Failed Movies From Failed Series

Ever heard of a show called Firefly? I’m a fan. A hardcore fan. Ever heard of the movie Serenity? It’s a continuation of the characters and storyline in Firefly. Again, I’m a hardcore fan. I just want to get the fact that I LOVE the show(s) in the record before we go where this post goes. Stay with me here.

Firefly was canceled due to the infinite wisdom of Fox television. All television executives are omniscient, just ask the guys at NBC who canceled Star Trek in the 60’s. They knew it was junk and was never going to make any money. Don’t let the fact that Paramount has milked millions out of the franchise (and founded the 5th broadcast network with not much more than Star Trek to carry it) since that point fool you, Star Trek needed canceling. In much the same way, the red-headed (browncoated) stepchild that was Firefly needed canceling, because Fox only agreed to let Joss Whedon do it so that they could keep him for another season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You don’t promote and fund a ‘gimme’ long term. And they didn’t. 13 episodes filmed. 10 episodes aired. No promotion to speak of. You’re outta here!

But Firefly wouldn’t die, I’m sure the old guard Star Trek fans out there understand why that is. Writing. Talking. Promoting. And lo and behold the show that needed canceling is resurrected as a feature length film. Some said “that doesn’t happen” (Trekkies know better, but we let them have their moment. Kids are so cute) and marveled at the feat. And, really it was a feat. An excellent film that preserved the atmosphere of the original show, and completed the main story arc left unfinished by Fox needing to cancel the show. It was on screens all too briefly, and passed onto disk (a copy of which is already in my library) within a few short months.

And then the rumblings started from naysayers, TV executive lakeys, and Hollywood insider wannabes concerning whether Serenity the movie was a success or failure, and whether or not this should “shut the fans up”.

Personally, I don’t feel like shutting up, and I don’t count the shows short time on screen as a failure. Why you say? Because in comparison it’s just not.

I’d like to point out a show (no, not Star Trek) that had a similar fate, not so long ago. A critically acclaimed series with a very short life was resurrected as a movie (that was also critically acclaimed) that went out of theaters nearly as fast. What was the show? Twin Peaks. The movie was Fire Walk With Me. My point is this, even with the media circus that surrounded the show and the subsequent movie, if you look at the numbers here or here, you will see that the show did not in fact do an impressive amount of business. A recoup of about half of the 10 million dollar budget spent on it. But the critics loved it…

In comparison, Serenity’s numbers are just rosy here and here. All told, Serenity has made back the money spent on it, and we aren’t even done with the video sales yet. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. And still, I hear the “What if’s” and the “If onlys”. What’s done is done. The movie came out when it did, competed with the films that were out then, and left the theaters when new films crowded into the fall schedule showed up to push it out. Gotta have all the good films out right before Oscar time. Don’t ask me why, it must be that same omniscience that the TV execs have.

So why should we wear long faces and walk silently? Because the film wasn’t as popular as Lord of the Rings? Didn’t make the kind of money Titanic did? The film didn’t have the history of Lord of the Rings to promote it to every adult in the world, or the potential 200+ million dollar hickey that motivated the blitzkrieg of media exposure which ensured Titanic‘s (undeserved, in my opinion) box office sales. Serenity was good enough on its own merits to pay back it’s investors, and good enough on its own merits to inspire loyal fans of the series. I say we crow to the moon and demand a second film! Who’s with me?

A Stand-Alone Spin Off

Serenity (2005)

Firefly moves from the little screen to the big one with minimal hiccups. I volunteered to be part of the test audience for one of the pre-release versions of the film back in May. That version didn’t have all effects and music in it yet, and that version was still good. Because we watched the television series, there were lots of extremely tense moments, but the best part of seeing the film was realizing that even if someone hadn’t seen the TV show, they’d still be able to enjoy this romping space western.

The movie is consistent with the series’ storyline and details. There are several unexpected events that leave you reeling in your seat. The characters are what make this movie worth watching. As for myself…

Well…

I’ll be there opening night to see the finished product. I loved it.

As an aside, Adam Baldwin is used heavily as a marketing tool on this film, and while he is his always excellent self in the movie, his part was smaller than originally anticipated. He was one of the actors that was out promoting the movie when I saw it back in May, or when the Wife saw it on the second go round on the test audience circuit.

IMdb

Afterword

We went to watch this movie on it’s opening week at one of the Rolling Roadshow events for Alamo Drafthouse. The event was held in an abandoned set for the 2004 remake of the Alamo. As usual for most Rolling Roadshow events, there was a special menu complete with vendors decked out in costumes that mimicked things worn in Firefly. The Daughter created some unique art to gift to Jewel Staite and Summer Glau who were there on that special occasion to egg on all the Firefly fans.

Unfortunately, almost none of the pictures I took that night were exposed properly, so there is no record of the event other than what I keep in my head. We had such a great time with Bear Philley and his family that night. It would be nice to have some decent photos to relate what a surreal experience the whole event was. Being outside in a derelict tribute to an iconic battle. A building that was only partially constructed in the first place and hadn’t aged well. The attendants decked out in mock-chinese apparel. Getting to meet Jewel and Summer. It really was the event of a lifetime.