Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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Why Scott Pilgrim is important (voting with your dollars).

A movie called Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released recently. It's a classic "boy meets girl, boy fights girl's seven evil exes to keep girl, boy learns important life lessons through kicking ass" story, told with all the manic intensity of a Nintendo game on Red Bull and speed. Is it perfect? No. There are probably things that could have been done better, or at least differently, without changing the movie into something that it didn't want to be. But it's good. It's quirky and strange and wild and totally new; it's something we've only ever seen before if, say, we ate a dozen Krispie Kreme donuts before challenging our boyfriends to an all-night Super Mario 3 game session that ended with sweaty sugar-buzz groping on the living room couch.

For example. And even then, it was a hallucination, whereas Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is something you can show to other people.

Sadly, when the opening weekend box office for Scott Pilgrim was reported, it was well below industry expectations, and the movie was promptly written off as a flop. It doesn't matter if it makes back its budget and more on DVD; it failed. It didn't bring in big bucks in the theater. The same thing happened to Slither, which has been one of my favorite movies of all time basically since the first commercial aired. Bad box office, great DVD sales, game over. (And yes, opening week matters. It's incredibly rare for something to have sales that climb after the opening rush has passed, which is why, weirdly, it's important to be a part of that initial rush, if you can. That initial rush is what tells the accountants "this is going to be okay.")

A lot of people said a lot of things when the numbers for Scott Pilgrim started coming in, and what a lot of them said boiled down to, "Why do you care?" You are not, after all, involved with writing, producing, marketing, or selling the movie; you're just a consumer. The movie was there to be consumed, you consumed it, now move on. And to a degree, they're right. No one can ever take Slither away from me; all the bad box office in the world can't keep Scott Pilgrim out of my DVD collection once it's released in a purchasable format. So why do I care?

I care because we're not going to get another movie like Scott Pilgrim any time soon. I care because Slither tanking at the box office is why we had to wait five years for Zombieland. I care because all entertainment is profit-driven, and when we don't put our quarters in the plastic pony, it stops bucking.

Why do book series end in the middle? Because not enough people bought the books. Sometimes they can live on, as with tim_pratt's online serialization of his fabulous Marla Mason stories, but for the majority of authors, if the sales aren't there, the story's over. Why do midlist authors disappear? Because their sales weren't good enough to justify their continued publication. Why are TV shows canceled? Because not enough people gave money to their advertisers. All entertainment is profit-driven. We pay to play, and when we stop paying, they stop playing.

Scott Pilgrim is important because it's a weird, wacky, wonderful movie, and it's going to be a long time before we see something else like it. Next time you love something weird, wacky, and wonderful—whether it's a movie, a TV show, or a book—remember the lesson of Scott Pilgrim, and the eighth evil ex: the box office. In this economy, it's more important than ever that we kick its ass.
Tags: at the movies, comic books, contemplation, media addict

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