A couple of posts back I predicted that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World would do well at the box office. As mind-blowing as it is to believe, I was wrong (I know. Try not to fall over). Despite generally favorable reviews, massive promotional efforts and dizzying Comic-Con buzz, Scott Pilgrim scraped in just $10.5 million and came in FIFTH, behind The Expendables, Eat, Pray, Vomit, and two films that had already been in theaters for some time. So what the hell just happened?
I think I might have an idea. I completely geeked out in the theater (let's just say I'm glad I went alone), and I'm sorely disappointed that Scott Pilgrim didn't decimate the competition, but I've been turning this over in my head and I've finally come to the following conclusions as why the film didn't do as well as it should have:
THE CURSE OF MICHAEL CERA- I don't mean to be a bitch (really), but the kid hasn't exactly proven to be a box office draw. Since the culmination of Arrested Development, he's done several movies that have come out in wide release where he's had top or equal billing, and the reviews and box office intake have, for the most part, not exactly insured this guy a lifetime career. Let's go over his so-called "bankability:"
SUPERBAD ( Aug. 17, 2007)- Box Office Intake: $121.5 million Rotten Tomatoes Scale: 87% (7.4/10)
JUNO (Dec. 25, 2007)- The obvious exception to the Curse, indie flick Juno pulled in $143.4 million and scored a 93% on the RT scale. The movie also garnered the Best Screenplay Oscar and was also nominated for a bunch of other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
According to imdb.com, Juno also cleaned up at numerous other film festivals, both domestic and international.
I might be the only one on the planet that actually hated this movie. I thought it was really boring and the stupid made-up slang annoyed the shit out of me. Then again, looking at all of the accolades it received, I guess my opinion doesn't matter.
NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST (Oct. 3, 2008)- B.O. Intake: $31.5m RT Scale: 73% (6.5/10)
YEAR ONE ( Jun. 19, 2009)- B.O. Intake: $43.3m RT Scale: 14% (3.8/10)
YOUTH IN REVOLT (Jan. 8, 2010)- B.O. Intake: $15.2m RT Scale: 69% (6.4/10)
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Aug. 13, 2010)- Opening Weekend Gross: $10.5m RT Scale (so far): 81% (7.4/10)
It seems as if Cera just can't carry a project on his own. One could argue that Arrested Development had its own success, but even that was cancelled after only three seasons and had more of a cult following even though it was one of the most hilarious, most demented programs ever to grace the small screen.Word is is that Cera was the one holding up the movie because he wanted to concentrate on his burgeoning film career, until he probably realized that he didn't have one and then finally signed on. I would have been fine with them doing it without him anyway- George-Michael was the worst part of the show. Hopefully the writers will focus mostly on Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and David Cross. Can you tell I was not a fan of the show AT ALL?
PROMO OVERLOAD- Here in LA there are STILL Scott Pilgrim billboards every three feet. They're like Starbucks. In the months leading up to the film's release, I couldn't turn on the TV without a commercial during every single ad break. I was totally spazzing out for this movie, and even I found it gratuitous. Comic-Con attendees and other fanboys/girls got their own advanced screenings as well, so by the time this movie actually rolled into theaters, a lot of the graphic novel devotees had most likely already seen it- for free.
SPLIT MARKETING TACTICS/RELEASE DATE HELL- Scott Pilgrim could also have been a victim of its own indecision. In order to land opposing demographics, there were different ads that ran on TV- one that featured the romantic side of the film and another that focused on the video game/fighting style. Unfortunately for Scott Pilgrim, it was hit with the release date of August 13th, which also saw the opening of two other films where both of those genres were already covered. The Expendables is basically two full hours of solid ass-kicking with legendary action stars, and Eat, Pray, Stab is the token summer chick flick. It's feasible that men heading to the movies this weekend were either drawn to The Expendables, which opened at number one at $34.8m , or were dragged by their significant others to the Julia Roberts shitfest, which took a distant number two (how appropriate) at $23.1m.
IMO, another example of a less-than-stellar marketing choice is Jennifer's Body, which was advertised as a horror movie. I went to see it with a friend because we were bored and were looking for a bad movie that we could make fun of, but we were surprised that the film fit into the "black comedy" genre and was actually funny. It's in no way an excellent film, but I didn't find it to be nearly as horrible as I was expecting. If Jennifer's Body had been marketed to moviegoers looking for a comedy, perhaps the box office and the reception wouldn't have been as terrible.
GEOGRAPHICAL PURGATORY- The humungous chasm in the center of Julia Robert's head swallowed the remaining cash that Scott Pilgrim pulled in.
My consolation for Scott Pilgrim's dismal performance at the box office is that nerds such as myself are incredibly loyal to the pop culture fixtures that we love. I'm hoping that it will find a rabid audience and top DVD sales and downloads, and will at least break even in theaters eventually. Director Edgar Wright has made some respected cult films (Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead), and is well-respected among my fellow geeks, who are continuing to dominate pop-culture, so at least we can probably anticipate more from him. People did actually go to this movie (you can't pull ten and a half mil out of your ass), and everyone I know that did see it raved about it. We will have our day, and we will prevail!