Pacific Whim

Once in a while, a geek-themed movie comes along and the general fannish enthusiasm for it just annoys me, and I find myself rooting for it to be a critical and/or financial failure. It’s petty, but I won’t deny it. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was one of those movies for me; just something about the way its fans worked themselves into a lather about it bugged me. Another example is Watchmen, but that was more about the cult of Zach Snyder than the movie itself.

But with my fondness for Pacific Rim, I seem to be on the other side of it now. Like Scott Pilgrim, it’s done fairly well critically, but there is definitely a contingent of people who are against this film, for whatever reason. I thought Scott Pilgrim suffered from a certain anti-hipster trend that was going on at the time. With Pacific Rim, I think some of it comes from an admittedly warranted sense of “blockbuster fatigue.” I’m not sure that’s the whole story; maybe the concept was just too seemingly dumb on its surface for people to accept.

It will be interesting to see how Elysium, another original, science fiction-themed, would-be blockbuster that will likely be a critic’s darling, will do at the box office next month.

On a related note, is this the most crowded geek-oriented summer movie season ever? Here’s what we’ve got this year:

  • Oblivion (science fiction)
  • After Earth (science fiction)
  • Iron Man 3 (superheroes)
  • This is the End (fantasy)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (science fiction)
  • World War Z (science fiction)
  • Man of Steel (superheroes)
  • Despicable Me 2 (kind of a superhero movie)
  • The Lone Ranger (superheroes)
  • Pacific Rim (science fiction)
  • R.I.P.D. (fantasy)
  • The Wolverine (superhero)
  • Elysium (science fiction)
  • Kick Ass 2 (superheroes)
  • The World’s End (science fiction)

There are $100+ million movies that are afterthoughts in that list. And that’s to say nothing of the action movies like White House Down, Red 2 and 2 Guns.

Comments now closed (9)

  • You're going to see that trend continue, since sci-fi properties are more translatable overseas than generic action movies.

    As for Pacific Rim… wrong movie (it was too dark to look impressive in the commercials), wrong stars (EG, no stars), wrong marketing (those commercials were horrible, as were the trailers), wrong market (kaiju culture is too niche in North America to drive a movie like this; it's a fraction of the size of the diminished comic reading audience, for starters, and Godzilla's never been as popular as, say Batman, even pre-Burton-movies). If it wasn't for Lone Ranger somehow failing even WORSE, it'd be chalked up as this year's John Carter.

    (Oh, and you forgot GI Joe Retaliation… which is probably going to end the year higher than Pacific Rim domestically , which I NEVER would have predicted going in with the adverse effects of the delay. Still, that's good from a toy-buying perspective.)

    • I don't really buy the "niche genre" argument. I think that's only true until a film breaks through. What are the Transformers movies? Science fiction? Action? How are they any different than Pacific Rim, genre-wise? So much more time is spent on the robots than the monsters in Pacific Rim, I don't even know how much sense it makes to call Pacific Rim a "kaiju movie." You could easily just look at it as an alien-invasion movie a la War of the Worlds.

      • There are a lot of people who have fond memories of growing up with Transformers that are willing to check out a movie for nostalgia purposes. I'm sure the number of kaiju fans is way smaller than that. And if it isn't really a kaiju movie they certainly advertised it that way.

  • Seeing the ads for Elysium gives me flashbacks to the political "conversation" I had with some family after seeing District 9.

    "This is about how we treat the Mexicans! Like, we put them in camps and everything!"

    "Uh… I thought it was about Apartheid."

    "What's Apartheid?"

    "The system of racial segregation in South Africa that was worth than our 20th-century segregation."

    "Stop being racist! There's no racism in Africa! Only America! You're the racist!"

    • haha, very entertaining, although admittedly sad, exchange you had there.

      I have yet to see a commercial for Elysium that has me wanting to see it. I've had a very hard time understanding all the excitement in the geek community over, what appears to me, as a pretty standard future/sci-fi movie with social injustice as a theme.

      Also, I plan on seeing Pacific Rim. I'm not a fan of anime, or kaiju stuff, it just looks like a fun sci-fi action movie. It does not look particularly good from what I've see in the commercials, but I've enjoyed Del Toro's previous movies (some of them at least) and the overall good reviews have me intrigued.

  • I think that in this day and age, we as the geek culture have all become armchair film execs. No matter how much we try to avoid it, nobody can walk into a movie completely unarmed. We have lost the ability to just walk into a movie and enjoy it. We walk in armed with internet buzz, we,ve seen dozens of trailers, we've read speculative articles on how its going to perform, we read so called "insider" information on the production of movies before the ink is dry on the writers contracts.
    Without sounding like an old fart……back in my day (insert old man voice)…the only time you saw a trailer was in a theatre. Most of the time all you had to go on was based on how the movie poster looked and what actors were in it……thats it.
    I also think that we as movie goers have completely lost the concept of just a mindless, fun ridiculous movie. Everything is expected to be the next Star Wars….or some enormous phenomenon thats going to impact our culture forever. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
    I saw Pacific Rim and thouroughly enjoyed it. I got the sense that it was all done tongue in cheek and if you were able to see that…..you were in on the joke.

  • Piss poor marketing hurt "Pacific Rim," just like it did for Disney's "John Carter" and "The Lone Ranger." When a studio doesn't know how to market a movie, they just release into the wild or throw it against the wall, hoping it will stick. This happens time and time again, especially when there's a regime change involved at the studio like Disney and "Carter." WB didn't know what to do with "Pacific Rim," so they just dumped it out there for the world to see. This thing will be huge overseas, especially Asia, I think, though, and probably Italy, too, where they love the old Japanese big robots. I loved "Pacific Rim," and I loved "John Carter." Just like "Carter," "PR" will definitely end up in my BluRay collection for me to enjoy over and over again.

  • Um, is Pacific Rim considered a flop? It didn’t make that much less than the first and second place movies in this weekends box office, and I know a lot of people who haven’t got to see it yet and are planning to. Isn’t it too early to compare it to flops like John Carter?

    • If it's not a flop yet it's certainly on a flop-like trajectory. Opening behind a comedy and a movie in its second week is not a good sign. John Carter made $30 million on opening weekend, so I'd say it's actually a very good comparison.

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