Serenity  --  10/07/05

Last night I went to see Serenity, the movie based on the television show Firefly. I had never seen the TV show -- but that is not unusual as I understand that it was rather difficult to find during its first run as Fox put it in a time slot where it was constantly being pre-empted by baseball games and cancelled it without even having broadcast all of the episodes. Now it is on the SciFi channel on Friday nights (but, of course, I discovered that three hours too late to watch it tonight.. well, actually, I think I will watch it on DVD so I don't have to bother with remembering when it is on).

Serenity is a space opera, but it is a wonderfully entertaining space opera -- fast-moving, engaging, alternately amusing and exciting. Its total budget was probably about the size of the publicity budget for War of the Worlds, but Serenity is by far the more interesting of the two.

I know that I am a pre-sold customer for any Serenity sequels. It's sad to think that apparently the odds of that are rather slim. Apparently it was the number two movie for the weekend it opened but for some reason that was one of the weakest movie weekends of the year and second place worked out to only about ten million dollars. We saw it at a ten p.m. showing on a Thursday night (advertised as being a 9:50 start, but by the time they show all the trailers for the next crop of new movies, it must have been after ten by the time the feature started... and that meant it wouldn't end until a few minutes past midnight) and the six of us (Jill and friends) must have made up half of the audience for this film (and given how few people were in the lobby, some of their other movies must have been playing to nothing but empty seats). Anyway, the domestic theatrical take will probably match the cost of making it and foreign box office will move it into the profit column -- and then DVD sales will bring Universal money by the wheelbarrow load -- but I've read a number of people who are knowledgeable about the economics of the motion picture business and they all seem to agree that the box office is just not big enough for the bean counters at Universal to bother to finance a sequel. Apparently a pretty good chance of turning a decent profit on a (relatively) inexpensive movie is not enough to overpower the need to invest in movies that just might be overwhelming box office smash hits. (Is this the Hollywood version of buying lottery tickets?)

By the way, I am not saying that I didn't like War of the Worlds -- Dakota Fanning is always delightful and even Tom Cruise wasn't bad -- it was worth the price of admission (and Nancy and I had deliberately gone to see it in a theatre in order to see it on a big screen with surround sound rather than waiting for it to come out on DVD) -- but Serenity was just downright fun to watch. Having seen War of the Worlds once, I have no desire to see it again, but I would be happy to watch Serenity again.

Nancy was not one of the six of us who went to see Serenity. She had gone up to Boston with her sister Clara and her mother to attend the 10th Anniversary celebration banquet of CREA (Center for Reflection, Education and Action), a Catholic social justice organization that is pushing for sustainable development and sustainable living wages. (Nancy's Aunt Kathryn, Sisters of Mercy, is Associate Director of CREA.) -- but even with the drive to Boston and back, she was still home and in bed asleep by the time I got home from the movie. (Okay, so we did stand around in the theatre parking lot talking for half an hour or so after the movie.) When I first got home I didn't realize that Nancy was home (she had gone in her sister's car) because Jeremy was home (he had been visiting Katie at her college over in western Massachusetts) and when I came in he wondered why Nancy wasn't with me. It turned out that he had only reached home about ten minutes before I had -- and when I went upstairs I discovered Nancy was sound asleep, which was a big relief because thick fog had moved in while I had been watching the movie. I didn't actually get to bed until after 1:30, read for about five minutes before my eyes couldn't focus anymore, and when my alarm went off at five minutes to six, I stumbled about like a zombie as I tried to fix coffee, etc.

jimsjournal -- on the Web since September 26, 1996!

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