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John Scalzi Commands: Go See Stardust on Friday!

Scalzi writes:

Whatever: All that said, if you are a fan of Neil Gaiman's and you want to see him continue to work in Hollywood and whatnot, then you really ought not be complacent, and you really ought to see Stardust on opening weekend, and preferably on Friday. The mechanics of the movie business are structured these days so that those opening numbers matter a great deal. The movie business is not like it was 20 years ago, when Princess Bride opened up in just 600 theaters; it's not even like it was a few years ago, when movie theaters had an economic interest in playing films as long as possible. These days films need to make their money quickly, because they're going to get shoved off the screen in two or three weeks.

So yeah, if you want to do Neil Gaiman a favor, see Stardust on Friday, and bring all your friends...

The movie: http://www.stardustmovie.com/

Scalzi expands:

I can't imagine that anyone at Paramount is realistically under the impression that Stardust is going to approach even the low end of Rush Hour 3's box office bracket. But that's all right, since I don't imagine that Paramount is viewing Stardust as a legitimate #1 box office contender. Rather -- and if they're smart -- they're viewing it as counter-programming: Something to put out there so that everyone else who would rather poke out their eyes than see Rush Hour 3 will say "Hey, let's go see Stardust." Which is to say that Stardust is not competing with Rush Hour 3 for an audience; the two films are instead (and hopefully for Stardust) complementary.

In this, Stardust is actually pretty well-positioned. Rush Hour 3 gets the boys, ages 13 - 29, and the poor unfortunate women who are dragged along with them. That's its main audience. Stardust, on the other hand, cobbles together its audience from various demographics. First, science fiction/fantasy fandom, almost none of whom is interested in Rush Hour 3 (and which, as anyone who looked at Serenity's grosses can tell you, is worth exactly $10 million on opening weekend). Second, older moviegoers, who may be drawn in by the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro and the novel and amusing movie idea. Third, older (that is, 30+) couples out on dates.

Then throw in, in decreasing order of importance, family audiences (it's PG-13 but that's close enough for government work), Edwardian-era-loving gays and/or Anglophiles, the comic book and/or Matthew Vaughn fans not at Rush Hour 3, moviegoers who actually read reviews to decide what they're going to see, and single, cat-loving women hoping for just one more Princess Bride experience before they die.

Also in Stardust's plus column: the only other movie getting a wide release beside it and Rush Hour 3: Daddy Day Camp. Which means that except for the occasional family that lets an especially dim six-year-old drive the movie choices, Stardust has the whole non-Rush Hour 3 audience to itself. The only holdover film likely to have a serious impact on Stardust's numbers is The Bourne Ultimatum....

My expectation is that the film's opening domestic numbers are going to tally somewhere between $15 and $25 million... anything over $25 million will be having Gaiman and Vaughn sent really nice fruit baskets and a note asking when they can have a script in for Stardust 2: The Quickening.... I think the real action for Stardust is likely to be the home video and television markets, where I expect the producers of the film are probably hoping for a Princess Bride-like longevity. Note, if you will, that The Princess Bride performed only modestly in theaters when it came out 20 years ago, and found most of its fame (and financial success) on home video...

Meanwhile, author Neil Gaiman freaks out in a calm, measured way:

Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Journal: What to do with your friends on Friday. Also Chocolate Eggs.: I read this article with a certain amount of concern:


as it explains that Stardust is a wonderful, amazing, brilliant film and that everyone will go and see Rush Hour 3 because the marketing for Stardust hasn't been any good. I hope they're wrong. I really hope that the plethora of good reviews, and the word of mouth, will make up for any deficiencies in the marketing.

(If you're in two minds about Stardust, about whether or not to see it or even when to see it, please go and see it this weekend. Friday night if you can. Take friends. If necessary, take them at gunpoint. They will love the movie so much they will forgive you afterwards. And if they don't forgive you, you can dispose of them quietly -- you're the one with the gun, after all -- and you will have a wonderful time for the rest of your life with the new friends you made at the Stardust screening.)

The reviews of Stardust continue to be lovely:


for example, is the Associated Press review. And they love Michelle Pfeiffer, who

is deliciously evil as a witch who wants to cut out Yvaine's heart and eat it to gain eternal youth and beauty for herself and her sisters. (Well, mainly for herself.) She shows great comic timing and isn't afraid to play with her glamorous image, or look grotesque when her character, Lamia, is at her most decayed and desperate.

It comments on the should you take kids question:

"Stardust" also calls to mind last year's "Pan's Labyrinth" .... in that it superficially appears to be suitable for the whole family, and it's really not. It's never as terrifying as "Pan's Labyrinth" but it does get dark; in a broader sense, though, kids just might not get a lot of the nuance. Their parents are truly the target audience here.


Weeks and weeks into this Summer of Disappointing Movies, we have finally unearthed a decent gem of a film. This is the one you take a date to; especially if your significant other wears an ankh or has a Death (the D.C. comic character) tattoo somewhere or owns all the Sandman graphic novels. Paramount Pictures has graciously brought the fairy tale back to the screen, with a quality not seen since The Princess Bride. Forget Narnia, Terabithia, and Hogwart's - it's all about Stormhold and the fallen star.


Stardust comes well after the burst of summer blockbusters, but looking back, it will be seen as one of the 2007’s best and most fully satisfying adventures.

http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_6557055 has me trying to explain the difference between novel writing and movie making to journalist Colin Covert.

"Writing a novel is a voyage of discovery," said Neil Gaiman, who has written piles of them (including "American Gods," "Anansi Boys," and "Neverwhere") and sold millions.

But turning a novel into a film is like "running a very sharp-edged maze leading through a minefield, with people shooting at you, in a freezing downpour, having no sense of where the exit might be, pursued by hounds, while blindfolded."