With Scott Pilgrim Vs the World making less than $11 million at the domestic box office this weekend, many are calling it a failure, and that this is the end for adaptations of smaller graphic novels. I’m here to offer a different spin on things.
Yes, I can’t deny that I wish the film had done better at the box office. While it’s not a true measure of a film’s quality, box office numbers do matter, and the low returns on Scott Pilgrim show that a lot of people who would enjoy what I feel is a very good movie did not see it. However, it is good to remember that box office is very rarely an indication of a film’s quality, whether it be when a good movie does poorly, or a bad movie does well (I’ll let you provide your own examples of both).
Here are a few reasons why the relative poor showing at the box office is not the end of the world for Scott Pilgrim Vs the World.
1) The movie has connected with the audience that did see it.
Rarely have I seen a movie so universally loved by those who saw it. While there are certainly those who saw it and did not enjoy it, the vast majority of reactions I have seen have been positive. The group may be small, but those who saw the movie found a movie filled with action, comedy, and a very realistic look at relationships, despite the fact this is a movie where villains disintegrate into piles of coins. Is it such a bad thing we are on the inside of a small club of people who fell in love with this movie? Sometimes the things you love most in life are those small things that only you and a devoted group of people enjoy, whatever that may be. It’s a small little thing that you don’t advertise, but that makes you you. We should not shun those who didn’t see it, we should appreciate that they have different taste than us. As the theme song once said, “Different strokes for different folks.”
2) Hollywood will NOT stop making movies based on small graphic novels.
I’m going to give a conservative number (very conservative), but I’m guessing that at least 25% of all movies have their basis in a book at some point. Hollywood loves to make movies based on previously released materials; it’s been this way long before Gone with the Wind became the most successful movie of its time, and it’s not going to change any time soon. Graphic novels and comic books are just another well for Hollywood to tap, and smart producers are not going to stop needing properties to fill their production schedule with. Will we see as many? Who knows, but it will still happen, and fortunately for a lot of comic creators, Hollywood will continue to be a stream of income for them, as producers will buy up anything, if only to stop other studios from being able to release them. With Walking Dead coming to AMC this Fall, and the long-rumored Fables, Powers, and Preacher TV shows still being in some state of development, perhaps we will see more of the small books that comics readers enjoy making their way to the small screen.
3) Edgar Wright will NOT stop making movies.
Let’s put a bit of perspective on Edgar Wright’s career: the $11 million Scott Pilgrim made this weekend is more than his previous two movies (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) made in their first weekend combined. He is not a director who has had a lot of success at the American box office. Also remember, he already has several movies in line to be produced, including another adaptation of a comic book in Ant-Man, which Marvel Studios seems to be fully committed to. Also, he always has England to return to and make other projects. From everything I have seen and heard about Wright, he is a director that people love to work with, and he has ideas that people love to put their money behind. That is half the battle of having a long career. He may never be the household name that his fans may wish him to be, but as long as he’s able to pull off moderate success, he will continue to create.
Shaun and Hot Fuzz were able to be “successful” due to low budgets and strong DVD sales, and the big issue with this film is that it has a much larger budget to recoup in order to be successful, especially when you include the advertising budget. Will it? I don’t know, I don’t work in Hollywood, and I don’t know where all the money comes from, nor do I understand their arcane accounting practices. My assumption is that between sales of the soundtrack, DVD/Blu-ray sales, overseas box office, and other sources that at the end of the day, yes, it will turn a profit. Not a big profit, and not as big of one as the studios hoped for, but a profit nonetheless. One box office failure does not kill a career. The worry for his fans would come in if he has a string of failures that don’t connect with his core audience. Fortunately, I have a feeling his fans were pleased by this film.
Should fans of Scott Pilgrim Vs the World be sad that it didn’t do well at the box office? I guess, but there are much larger tragedies in the world than one movie not making a ton of money for people we don’t even know. Nobody involved in the film is going to go hungry because of its perceived lack of success, and those of us that saw it and enjoyed it have pleasant memories of the experience. Remember the good times, people.