Learning to hate Serenity
Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Sucks that I got on board the whole Firefly thing so late. I missed the first airing (and all the pain), I missed the DVD release, I missed the announcement of the movie (I'm sure there was much rejoicing). I almost missed the movie itself because by the time I became a fan it was on its final few days in the theater here.

Which brings me to my point: I'm really coming to hate the movie.

Was it a bad movie? No, it was great!

But I think it was a bad idea.

It took an entire season worth of television, condensed it to 90 minutes, and stripped away most of the elements that made the TV series so unique and charming. It ended up as a very entertaining little sci-fi flick with no obvious hook and no stars.

The box office was what you'd expect to such a film - lukewarm.

Meanwhile the Firefly DVD set continues to fly off shelves at a crazy rate. Amazon recently jacked up the price, and the set's still in their top 10 best-sellers among all DVDs - at $40 a pop, and after all of this time. How many have been sold? Millions? Plus the ratings for the repeats on Sci-Fi continue to be strong.

But all of that momentum has been killed by the movie and seems to mean nothing now. No one in Hollywood is paying attention anymore, and no one cares. The franchise has been branded a two-time failure and a dud because of the movie, no matter how much everyone loves the TV series.

That's the frustrating thing. The series is absolute gold. I have friends who saw the movie and enjoyed it on a visceral popcorn-flick level, then watched the series and were blown away and became as obsessed as me.


-First Fox killed the series by presenting it the way they did.

-Fans of the show and those who were just curious snapped up the DVDs (and are still buying them like crazy), bringing everything back to life

-Then the movie killed the franchise again

I can't help but feel like if everyone involved had just waited a little while, the series would have been back on television for a long run - and would have been welcomed with open arms by all of the fans who own the DVD sets. The franchise just doesn't lend itself to the movie format. This is a tale that only retains that "something special" when it's in serial form.

Instead we get a fun little movie, and we're back to square one, with the franchise taking the blame instead of the format.

The most frustrating thing is to see people hoping for a sequel. "Better than nothing." No it's not because "nothing" eventually builds to something bigger and better. "Nothing" turns into more momentum and objective analysis by someone who matters about what people actually want instead of counting numbers and throwing out scraps.

That's why I'm learning to hate "Serenity." And that's why I pray there's never a sequel. Unless it's after a 10-year TV run.


Wednesday, November 9, 2005 5:35 PM


Here's the thing.
What if you had never seen any of it? There are scads of wonderful creations out there that never get enough notice to get this far.

What if Joss hadn't been able to get it out there in the first place?

I'm thrilled that this work is out there, however much of it, whatever the medium. Firefly is a great story, and I'm glad Joss is so in love with it that he's been willing to devote so much energy to getting it to happen. I really think he'll find a way to make more.

Yeah, rah, JW
*makes tea for Cub, who is bummin' bad*

Stake? Not being able to find a thread? I don' believe it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 5:53 PM


StaketheLurk certainly drives home the facts and timelines very well. Bravo. I can see Cub's irritation, and knowing how the movie comes out (not mentioning spoilers) I would have to say there are certain parts of the movie I'd like to see erased.

Oh well. All in all, this may be all we get so I suppose we should be grateful for what we have. Although I can say there are times where I grumble at Serenity movie too.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:40 PM


Another great point, purplepenguin91:

"I would have LOVED a continuation. But if htere was, then I very well have never met some of my good browncoat friends"


Pain really brings people together, don't it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:37 PM


StaketheLurk - You make a very good point about the movie rekindling interest in the TV series. Heck, that's how I discovered Firefly - when I asked a friend "what's this movie 'Serenity' about?" and he let me borrow the Firefly set.

In that way, the movie definitely accomplished something good.

That said, it seems pretty obvious that response to the TV series in every form since Fox's cancellation has been overwhelmingly positive. I-can't-believe-something-can-be-this-good positive. And the response to the movie (from the general public) has been a halfhearted thumbs-up.

The reason for that seems pretty obvious: this is a tale that's made to be told on TV. Just look at the current poll results on the main page. How realistic it is that it will ever come back to TV is irrelevant - that doesn't change the fact that's where it belongs.

"And as they mention in a thread that I can’t find at the moment, Serenity is actually doing pretty good compared to Universal's other releases in the same time period"

I've read that thread (some great info in it). I agree that the movie is not a "flop." It will probably end up making some money in the end, perhaps more than a little.

But it's *perceived* as a big disappointment by the mainstream. The perception is that the fans of the show are a tiny, loud, obnoxious bunch backing a worthless franchise. I've seen rants about how the Firefly/Serenity phenomenon has been put in its place and needs to shut up and go away now on everything from Ain't It Cool News to Attack of the Show (G4), all because of the movie. "There's the proof," they say.

The movie's mediocre box office is turning into "this isn't worthwhile material." When the fact is the magic of the show just can't be captured in a 90-minute movie.

In that way, Serenity's still to blame.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:32 PM


ok, I had to apologize for my post. The grammer is really bad and it sounds funny lol, Its just that I only get time to get online when I am tired or trying to multitask or something, hence the lack of good writing...

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:29 PM


I almost would rather have it this way. I would have LOVED a continuation. But if htere was, then I very well have never met some of my good browncoat friends, and we may have never realised how completely awesome and dedicated the fan base is. Its been a long hard journey, but that is what makes Serenity so much more speicla for me, and I don't think this is the end, as long as there are stll dedicated Browncoats who continue to make noise.

I still think its possible to come back in tv form! (I have decided to be an optimist in htis particular area of my life lol)

Although, I still think you are right on some points, I love Firefly much more as a tv show

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:15 PM


You seem to be saying Joss shouldn’t have tried to make the movie because the series developed “momentum” in Hollywood due to its DVD sales, which could have resulted in a return to TV. I believe that view is mistaken on a number of counts. One of them is not take into account the timeline of events. The show was cancelled in December 2002. Throughout early 2003, Joss tried to get another network to pick it up. No one did, so Joss, determined to continue the story somehow, wrote up a film script and started looking for a studio to back him. Universal bought the option for the script in September 2003. The DVDs weren’t released until December 2003. During this same time, Joss was rewriting the film script to cut it down from a 20 hour season to a 2 hour movie. The BDM was officially green lit in March 2004. (Contrary to popular mythology, DVD sales *did not* convince Uni to make a film--they’d bought the rights before the DVDs even came out because, in the words of CEO Mary Parent, “It was a no-brainer.”) Although the browncoats made a lot of noise, their numbers were essentially static until the DVD came out and the audience-base grew--there was no “momentum.” Except on Joss Whedon’s part. He was determined to continue the story somehow and got right to work doing it. His didn’t know whether the cancelled show would develop “momentum” or not because the DVDs hadn’t come out yet. The initial attempts to revive the series and then the movie deal were all done before the DVDs came out. At the time, if Joss had ‘waited for momentum to build,’ he would essentially have been abandoning the series because there was *no* momentum. So, in 2003 anyone who wanted to continue the story would not have sat back and waited for “momentum” but would have been making every effort to revive it in some form--and once all the networks turn you down there’s only one other way to continue it.

Secondly, much of this “momentum” you speak of was actually produced by the BDM. Let’s look at the sales of “Firefly” DVDs; studios are traditionally tight-lipped about their income from DVDs, so the only real guide we have for how well “Firefly” is selling at any given moment is the charts at Amazon. Which Haken tracks, here:

The tracker shows that after “Firefly” was released on DVD, it did very well its first few months. Just over six months since release, though, it had fallen into the 100s on Amazons listing and more or less stayed there for the next year or so. Then, on April 26 the trailer for Serenity was released online at 1 pm EST. The sales rank jumped from 157th the previous day to 94th on April 26. By April 27, “Firefly” was 26th on the Amazon list as the buzz about *Serenity* spread across the internet thanks to the release of the trailer. Since then, “Firefly” has never dropped below 74th on the Amazon rankings and has usually stuck in the top twenties. This is *very* unusual for a DVD that’s been out for so long--but it wouldn’t have happened without the movie. The whole “Firefly” renaissance was triggered by the build up for the BDM, it did not happen on its own. So, by my reckoning, we’re *gaining* momentum, not losing it!

And as they mention in a thread that I can’t find at the moment, Serenity is actually doing pretty good compared to Universal's other releases in the same time period. So, I don’t feel that the BDM has “killed” the franchise. If anything, it’s energized it. We need to keep that energy flowing by buying up those Serenity DVDs--if “Firefly” continues this unprecedented stretch of high sales a bit further (a stretch that would not have happened without the movie) and Serenity likewise does good sales for a long stretch, that may well persuade the bean counters that there’s money in a continuation. If Serenity hadn’t been made, we wouldn’t even be in a position to hope for more. The DVD sales would be in the doldrums and we’d have nothing but our 14 episodes to console us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 1:08 PM


i dunno, i actually tend to agree on some points- i would have prefered continuation. but i think there is defanitly still room for more. just my thoughts

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 1:06 PM


Sorry Cub, can't say as I agree with you. I don't think Serenity is the end of the franchise, and I don't think it will ever return to TV. If we do get more stories of the verse, it will be as comics and novels, and perhaps another movie in 3 to 4 years. We are all bitter that the show was cancelled (going on 3 years ago!) but it is not coming back, at least not in TV series form.


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