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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Serenity Fans Versus Universal

The movie Serenity was many a Firefly fan's last best hope for a continuation of the great Joss Whedon series. Sadly, it was marred by budgetary expenses (since the television sets had been scrapped, the producers had to spend bucks rebuilding them) and pretty haphazard marketing. The latter was in part because Universal had hoped that fans of the show would spread the word for them.

Sadly, this was a dumb strategy. Not that Firefly fans didn't spread the word - it's just that every Firefly fan already knew of the movie and planned to see it. Universal failed to garner a demographic outside the loyal fanbase and the movie barely made a profit, sealing doom for a sequel.

Slashdot is reporting that Universal is threatening legal action against fans for utilizing the Serenity brand without a license. The irony here being that many of these fans were using to brand to ... perform viral marketing.

In response, the fans are submitting an invoice for their time to Universal.

The problem, of course, is that Universal probably has the legal high ground here. Still, there is possibly no greater example in current popular culture of fans being the bedrock of a franchise - outside of perhaps the return of Family Guy to broadcast television. They watched the show, they bought the DVD's and they went to the movie. They've done everything they've ever could to help out and certainly the spirit of Universal's actions, if not the letter, is in the wrong here.

Firefly was, in my opinion, where science fiction needs to tread. It was serious and mature while still appealing to a mainstream crowd. The show never relied on special effects or over-the-top scifi hocum pocum to deliver a point. It relied on solid acting and strong writing. The fact that it couldn't survive on either television or the silver screen is a sad statement on both our entertainment industry and our culture.

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Troy Goodfellow said...

My wife got the DVD as a gift, so we rewatched this last week.

Man, is this a good movie. One of the truly great scifi villains, moral ambiguity, Jewel has everything.

But so much of it is invested in knowing who the characters are and some of their history - the central problem of why the crew puts up with River in the first place - that I don't know how more marketing would have helped.

Look at the last few Star Trek movies. All critical and commercial disappointments even though the characters are more familiar to an audience at large.

Firefly was the series that sold my wife on DVD rentals of TV shows we missed. And we deeply feel the sting of stories missed. But we have Serenity, and we'll probably see it again.

Anonymous said...

The only series that I actually bought a DVD of... and one of very few I find worth watching (what's with this Lost craze, anyways?).

Still, all this fracas in the community does not make the continuation any more probable, unfortunately...