Scott Pilgrim and the Lackluster Box Office

Scott's Infinite Sadness

“Oh, sorry, I got distracted by the Internet.”
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Chapter 3

It’s been a while since I’ve had any interest in checking box office grosses. Rationally, I know that I gain nothing from looking at those little numbers, but it feels comforting to see a film I like earn a ton of cash. Unfortunately, watching Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World crash during its opening weekend reminds me that the numbers chase isn’t always in my favor.

Analysts with far more skill than I have are already dissecting the perceived failure of Scott Pilgrim, attributing it’s anemic U.S. earnings to everything from a split audience (The Expendables, which premiered in the same weekend, arguably drew the macho/date crowd) to an over-previewed, download-happy core interest group. Something about the breakdown is stinging, as if the filmistas are saying “This movie’s made for you, and you’re not watching it!” I think the kernel of truth in that is proving hard to swallow, but it’s attributable to bad marketing as much as an apathetic base.

I had initially written off Pilgrim as some kind of 20-something indie band flick. On a whim, I picked up one of the comics and fell in love with the contrast between a coming of age story and a fantastic romp through video game clichés. Watching the ads for the movie, I realized it was very difficult to capture just what Scott Pilgrim was about in a 30 second teaser. Part of the problem is that the movie and source comic are a bit off kilter, while the trailer is, at heart, still a movie trailer. It presents beats, glimpses of the game-inspired world, but isn’t edited with that in mind.

As a result, it gives all us bitter nerds of the world a perceived reason to skip out. “Oh, it’s just trying for the gamer market. What-ever.” This kind of territorial act doesn’t exactly make for great audiences, but there can’t exactly be a wish for the mainstreaming of the art while holding on to Gollum-esque notions of ownership.

I’m sure that Pilgrim will find a profitable life through DVD sales, but my concern over the numbers game at the local cinema comes from the narrative that will spring up shortly. Namely, “Gamers don’t watch movies.” That may not seem like a terrible thing, but being cut out of a market isn’t usually a positive thing. Among other consequences, it means that external forces get the right of commentary. At the very least, this means folks are free to claim that the hapless slackerdom and hyperactive breaks with reality form the bedrock of the gamer’s view on the outside world. Or, more concerning, the lack of care for source material means we get treated to more Double Dragon-esque adaptations.

If you’ve ever played through a Nintendo game, you owe it to yourself to give this film a chance. Sure, it’s loaded with references to the gamer culture of old, and yes, it does use the concept of gaming to great comedic effect. There’s more to it than just a bunch of Mario Bros. name-drops and pixilated landscapes. At least, in my view, it’s a sweet look into the moment that a gamer grew up and made something of his own.

For the moment, it’s enough to temper my disappointment with the cash flow.

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The nice thing about the low gross is that I can point to it and say, "Yup, Chicago GWJ is a significant portion of that."

I'm just Michael Cera'ed out. Maybe I wouldn't mind seeing him to do the same thing again if it wasn't already compounded with being Jonah Hill'ed and Seth Rogen'ed out in quick succession, but there you go.

Ill prolly torent it later.

My wife and I are going tonight! I can't wait. I was skeptical of more Michael Cera, but it looks like he at least gets to kick some ass in this instead of just being a George Michael Bluth.

I heard about the limp and flaccid weekend box office today too, and was surprised. Sheeat! Never would've seen that coming.

Anyway, thanks for the wake up call.

I was gonna go on the weekend but finally saw Inception instead. Now I'll have to make a point of getting back to the theater before Pilgrim moseys on into the sunset of DVD release.

“Oh, sorry, I got distracted by the Internet.”

HAHAHAHAHA! It's funny, see? The Internet. It's distracting. Oh how I laughed.

Any opinion that states “gamers don’t watch movies" is not even worth commenting on. The reality is that they still represent a niche that is overwhelmed by the "everyone else" pile.

So what segment of the movie viewing public is this movie for? I can't imagine why they are not swimming in vaults, filled with gold, like Uncle Scrooge.

I'm sure, as you stated, it will do well in the DVD market. That is, if it isn't pirated/rented by the majority of people who would watch this film once or have internet.

*Waves hand*

I'm one of those nerds who isn't going. The theatrical trailer was terrible, and like Gravey I'm really tired of Michael Cera.

Between the two there's zero chance of me buying a ticket for this.

Thin_J wrote:
Between the two there's zero chance of me buying a ticket for this.

Why do you hate games so much, Thin_J!?

I enjoyed the movie and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for gamers to see, but I also wish they'd developed Scott Pilgrim and the whole romance plot a little better than they did. Scott's kind of a jerk whose self-revelation comes way too late in the movie to believably result in him getting the girl, and we’re given little to no hint of why Ramona would fall for him other than that she wants something safe, and he seems safe.

That said, in the realm of presentation and sharp humor delivery, it succeeds really well - it handles its comic and game references better than any other film I can think of, and the text overlays are really well handled - just less so in terms of character development or character relationships (with the notable exception of Scott’s roommate, who was honestly the best character in the film, closely followed by Scott's sister, played by the extremely compelling Anna Kendrick who was also in Up In The Air).

I should also say that my wife, who is barely a gamer (she loves Pikmin and will play New Super Mario Bros Wii with me, but that’s about it) did think that the film was funny and enjoyable even though she certainly wasn’t the target audience and didn’t get a lot of the game references. She didn’t think it was amazing, but she didn’t think it was a bad time either. So it's maybe not so limited in its audience range as people are assuming. They just need to be convinced to get into the theatre to see it.

I was thoroughly entertained.

EDIT: I should add that I went to the movie with very little prior knowledge of Scott Pilgrim as a character. I have not read the comics and I avoided the trailers. The movie, for me, was a blast.

[url=http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2... blowback[/url] on reviews that are essentially attacks on the supposed target audience wrote:
Hating Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perfectly fine. It's got a style; you sort of embrace it and dig it or you don't. But when there's too much effort given to tut-tutting the people you imagine to be enjoying it, or declaring and promising that only narrow categories of losers and non-life-havers and other stupid annoying hipsters could possibly be having a good time when you're not, it sounds pinched and ungenerous. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit jealous and fearful of obsolescence.

I'm certainly edging towards the 'gamers don't watch movies' demographic. Unless it's something pretty special (e.g: Inception) Otherwise I'm happy to wait for the dvd...

...Which I will then buy and leave sitting in the "to watch" pile under the telly for a few months until one of those rare occasions when I feel like watching rather than playing something.

wordsmythe wrote:
NPR blowback[/url] also]If director Edgar Wright

Forgive me, I didn't know! I rescind my previous comment, I am seeing this movie, and soon.

Edit: In a theatre, not a torrent.

stevenmack wrote:
I'm certainly edging towards the 'gamers don't watch movies' demographic.

I'm more in the camp of 30 (nearly 40-) -something gamers who don't have any desire to watch a teen coming of age movie.

Don't get me wrong. I loved me some John Hughes back in the day, but when I saw the preview there was precisely nothing about it that drew my attention other than the laughable idea that Jason Schwartzman can still play someone in high school.

OG_slinger wrote:
stevenmack wrote:
I'm certainly edging towards the 'gamers don't watch movies' demographic.

I'm more in the camp of 30 (nearly 40-) -something gamers who don't have any desire to watch a teen coming of age movie.

Don't get me wrong. I loved me some John Hughes back in the day, but when I saw the preview there was precisely nothing about it that drew my attention other than the laughable idea that Jason Schwartzman can still play someone in high school.

Only one of the characters in the series is in high school. Most of the others are mid to late 20's Gideon (Jason Schwartzman) though his characters age is not mentioned in the film he is probably pretty close to 30 (his age in real life). Since he is a successful club owner and record producer.

Scratched wrote:
Ignoring all the cute little "Oh, it's a movie for gamers! it's our movie, it's got all these references and game jokes..." aspects, is it actually a good movie?

It is, yeah. The CG work is really good and the art direction (or whatever it's called in film) is really interesting. It has style. It's also very funny.

OG_slinger wrote:
other than the laughable idea that Jason Schwartzman can still play someone in high school.

He plays a media mogul, so I kind of doubt he's a High Schooler...

Stitched wrote:

HAHAHAHAHA! It's funny, see? The Internet. It's distracting. Oh how I laughed.

Oh, you're just a ray of sunshine.

But here's the context of the quote, so you won't think it's all "LAWL INTERNET".
IMAGE(http://img337.imageshack.us/img337/4823/internetd.png)

Vvv
Scratched, it's a film concerned with learning to put the past behind you (and to take stock of said past to better yourself). It's got a thick patina of pop culture on it, though, and is one of the most visually active movies since Speed Racer.

Ignoring all the cute little "Oh, it's a movie for gamers! it's our movie, it's got all these references and game jokes..." aspects, is it actually a good movie? Just like I don't have to know anything about motor racing to watch a movie with motor racing in it, because the drama involves people that I can emphasise with, does this movie stand independent of it's background of video games or is it a crutch for the movie that it can't stand without.

Thin_J wrote:
*Waves hand*

I'm one of those nerds who isn't going. The theatrical trailer was terrible, and like Gravey I'm really tired of Michael Cera.

Between the two there's zero chance of me buying a ticket for this.

*Raises Hand*

Scratched wrote:
Ignoring all the cute little "Oh, it's a movie for gamers! it's our movie, it's got all these references and game jokes..." aspects, is it actually a good movie?

I'm going on faith that it is, Michael Cera or not, because it's Edgar Wright. He's the man behind Simon Pegg, who of course are the men behind Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. I think he's deftly shown with those (at least with Pegg's help) how he can utilize or reference geeky pop culture as a matter of fact, rather than a novelty for the director to point at, winking conspicuously.

This movie and associated reviews *almost* brought me out of my self-induced theater exile but to be honest I'll probably just wait until I can watch it at home.

Looks like that exile will have to wait for Tron Legacy to be broken.

Why is it I can only get two sentences into an ain't it cool news before I give up and go find another review. Let's connect the dots! Let's sing the stats! It's so sensationally vacuous. And vacuously sensational. It's Haaaaarrrrrrry!

I was kinda looking forward to this, and then someone at work brought in the comics. I read one a day until they were done, and before I'd finished I'd decided (from the trailer) that the film was just trying too hard. You know, jumping up and down screaming "HEY LOOK AT ME I'M RETRO COOL HEY LOOK LOOK IT'S A SPRITE!!!"

And then I realised that I may have been too harsh. That, as the OP says, it's a movie trailer, is edited as such. That it might not capture the spirit of the comics, but the movie could.

So maybe I will go and see it. After all, I do have a free cinema voucher that needs using...

When did the Interneteratti turn so hard on Cera? It hasn't been that long since Arrested Development. Or is he the part of that show it's cool to hate? When did that happen? I'm so lost now. Oh God, now I'm part of a vicious cycle where I'm too cool to be too cool to like Cera! Help me! The snake is devouring itself!

I'm sorry, I didn't see it this weekend--the people I swore to see it with had to go out of town, and they swore we'd see it when they got back. But it's happening, mark my words.

stevenmack wrote:
I'm certainly edging towards the 'gamers don't watch movies' demographic. Unless it's something pretty special (e.g: Inception) Otherwise I'm happy to wait for the dvd...

Yeah, I'm pretty firmly planted there myself. I just generally don't enjoy the movie-going experience all that much, especially here in the city where you end up paying a leg for parking in addition to the arm they want for tickets for the wife and I.

Add to that the fact that I'd never even heard of this Scott Pilgrim thing until they started spamming me with commercials and all of a sudden my video game sites started going on about some comic book atrocity, and yeah, I'm just not interested.

I find it interesting, though, that in the span of just a few weeks they've actually somehow made me completely sick to death of something new to me. That takes some talent.

stevenmack wrote:
I'm certainly edging towards the 'gamers don't watch movies' demographic. Unless it's something pretty special (e.g: Inception) Otherwise I'm happy to wait for the dvd...

Yeah, I'm pretty firmly planted there myself. I just generally don't enjoy the movie-going experience all that much, especially here in the city where you end up paying a leg for parking in addition to the arm they want for tickets for the wife and I.

Add to that the fact that I'd never even heard of this Scott Pilgrim thing until they started spamming me with commercials and all of a sudden my video game sites started going on about some comic book atrocity, and yeah, I'm just not interested.

I find it interesting, though, that in the span of just a few weeks they've actually somehow made me completely sick to death of something new to me. That takes some talent.

Watched it with the wife this weekend. It was absolutely awesome

For a gamer there are enough references to make you laugh. My wife, a self-professed pseudo geek in her own way, hated it. She watches Fringe and understands it. She plays "serious" board games. She has been to PAX. She's cool with geek culture. However, she couldn't get past the over the top way in which characters went from being in the "normal" world to all of a sudden using superpowers they didn't know they had.

I felt pretty much the same way. For some reason it seemed more disjointed than Hot Fuzz or Shawn of the Dead or any of the director's previous movies. They just never contextualized in a way I could get with, the fact that it would bounce between comedy love story and suddenly he's getting thrown 100 feet in the air and not dying.

I can suspend disbelief, but I guess I require a hook to understand why I should. In a movie like Moulin Rogue it was all metaphorical. In Shawn of the Dead it was more comedy and parodying a genre. Scott Pilgrim just didn't make as much sense in that respect. I never understood if what was happening was metaphorical or real and if it was real why were people surprised yet not at the same time?

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
When did the Interneteratti turn so hard on Cera? It hasn't been that long since Arrested Development. Or is he the part of that show it's cool to hate? When did that happen? I'm so lost now. Oh God, now I'm part of a vicious cycle where I'm too cool to be too cool to like Cera! Help me! The snake is devouring itself!

For myself, I don't hate on Cera, but when Nick & Nora came out I could see a potential it's-Michael-Cera-playing-Michael-Cera wave of movies coming (like with Hill and Rogen, who I like, but not so much that I need to see them in six movies each year). It was just Cera fatigue. Although I am re-watching Arrested Development, I don't think that's contributing to it.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:
When did the Interneteratti turn so hard on Cera? It hasn't been that long since Arrested Development. Or is he the part of that show it's cool to hate? When did that happen? I'm so lost now.

He was great in Arrested Development.

He's gone on to play the exact same person in every third movie to hit theaters since then. He was even good in a few of those despite the repetitive nature of the roles. He's been a pretty one note actor though. Whether that's because casting directors are jerks and people won't let him do anything else or it's his own doing it doesn't really matter. The end result is the same. He does the same thing, every time, over and over. Jesse Eisenberg does basically the same thing but I've only seen him in two movies. I've seen way, way more of Cera.

I don't hate Cera, I'm just tired of seeing him in everything. I'm tired of his shtick. There's a difference. It just ends with me very disinterested in movies featuring him now. If I manage to avoid him for a year (or more likely... two or three) I might come around and watch his movies again.

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