So… apparently Scott Pilgrim got his ass kicked by the box office. Hard. It cost $90 Million to make…and it made $10 Million on it’s opening weekend. Some are declaring this as bad news for cinema in general. It should be noted that this is the best opening weekend Edgar Wright has ever had.
I said yesterday that I suspect this will be an enjoy it or loathe it film. This has been true so far and the fans who love it are defending it ferociously and it’s critics are glefful in it’s demise. There was an interesting trend of reviewers attacking the audience who were seen at the films target. NPR’s Linda Holms had a pretty terrific take down of this unfortunate tendency (it’s never really needed in movie criticism).
I confess, I was surprised by the low turnout for the weekend totals. The auditorium I saw the movie in was full. People seemed fully engaged by the film’s fun sense of “exuberant style” (as I saw it said one place). Thus far, the film has been seen as a failure. And there seem to be some who were so hoping for that result, and they were chomping at the bit to mock and gloat.
On the other hand, some of the defenses have been… how shall we say… insane?
Feminists hurt the movie?
You know…while I find the “Twilight For Boys” accusation incorrect… some of the responses to that posting are downright frustrating.
First, I would suggest this claim fails as I can find plenty of Feminist commentary that defends the film. Here is one thoughtful example. I don’t agree with everything said. Here is a defense arguing it is not misogynistic. Or here is more praise. Feminists did not hurt Scott Pilgrim at the box office. I mean, seriously folks…if Feminist groups actually had this type of power… the Hollywood release landscape would be very different.
I do feel the film addresses the things that people are claiming make it misogynist. It really is about Scott becoming self aware of how he has hurt the women in his life. His success in defeating the final Evil Ex hinges on acknowledging this and making amends. Kim and Knives have been hurt by Scott, and he is oblivious to this. He thinks everything is fine, until he gains awareness. Without this realization, he has kept them trapped in their hurt. This allows him to have an awesome team up with Knives.
Scott is not fighting to win Ramona, by the way…he is already dating her, and in doing so has brought down the wrath of the League. He has her, but he has to live if he wants to stay with her. It may be a subtle difference…but it is a difference none the less.
The microchip that forces Ramona to be with Gideon Graves is pretty clearly a metaphor. While the previous six exes were dumped by Ramona, and she admits she was rather harsh in her treatment of them…Gideon was that guy who she was into, but he seemed indifferent until she left and then he wanted her. And her old feelings resurfaced. I have witnessed this, where women or men are drawn to someone they shouldn’t be…and they know they shouldn’t…and they want to fight it…but they cannot deny that person’s power.
But the thing is… fighting to get back Ramona gets Scott killed. His do over is all about his realization that he has in fact been a real douchebag to the women in his life. He needs to change what he is doing, how he is doing it and why. The film is challenging the very things people are saying it promotes.
So, yeah, I disagree with some of the film’s critics. But at the same time, I find the attempts to explain the failure confounding. Older audiences did not get it, younger audiences did not get it, it was marketed badly… it goes on and on. There is obviously the possibility that the film will find some legs based on word of mouth over the next few weeks and people will give the film a fighting chance. Maybe it will find new life on DVD and Blu-Ray. That certainly worked for many other films that are considered modern classics.
Do I wish the film had been more successful (I thought the critical response which skewed favorable in most cases might help, on the other hand, the geek excitement was pretty meaningless)? Yeah. Do I wish some of the folks I respect liked the the film or had been interested enough to defend it? Sure… but hey… what’s done is done. I doubt we are gonna nail down the exact reason for failure to launch and it starts to look silly and a bit defensive over analyzing the films earnings. It certainly isn’t going to diminish my enjoyment of the film.