7/15/2013

This is why we can't have nice things. The geek-beloved robot-monster epic Pacific Rim came in third this weekend, behind Grown Ups 2 and Despicable Me 2. While some argue about how much of a loss the movie might take, it's clear that Pacific Rim is not the smash hit the studio hoped it would be. Much of the blame comes down to an aging fan base, a lack of star power, and confusion with the concept. Here's a breakdown of six reasons why Pacific Rim is a disappointment.

1. The Target Audience Doesn't Care About Godzilla - Much of the fun of Pacific Rim comes from its homage to giant monster movies like Godzilla and Mothra. While those of us old enough to remember these movies are thrilled to see these creatures in such detail on the big screen, the younger US audiences have no frame of reference. Remember that the last American Godzilla movie came out in 1998, fifteen years ago. Before that, Godzilla was just a guy in a stupid rubber suit. An entire generation has grown up with no love of these old movies. To them, these giant monsters just look goofy. The older fans are loving this movie, but the target audience of 25-12 year boys the studio wanted to bring in just yawned.

2. Transformers Stole the Giant Robot Thunder - The other much hyped aspect of Pacific Rim is the giant robots. While we all love giant robots, the problem is that another movie took a lot of the steam: Transformers. Transformers brought giant robots onto the screen in three huge blockbuster sequels, and even by the third, the thrill of seeing huge metal CGI warriors had lost its luster. At best, audiences saw Pacific Rim as a third-rate Transformers, but without the connection to the toys they may have played with as kids or cool vehicles.

3. The Marketing Focused Too Much on the Fights - When it came to marketing, the studio pretty much focused on one thing: giant robots fighting giant monsters. The trailers, the movie clips, and the hype all showed endless shots of the robots and the monsters, punching and flying all over the screen. While the campaign drew the nerd community, it baffled the mainstream audience who found themselves asking, "What's the movie about?" As stated before, mainstream audiences didn't have the love for robots and monsters that we geeks had. The commercials didn't give any indication of how the movie would set itself apart other than watching CGI sequences. I think a campaign that focused on the actual story and human characters would have drawn a bigger audience.

4. No Big Names on the Marquee - Another big problem with the movie came from the cast. Names like Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Rinko Kikuchi don't exactly put butts in seats. While not every movie has to have big stars, Pacific Rim might have been more successful if it had celebrities that people would go to see, regardless of the movie. Putting Tom Cruise, Will Smith, or Jennifer Lawrence in Pacific Rim might not have made it a sure-fire hit, but it certainly would have helped. Then again, Will Smith didn't do After Earth any favors...

5. Del Toro Isn't a Blockbuster Director - This is probably going to be the most uncomfortable part to say, but it has to be addressed. There's a reason you didn't see Guillermo Del Toro's name splashed across the poster like Spielberg or Michael Bay. That's because Del Toro is a relatively unknown director. I know, he's a geek icon, but the reality is that mainstream audiences have mostly never heard of him. His most acclaimed movie Pan's Labyrinth is more of an art film that's almost unknown to general audiences (it only made five million on its initial theatrical release). Del Toro hasn't had a major hit since Hellboy II in 2008, and it made the relatively small sum of seventy million, far from the $200 million required to make back what the studio spent on Pacific Rim. As a result, audiences who didn't buy into the concept weren't drawn by the director.

6. Audiences Fear the Unknown - While we all complain about how so many movies are sequels these days, the sad truth is that there's a reason for it. People fear the unknown. Pacific Rim is a movie that doesn't have any TV, comic, or toy tie-ins. It's an original. While that should be a positive, in this case it turned into a negative. When audiences line up to pick a movie, they have to decide what to spend their ten dollars and two hours on, and don't want to waste either of them. Familiarity with the source material helps. Knowing a movie is based on something they've seen before gives viewers a sense of comfort. Faced with the weird and wild world of Pacific Rim or the sequel to that wacky Adam Sandler, the audience went with the familiar. As much as it pains me to say it, the average viewer would rather watch a deer urinating on Adam Sandler than a new concept. And that's the saddest part of all.

[Image source: Warner Bros]

What did you think of Pacific Rim? Do you you think it will ultimately be a success? What other reasons might have hurt the movie?

Related Posts
How Many Movies Could Be Made For What John Carter Lost?
76 Awesome Screencaps for Pacific Rim

Please use the buttons below to tell your friends about this post. Click on the links to follow us for free by Email, RSS and follow us on Twitter @thegeektwins and like us on Facebook


    Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets!
Categories:

42 comments:

TS Hendrik said...

Good points. I love Guillermo Del Toro but his films just don't open. Both Hellboys found their legs with non-geeks, really outside the theaters. He just makes great films that no one goes to see. How this effects his future projects remains to be seen.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Still, Grown Ups 2 should NOT have come out ahead of this film.
Had del Toro directed The Hobbit, this movie would've rocked the box office.
I've still never seen him direct a bad film. He'll always be genius in my book.
And this Godzilla geek loved it!

Pat Dilloway said...

People are idiots is the main reason. At least in America. I'm sure it'll make back its budget in the world market.

DAVID WALSTON said...

I think is will become a cult classic in the long run. I say this without having seen it yet, but love the genre. I am looking forward to Godzilla and hope that Pacific Rim will help push, and give legs to a Kaiju movie being a success in America.

DAVID WALSTON said...

Just finished watching...it rocked!! Point #4 at least it had Ron Perlman. He totally stole the screen when he was on it.

Jessica Stank said...

"This is why we can't have nice things." Great line.


I think you were right on with every single one of your points. Is there a solution to this? I'm not sure... I am not surprised by the outcome for opening weekend. People with kids flocked to the family flick to escape the heat and get the rugrats to shut their traps for a couple of hours. And, for some unknown reason, stupid people run in the direction of anything made by Adam Sandler. It was going to happen this way...

MedeiaSharif said...

I think it could do well in the long run.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Big names or no, I loved it. I'm a geek, so it falls into my particular area of interest, but I thought it was a great movie, even if it was considered a "flop".

jsx said...

Seriously? Point 3. The Marketing focused too much on the fights. "the mainstream audience who found themselves asking, "What's the movie about?""


Correct me if I'm out of line here... but the movie WAS about Giant Robots fighting Giant Monsters. I think the audience was pretty clear on that.

Mario said...

'Del Toro Isn't a Blockbuster Director.'

And he will never be.

Mike Henderson said...

Personally, I think audiences are getting disaster-fatigue. How many time can we watch a major city get destroyed this summer?

WoodyTanaka said...

I'm a geek and I saw this one a mile away. It wasn't the audience fearing the unknown and it wasn't Del Toro and it wasn't the lack of a star. It failed because the concept - giant robots fighting giant monsters - is lame. It was lame when it was a man in a rubber suit and it's lame now.

Kevin said...

Del Toro should have way more respect. He is the creature feature director of the century.

lostboy408 said...

.....if Del Toro directed The Hobbit, that would have made a money regardless due to brand recognition. after that, if he went to Pacific Rim, It would have made money just because they want to humor him until he goes on to make the next Hobbit.

verafx said...

People are idiots, I totally agree. This movie was a breath of fresh air to me.

Nigel Mitchell said...

You're right, the trailers showed it would be about robots and monsters. The problem is that a movie with two hours of nothing but fighting isn't what the audiences want, and frankly isn't what "Pacific Rim" is about. There's a real storyline about two robot pilots who learn to work together. A few trailers focusing on the human characters might have drawn a bigger audience.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, that's kind of my point, Woody. You're not really the target audience.

Nigel Mitchell said...

I think so, too, Medeia

WoodyTanaka said...

No, I'm one of the oldster who you wrote would be "thrilled" to see these monsters and robots on the big screen. What I'm saying is that's just not so, because the idea of giant monsters is lame. I think that the people who were behind this were under the same belief that the concept was cool, we just never saw it "done right." What I'm saying is that the concept, itself, is a complete dog, so no matter how good the script is, and the casting and the director and the marketing, it will fail because the core concept in this high-concept film is flat-out stupid. The Godzilla remake will fail for the same reason: Godzilla is a flat-out stupid idea.

Colin Biggs said...

This is why I hate mainstream audiences sometimes. Adam Sandler and Kevin James fart in a pool and they open to a huge weekend, while an intriguing original project gets kicked to the curb.


Weak.

Colin Biggs said...

Explain how Grown Ups 2 was successful then, there is no concept lamer than that one.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Like I said, you're not the core audience. While you think Godzilla and other giant monsters are "lame," movies and TV shows with giant monsters have thrilled generations of moviegoers. If everyone thought Godzilla was a stupid idea, they wouldn't have made over twenty movies, and Godzilla wouldn't be the icon that he is. Admittedly, the concept is more popular in Japanese culture, but it has its fans here in the US. Just not enough to make "Pacific Rim" a success.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Yeah, Jessica, that line is the first thing I thought when I heard the box office for that weekend

WoodyTanaka said...

@colin
Grow Ups 2 wasn't a high concept project. wrong comparison.

@nigel, You keep saying I am not the target audience like that is some kind of meaningful statement. it's not.

Further, Godzilla is a cult figure that is even known in the US because local TV channels could show those movies cheap. They have nothing more than kitsch value. Lame.

bryansays said...

Sad to say it but we are moving closer to the future seen in idiocracy where the blockbuster hit was a giant ass on the screen farting!

Cheese Addict said...

Guillermo Del Toro needs to hook up with the Marvel guys.

Daniel said...

It was a great movie! I think in about a decade, to quote Patton Oswalt on "How did this get made" when he talked about "Punisher War Zone". "Give it about a decade, and let it set like a fine wine, and it will be as big as "The Big Lebowski"

instanoodlz said...

actually. pacific rim did not flop. please get your facts straight before posting a speculative article.

FYI: movie cost 190 mil, predicted at 38 mil opening weekend, opened with 37.2 million. Opened in china with 45.2 mi. as of this moment (aug 12th 2013) it has made $344 mil total worldwide and counting. Far from a flop.

DJRickyV said...

I see them making a ton of money licensing the Jaegers and the Kaiju to some toy companies. If I was a kid I'd love to play beat 'em up with giant robots and giant monsters...

flippedtee said...

This movie was awful. I went in with high hopes and got crap for it. The robot fighting scenes were the second best part of the movie with charlie from always sunny being the only saving grace in the whole film.

The plot was entirely predicable as soon as the chick said she wasn't allowed to be a pilot.

The "science" in this film was a joke as well. Several times making statements so ridiculous it took me out of the movie and make my laugh at how dumb they were.

The reason this movie didn't do that well was simply cause it wasn't that good.

Any one i talked to I told not to waste their time or money on this movie.

ayodele joledo said...

Just watched this movie & I wonder how it got beaten by a terrible movie like grownup2 which was a sequel to another disgusting movie. It seems Americans love dumb movies & if there is a 3rd grown UPS it may even out gross Avengers & Man of steel next year

Bowie said...

Transformers had no effect on this if you are a fan of the genre that Pacific Rim actually was. The Transformers were sentient, where as the Jaegers are piloted by humans, changing the impact of the Robots fighting and the human element in the narrative. This was a film for fans of Kaiju films, mecha anime and the like.


I thought it was a very fun film. The lack of any stars meant nothing to me, I in fact always hate seeing the same stars over and over.


I dunno, guess i'm not just your average film punter who's shallow as all hell.

Larrylongballs said...

Reason 6, so depressing.

Purple said...

this article, here above wasn't written very well. this motha fucka doesn't know what he's talking about. there's been tv shows, movies, and even fucking card games for the giant robots and monsters in Japan. this was a huge hit thing over here, and "Pasific Rim" was the U.S. version of all that!


thank you come again,


http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ihatepeacocks.com/resources/giant-gundam-robot-tokyo-22.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t%3D456619&h=480&w=640&sz=82&tbnid=Zof_Ji9aPBaL7M:&tbnh=90&tbnw=120&zoom=1&usg=__qZXUHuW3ZV22qLtzA8KYz_ibNec=&docid=ylbgVaiXV1PUxM&sa=X&ei=o_kMUoD_GbHK4AO_h4GwAg&ved=0CDcQ9QEwAg&dur=380

Purple said...

plenty, lets do it some more!

Geoff MacDonald said...

"Original" does not equal "great". I'll concede that Hollywood is largely bankrupt when it comes to fresh ideas and original content, but that doesn't mean everything that does squeak through that filter is going to be great.


Pacific Rim borrowed very heavily from other movie franchises (and, no, not just Godzilla and Transformers), so while the story may not be based on any single piece of source material, there still wasn't much new on display.


That, and you're point about casting big name actors needs to be broadened to casting actors that can...well, yanno...act. The three main leads in this film were dreadful on screen, with Hunnam and Kikuchi competing for top worst spot. Combine that with a lot of dodgy, clunky dialogue, poor character development, cliche after cliche after cliche and you get a film that HAS to be marketed with nothing but the fights since that's the only entertaining thing to come out of it.


To say this movie didn't do well because the domestic audience only likes sequels and sourced movies doesn't take into account everything wrong and bad about this movie.

Martín Ríos said...

Original? Really? This dude copied some shitty japanese anime, named Evangelion, and he's original? Breath of fresh air, sure.

Brouhaha said...

It may have "flopped" in the US but that doesn't really mean anything anymore.
Hollywood's biggest market are the foreign cinema goers and we thankfully aren't as "lowbrow" as the American's. After all, we won't be getting a dumbed down version of Snowpiercer.

A. said...

Dude u sure?? for all ik Transformers is not piloted by peepz and the Jaegers cant change into car trucks watever transportation is u havent heard Guillermo Del Toro's interviews then u should

A. said...

Reason 2. Dude the Director didnt copy the giant robots he said i didnt thinked of the jaegers at first only the monsters but one of the peepz sugested tht they should make the jaegers.
Reason 6 quite depressing =-=

Justin Stokes said...

I thought this film was INCREDIBLY over-rated, and really didn't offer anything new, other than robots for the fanboys.

Kol Drake said...

I guess I don't understand the definition of 'flop' -- the latest numbers for Pacfic Rim are --Domestic Box Office = $100,860,390 International BO = $304,400,000 -- which comes out to $405,260,390 . The original cost for the movie was $190,000,000. Even if advertising was the same amount, it still came out on the plus side. Not sure how that makes it a flop.

AddThis

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!