As hard as it may be to believe, while everyone here at TMP are massive movie geeks...we don't always agree on things (just look at the division on the Thor trailer). What results are debates behind the scenes on some of the biggest movies coming out, so we've decided to share some of those arguments. This time around we tackle the issue of TRON: Legacy. Some of us believe that it will be the next big thing and defy all expectations, while others feel Disney may be putting too many of it's eggs into that hi-rez basket.
Jordan: TRON is opening this week, and I for one believe that it's going to rock. Despite some of the early reviews that are somewhat negative, there are plenty of positive reviews hitting the Internet as well. Groundswell has been building on this movie for years, so there's no way it's not going to dominate the box office this weekend, but probably into the year 2011. It's got family appeal, geek appeal, and it's going to be a fun ride...why wouldn't this be amazing? Besides all of that...it's TRON! Plenty of buzz and excitement so far (just look at how well TRON Night 2010 went).
Matt: I've tried and tried, but I just can't imagine TRON doing very well this weekend, or any weekend, for that matter. The chips are stacked up too high against it, and it's such an "out there" idea that I can't comprehend it succeeding. The competition is rough (more on that in a second), and the buzz is only so so. No matter how hard I try, I can't force myself to believe TRON will be anything but a box office bomb.
Will The Competition Affect TRON: Legacy's Earnings?
Jordan: Absolutely not. First of all, what competition? Honestly, I think as far as box office potential goes, Narnia was considered to be the biggest contender. It's part of a established fantasy franchise, with quite a few fans behind hit. In this month, it had the second highest earning potential. However, that's bombed terribly now. The only things opening with TRON are Yogi Bear and How Do You Know...I don't think we have anything to worry about as far as competition goes.
The rest of the month (really this year) sees a Jack Black movie and True Grit. While True Grit will more than likely be a better movie (story and such) in the long run, I don't think it's got the potential to really topple TRON monetarily or for it's fun factor. In that aspect, there really isn't much 'competition' for this movie, and nothing on the horizon that could truly detract from it's earnings potential. TRON is a blockbuster style film...while the others are more low-key and thought inducing (well, except for Yogi and Gulliver's Travels).
Matt: I still find it odd how many people are underestimating Yogi Bear. Have people already forgotten the Box Office juggernaut that was Alvin and the Chipmunks? This has the same appeal, maybe even more so. Cute, cuddly animals, physical comedy, and celebrity voices (sadly, it seems this is all America needs anymore to like a movie). The movie looks God awful, but middle America will see it anyways. I mean, who doesn't know about Yogi Bear? He's a pretty famous character, much more famous then TRON could ever be.
I've seen the trailer for Yogi Bear in theaters many times, with films such as Tangled, Megamind, and Harry Potter. All three times, everyone in the theater was having a blast. I even heard a family all say "We HAVE to see that!" Obviously, one family does not gauge the collective opinion of the nation. But I've seen films of this type succeed time and time again, and I'd put my money on Yogi Bear following suit.
I imagine Yogi Bear opening to the tune of about $50 million. TRON: Legacy, maybe 40. But $40 million is too small of a number for a film of this type.
Will It Make Enough Money to be Considered a Success?
Jordan: Of course it will. I don't see how it couldn't make enough money. Disney sunk a lot of dough into this film (VFX and marketing took up most of it I'm sure), but let's face it...Disney does know what they're doing. They haven't staid in business this long because they make bad decisions. They know how to make movies, and they've proven they can make quality live-action films as well. Are they winners 100% of the time? No, but their track record is pretty solid.
The reason this film will make money is because of the fans of the original. As bad as the first movie was (let's be honest here, it wasn't great...) it's developed an insane following, and one that's only grown since the first images of Legacy started coming out. Even I myself, who only thought the first film was ok, have found myself really itching to become once more immersed in that world. Fanboys alone can ensure that this movie will make all of it's money back, and the people they make come along with them will ensure it will become a success.
I think it will have staying power as well. Fans will want to watch it a few times while it's in theaters, and undoubtedly the people who see it will do nothing but talk about the amazing visuals to all of their friends who have yet to go. It's got a lot of potential, and as we talked about earlier, not enough competition to slow it down. It has the ability to survive well into 2011.
Matt: As I've stated, a $40 million opening weekend is not enough. To be considered a success, this movie will have to open at at least 90. And I highly doubt it will reach those numbers. The film's budget is at least $200 million, and the marketing campaign is HUGE. In total, I estimate it's true budget to be around $300 million. I can't imagine it passing $150 million. Even if it makes another $100 million worldwide, that's still $250 million, which puts TRON in the red. For the film to succeed, it would have to make more money then Shrek: Forever After did domestically. Something tells me Shrek is a tad bit more universal than this film is.
And even though all the fanboys will be rushing to TRON, that means very little, because if you remember correctly, all the fanboys rushed to Scott Pilgrim and Kick-Ass as well. The fans are not enough to keep this film alive; it needs to appeal to EVERYONE.
Lastly, I don't think the staying power will be that good. Sure, it's a cinema graveyard until March, but the movie won't be as well received as say, Avatar. And speaking of which...
Will it 'Gel' With Mainstream Audiences, ala Avatar?
Jordan: This is a hard question. Unless you're James Cameron, you can never really predict when an Avatar will come around. It was a phenomena, and while movie studios try to make films to be that, it's an unpredictable event. I will say, that TRON fans are not limited by location and they are all over the world. Just look at the sweet looking TRON-themed hotel room they made in that Swedish ice hotel. It's a worldwide fan-base, so it's very possible to gain a foothold internationally.
Matt: In my opinion, only two filmmakers have worldwide appeal: James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. For some reason or another, these two guys know what people want out of a film, regardless of how strange the concept may be. Why, exactly? Simple: no matter how odd the story was, they always anchored them with Universal themes. E.T. was the story of an alien befriending a boy, but it also dealt well with loneliness and the impact that friendship has in everyone's life. Avatar was the story of mining for moon rock on a far off planet populated by a bunch of blue aliens, but it was also a love story between two warring groups of people.
Housewives went to go see Avatar, but not because of the aliens. They went because they heard the love story was sweet, and poignant (even though it wasn't). What does TRON have for it, besides the visuals? There's no real love story, and the basic theme of father and son seems to be the last thing on the director's mind. The pretty visuals aren't enough if Tron wants to succeed.
Will This be Disney's New Flagship Franchise?
Jordan: I didn't think this would really be a question up for debate. Of course it'll be their new flagship franchise! Since the success of the Pirates trilogy, Disney has been looking for something new to take up the banner. While they have new Pirates movies on the way, they know diversity is the key. So why not go with something hip, flashy, and on the cutting of edge of technology? TRON fits that bill, and it's a great way to get kids and younger audiences interested.
Besides, they've already made comments about the sequel to Legacy, and have hinted that they are already working on the script. On top of that, they've announced that a TRON cartoon TV show is in the works. With a sequel in the works, a TV show, and more videogames being planned making this their new 'top' franchise is obviously something they're working towards.
I think the techno setting is going to work for them, though. Even if for some reason Legacy does tank, they can still bring it back with the show. Flashy lights and techno-babble can bring in a lot of the younger crowd, and with all of the fans out there, it's a series they could milk for a long time.
Matt: It depends on how well it does, I guess. If it succeeds, then yes (or at least they'll certainly try to). If it fails, then no. Disney seems mighty desperate for a new franchise to capitalize on, and they're pinning all their hopes on this property. But do people even want this to be a new franchise?
Sure, it has some room to grow, but the story of a computer world is fairly simple. Since they're all programs, it's really hard for them to have emotions, or at least that's what the original TRON would lead us to believe. The basic world of TRON is simple, and I'm not sure it could lend itself very well to a cartoon or comic book series.
Is Disney Putting All Their Eggs in One Basket? Would a TRON: Legacy Failure Cripple Them Substantially?
Jordan: While I will admit they are planning on making TRON their next big franchise, that doesn't mean all of their eggs are going into one basket. This is Disney. They have access to hundreds (if not thousands) of different properties. They are still making Pirates movies, and the success of Tangled just goes to show that they can still make great cartoons. On top of that, we can't forget they have all of the Marvel properties now. With the string of superhero movies still coming out, and not looking to stop any time soon, Disney is sitting on a massive gold mine with Marvel.
Honestly, even if (that's a big IF) TRON manages to fail in all ways, Disney won't be hurting to the point of being crippled. It'll sting, but with all of the other fires they have burning they will be far from being out of the game. They have superheroes, cartoons, and a vault filled with classics; it'll take a lot more than one failed movie to bring the down.
Matt: I agree with you on this. Disney won't be hurting from a TRON: Legacy failure. They have Pixar, and Pirates, and a little place called Disneyland. They won't go bankrupt or anything. However, Disney does seem to want a new thing, and if TRON fails, they'll have to start looking again. Why would they trust an obscure film from the 80's to be their next big thing is beyond me, but that's just how Disney rolls, I guess.
If TRON: Legacy Does Fail, What Impact Will It Have on Hollywood?
Jordan: When I went to the TRON Night 2010 preview I was blown away by the footage I saw there, and honestly it's the best use of 3D I've seen in a film so far...maybe even more so than Avatar. From that side of things, if TRON fails, the only impact I could see on Hollywood would be another blow to the 3D fad. Which in my mind wouldn't be a bad thing. Conversely, it's success could mean another boon to the 3D craze in films. While I don't want that to happen, it might also be a rallying point for better use of 3D in films.
Let's face it, Hollywood and the industry on the whole, are rarely affected by individual films, even the big ones. They'll keep pumping out movies they think the audiences want.
Matt: A TRON: Legacy failure can be the biggest thing to happen to Hollywood since the failing of Cleopatra (which, if you remember correctly, almost bankrupted Fox). While it certainly won't kill Disney, it's impact on the film industry forever will be known.
Two things can happen with a TRON failure: the first you already stated (and which I agree wouldn't be a bad thing), but the second is much more severe. Well, for us at least. The failure of TRON: Legacy would officially put the nail on the head of movie geek power. In essence, a TRON: Legacy failure could mean 'The Fall of the Movie Geek'.
Hollywood seems to have a weird trust issue with movie fans. They seem to think we control the whole world. Sadly, we don't. In fact, we are a very minuscule sector of the filmosphere. The failures of three movies that we basically championed (TRON: Legacy, Scott Pilgrim, and Kick-Ass), would finally show the studios that we mean very little. This would mean no more huge Comic-Con unveils, no more expensive viral marketing campaigns, and no more uber obscure adaptations. Essentially, no more power for the film geek.
This isn't some power thing. I could care less about what Hollywood thinks about us. But the main causality would be what it always is: movies. We're huge champions of Scott Pilgrim here at TheMoviePool. If it wasn't for Hollywood's trust in us, that movie would never have been made, Kick-Ass would have gotten a limited release, and TRON would forever be known as that weird movie from the 80's. I pray that this doesn't happen, but a TRON: Legacy failure would certainly make that nightmare a reality.
Jordan: There have been a lot of things brought up in this debate that touch on key issues. Overall, though, I still say TRON will win out in the end. I don't feel the competition is there to stop it from making a ridiculous amount of money. Fanboys do come out in mass. The problem with Scott Pilgrim and Kick-Ass is those were/are niche fans (even among other nerds). The fact is, TRON (like most other old, and cheesy Sci-Fi properties) has a very large fanbase all across the world, and they are going to be seeing this film. It can be a good flagship franchise, because even in a computer world, there is plenty of room to tell fun and compelling stories (did anyone see the TV show Reboot? Watch it and you'll see what I mean).
Matt: While you may not believe it, I want Tron: Legacy to succeed. In fact, I want it to flourish. I want it to be the biggest movie ever made and one of the best things cinema has ever seen. Unfortunately, I live in reality. Although Jordan's points are sound, I still can't will myself to believe that audiences will accept TRON: Legacy. And if the movie's really bad, I guess it doesn't matter anyways. But if the movie's good...well, boy I hope I'm wrong. That's all I have to say.
There you have it. Now it's your turn to chime in with your thoughts on the upcoming TRON: Legacy. Will it fail? Will it succeed far beyond everyone's expectations? We've told you our opinions so let's hear yours.
A film/video editor at heart, Jordan dips his hands in many areas of filmmaking, including producing and VFX. On top of that he's a huge nerd and cartoonist, though you shouldn't hold that against him. He's been writing on the film industry for a number of years now and has had his worked featured on a number of other major film sites.
Email him at: email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter: @JordanMaison