a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chewing Over the Bones of Aeon Flux

AEON FLUX made about $13 million in its first three days, to finish in second place, which doesn't seem so terrible...

Except, of course, it's going to be a huge flop, because it cost at least $55 million, and they spent even more advertising the hell out of it. The $29 million total theatrical gross I estimated last week seems like it is going to be pretty close.

Sure, it'll make money overseas, and Blockbuster will probably stock 50 copies in each of its store, so in the end it probably won't be a huge disaster.

But the weird and interesting thing? Its performance isn't really surprising anyone. There was something to this movie, even in the coming attractions, that just gave a sense that this film wasn't going to work. And it's nothing overt, either; there are some interesting visuals in the trailer, and of course it also has Charlize Theron in a tight outfit.

I haven't seen the movie, which ironically is probably what qualifies me to comment on it, because most other people made the choice not to see it with the same info I had. But I talked to a few people who saw it. One thought it was awful. The other liked it a lot.

(So apparently it's one of those movies. Still, I have a feeling the word of mouth probably isn't going to be there).

Ultimately, one reason that I think it failed (aside from the studio's decision not even to show it to critics, which certainly didn't do anything to reverse the bad buzz) is because the trailer really needed to show the audience that this was the movie that was going to break the string of mediocre-to-bad female action movies that we've had recently, which include CATWOMAN, ELECTRA and the TOMB RAIDER movies.

But the trailer gave no real sense of the plot of the movie, at all. I hate when trailers give away too much plot, but still, if your film has any kind of a hook, let's hear it.

Instead, we got shots of Charlize being acrobatic, and some rolling marbles, and a sort of futuristic-looking world, and some dangerous-looking grass, and no real sense of the story -- and nothing to suggest that if we went to see the movie, there'd be anything much to see other than more Charlize, the rolling marbles, the futuristic-looking world and the dangerous grass.

I like Charlize Theron, and it's hard not to feel good that her dramatic movies like MONSTER and NORTH COUNTRY (which she undoubtedly took a lot less money for) are going to outgross her big Hollywood special effects film. At the same time, it's movies like AEON FLUX that pay her rent while she does the smaller movies, so maybe it's a mixed bag.

At the minimum, maybe it'll be another red flag to Hollywood that even the big action movies need to be entertaining and well-written if they are really going to bring in the audience.


At 9:53 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

It'll drop from 13 to something like 5 million, then 2 million, then 800,000, then it's gone.

Charlize does rock though, so I feel bad, then again, I don't think this will kill her career. Maybe an Oscar nom for North Country will make her feel better.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger Michael James M. said...

I had the same feeling in the pit of my stomach (and the center of my cortex) about the trailer. I've watched the shorts and 30-min cartoons. But when the trailer came on...there was something off, something I just didn't like. I'm all for visuals, so the story didn't *have* to be there because it's AEON FLUX man, but...something was wrong...damn it, what was it?

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Chris said...

It was the worst of both worlds. Get rid of the look and feel of the animated shorts, hire an actress that looks nothing like the character fans were used to, and then scotch the whole backstory and mystique of her as developed in the series. But keep the name "Aeon Flux" for the fans so they might come thinking all or some of that was in it. Except none of it is. And non-fans who know nothing about it will just see the words "Aeon Flux" and scratch their heads and go "wha?"

At 2:38 AM, Blogger stu willis said...

"At the minimum, maybe it'll be another red flag to Hollywood that even the big action movies need to be entertaining and well-written if they are really going to bring in the audience."

I dunno. I thought Serenity was both entertaining and well-written, despite being TVish, and it bombed too. Probably because of the TV connection.

I'm a Joss fan, so I'm biased, but there's no doubt the man knows how to write. I even liked Alien Resurrection.

On a non-fanboy note, I thought Kiss Kiss, Bang Ban was both entertaining and well-written and its just disappeared.

I can't think of the last big budget action movie that has done -really- well at the BO.

Next year has X-Men 3 and Superman, so we'll see how it fairs.

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Brett said...

Maybe it's something as simple as the audience and their asses.

Why was there ever any thought of an AEON FLUX theatrical feature? Because someone at MTV had some numbers which indicated to someone with money that there was a suffieiciently large audience out there.

But where did they get these numbers? Ten years ago, from a bunch of folks willing to not flip the channel at 11 PM on a Friday night when some weird kinky trippy 20 minute cartoon featuring a heroine with ballistic booozums cartwheeling around robots and stormtroopers.

I'll admit to being sufficiently bored/intrigued/beer-buzzed to have not changed channels a few times when the old "fly in the eyelashes" thing rolled onto the screen, but that doesn't mean I've been sitting here since, saying "when will they bring Aeon to the big screen?", and neither am I the least bit curious to see this movie now that it is in release.

But, yeah, I'll likely burn 20 or so minutes some Friday night to watch Charlize's caboose flip and tumble when this flick hits SciFi channel in heavy rotation in 14 months or so.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger jnr said...

the adaptation was just a bad call in general.

there was just no way to translate the qualities that made the source material remarkable into a live action film.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Phillip said...

Yeah, there was something indefinably bland about the commercials - including the usually stunning Charlize.

At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep, North Country for the Oscar and respect, Aeon for the big check, heated indoor swimming pool and 24 hour nude Chippendale Dancer butler service

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Bill Cunningham said...

I look at this as a theatrical failure on several levels (understand this movie could do really well on DVD):

1. The interviews and whatnot never said this was based on an anime-styled MTV show. No side by side pics of Charlize and the animated Aeon Flux. This is a failure on the part of the marketing and publicity departments. They needed to cement the image of "Charlize is bringing an animated character to life" in the collective audience's head.

2. The movie itself didn't look big. No visual impact. We see a small refuge in the middle of a forest. No towers reaching to the sky (or if there were they were cut too quickly to have any impact). No planes flying about. None of Peter Chungs very cool design work is evidenced here. This is the director's failure (and the trailer editor).

3. This is a movie for the comic-book, videogame audience yet...I've seen no artwork out there that says, "You're in for a ride, kids!" Just that stupid profile shot of Charlize. Again, a marketing failure.

4. Hello, Dummies in production! The audience for this flick couldn't care less as to who played Aeon, as long as she looked hot! You could have saved yourself a whole mess of money and gotten a solid TV name (Mia Maestro? Emmanuelle Vaugier?))and poured Charlize's $10M salary into production design and SFX.

You could have really played to the MTV/Vid Game/Toy/ crowd and cleaned up, but you were Stupid...stupid...stupid...

The Home Entertainment division of whatever studio is going to have their hands full trying to offset the theatrical division's failure.

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...


When the most unique about your movie is dangerous grass, people aren't going to stampede the theater demanding to see it.

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You gotta be kidding me! It's already out?! I am in Knoxville, TN and I haven't heard anything about it. I have been waiting for it because I was a big fan of the cartoon. I wondered where it went. It probably won't even be release here now because it's bombing in the big markets.


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