Monday, February 16, 2009

Jason Slashes Coraline

I will preface this by saying that though I'm a bit of a horror movie buff, I have never sat through an entire "Friday the 13th" movie. I sat through a part of the original first movie, and was impressed with how much it had a flat, "porn" feel (I'm not saying that this was bad, as I realize that was part of the 1980s slasher-flick charm). (By "flat porn feel," I am not referring to nudity but a sort of shallowness that is only punctuated by sudden moments of horror, much as a porn movie is hollow but is punctuated by sudden moments of sex). (Furthermore, I feel that John Carpenter does the "flat porn feel" better -- or daresay, he is a complete master of this technique -- and much prefer to watch his horror movies, which are usually either really good or crappy but enjoyable in a B movie sort of way).

I have also never sat through"Coraline," as the tickets were sold out yesterday and, since I was in the area, decided to go get a haircut instead.

Everyone loves dog movies.

Eyebrows raised at how huge the opening was for "Friday 13th," and how low "Coraline's" was in comparison. This might be a retread of the "Marley & Me"/"Spirit" scenario.

What up with all of this?

I am told over and over again that it is the mass-market "broad idea" movies, TV shows, comics, and concepts that win over big. I am also told this in Robert McKee's "Story," one of the classic "how to write" books. McKee says basically that if you would like to make a living writing movies, make them with a broad appeal and do not get too esoteric. Also, that it is okay if you want to make your films esoteric & intellectual, but then perhaps get another job to supplement your meager income from your niche writing.

That said, I have no idea if the new "Friday the 13th" movie is broad in appeal or instead maybe quite intellectual. If I had to guess, I would say that the flick is probably in league with the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake, which was enjoyable, extremely gory, but not incredibly profound -- sort of forgettable, except for its "set piece" moments of exaggerated violence.

Will "Watchmen" be the next "Dark Knight" or "Mystery Men"?

Which is all to say, in a roundabout way...what does this bode for "Watchmen"? Is the general moviegoing public not in the mood for something arty, profound, obtuse...dare I say, even "cubist?" Will this film be a big hit with the fan set, but not with the general masses? Or is this assuming too much about the film? Will it be styled in such a way so that it will have the same broad appeal as "Friday the 13th part 15"?

Also -- if these comic book/"fan appeal" movies do not have mass appeal, should we care at all? Should we not just enjoy the films anyway, secure in knowing that even if films like "Speed Racer" & "The Spirit" sort of tank, at least the cool kids understood and appreciated them? Like when I would read a short story in my high-school creative writing class about existentialist rabbits on LSD and most of the class didn't understand it but I got two really enthusiastic fans? Will these two fans grow up to be the ones who will buy by $300 limited edition maquette of LSD Bunny from Sideshow toys -- and be vocally abusive online to my detractors? Can I only hope?

Speed Racer: A Movie For All The Cool Kids

(A side point refers to a conversation I had with a friend a couple of days ago: questioning whether Watchmen was a good "gateway" comic book for the new reader, or did it just skewer the idea of mainstream superheroes and make it actually harder for him or her to get into Superman, Spider-Man, etc? Or even turned some of those new readers off to graphic novels, comic books, everything?)

This all reminds me of a great post David Cross wrote after his movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks" came out. In it, he defends his appearance in a movie that might be looked down upon as mass-market piffle by some of his fans:

"I like to work. I really do."

Anyway, I have no set opinions on any of these important issues being raised here thereupon. I'm just throwing ideas out there, like foam darts. As for my haircut yesterday, it is only by writing this post that I realize what might have unconsciously influenced my choice of hairstyle:

Well, anyway. I haveta go write my "Confessions of A Shopaholic"-style pitch now. See you soon!


  1. I think the key is to see which one makes more money in the long run when looking at Friday the 13th vs. Coraline. From Neil Gaiman's blog, they're over the moon with how well it's doing. They were predicting $9 million opening weekend and it made $16 million. It's second weekend it dropped a small 12% and made $14.7 million.

    Yeah, Jason made $40 million this weekend, but I say it does at least at 50% hit at the box office on the upcoming one, whereas Coraline will likely only drop another 10% or so. Coraline also has one of the highest per screen averages.

    In two months time Coraline will have made more money than Jason, that's my prediction. And Coraline is going to clean up in DVD.

    As for Watchmen, I have no earthly idea how it will do. None. But I don't think it's a gateway movie to comics any more than the dozens of other comic book movies have recent years have been (that is to say, not much of a gateway at all).

  2. I suppose it depends upon the desired result. If you want Hollywood to keep suckling at the comic teat, write the simple stuff. If you want to get $2 mil to make an indie film, then make the Jim Woodring movie, knowing that stoners and art school kids will love it.

  3. I:

    A) really liked Coraline, & thought seeing it in 3d was definitely the way to go.

    B) Only say Friday the 13th 1 & 2, a few years ago, & I thought the cinematography was crazy avant.

  4. Watchmen will have a huge opening weekend, as this is the most anticipated comicbook movie since Spider-Man 1.

    You shoulda seen it at the Ziegfield. Lots of seats, huge theater, almost a cathedral of cinema.

    Coraline is a great movie, with some fantastic eye-candy (okay, they cheat the stop-motion with some CGI, but it's pretty darn cool). Stay for the end credits, the last thing you see is a bit of stop-motion animation with the armatures shown.

  5. ". . . or did it just skewer the idea of mainstream superheroes and make it actually harder for him or her to get into Superman, Spider-Man, etc?"

    Sometimes, I wonder whether I'm the only one who missed the story's attempted postmodernity, and read it "straight." :o

  6. I think the main thing going against the Watchmen film are the trailers. If you've never read Watchmen, the trailers are going to give you the wrong impression. The trailers make Watchmen look like your typical super-hero action movie, whereas Watchmen is anything but.

  7. Anonymous9:00 PM

    This is why I think Marvel Studios is never going to be taken seriously as a movie studio. They won't TANK or CRASH AND BURN, mind you, because enough people read comics like it's f***ing air already.

    No, Marvel Studios will never be taken seriously because its priorities are set on the comic book reader. It could care less if the general public does not get their films. I mean, look at how they are setting up Avengers.

    Watchmen, I think, will do moderately well. Not amazingly well, but well enough. It's not TDK, where they could of had Batman sucking off a guy and the fans would of eaten it up, but one of the most widely-known comics to be "mature" (by today's standards, however, Watchmen is nothing special). So I think many more diehards will stay away from Watchmen than go see it.

    From everything that I've seen, Snyder is doing his best to make it mainstream. I don't think that's a good thing.I think the audience would like it without the slo-mo or sexy women running from fire. I mean, Snyder seems to be making Watchmen a mockery of what it is trying to mock in the first place.

  8. Your understanding of Friday the 13th as porn is exactly right. It's horror porn. As Umberto Eco once defined it, "a pornographic movie is a movie where the actors take entirely too long to take their clothes off and have sex." The audience spends its time in movies like Friday the 13th thinking "Yeah yeah yeah, bla bla bla, when is someone going to get hacked to pieces already?"

  9. Just the trailer of Watchmen sold a million more copies.

    I have had editors of glamourous fashion magazines desperately asking where they can get tickets to the premiere.

    I can't see how it will fail.

  10. Anonymous3:13 PM

    This will show up in the pingbacks below eventually - but I crunched some numbers at my blog to show a strong case that "Coraline" will be far more successful than "Friday the 13th" based on the opening weekend