Thursday, September 2, 2010

Herr Wozzeck Muses: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Cult

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is one of the summer's best movies. It has heart, it's entertaining, it's got likeable actors cast in all the right roles, it's Edgar Wright's Hollywood debut...

...and it flopped in the box office. Horribly. Suffice it to say that when you only get a little over 20 million dollars after three weeks of being out, you're in bad hands. This is bad for the studio, given that it actually lost quite a bit of money on this venture.

This is bad enough on its own when you consider everything else. Take what it had for competition on its opening weekend. It was fighting against Stallone and Julia Roberts. All fine and good, but I wouldn't exactly call Expendables the best movie of the summer and I've learned long ago to stay away from anything that's based on stuff written by pretentious women who want to "find" themselves by wasting as many dollars as they can on clothes and food and all that other jazz. On top of that, Scott Pilgrim was in fifth place that weekend on the box office. Again, not a problem, except for the fact that Inception was the movie in 4th place. That's right, Inception did better in its fifth week than Scott Pilgrim in its first weekend.

But then.... There came the week after that, when a freaking Friedberg and Seltzer movie did better than Scott Pilgrim, which was left at 10th place. This infuriated a lot of people, myself included. (In fact, the only reason this musing isn't about why Friedberg and Seltzer should go to hell to push money bags away from them is because Expendables was still no. 1 at the box office.) And then, this past weekend, Scott Pilgrim vanished from the top ten box of the box office.

So it was a major financial flop.

But is that an entirely bad thing? I don't think so.

Take the Evil Dead trilogy. It's considered by many incredibly devoted fans of both the trilogy itself and of horror movies in general to be a masterpiece of horror. It also propelled Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell into some kind of fame, and thanks to a combination of this and the Spiderman films, Raimi is something of a nerd favorite.

Yet if I told you that Army of Darkness was a financial disappointment, you'd scarcely believe it. And yet, there it is. According to the Internet Movie DataBase, Army of Darkness was made on a budget of about 11 million dollars. Opening weekend, it took in a little under 4 and a half million dollars ($4,424,000, if you want to get technical). Total domestic gross? A smidge over 500 thousand dollars more than its budget. Very disappointing.

And yet, on home video, it's picked up a massive cult following that is quite dedicated to it.

Something similar seems to be happening to Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. It didn't do so well in the box office, thanks to various circumstances. But by now, it's picked up enough of a following from its more dedicated fans that it's probably on track to becoming the next big cult film. Go to any fan forum, and the people there that have seen Scott Pilgrim will likely tell you it's one of the best movies of the year. Ask me if I like it a lot, and I'll tell you that so far, it's on track for making it into my top 10 movies of this year.

And honestly, I think it's probably for the best in Scott Pilgrim's case, as films with cult followings are remembered very fondly. And after they get remembered fondly, people are more likely to recommend the movie to anybody they meet. Whether they like it or not, the cult following ensures that the movie will live on, and thus it could stand the test of time better than the more successful stuff like Eat, Pray, Love and Vampires Suck.

And that is the best thing I can ask for with a really good movie like Scott Pilgrim.

This is Herr Wozzeck Muses. I'll see you guys next time.

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