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.


That was certainly written by a hipster or hipster apologist.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

That was certainly written by a hipster or hipster apologist.

I read it ironically, which made lines like this one:

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.

and this one:

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.

and especially this one:

Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.

quite hilarious.

That said, the movie doesn't look like it's filled with hipsters so much as just kids that are hip. I work at an art school, so I know hipster. And you can pry the pejorative meaning of the term from my cold, dead hands.

Whatever. I've never liked labels. Even on the things I buy from the store. I take all the labels off of everything and then put them in the cupboards. It's like Russian Roulette for every meal! I never know if it'll be my last.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

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.

Eh, that's not really what the movie is. Plus, a very good chunk of the movie is crazy and/or insane fights, and everyone knows martial arts and has super-powers. Between the battles, a bunch of hilarious jokes. Sprinkle in some light romance and take some of that trademark Edgar Wright hyperspeed editing seen in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and apply it liberally to most of the movie.

Scott is definitely stuck in perpetual adolescence, but the point of the movie is that he needs to grow the hell up. All of the people he knows just ream him from start to finish.

Hipsters are best appreciated in puppy form.

Speaking from the position of one with a sh*tty apartment in the hip part of town, where I keep multiple messenger bags, hats of the combat and trucker variety, and a bike which I use to get to my book club where we drink ironic wine, I can say hipster and bohemian are virtually interchangeable terms.

I can also say the movie rules, as does the game. Cera was fine.

Gravey wrote:

And you can pry the pejorative meaning of the term from my cold, dead hands.

I hate the use of the word because "hipster" is this year's "emo," and just strikes me as another one of those lazily dismissive words that people tend to use so that they can show disdain for something without actually having to provide any sort of reasoning. There is no definition, yet everyone you ask would give you a different one. What it usually seems to boil down to is hating people who "think they're cool."

I dunno. Maybe it's just the fact the the word has been used so much that it's lost any sort of purpose.

So let's all enjoy an ironic cosmo and put it to rest, shall we?

Emo was a very handy pejorative, then it became so widely misapplied it lost all meaning entirely.

2nd viewing was excellent. Considering when to initiate the 3rd viewing...

A better way to describe hipsters.


Any Chicago hep cats up for a re-view? I want to throw more money at the problem.

PM me.


I saw that Monday and it kicked so much ass I'm left speechless and wanting for more. I've never read the comics but I suspect I will real soon.

Awesome soundtrack, superb execution, great cast. It was near perfect really

I need to see that again. Click below for a clip from the soundtrack and some movie scenes