Ruminations on Serenity's Box Office

There still isn't a review posted for Serenity, and I'm not sure if I'm the guy that's up to the job. I watched a few episodes of the show when it originally aired (I specifically remember "The Train Job") and thought the mixture of future technology with a Wild West aesthetic was awesome (this led to my discovery of steampunk and a whole host of other media), but while the show seemed pretty good, it didn't really totally capture my imagination. Last year, I rented (and subsequently pirated) the DVDs of the entire 13 episode run of the series and immediately fell in love with the show. I went out and bought a legit copy of the series, while pirated copies were given to an interested friend - who then fell in love with the show and bought his own copy while passing the pirated ones on...

So I love Firefly, and naturally I would attack a review of the movie from that perspective. And while I do have issues with the way some of the characters were handled, overall I view any new episode in the life of the crew of the Serenity as a good thing. I think a point of view from someone who is not already wrapped up in Firefly would be very welcome in terms of a review.

What I am much more invested in is how well Serenity does at the box office since that will likely be the deciding factor whether we see Firefly again on the big (or small) screen. In its opening weekend Serenity grossed a little over $10 million, good enough for second place during a weak weekend. On Friday, Box Office Mojo thought it would do $15 million and I was hoping that (with quite a bit of luck) it could hit $20, two estimates that unfortunately Serenity fell well short of. This is disappointing, especially to those of us who are Firefly fans and want to see more movies or (dare I say it?) a return of the tv series. On the good side, Serenity did have the best per-screen average of any of the movies in wide release, indicating that the gross would have been higher if it was playing in more theaters.

Joss Whedon has already come out and said that Serenity would have to do $50 million domestically or $80 million internationally for there to be a chance of a sequel being greenlit. An opening-week gross of only $10 million puts a serious damper on this, however all is not lost. Firefly fans still have a fighting chance to see the crew of the Serenity keep flyin'

Good News:

Firefly has a small, but highly-devoted fanbase
The whole reason we got a movie in the first place was because of the fans buying the DVDs and spreading the word about a little show that was killed before it's time. These people could keep spreading the word and dragging people into the theaters over the next few weeks to keep the box office at a steady pace. Could the rabid fans become like the teenage girls that kept seeing Titanic over and over again, keeping it in the Top 10 for months? If anything we know that the DVD sales for the movie will be huge and will help in convincing Universal that the movie will end up making a profit. The Firefly season DVDs are still selling like hotcakes (how good do hotcakes sell anyway?) and just this week jumped to #3 on the Amazon charts, hopefully leading to more converts.

Universal is being cool
After the numbers came out, Joss posted online that he had talked with the Universal distribution people and that they were OK with the opening week and would keep up the advertising and the number of theaters in the hopes that the movie could be fueled by word of mouth. This is good news, as they could have just dumped off the movie and left it for dead.

The opening weekend doth not a final gross make
A low opening total is not instant death for a movie. Speed grossed $14m it's opening weekend and ended up at $121m, and spawned a sequel. Scream opened with $6m and finally closed seven months later at $103m and became a trilogy. It took My Big Fat Greek Wedding 8 weeks before it even hit $10m, and it made $241m and became a TV series. Mike Judge was offered the chance to make a sequel to Office Space based on the cult status that the movie built on DVD. While these outcomes are outside the norm, it can and has happened before.

Bad News:

Firefly has a highly-devoted, but small fanbase
Sure, there are a lot of people that love Firefly, but Firefly fans alone aren't enough to get the movie over the top box office-wise. 500,000 fans x $8.00 a ticket = $4m. That's a lot of repeat viewings to hit $50m. This movie needs to crossover bad, because as it is right now the numbers are just not there.

As a rule, sci-fi doesn't have legs
Most science fiction movies have a strong opening weekend, then quickly drop off, often losing as much as 50%+ by the second week. Even worse, Serenity's numbers fell throughout the weekend. For most movies, Saturday's gross is higher than Friday's, and then it drops back down on Sunday. Serenity never got the Saturday bump and actually slid down as the days progressed. Does this indicate that the initial rush of fans was over by Saturday morning and that the movie was already "Out of Gas"?

So there's still a chance for Firefly to have a future, albeit not one as bright as the rosy outlook some of us were hoping for before the film opened. How much of a drop the film has during week 2 is going to tell the story. We have to hope that good reviews, very positive word of mouth and big DVD sales are enough to keep the Serenity and her crew in the air.

After all, it has happened before.

This is my level 5 writeup. That is, unless you downvote it all to hell to such an extreme that it drags my rep down. That would be kinda funny.

It's also quite funny (in nearly all meanings of the word) that I still write on this website. It's just a website, and yet for years I can't help but stay away for more than a week or so. I've run through the range of my emotions wandering the nodegel. I've expanded my knowledge, and even wisdom. On my journey I've encountered brilliant writers of all shapes and sizes. It has accepted my meagher attempts at expression, at education... and there have always been friends along the path. I have read many a classification of just what E2 is and even tried to give one myself, but I think it is best left to the realm of digital poetry. Its subjective experience, often a collective one, dances wildly around any concrete definition like a mutant squid-monkey high on soy that has serious issues when it comes to self-love and bathtubs.

I think of that age old philosophical argument about benevolence; whether one can ever truly be benevolent, or if there is always a hidden agenda. One feeds the poor because they are hungry, but it also allows that person to feel good about themself. This writeup is traveling that gray area. Am I writing it just to get to level 5, or I do I truly have something to say? Do I ever?

To the world as a whole, probably not. But as I said before, E2 is a collective. We give and we get, treasure and pablum alike, and while this writeup most assuredly can be classified as the latter, it is an offering nonetheless.

God once told me that I should hold my arrogance in check. Be ever vigilant of ego, and serve others with humility. Well, I thought, I must be pretty hot shit if god is taking the time to offer me advice.

Chastisement is often riddled with benevolence, or at the very least worry. And what the hell is everyone so worried about? They must surely have one hell of an opinion of themselves if they think they can control another's destiny.

And around we dance. Priceless.

And if I might quote myself, revelant if only for the fact that they are my words:


WHEN I WAS YOUNG THE WORLD USED TO DANCE IN MY WAY
I HAD TO PLAY THE FOOL, SPIN, AND THEN LAUGH IT AWAY
TILL I ROSE UP ON INSPIRATION - KING OF THE MOUNTAIN
AND BLOODLET ALL FIVE SENSES - SPILLING SINS A FOUNTAIN

I would make up for it by quoting someone much better:


I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF WHAT IS INSIDE ME
AND THAT, TOO, IS DIM AND CONFUSED.
I IMAGINE A CLOUD SOMEWHERE
AND THAT'S WHERE THE ANSWERS LIE.
THEY ALWAYS LIE, ANSWERS.

...

Hi everybody! I hope you're doing good! I got back from New York City a little while ago. I went with my mom to hear the Dalai Lama speak and to research Central Park for a project I have to do for school. It was fun! The Dalai Lama made me laugh which most other religions don't make me do. It was different in a good kind of way.

I stayed with my dad last night and wrote another poem. It's not about much but I haven't written anything in a while so I thought I'd try again. I hope you like it! It's called "In the Distance".

In the Distance

In the distance
crickets chirp,
trains roar,
and cars whistle by.

In the distance,
dogs bark,
telephones ring
and music fills the air

In the distance,
people laugh,
horns honk,
and birds sing softly

In the distance
Wet hair hits my face,
the smooth cleansing air
smells so sweet.

In the distance
the feeling of calmness and relaxation
is so clear.
Excitement can wait

In the distance
the stars twinkle
and I can smell
the fresh cut grass

In the distance
this is surely
a perfect night
Can you see it?

Bye!

/me says - Usual disclaimers apply

And so, I tried another avenue -- my cousin's minister, who, my mother intimated, could incline my cousin's ear a bit in my direction. She was sympathetic, she gave me Earl Grey tea and a cookie, and let me stroke Oliver, a fine cat associated with the church. No, she wasn't about to talk to my cousin. My cousin was too old, and had many health and emotional problems -- we're talking about a lady who drives, takes care of a ten-room house, has a social calendar as lively as Pat Buckley's, often entertains her college-aged grandchildren AND holds down a job. However, the Reverend had read that I was once involved with Keefe Center, the Hamden city welfare department, whose programs are excellent, and have simply wonderful social workers. She even seemed to hold me at fault that I wasn't still involved with them, fifteen years, and several changes of address, later. Why, just the other day, they'd put up some people she'd referred in a motel, right near there. Imagine that!

In short, the usual song and dance from people who "are concerned", but don't want to do anything about it. Within a day or so, I'd talked to Mary, of Keefe Center. She told me everything but what I wanted to know, and asked me, somewhat defensively, why I wasn't talking to my caseworker at Columbus House, since their top-notch staff would most certainly done something for me -- any problems I might have were entirely my fault. I replied that they didn't have time for me, there were just too many people, and that they were beginning to discourage people from coming, since they were working at double capacity. She dismissed this as nonsense, and asked for the name of my worker. I couldn't give it, since, in the three years I'd been there, I'd only been seen once, only to be told that I really didn't qualify for much, since I had no children, wasn't an identified minority group, wasn't taking psychiatric drugs or wanted to be weaned off recreational ones, wasn't an ex-con, discharged from any armed services, diabetic, or had been on any previous welfare programs. Nameless caseworker said she'd get back to me, and so, here I am. Mary didn't believe me, and gave me what I wanted to know: there weren't any people put up in the Carriage House Motel. Instead, she said, I should do exactly what my worker at Columbus House tells me to do, since their program is excellent....I hung up.

The legend of Columbus House is that it's the homeless person's paradise: anyone who goes through their door is immediately assigned a wonderful case worker whose only concern is to serve the client's every need, from hand-holding during a difficult night, to the most complex jobs of mentoring. In between, there are comfortable beds, healthy, delicious food, and an environment that is inviting, stress-free, and above all, safe. Those who haven't been there, and aren't in the social-service field embellish the picture with comfortable lounges where you can find books to read, TV to watch, and, during the day, there are classes towards job readiness, group therapy meetings, recovery groups, arts and crafts, and any number of programs geared towards keeping the homeless off the streets and well-occupied in various activities. In any case, a safe, lasting, affordable home is only a few days away -- within a day, the client is given a list of available low-cost subsidized apartments, and within a week is whisked away to a new life, bound, if not to the working middle class, at least towards a retirement with dignity in a rest home, a mental hospital, or some such facility.

(Pardon me while I wring my hands together, and give out a shrill, forced-sounding laugh -- it's my way of keeping from shrieking and beating my head on the wall.)

Sadly, this place is inhabited by ingrates, freeloaders, and lowlifes whose lack of ambition dooms any kind of reform to failure -- in other words, anyone who isn't instantly helped by this magical place, these wonder-workers, have only themselves to blame, a comfortable assumption that keeps middle-class, housed, people snug in their beds, free from having to worry about the messy lives of the idlers sleeping on the New Haven Green. Just keep them out of our back yard, our homes and our lives -- that is, until you're one of them.

The usual Columbus House resident has been on the streets for an average of seven years. Nominally, one can only use Emergency services (that is night-to-night) for ninety days before going elsewhere. This is to cut down on overcrowding -- it's been found that people simply don't leave. It is to be hoped that this will force people to find other places to stay -- you're constantly asked if you have friends, family, a clergyman, who will either take you in or find you, if not an apartment, a garage, a basement, a sofa... After a month, you can go back again.

There are two main areas: the cafeteria, and the dorms. Somewhat as an afterthought, there is, at least on the first floor, a TV lounge and a "reading room", which doubles as a dorm, but is otherwise off-limits. The whole thing is run by the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, on the theory that homelessness is actually a kind of disease, that drugs (of an approved nature) and faith healing can cure. Other than some picnic tables used during smoke breaks, there isn't any real "activity" or "class" rooms around. If you qualify (under the House's weird rules) you can stay in the cafeteria all day, have lunch, and even hear Mass (from my own Christ Church). Now and then they'll hold an AA meeting and various Residents' meeting. Meals are uniformly high in empty calories, and a lot of the people there are fat. You can't store anything, and food can't be taken in from outside. Neither are the clients about to turn their lives around, despite cheerleading to do so -- people distrust folks from the shelters, many are old, and almost no one has a good set of teeth -- however much you'd like to think, teaching these folks typing isn't going to make them employable.

However, this is all coming from a homeless woman...more later...

Ok, so I lost about $150 playing poker online in the last hour or so. Oh, by the way, here is your link.

Anyway, the maniac left and it was going to take too long to get the money back, and the table he was at broke and rather than get on another table I figured I'd just take a break.

So now what to do. Well, I was staring at my friend's name on trillian instant messanger, we'll call him "guy that encourages me to do things with my life like go back to college, or treat playing poker as a real job, despite having dropped out of a good college himself just short of graduating." Of course I can't talk to him about poker or he'll encourage me to buy more books, move up in limit, and basically take it as seriously as I can. So what DO I start chatting about?

Then my other friend, we'll call him...actually I won't call him anything like my first firend, since I want to reward him for actually reading the crap I write on E2 sometimes...calls on the phone.

"Perfect timing!" I say, and explain why. Soon he gets another call which he decides to take from an OLD friend of ours we'll call, well actually I'll just call him Mooch.

Now no one talks to Mooch much anymore, so I understand my second friend taking his call. It's funny though, guy that encourages me to do things with my life like go back to college, or treat playing poker as a real job, despite having dropped out of a good college himself just short of graduating (don't you love cut and paste?) just told me he had talked to Mooch recently.

So I have to wonder, am I going to get a call from Mooch in the near future?

I've decided the answer is no. The reason being, as the great Lorax once said, "We are all assholes sometimes."

But you see I am more frequently an asshole than others. I'm abrassive and the only thing I tend to use what people try to convince me is a wasted intellignece on is manipulating people into feeling bad about things I don't like. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you can't have english as your first language to have a happy relationship with me.

So I decided to daylog as I wait for my girlfriend to be done with work, or my second friend to call back, or find something good on TV, or play an inane video game that is good for me, because, as my mother pointed out once when I was growing up, "You are usually alone, Brian."

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