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

DSGamer wrote:
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.

Scrolling back up, it doesn't look like he was replying to anyone in particular in that post.

Fair enough. I thought it was a general swipe at all "haters" and since I had replied recently I took umbrage.

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

...

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.

God knows I'm guilty of it myself, but I'm also just getting tired of how many complicated back-stories and reasons we all seem to construct to justify why we won't do/see/listen to/play/read things; criticizing the IDEA of things, instead of the things themselves.

I happen to have been a fan of the comics since around 2005 or whenever the first volume came out. I'm a fan of the director, don't mind Cera, and therefore went in with a pretty positive expectation. It wasn't by any means a "perfect" movie, and I wouldn't dare to call it an anything "of a generation," but I had fun. My brother, who grew up on videogames with me (yet had never heard of the character) enjoyed it as well.

If people went to see it and didn't like it, fair cop to you. If you've been turned off by the trailers, maybe trust the mostly positive reviews and GWJ word of mouth and give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised (like Blind_Evil in the SP thread).

I also realize that this is a "why didn't you see it?" thread, and being turned off by the trailer is a valid answer to such a question. I guess I've just been thinking about this issue in general for quite some time now, and this post sort of hit the nail on the head for me.

And in a similar vein, can we all agree to stop using the word "hipster" as a pejorative? It had a good run, but it just feels like such an intellectually lazy and dismissive short-cut criticism these days.

SommerMatt wrote:

And in a similar vein, can we all agree to stop using the word "hipster" as a pejorative? It had a good run, but it just feels like such an intellectually lazy and dismissive short-cut criticism these days.

It's almost impossible not to use that word as a pejorative if you live in Portland, Oregon like I do.

What the hell is a hipster?

MechaSlinky wrote:

What the hell is a hipster?

IMAGE(http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/6043/n6374708082374340436709.jpg)

THis is officially my iPhone wallpaper.

rabbit wrote:

THis is officially my iPhone wallpaper.

That's a special kind of f*cked up.

Certis wrote:

IMAGE(http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/6043/n6374708082374340436709.jpg)

Goodness, PBR and everything.

Aw, that's our Cor-Cor!

MechaSlinky wrote:

What the hell is a hipster?

Never seen a definition, but I always it assumed it was some counter-culture douche-bag who's too cool for stuff that appeals to mainstream people.

IMAGE(http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/6043/n6374708082374340436709.jpg)

No offense meant. :p

I have a lot of friends that I think would really enjoy this movie, but I just can't get them to go. I don't really like Micheal Cera, but he certainly doesn't annoy me. I can't say the same for my friends. They will not see this movie because they're sick of him playing the same character over and over, and basically not going in protest. It's a damn shame. I think they should have found another character for this role because Micheal Cera has overstayed his welcome with a large amount of people my age.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
MechaSlinky wrote:

What the hell is a hipster?

Never seen a definition, but I always it assumed it was some counter-culture douche-bag who's too cool for stuff that appeals to mainstream people.

IMAGE(http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/6043/n6374708082374340436709.jpg)

No offense meant. :p

That's what I thought, too, but apparently it's either anyone in their 20's or, judging from that picture, someone who wears a T-shirt and glasses and facial hair while drunk. Scott Pilgrim is in his 20's and wears a T-shirt, but other than that he really doesn't fit the hipster definition as far as I can tell. Hell, his band is named after a Mario character. That's the complete opposite of counter-culture if you ask me.

Rent's about hipsters. Scott Pilgrim's about people in their 20's.

As for Michael Cera, there are definitely moments of Michael Cera-ism in the movie, but he's actually pretty different than he usually is for much of it, especially when the fights start. By the end of it, it's like you're not even watching Michael Cera any more. I mean, it's not as drastic a difference as it would be if he were playing a serial killer or something, but it's different enough.

Either way, you should probably get new friends.

Going back for a 2nd helping this weekend. Everyone is invited!

trueheart78 wrote:

Going back for a 2nd helping this weekend. Everyone is invited!

Me too! 7 pm tonight.

Canadian hipsters might be a little more mundane than American hipsters. Also more polite.

Y'all are so mean!!!

In defense of Demiurge, I much prefer this photo:

IMAGE(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4134/4910571056_c7b3772bdd.jpg)

The Demiurge is a magnificent, joyous beast.

Is that an Appletini?

trueheart78 wrote:

Is that an Appletini?

;)

Looks like it. That's a hipster drink if I've ever seen one.

It's an ironic cosmopolitan.

I just don't think anyone actual knows what they're talking about when they use the word hipster.

MechaSlinky wrote:

I just don't think anyone actual knows what they're talking about when they use the word hipster.

Urban Dictionary Definition for Hipster

Urban Dictionary wrote:

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively. Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds.

Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and "Britney Spears tube-tops" are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture.

Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved.

Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural "norms" have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity. Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.

A conversation outside a hipster bar in downtown NYC:

Frat Boy #1: Dude, are you having any luck picking up chicks in there?

Frat Boy #2: Man...I haven't experienced anything like this before. These chicks are totally rejecting me and going for all these hipster guys in tight pants and shaggy hair instead.

Frat Boy #1: Maybe we should head back up to that bar in Murry Hill where you hooked up with that drunk b*tch from Alpha Sigma Phi last week?

Frat Boy #2: Yeah...I don't think we have what it takes to compete with these guys in here. These hipster chicks won't even give us the time of the day!

Seems about right.

I think it's a term like 'yuppie' though, it's so worn through over use that it's essentially meaningless.

*edit*

And reading that definition I just keep seeing the South Park episode where Stan becomes a Goth.

'Nonconformists all drink coffee.'
'Nonconformists all wear black.' etc

jonnypolite wrote:

It's an ironic cosmopolitan.

THAT is hilarious.

I missed out on all the drunk moments at E3 by not having booze on hand. Never again shall your cup run dry in Los Angeles, Cory Banks, NEVER AGAIN!
----

So I admit that my writeup was barreling uncontrollably into bwuh! GAMER MOVIE! territory. Comments-wise, it seems that most people are put off by M. Cera. Along with a general lack of info about the franchise, it's creating a whole lot of meh around its target audience. There's a bit of disdain for the coin-sounds and gameisms, but it feels like Cera is its main (perceived) flaw.

So lets say we cast Justin Timberlake in the role. Everything remains the same, but we swap out the main character. Is there still some kind of apathy shield surrounding the project? Or is Cera just an excuse? If the commercials had been motion comicy, or if comic clips were featured on youtube, would it help the promotion?

It's easily Cera's best film thus far, and I don't think he grew out of being cast as himself in his previous films until now.

If you were to swap somebody in, in his stead, I'm not sure who I'd be for. If you'd asked me before I saw the movie, maybe there'd be someone I'd could pick, but with the ensemble in the film, I really feel like Cera belongs in it.

To me, if you've watched his stuff because you're a fan, you do yourself a disservice by stopping short of Scott Pilgrim. If you aren't a fan of his but just think he's typecast himself in all of his films, you need to drop the attitude and go see it anyway. If you just don't care for his acting? Understood - at least rent or stream it and play it loud.

If you don't enjoy the movie? Well, they don't offer refunds, but at least it won't be "just another Cera movie".

I've taken a pass on this movie largely because it looks like it covers the same ground as a lot of webcomics: lots of gamer in-jokes, men stuck in perpetual adolescence, and the sarcastic girls they pursue. It's not a story I find interesting.

I am painfully out of touch with everything. When I heard about this movie I could only think , "who the hell is Michael Cera and why does everyone hate him?"

I saw Superbad but never paid attention to who the actors were.

trueheart78 wrote:

Is that an Appletini?

;)

If that's at Rabbit's place (and I think it is), that makes it probable that he's holding a Rabhattan.