Sunday, August 13, 2006

POTC2: Voodoo to Singerman

Even Voodoo dolls can't stop "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" slow but methodical assault on the worldwide box office.
Posted: Sun., Aug. 13, 2006, 6:00am PT

Hero seeks his place in the world
'Superman' struggles o'seas against 'Pirates'
By Ian Mohr

Now that Warner Bros.' "Superman Returns" has flown around most of the world, the question is: What was the factor that proved kryptonite to weaken the superhero's results?

Was it the studio's marketing campaign? A character too steeped in Americana, at a time when "truth, justice and the American way" is under fire? An inability to update the wholesome Man of Steel for the "Grand Theft Auto" generation? Or was it just the film itself?

Certainly Superman had one key blockade this summer: Johnny Depp's flouncing antihero from Buena Vista Intl.'s "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Overseas so far, the Bryan Singer-directed "Superman" has earned $146.5 million. In English-speaking turf alone, "Superman" is running a full $56.6 million behind "Pirates" in the U.K., and more than $15 million off pace in Australia.

"Superman" still has his laser vision set on 13 remaining territories, including key upcoming bows in Japan, Germany and Italy.

Some international studio pros point to "Superman's" issues even before "Pirates" came on the horizon.

"Some hardcore fans thought, 'This is the way it is supposed to be,'" says one international vet. "But others thought it was old-fashioned. Maybe Singer was too much of a fan?"

"Superman" isn't the only victim of "Pirates' " plundering: Last weekend, in its fifth frame, "Pirates" grossed more than double the combined takes of the next four films in the charts -- "Superman," "Miami Vice," "Cars" and "Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties."

After watching B.O. slump sorely in 2005, foreign cinema operators were hungrily predicting this summer's sesh would be a potential knockout thanks to a potent one-two punch: "Dead Man's Chest" and "Superman."

They were also sure that BVI's "Cars" and DreamWorks' "Over the Hedge" would make for some serious gravy, following the overseas rolls of recent CG animated successes "Madagascar" ($335.2 million) and "Ice Age: The Meltdown" ($449.6 million).

Well, it has been a haymaker of a summer, but "Pirates" has taken the wind out of everyone's sails.

"Pirates" has set its course to pass "Finding Nemo's" world take of $865 million; that will make it BVI's top combined domestic and international grosser.


Meantime, Warner Bros. is left with the consolation that "Superman" will still beat the $166.5 million that its dark "Batman Begins"' lassoed in overseas coin last year.

"Who would have predicted this a year ago?" asks one overseas distribution topper. "I would have loved to have had 'Superman,' which has universal awareness. And Warner Bros. is so bloody smart and great in their marketing. But it was a lost opportunity."

He feels the character is old-fashioned and the marketing seemed similarly retro, invoking images from "Smallville" and the films from the '70s. And, unlike most of this summer's other blockbusters, there wasn't a single Euro star in this film.

And who would've thought that a pirate who runs like a girl would shoot down the Man of Steel? One international vet explains that Depp happens to be a uniquely potent star with overseas auds.

"Johnny Depp is loved around the world in a different way than Tom Cruise or DiCaprio," she points out. "Audiences admire the roles that he picks because they are not all big moneymaking films, and he plays characters that are quite appealing to young audiences around the globe."

And, as compared to Sparrow, Brandon Routh's Superman ended up looking pretty tame: These days, would you rather be an obtuse savior figure in tights or an island-hopping, shambolic rock star?

After Japan, Germany and Italy, most analysts believe Singerman's last hope will be the Galapagos Islands. We understand it has a good shot of leading the box office in that market's two and half theaters.


Anonymous said...

I find it funny that on a blog that says "for fans that thought Singer's Superman Sucks" this will be the very first comment. Guess most of the public liked the film huh?

S.S.S. said...

guess we hadnt gotten around to approving comments, look again

BatGuyverDrahc said...

We don't care if our super-heroes are in tights, as long as they're HEROES, that's the whole point.

This 'humiliate the hero' farce isn't worth the time or money.

My gal-pal DreamPolice here is questioning: "Where was Superman? The broad chest, big shoulders, muscley arms?" that were sadly lacking in this string bean who was in SR.

Superman is a character of strength, not this panty-waisted gimp, pathetically mewling around Lois like a love-starved neutered pet. (This is supposed to be a man who can stop the world! In such tiny pants, he can't find his testicles? Maybe they were left on the cutting room floor.)

Super? No. Man? Definitely not!

Even a flip through the comic adaptation is sickening:
Easily defeated by Luthor; saved by Lois; recovers in hospital before limping off...?
What's 'Super' or heroic about that?

Like "Batman Begins" & "Blade Trinity/Travesty", this iconoclastic trend of "Humiliate The Hero" movies (like "X-Men and Robin" or whatever that mess was called) is getting in the way of definitive versions of our favorite characters ever finally being on screen. It rarely happens if ever, and lately we're getting further away than ever. ('Hulk', 'Daredevil', all 3 failed X-Men movies, 'Batman Begins To Get Yelled at and Takes it', 'Cat/Crapwoman', 'Spider-Man: Obsessed with one girl', 'Fantastic Farce').

And now 'Singerman Regurgitated'.

Sad. Especially as since the time of Superman's last big screen outing, so much quality has been added to the source material: John Bryne and Alex Ross have done mountains of good work re-defining the character, bringing Superman home to his iconic glory.

Even "Lois & Clark" provided respectably faithful if lighter tv viewing; while "Smallville" provided an alternative but faithful-in-spirit 'elseworlds' style tv show. George Reeves and Chris Reeve were fine for their time, while progressing ever-nearer to the source material. Next stop should be a real breakthrough in rendering the Superman character into cinema, not this misguided masochism-by-proxy rubbish for neo-suicidals.

The sooner 'Singerman Regurgitated' is buried and forgotten, the sooner someone can co-direct a decent Superman film with the writers/creators who understand the character: Alex Ross & John Byrne.

Pull a 'Robert Rodriguez' and get Ross & Bryne involved to put their vision of this Hero into the cinema. It's about time the hero on the big screen was MAN enough to deserve to wear the 'Big S' on his chest.

Dark Knight's Frank Miller knows the score: 'Define the MAN behind the mask (or the chest emblem), and the HERO will follow'.

That's 'Define the MAN', not some anorexic, spineless little bish.

BatGuyverDrahc & DreamPolice