Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Lamentable Weekend Gross — what happened?

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Despite good reviews, Comic-Con buzz, and plenty of pre-release screenings, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World has made only $10.5 million of its $60 million budget thus far. Let's commence the Sunday afternoon quarterbacking.


So Scott Pilgrim came in fifth at the box office this weekend — barring word of mouth that verges on mind control, it's unlikely to go up next week. The film will probably break even in time, but what about the film failed to capture an audience right out the gate? Here are some theories....

1.) Michael Cera backlash: I thought Cera made a fine Scott Pilgrim, but some folks are very vocally burnt out by his semi-twee brand of comedy. Somehow, this mild-mannered actor has become a lightning rod for intense vitriol. Here's a fake trailer that capitalizes on that attitude:

2.) Critical backlash: The movie has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 80%, but those critics who weren't too fond of film could have set the agenda more so than usual. Every film has its detractors, but as Linda Holmes at NPR observes, the reviews of Scott Pilgrim have been a soapbox for critics to razz on the film's demographic:

After referring to the first part of the movie as a "dork-pandering assault," The Boston Phoenix reviewer goes on to say that Michael Cera's performance is "irritating" in part because of "the non-stop Pavlovian laugh track provided by the audience at the screening I attended." (As far as I know, that's a first: "You made the audience laugh, you irritating actor in a comedy, and that's what's wrong with you.")

The review in the St. Petersburg Times begins, "First of all, I'm not a video gamer. I have discovered more appealing ways to not have a life."

The New York Observer sniffs that the film is "clearly directed at an audience with generational ADD."

3.) The film didn't have much to offer women: In the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, Ramona's character is much more fleshed out, as is Scott's propensity to be a Grade-A ass. The film does an admirable job of condensing the graphic novel series into a little less than two hours, but — in the process — Scott's character is a smidge de-jerkified and Ramona's given way less to do. The movie, while just as zippy as the graphic novels, contains more of Scott vying for a silent Ramona. Could it be possible that the film was more of a guys' night out than its creators realized?

In an intriguing essay over at Asking the Wrong Questions, Abigail Nussbaum found herself unable to square the misogyny she found in the movie with her enjoyment of the film:

This is a misogynistic film. It's also a fun one. When it comes to Hollywood blockbusters, that's often the best one can hope for, and Scott Pilgrim might almost be described as a better sort of misogynistic film because if offers distractions from its misogyny rather than foregrounding it as so many others do. But especially given that, according to my friends who are its fans, Scott Pilgrim the comic is a story that tries to combat much of the misogyny that underlies Scott Pilgrim the film and other works of its ilk, it's a shame that this is the best Edgar Wright could come up with—a film that uses flashing lights and bright colors to distract its viewers from the unpleasantness at its core.

So, what did you think gang?

[Thanks for the tip, Gildalady!]



James Whitbrook

What's not helped is the way it's been handled in terms of release - going up against two movies like it did, that were very much gender specific, wide audience films, a very geeky comic book movie that targets a niche audience was never going to perform well.

I'd hope that it performs a little better here in the UK - Edgar Wright probably attracts more of a pull here in blighty thanks to Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and Spaced than he does in the US - but even then, it seems to point to box office blues. I've seen one 20 second advert on TV for it, and that was the most terrible cut of the international trailer (even as someone who knows the source material well, it just came off as NOISE NOISE NOISE EDGAR WRIGHT FIGHTSCENE NOISE EXES CERA DONKEY KONG MOVIE GOOOO!)... and it's releasing on a Wednesday at the ass end of the summer holidays, where it's demographic is either getting their exams results that same week and getting ready to leave for University or getting ready to go back to school. At least over here it's not going up against The Expendables or EPL.

SP seems destined to be a hell of a lot like most of Edgars work, a cult classic that will earn its keep through DVD sales more than its box office performance.