The Sound of the Crowd

Why “Serenity” was made

ETA update: My friend Bob links to The Sound of the Crowd on his LiveJournal, and adds his thoughts.

Among the many seemingly counter-intuitive things about making the failed television series “Firefly” a big-screen movie is, well, just that.

At least there’s an obvious profit motive (if not exactly a creative one) for making a “Dukes of Hazzard” movie. But why throw good money after bad on a concept people have already shown they didn’t want to watch even when it was free?

The answer: To exploit the fanbase. As this article shows, “Serenity” is an experiment in seeing how much work the (unpaid) fans will do to put money in the pockets of Universal and Joss Whedon’s team.

The answer: Quite a lot, apparently…and they’ll even pay them for the privilege of marketing their movie.

The marketing plan rises to evil-genius levels when you realize all the ways the move from April to September pried open six months’ worth of free-publicity for the entire Firefly/Serenity franchise. Since the fan screenings began, Firefly DVD sales have shot up the genre charts at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. In July, a Dark Horse Serenity comic book, written by Whedon, will hit shelves, and the Sci-Fi Channel will soon start broadcasting the 14 Firefly episodes–all of them, in order.

Those of you who know my feelings concerning the myth of Whedon and what I perceive as flaws in the last few years of his work will understand: You could have knocked me over with a feather when I reached this paragraph…

But if the preview-screening audiences are any indication, anyone who has seen Firefly or cares about its characters will be knocked on his or her fanny by the final third, during which Whedon basically directs the movie like it’s his last–heaping world-changing, Kobayashi Maru levels of abuse on his characters. It’s a nervy, almost sadistic way to reward the long-suffering Browncoats–who were literally gasping and crying during the screening–but it also immediately removes the sense of fluffy-pillow safety that episodic television provides.

Really! Imagine that! Joss Whedon, abusing his characters and sadistically “rewarding” fans who were stupid enough to care about them. Who could have possibly seen that coming?

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