Monday, July 20, 2009

The Comic Book Movie Problem

Here is an issue I struggle with routinely. When making a comic book movie, how much should the movie be like the comic book?
Here is an example.
The original "Punisher" movie with Thomas Jane (not the first "original" with Dolph Lundgren...ugh). was made for 33,000,000. Not a bad budget. It grossed, worldwide, 54,600,000. Yay! A profit. The Punisher is a success.

So, they made a sequel.

The Punisher: War Zone, starring "that guy from the HBO Rome show" was made for 33,000,000 - hey, we made it for less! It grossed 8,000,000. A huge loss. I guess in Hollywood, that would be "a flop".

The first movie, however, disappointed fans. It was not exactly true to the original character and made several key departures disappointing hard core fans. It also made a profit.
The Punisher: War Zone was very much in line with the comic book. It was like watching a live action verion of The Punisher comic. Hard core fans loved it. It flopped.

So, you can't float a movie solely on us comic book fan boys. It has to appeal to more people, I assume, because it costs a bunch to make a movie.

It goes back to the axiom that you have to know your audience. Watchmen followed the graphic novel very well, but by all accounts, Watchmen is not a "typical" graphic novel and the movie was even a bit more graphic and was filmed in a style of photography that was nothing short of breathtaking. The 300 was done in a similar fashion.

Know your audience and make your product accordingly. Would Star Wars have been a mega hit if it were a novel first? Would The Simpsons be a household name if it had started as a movie? The right place to launch your project is out there whether it is indie publishing, online comics, finding an agent, selling a script. The only way to find it is to reach for it.

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