that has grabbed the audience. It shows what diverse fare the audience are interested in," she said.