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FireflyWhy do you think Serenity failed at the box office ?
Friday 14 July 2006, by Webmaster
I’m going to say: because it was episodic. There were something like four self-contained episodes in the story. Each resolved almost completely, leaving just enough plot to ignite the next episode. So the movie didn’t feel like a coherent story. It felt like a bunch of television episodes rammed together.
Also, Joss’s cast of TV actors didn’t exactly ignite the screen. They just didn’t feel larger than life.
That’s why I think it failed.
Now, a couple of caveats: did SERENITY fail? After all the DVD sales are in? And the foreign sales? I don’t know. It cost about $40M. Made about $25M box office and $15M overseas. Those are box office numbers so the studio gets, say, half. But then it probably made another $20M easy on DVD sales and TV, not to mention any merchandising. I doubt anyone on the show was entitled to gross points, so the studio got to keep more of the money than it would have on a $150M Harrison Ford picture. I would bet the studio’s internal accounting shows a slight profit.
More importantly: I don’t know why the hell it failed. Movies with terrible scripts hit. Why did My Big Fat Greek Wedding make $100M at the box office instead of oh, say, $5M? Was it twenty times better than the next charming indie romance? My memory was it had almost no plot, and was stunningly short on obstacles. I’m sure I could have fixed the script, made it a better movie, and turned it into much less of a hit. Was Blair Witch actually a good picture? Would it have made $100M the summer before? Or the summer after? Or would it have disappeared into the cut-rate DVD bins?
People watch for stories, but they also watch for characters and spectacle, and because other people are watching. And movies with good scripts fail. As a writer you have to believe that a good script is better than a bad script. But there are other factors at work, so don’t get too big a head on behalf of us writers...
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