Pacific Limp Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2013-07-19 14:00:00 No comments

My colleague Bonnie Walling, on the problem of Geek Film Vs. Geeky Film - Muse Hack:

... a geek movie is, let’s face it, a niche product, just like any other movie made with a very specific audience in mind – African-Americans, the LBGT community, etc. Some niche products do cross over and find a mainstream audience – Tyler Perry’s Madea films, for example – but those tend to be the exception, rather than the rule.

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No prizes for guessing what touched off the whole discussion: the relative underperformance of Pacific Rim, which was beaten out by the likes of Grown Ups 2. I'd been saying myself for some time that Rim would be a disappointment at the box office and relatively anonymous to mainstream audiences. (The folks I saw it with enjoyed it, but for a theater on opening weekend it was mightly sparsely attended.)

People get tripped up all the time by the way fan-friendly properties go big, or go extinct. They assume that the roaring success of the Dark Knight trilogy implies that any comic-book property is fair game. (It's not.) They forget that the reason Dark Knight and Man of Steel had a certain amount of success guaranteed was because they capitalized on properties that had been around for decades.

Pacific Rim, on the other hand, was a nod to tropes that have been in the public consciousness for not nearly as long, and which (and more importantly) have generally been associated with throwaway kiddie fare. And yes, comics themselves were in that ghetto for ages too, but the path out from that ghetto was paved over the course of several decades of filmmaking. No one movie did it all by itself.

My thesis is that Rim will be a part of that legitimization process for its types of material (giant robots, giant monsters), but not all at once. It'll get a solid second life on home video, and from that will come the long-term fanbase needed to make future movies of this kind a surer bet.

I give it ... oh, a decade.

Tags: Pacific Rim audiences fandom movies