Is Star Wars Too Massive To Fail?

No franchise is too big to fail, though typically a decline–the same logic applies to whether we’re discussing movie franchises or nations– comes before a fall.

And that’s important because if you pay attention to the signs you may be able to delay or even avert a worse-case scenario.

The Last Jedi is taking a bit of a bashing among a large amount of moviegoers–some have gone as far as starting petitions to have it removed from canon–yet despite this apparent animus the movie has earned almost $400 million domestically ($395,627,411) and a similar figure overseas (&396,061,433).

And that former figure is pretty amaxing when you take into account it has only been out eleven days domestically.

Part of its wellspring of profits has to do with–despite the anger it is generating in some quarters–that the same people who are doing the complaining are actually seeing the movie (and in some instances more than once).

Another important detail is that The Last Jedi may be angering some people but it’s doing so for all the right reasons, namely characters that many fans have literally grown up with have begun to change in ways that they don’t necessarily agree with.

But it is change, and proof Lucasfilm isn’t resting on their laurels (which likely had a lot to do with Transformers: The Last Knight underwhelming at the US box office.  After all, there is only so many times you can blow something up before it gets not only boring, but tedious).

Though change is a double-edged sword in that if it’s done too quickly or perceived as too radical–like how Warner Bros treated Superman in Man of Steel (and Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice–you’re going to start with underwhelming box office receipts, which if not addressed have the potential to ruin a franchise.

And as critical as I tend to be of Sony Pictures, they at least saw the writing was on the wall as far as their Spider-Man franchise was concerned, and let Marvel Studios shepherd the character on it’s third reboot, resulting in the most profitable outing for the character yet  (an arguable assertion since Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007 while Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and the value of the American Dollar was likely higher; though the budget of the former was $285 million versus $175 million for Homecoming; on top of It earning just over $10 million less than Spider-Man 3).

So perhaps The Last Jedi isn’t necessarily a good metric to determine if people are growing tired of the Star Wars universe, which is the path to the Dark Side.

That responsibility will likely be carried by the next film in the series–as well as the new trilogy Rian Johnson is working on–because while The Last Jedi has clearly divided audiences, if J.J. Abrams can’t unite them, Johnson may have done more damage than the Sith every could.

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Is Wonder Woman Really the Highest Earning Superhero Origin Movie?

'Wonder Woman' is highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time - Business Insider copySorry, I don’t buy it Wonder Woman as the ‘highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.

Reason being, it neglect a little movie called Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man isn’t an origin movie, you say?

That’s where we’ll have to differ (because it is).

This iteration of Spider-Man is first introduced in Captain America: Civil War so it technically isn’t his first appearance.  Then again, Wonder Woman was first introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so it wasn’t her’s either.

But what people who say Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t an origin story seem to be missing is that there have been THREE prior versions of the character relatively recently, which means to include it again would bore moviegoers (The Amazing Spider-Man retconned the origin, making Peter Parker’s parents spies–sort of–which was  dumb, though you can at least understand why they did it).

So Marvel Studios took a different approach.  They emphasized Spider-Man growing in the role, so in a sense it is an origin film in that Parker–despite wearing the costume–is not Spider-Man.

Instead he’s awkward, and truth be told, not terribly good at what he does (a fact the movie emphasizes more often than once).

In other words, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an origin story, just not a blatantly obvious one.

Reviews Have Begun To Drop For Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets

Reviews have begun to drop for Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and while it’s early days yet, let’s just say they haven’t been charitable.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy was particularly tough on Besson’s latest effort, saying, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets really is that bad, bad enough you don’t know for longest time that Valerian is one of the lead characters and not a planet or a spaceship.’

Ouch.

Steve Pond  of The Wrap was slightly more charitable, saying ‘(Luc) Besson takes all that fun and color, along with a wild array of fantastic creatures, and deploys (them) in service of a big, dopey story that remains resolutely uninvolving and quite often annoying.’

Now, as I said earlier, it’s early days yet and a few mediocre reviews aren’t likely enough to torpedo Valerian’s chances at the domestic box office (after all, it’s taken five movies before many moviegoers in the United States noticed that the Transformers movies are really, really bad).

Though I get the feeling at that we’re not going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming-type box office when the movie goes into wide release.

Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.

There’s No Anti-Venom For Dumb

According to The Wrap Sony is releasing a movie based on Venom–last seen in Sam Raimi’s 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which I will return to shortly–October 5th of 2018.

The ‘dumb’ is that this version of Venom will apparently  exist independently of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming which is a bit odd since Venom was introduced in Spider-Man’s comic, so to not have these two characters interact with each other is a bit odd.

Now, let’s go back to Sam Raimi and Spider-Man 3.

Supposedly, he was so pissed with Avi Arad–a producer of the upcoming Venom movie with Matt Tolmack–for forcing him to put Venom in Spider-Man 3 that he hired Topher Grace to play the symbiont’s host (the implication being that that was the opposite of what Arad wanted).

And it leaked out, if I recall during the hack that put all of Sony’s business out for everyone to see, that Marvel Studios taking the reigns of the Spider-Man franchise was conditional on Avi Arad NOT being involved (it wasn’t the only condition, but it was an important one).

So now Sony is putting Venom–a character that exists in the Spider-Man universe–in the hands of Avi Arad; the guy responsible for overstuffing Spider-Man 3, and whom irritated  Kevin Feige (who appears to be a very easy-going guy) so much that Marvel Studios riding in and essentially saving Sony’s bacon was conditional on him not being involved.

Yeah, this is going to work out just fine.