Thursday, March 29, 2007

Xena Movie Deju Vu All Over Again

Unlike other people, I won't go into a tirade about having to repeat myself and consider it at agony to talk about something again like it is some great big pain to do. I like doing this, to be honest. Firstly, it informs people. And secondly, it helps make people aware of the facts and situation concerning the Xena movie.

Why can't there be a 'Xena' movie?

This is probably the most frequently asked question concerning the movie. Without boring people with the economics and politics of the entertainment industry, here's the Cliff Notes version of why there hasn't been a Xena movie.

There has to be a market for a 'Xena' movie and the climate has to be warm to the idea of it. Several different things need to be considered and there are a lot of things that count against a movie being made.
  1. Genre---The series is a genre piece. No matter how you cut it, it's a sword and sandle flick.
  2. Cast---Now, before someone flogs me saying that Lucy is a household name. I just did a brief survey on campus (and looking like a total dweeb) of 25 people on campus. Not a sole knew who Lucy was. Not a shock, to be honest. Renee is another matter.
  3. TV shows---Quick, name a movie series based on a TV show (other than Star Trek) was a blockbuster film? Can you? No. "Serenity" was a failure at the box office.
  4. Story---The story would have to be geared toward a non-fan audience (hence the offer for a direct to video movie). That means you'd either have to set the story outside of the scope of the series (or finale) or you have to do some exposition to get the non-fan audience up to speed.
  5. Money---Even if all or some of the above didn't apply, the movie has about a 90% chance of failing.

But there's a large fandom!

Probably another frequent statement I see. The problem is, is that you can't gage the internet fandom as a large fandom or even a close representation as to how big the fandom is. One of the reasons why Universal greenlighted the "Firefly" movie was due in part to the smashing DVD sales the series achieved. "Xena" DVD sales while not bad, they weren't great either. When the principal company behind the sets starts offering them at the dirt cheap price of $29.99/set, that should be an indication that they have a lot of overstock. Never mind the fact the DVD sales never cracked the top 25 DVD sales.

Shows like 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' cracked into the top 10 of DVD sales---this not a "TV" DVD release list, but the big list that has tough competition from theatrical movie DVD releases. That's a significant signpost for a studio considering a blockbuster film.

Can we donate money?

This is probably the second most frequently asked question concerning the movie.

The answer is no. There's all sorts of legal issues and things that bore even poor the law-loving scholar like myself. That would make each and every person who donated a producer on the film. Aside from it being a Producer's Guild issue, it opens up a legal mess for the studio and the producers.

Look at 'Star Trek,' they made that into a film!

Comparing 'Xena' to 'Star Trek' is like apples and oranges, I'm afraid. Even the conventions show this. The annual Burbank Conventions for 'Trek' bring in 8,000 people compared to the 4,000 (if Lucy and Renee are there) 'Xena' brings in for a convention weekend. And, 'Trek' has regional and internation conventions because of the large fanbase.

When 'Star Trek' the motion picture came out, the space exploration was being revitalized by NASA with the unveiling of the new space vehicle, the Space Shuttle. And 'Star Trek' has a broader range of appeal, to be honest. Also, the syndication of the series was bringing in new fans into the series and it created a new buzz for Paramount Studios (who owns 'Trek').

'Xena' is currently airing weekdays on Oxygen. And as with the past, this has brought in new fans. But not enough for the studio to back a full featured film.

What is taking them so long?

In 2003, it was first reported about a 'Xena' in the works. For the next several years, it was plagued with the rights issue. In 2005, that was cleared up and it was awfully close to being greenlighted.

By the time 2006 rolled around, the movie issue had gone back to who "owned the rights." By the end, it was clear that Universal had dropped the movie, but gave Rob Tapert the option of talking to the "sister studios" under Universal Studios (Focus and Rogue). Focus is the more artsy type of studio. Rogue is the more action/horror genre films that require low budgets. They became the go to to studio.

By the end of 2006, Rogue had apparently passed on the movie.

In 2007, Rob Tapert announced that Universal has put an offer of a direct to video on the table. Lucy Lawless had scoffed at the idea, but by late in 2006, warmed up to the idea of doing the movie this way.
The problem now is, can they come up with a story that will do the series and movie justice and not come off as a campy extended episode? I would like to think they're going to make this movie because they want to make it.

What doesn't remain to be seen, is Katherine Fugate still going to write the movie. It wasn't mentioned at the convention in 2007.

Can we still write?

You can, but I don't know what good it'll do considering an offer is on the table. The ball is in Rob's court right now.

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