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.

Comments

I know that feeling. I used to feel the same way about Bruce Willis. Obviously wildly different styles, but I feel there are certain actors that kind of play themselves in all their movies.

Willis, Samuel L. Jackson to some extent. There are others. I think the difference for me is that the overexposure of Cera has been much much greater and the character he plays is only entertaining so many times. As a lead in 3 movies a year... no thanks.

I'm planning on checking out this movie this coming weekend, because it really does look interesting and I've been catching up on the comics lately.

See, if the writers spent time watching Musicals and Kung-Fu movies then they were on the right track, but they didn't nail it. Unlike those two genres, I didn't believe the transition from reality to surreality even as much as I do a bunch of paperboys breaking into song.

Full disclosure time: I'm pretty much the perfect target for this movie. A 20-something gamer geek who is having a rather similar life crisis as Scott Pilgrim, but with entirely different girl troubles.

Just saw the movie tonight and I instantly knew that it was my new favorite movie of all time. I'm a huge fan of Edgar Wright's directorial style, which was an absolute perfect match with this thing here. I'm still a Michael Cera fan, but I was pretty tired of seeing the same thing over and over. The first time I saw the trailer, I saw Michael Cera and almost immediately decided I wasn't going to bother with whatever was in front of me. Once the trailer was done, though, I was really interested, if for no other fact than the premise is ridiculous. Wasn't looking forward to two hours of Michael Cera, but for this movie his style fit perfectly. Not only was he not an issue, I actually enjoyed Michael Cera again. The special effects were absolutely amazing, the fighting was epic in a way no other movie has ever been, and it was filled with genuinely hilarious moments. It's a romance, it's a comedy, and it's, most of the time, a big blockbuster summer action movie unlike anything that has ever come out of Hollywood.

I'm the kind of person who will watch a movie and then not bother with the book it's based on. This isn't the first time I've really, really enjoyed a movie based on something that was originally on paper, but this is the first time I've watched a movie and decided that I needed to read the source material. I got home and immediately played through the Scott Pilgrim demo, and am now listening to Anamanaguchi, the band that did the soundtrack for the Scott Pilgrim game. I am officially a Scott Pilgrim fan. I wouldn't hesitate to call this a perfect movie in every sense of the word.

Most importantly, this is just the most fun I've ever had watching a movie. I sat wide-eyed with a huge grin on my face the entire time. The fact that so many people here seem to have not enjoyed the movie or are not willing to see it because of Michael Cera or a trailer or whatever other made up reason is just a terrible tragedy in my eyes, and the poor opening weekend just further proves my theory that the vast majority of the population needs to be ended.

This movie one of those that will never be as good outside the theatre. Go to the damn theatre before it's too late!

P.S. You know how a bunch of people were sad after seeing Avatar that they couldn't live in that world? I laughed at them, but I now feel exactly the same as Scott Pilgrim. Especially considering that if I was ever in need of cash, I could just go on a killing spree. Not only would I get money, but it would satiate my desire to kill every single person I see on the streets every single day. Trust me, if you lived in this town, you'd feel the same.

Tagging the thread, so I can come back here and give my two cents worth on the release day in Germany. FRIGGIN' JANUARY 6 2011!

PS: I think the majority of Hollywood actors (even Oscar nominees) has their niche of characters of whom you can get tired of pretty quickly. Willis, Statham, Cage, Jackson, the other black dude who starred in Training Day, Lawrence etc. I would have problems naming just half a dozen actors who don't fall into that category from the top of my head.

SuperDave wrote:

worth mentioning this again:
THE GUY WHO WROTE AND DIRECTED THIS MOVIE, WROTE AND DIRECTED SHAWN OF THE DEAD.

This doesn't help me much. I didn't like Shaun of the Dead.

(I feel like the only one.)

Hmmm, it's a shame what has happened with this movie, but it seems it was somewhat expected by Universal.

Anyway, this pretty much spoiler free article gives some insight as to the why's the movie crashed and burned.

Spoiler:

And yes, people hating/tired of Michael Cera is one of them.

It seems that instead of aiming towards a clear target audience, it aimed towards a bunch of different niches that don't overlap. Check the article, it's pretty interesting.

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.

On the plus side, gullible investors will stop giving Uwe Boll money. And if they don't then we have empirical proof that the only reason anyone funds a Uwe Boll movie is for tax purposes.

Count me among those thoroughly turned off by the trailer. It felt entirely too pandering to me (Former lesbian backstory? Honestly?) and the girl he's going through all this for doesn't seem to be worth it at all. I don't mean from a visual perspective, she just comes across as a cold, demanding mean person in the trailer.

Not having read the comic, I can't speak to how accurate that impression is. But it doesn't really matter since with a precious few exceptions, the transition from page to screen tends to muck up the important stuff.

With the many vectors now that movies have to succeed I don't really see the big deal that this came in at number 5. It can still build a theater audience, it could still sell a crapload of DVDs both of which would spur a sequel. I don't think the movie industry is any different than cable when it comes to the fracturing audience, if they are going to put out a movie that only applies to people that like to watch shows about cupcakes, only cupcake watching people are going to be their first viewers unless it has something that 'sparks' and brings in others via word of mouth from those first viewers that tells others, "These cupcakes can save the world!"
This movie does suffer from some marketing shortfalls, Michael Cera is starting to get oversaturated in the movie marketplace and while he doesn't play the same person in all of his movies ala Bruce Willis, it's not a stretch to make the argument that he's pretty damn close. They are basing this movie off of source material that is vague, an American/Canadian graphic novel done in an Anime type way. I collect comics and hadn't heard of it. It's like Kick-Ass, everyone that it was going to be this huge blockbuster, but just a few years back you have probably the best comic book movie ever made (Dark Knight) and a couple of Iron Man movies that didn't disapoint either. In other words, Marvel and DC may have an oversaturation issue on their hands too, especially Marvel with their whole Avengers and supporting movies for each character. That is a very risky experiment that frankly, I don't think will reap them the whirlwind in profits they are expecting, but I love being wrong. Getting back to Kick-Ass I think it's biggest issue is that it was a 'comic book superhero' movie and not one that everyone and their mother had heard of ie Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc.
Don't cry, movies are still going to get made that pertain to which ever segment you consider yourself. They may not be made every year but no one can ignore whatever demographic you are a part of if your demo is getting bigger.

I should mention that, yes the trailer sucked. However, the writers behind the movie spent weeks watching musicals and kung-fu movies to really nail the over the top style behind the graphic novel and make it work in the context of a film. If anyone else is interested in more anecdotes, check out the creative screenwriting podcast for the film.

... aaaanyways, worth mentioning this again:
THE GUY WHO WROTE AND DIRECTED THIS MOVIE, WROTE AND DIRECTED SHAWN OF THE DEAD.

Don't let a sh*tty trailer to a original film spoil what most people on this forum seem to recommend. I honestly don't remember Royal Tenenbaums or The Life Aquatic previewing that well either, and I love those films.

If you're bored, even if you're Michael Cera'd out, please vote with your dollars and check this one out.

Edit: It has dawned on me I spelled Shaun wrong. Oops.

Why? Because I don't find the line funny and/or ironic?

I get the context. He's trying to order something so the girl comes back; it's shown in the trailer.

I am glad you posted that image. Not only do I still think it's a lame line, the art doesn't compel me to buy the comic book, either.

Thanks! You saved me some lobster cash!

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)

oMonarca wrote:

Hmmm, it's a shame what has happened with this movie, but it seems it was somewhat expected by Universal.

Anyway, this pretty much spoiler free article gives some insight as to the why's the movie crashed and burned.

Spoiler:

And yes, people hating/tired of Michael Cera is one of them.

It seems that instead of aiming towards a clear target audience, it aimed towards a bunch of different niches that don't overlap. Check the article, it's pretty interesting.

Thanks for the article. I think there is something too this. However, I know we're out there. I'm 35, I go to musicals in the theater about 4 times a year including trips to Broadway, I grew up with NES and Atari and I play games still. Oh, and I like current rock and still go to concerts from time to time. And I'm not an ironic "hipster".

I don't think I'm alone either. I know plenty of people who crossover those interests. For me it was the "musical" aspect of the movie. I mean the part where the movie would break out into fights like musicals break out into song. I understand the trope. I talked about it earlier. And it still didn't work for me in the movie.

MechaSlinky wrote:

GIANT LOVE LETTER TO SCOTT PILGRIM (see above)

This.

I won't argue the merits of the books or the movie, each to his/her own taste, whatever.

I enjoyed it immensely and part of me is hoping that a crappy box office showing gets it to DVD all the faster. I want this movie. I want to watch it and continue to love it.

I read an article on Monday that basically called this movie, "The defining romantic comedy of our generation" and I think that's a bit hyperbole but still rings true. This movie will be around a long time. I think it will be influential and I think it will end up being significant. I think, because it was written by a gamer into indie music and not some professional script writer in Hollywood, this film will ring a lot more true to a lot more people in the years to come than most anything coming out of Hollywood.

SP is a lot to take in, especially if you haven't read the books and you were already a fan.

I look forward to welcoming many of you doubters into our ranks when you end up renting this or catching it on Netflix.

Also, go read the books, the ending is a lot more bittersweet and a lot slower but makes a bit more sense =)

r013nt0 wrote:
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.

Dude. Take the CTA.

I contend that Scott Pilgrim is the new decade's version of High Fidelity.

DSGamer wrote:

See, if the writers spent time watching Musicals and Kung-Fu movies then they were on the right track, but they didn't nail it. Unlike those two genres, I didn't believe the transition from reality to surreality even as much as I do a bunch of paperboys breaking into song.

It's not surrealism, it's magical realism.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

the girl he's going through all this for doesn't seem to be worth it at all. I don't mean from a visual perspective, she just comes across as a cold, demanding mean person in the trailer.

She is like that in the movie, which is actually pretty integral to the story. It doesn't take her too long to warm up to Scott, though. I liked her a lot.

Stitched wrote:

Why? Because I don't find the line funny and/or ironic?

It's not really that funny of a line, and I'm not sure how it would be considered ironic. It's just a nice little slice-of-life thing. Who hasn't gotten distracted by the internet at some point?

I don't get a lot of the negativity in here. If you hate going to the movies, no worries, Netflix it in a year. Or don't.

But I think if you're going to go see a movie this weekend or sometime soon, either as part of a date night, an outing with friends, or just to escape the outside world and the summer heat for 90+ minutes, then Scott Pilgrim will give you your money's worth in entertainment.

Bashing unseen movies based on trailers, etc., is fruitless. There's a lot of "get off my lawn" in here, and I think I'm going to try and avoid this thread from here on out. I saw the movie. I really enjoyed the experience. I'd be willing to go see the movie again on the big screen.

To contribute, here's Richard Roeper's take, he's neither a twentysomething nor a gamer (unless you count poker as "gaming"... I don't): http://blog.richardroeper.com/?p=1825

Richard Roeper wrote:

Most superheroes, reluctant or otherwise, eventually have to use their powers to save the world. In “Scott Pilgrim,” it’s all about getting the girl.

And that’s pretty epic in and of itself.

wordsmythe wrote:
r013nt0 wrote:

... 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.

Dude. Take the CTA.

Scruffy The Janitor wrote:

Second.

How can people not like this movie, it has the Final Fantasy Baseline Solo!

Honestly the movie is phenomenal! I did feel akward in the beginning watching a bunch of late-teen/early-twenty year olds complain about their love-life, but the video-game references, and 80's punk-rock similarities made up for it...And c'mon who can hate the Vegan Patrol.

However, the funniest moment was prior to the movie, when the previews were being displayed, a trailer for the movie "Devil" was being shown, and when a scene interjected with, "from the mind of M. Night Shambly-Man" (sp?...i.d.k.) and the entire movie theater cracked up...it was priceless.

oilypenguin wrote:
MechaSlinky wrote:

GIANT LOVE LETTER TO SCOTT PILGRIM (see above)

This.

I've been listening to the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World soundtrack and my fever to see the movie again is getting worse. I should really just call in and go see it again.

Mister Magnus wrote:

I don't get a lot of the negativity in here. If you hate going to the movies, no worries, Netflix it in a year. Or don't.

Please don't go there. Please be above that. Not liking a movie != not liking going to the movies. I personally see between 40 - 70 movies every year in the theater. It's one of my wife and I's favorite things to do together. On Wednesday we start checking out reviews, we pick a couple movies, have dinner, go see one on Friday, one on Saturday, less if the movies suck that week. We see independent movies from "Restrepo" to "Cyrus" to "The Kids Are All Right" and popcorn flicks from "Avatar" to "Predators" to "Scott Pilgrim". Our threshold is "will we have fun".

So the fact that I didn't like this movie means that I genuinely didn't like it. It's rare that I go to a movie and don't like it. I may not think it's high art, but most of the time I have fun. This was fun, but painful, IMO. And It's okay for me to think that.

Mister Magnus wrote:

But I think if you're going to go see a movie this weekend or sometime soon, either as part of a date night, an outing with friends, or just to escape the outside world and the summer heat for 90+ minutes, then Scott Pilgrim will give you your money's worth in entertainment.

And I would counter and say that the following movies are out now and more worthy of your money instead.

Inception, The Kids Are All Right, Restrepo, Cyrus, The Other Guys...

Mister Magnus wrote:
Richard Roeper wrote:

Most superheroes, reluctant or otherwise, eventually have to use their powers to save the world. In “Scott Pilgrim,” it’s all about getting the girl.

And that’s pretty epic in and of itself.

That line sounds trite. Sorry.

Forte wrote:
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.

Art Direction = Cineamatography (Closest thing to art direction)

Since I didn't grow up during the "Nintendo Generation", a lot of the frenetic quality of the movie would be lost on me; even if I am older gamer. Since I have trouble relating to the main character, the movie doesn't hold appeal to me, from the outside. At least with the characters in "High Fidelity", I can understand where they come from; even if they are music snobs (for lack of a better term).

"Art Direction = Cineamatography (Closest thing to art direction)"

I wouldn't say it's equal but there is definitely some cross-over of skills (composition, colour usage to evoke a mood/emotion, the use light/shadow). I wouldn't say all Art Directors make good Directors of Photography or vice-versa.

I haven't enjoyed a movie this much in quite a while. It's just pure fun all the way through, my face ached afterward from grinning the whole time. I understand the Cera fatigue, but I think he redeems himself in his performance in this film- I got a Pushing Daisies vibe from the interaction between Scott and Ramona. The visual style is lovely, and the comedic timing is spot on throughout the entire experience, and each of the Evil Exes are great caricatures. (I loved the Vegan Patrol, hehe.) I think that it's not so much that Scott has magic powers, but he's a geek and frames his experiences in terms of video games, which lends the film its fun visual style.

Anyway, I highly recommend giving this movie a shot, it's a blast.

I think it's that they live in a world where this kind of crazy sh*t just happens. Scott doesn't have superpowers because everyone has these abilities, therefore they're not superpowers. He's really not that special, he just happens to be good at taking a beating and dishing some out.

DSGamer wrote:
Mister Magnus wrote:

I don't get a lot of the negativity in here. If you hate going to the movies, no worries, Netflix it in a year. Or don't.

Please don't go there. Please be above that. Not liking a movie != not liking going to the movies.

You must have missed the posts in this thread that were more generally against seeing movies in theaters.

MechaSlinky wrote:

I think it's that they live in a world where this kind of crazy sh*t just happens. Scott doesn't have superpowers because everyone has these abilities, therefore they're not superpowers. He's really not that special, he just happens to be good at taking a beating and dishing some out.

Exactly. Magical realism.

wordsmythe wrote:

Dude. Take the CTA.

It's true that this is always an option, and I generally don't have much trouble convincing my wife to take the train with me to go to, say, the MCA, Field Museum, or Shedd, but convincing her to do so for a movie isn't quite so easy. She has some odd sort of loathing for the CTA these days; I think it has to do with taking it so often during college back when it actually ran in a timely and efficient manner.

Personally, I find riding the train to be somewhat relaxing. At least when I can get a seat.

I think it has to do with taking it so often during college back when it actually ran in a timely and efficient manner.

I'm not sure that ever happened. It's just that now we have schedules and satellite-synced clocks on our phones to confirm it.

wordsmythe wrote:
I think it has to do with taking it so often during college back when it actually ran in a timely and efficient manner.

I'm not sure that ever happened. It's just that now we have schedules and satellite-synced clocks on our phones to confirm it.

You're most likely right. Though cutting all of the routes and reducing the number of buses and trains running during the day hasn't helped.

It's funny, though. Any time I'm trying to take public transportation it seems there are no buses to be found. When I'm driving, though, (especially when running late to get to a client) there seem to be nothing but buses on the road.

Oh well, that's neither here nor there. Sorry for the derail.

wordsmythe wrote:
DSGamer wrote:
Mister Magnus wrote:

I don't get a lot of the negativity in here. If you hate going to the movies, no worries, Netflix it in a year. Or don't.

Please don't go there. Please be above that. Not liking a movie != not liking going to the movies.

You must have missed the posts in this thread that were more generally against seeing movies in theaters.

No. I saw them, but I never said anything of that nature. So why he replied to me, I don't know.