Friday, July 04, 2008

Xena Movie News : An Explanation of Sorts

I haven’t made a ‘Xena’ movie post for a while. It was time to make a post since well, there’s all sorts of things floating about at the moment. The fact is Universal isn’t interested. They’ve told Rob Tapert and he has in turn told the fans that Universal is not interested and that writing in won’t make a difference.

Before I continue further, I’m going to provide links the previous posts I’ve made about the movie:

Under the Movie News label for my blog, I’ve written about the movie 21 times.

Questions from the Query (January 4, 2008)

Is it too late for a movie (October 27, 2007)

YouTube and Xena’s Popularity (June 26, 2007)

I want a movie (June 16, 2007)

More Thoughts on the Xena Movie (June 8, 2007)

Why You Simply Can’t Buy the Rights to Xena (June 6, 2007)

Xena Movie FAQ #2536 (April 27, 2007)

Now, I do have a lot of other posts. But I picked out the ones that offer the most insight and information about the ‘Xena’ movie. Everything that is being talked about from letter writing to handing out flyers at a convention has been done at one time or another. The key thing to remember in all of this is that the movie industry is now focused on making money. Twenty years ago, it was about making movies. Now with the way studios have merged and with the way things are set up now with actors and directors signing huge salaries, the studios are in the business of making money—no longer movies for fun.

So what can the fans do? Quite honesty, nothing can be done. I don’t mean to be a pessimist about this but it’s the truth. Universal has made it known to Rob that they’re no longer interested. Rogue Pictures is also not willing to make a movie.

There are also a lot of other problems. In the past, a female lead (think about how quickly Sex and the City went by the wayside at the movie theater) films have struggled to capture an audience. It’s even harder when it’s an action film—like ‘Electra’ with Jennifer Garner is a prime example. She was a successful character in the movie ‘Daredevil’ but when it became a spin-off it failed to capture an audience. Same thing with Halle Berry in ‘Catwoman’ it failed to capture an audience. You can even make an argument for the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ films. Those films along with ‘Tomb Raider’ never would have been possible without ‘Xena.’ Yet, the four films struggled at the box office. The ‘Tomb Raider’ movies faired better because of the popular video game franchise and well to be honest, Angelina Jolie was Lara Craft. But there are movies that have struggled to get off the ground.

‘Wonder Woman’ has been on again and off again for the last five or six years. It’s gone from writer to writer and it’s never been made. Nor will it probably be made.

The industry has taken to going to their vaults and re-making old movies for a more modern and sophisticated audience.

‘Red Sonja’ is also in the works and now has Red Sonja in Rose McGowan (terribly miscast if you ask me). If this movie works and succeeds (it doesn’t look likely given past records) does it beef up a chance for a ‘Xena’ movie? The short answer is no. Not very likely because with ‘Xena’ there are a lot of strings attached in terms of a story. (Remember, they’re in the business of making money.)

And there are films that have been in the works for years that are finally coming out.

This is the case for the ‘X-Files’ movie. This movie has been talked about since before the series ended in 2002. It finally was green-lighted last year and is due to come out this summer. Will this help the possibility of a ‘Xena’ movie if the movie is successful?

Again, the short answer is no. ‘Xena’ and the ‘X-Files’ are two different animals. There’s not a whole lot of baggage attached to the series. They can make the movie without fear of upsetting a portion of the base.

‘Xena’ doesn’t have the luxury. Everyone has a different opinion about the movie and everyone thinks their idea is the best one. If you do Story A you might piss off Group B. If you do Story B you might piss off Group A. There is very little middle ground for Rob. And what he does have is paper thin. He can’t do a story that’ll please the fans because that’ll alienate the larger potential movie going audience. Again, studios are in the business of making money nowadays.

This brings up ‘Serenity.’ Here, the fans were successful in their grassroots campaign. But unlike ‘Xena’ where there was an ending (whether one accepts it or not) ‘Firefly’ (which the movie was based on) had no finale. It was kicked to the curb by Fox. Universal snatched it up. The studio made marketing mistakes along the way. First, they relied on the grassroots method of publicity—it was cheap—the fans do your dirty work. Secondly, they marketed the show to fans who are about as reliable as a skyscraper built on swampland. It’s a shaky practice. And lastly, the movie failed in the box office. The fans failed to come out to the theater and they failed to bring in those who were not familiar with the ‘Firefly’ franchise. The movie was a success on home video. The reason why is probably because like a lot of people, they didn’t see spending $20 or more at the movie theater when they weren’t sure of the quality. The true test came on home video. It remained in the top 25 for something like eight weeks or so. That’s pretty good for a DVD.

So then it brings up the question would a DVD release benefit ‘Xena.’ This is about the only thing I can say might have a chance of working. You get passed that issue having to market your film to the general audience. But you also run into the same story problem you would with a feature version. But if the DVD sales of the series are any indication, a DVD release wouldn’t even happen either. They were disappointing. I think even Anchor Bay which was a distributor of the sets were shocked at how flat they were.

Every so often the rights issue comes up as an excuse. That’s a long settled issue. Universal owns the rights. Rob can’t buy them because he can’t afford to and even if he did with financial, he’s confronted with commitments to deliver a successful product to his backers. He can’t guarantee that because the fandom is unpredictable. No one is going to invest millions of dollars in a product that doesn’t show it’s going to be successful. They’re going to do research to see how much money the movie would get them. If they see that there’s no chance of a profit, it’s dead. (This is what happened in the first place.)

What’s the best way to get Universal’s attention? There isn’t any. Sending the studio emails, letters, faxes and postcards aren’t going to get it anymore noticed now than what it has in the last few years.

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