In one of the most ballsy promotional ideas seen in ages, Joss Whedon and Universal decided to let fans in 10 US cities get a sneak preview of Serenity four months ahead of the pack. All the showings sold out in record time, reinforcing the message that should have come across when the DVD collections of Firefly sold like wildfire: WE LIKE YOUR SERIES. IF YOU BUILD MORE OF IT, WE WILL COME.
-- Chris Eng, "G33K (May 5, 2005)", terminalcity.ca
I have seen Serenity, and it is mighty.
I'm still processing everything from last night-- in addition to the advance screening of the film (a mostly finished work print with some temp music and VFX), which rocked, Alan Tudyk and Gina Torres showed up in San Francisco to warm up the crowd and answer questions afterward. The studio also gifted us with Serenity keychains and autographed 8x10 lobby cards on the way out.
The movie was preceded by a filmed message from the man himself, Joss Whedon, in which he praised the fans-- Browncoats-- for loving the show and supporting it long after its cancellation. In his usual joking manner, he also implored us to spread the word about the movie, tell non-fans why they should go see it in September, and generally preach the gospel of Firefly.
Now, I plan to do my part, but I have no illusions. To paraphrase Steven Barnes, "Your movie is not for everyone." He was on a Worldcon panel a few years ago, advising writers on how to market their books, and made the point that no matter how good your work is, it will never be appreciated by everyone. The Modern Library recently picked James Joyce's Ulysses as the best novel of the 20th century, but raise your hand if you've actually read it-- and loved it that much. Yeah, that's what I thought.
I know Serenity will never be as big as, say, Star Wars, because its audience is much more specific. This is a science fiction movie for adults-- the MPAA will give it a hard R rating, no question-- and it is that rarest of beasts, an action movie with both brains and heart. (Maybe more of the latter than the former, but hell, if I had a fifteen-foot-tall canvas, I'd sure as shooting rather paint a space battle than talking heads explaining why the frobbotronic widgetizer can't interface with the psychotastic gizmodulator.)
But I believe that a great story like Firefly can speak to more people than it does now, if given the chance. I believe that word of mouth is still the best advertising that no money can buy. I believe that the Browncoats can win this time-- even if only a small, moral victory-- because it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the underdogs.
You can't stop the signal. For the signal is strong.