This is not going to be a review of the film, which, frankly, is pretty review-proof, where I am concerned. I am deeply in love with Joss Whedon's Firefly/Serenity 'verse, and the characters that inhabit it. Any film that can still, after probably dozens of viewings, make me tense for the cast's fate, is doing something right.
No, I want to talk about the way this film was marketed by Whedon, and Universal. I started thinking about this when watching Joss Whedon's Introduction, as part of the special features on my Blu-Ray.
Now, there's nothing, in and of itself, problematic about this video. It was made to run before very early screenings, for which the studio quite rightly determined the audience would mainly be the faithful. Firefly fans en mass.
As I re-watched this clip on Sunday, I (and my arts marketing professional wife) kept thinking, "why all this effort to sell to your day-one buyers?"
See, the problem was that the idea of these screenings was to build "buzz" for the film. The problem was, they were building "buzz" with people who were already "buzzing." Serenity, no ifs, ands, or buts, needed to reach a new, larger audience to be a financial success. Almost to a fault, the entirety of the pre-release marketing was geared to sowing excitement with the people who already knew and loved Firefly.
The result? A box office disappointment.
I always wondered about those DVD sales, too. It seems pretty clear that the Browncoats were all about buying the set for friends and relatives. It's how I got on board, despite my luke-warm-to-outright-dislike of Whedon's other shows. Did everyone who was gifted a set like the show? Did they even watch it?
Of course, I'll also acknowledge that this whole line of thought is fanboy service at it's worst. Serenity/Firefly is over. It's done. It won't be coming back. All the Monday-morning quarterbacking in the world isn't going to change that the film did not do well enough to warrant a sequel.
But, man...we got that film.
We got the film, and it's good, and it winds up the story in a pretty worthwhile way.
Be happy about that.