Serenity

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  • Directed By: Joss Whedon
  • Written By: Joss Whedon
  • Release Date: September 30, 2005
  • Domestic Distributor: Universal
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk

Box Office Info:
Budget: $39 millionFinanced by: Universal
Domestic Gross: $25,514,517Overseas Gross: $13,354,947


After FOX cancelled Joss Whedon’s Firefly series in 2002, he tried to shop around the continuation of the property as a low budget feature or even a TV movie.  In March 2004, Universal purchased the rights from FOX and developed Serenity as a mid-budget project.  The budget for Serenity was $39 million.  This marked the second time Whedon had successfully resurrected a flop into a new format, after he launched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series from his scripted 1992 box office bomb.

Universal originally scheduled Serenity for release on April 22, 2005 but it was pushed back to September 30.  Along with a traditional marketing campaign, the studio launched a grassroots promotion that targeted areas where the TV ratings for Firefly were the strongest.  Interest from Firefly‘s fan community was palpable, but buzz was low from those that were uninitiated.  Serenity bowed against Into The Blue, The Greatest Game Ever Played and the wide expansions of A History Of Violence and Oliver Twist.

Serenity was booked into 2,188 theaters and landed positive reviews.  It came in on the lower end of its modest expectations with $10,086,680 — placing #2 over the slow weekend led by the holdover Flightplan.  Despite receiving an A cinemascore from the fanbase that showed up opening weekend, Serenity did not have the strong legs it needed to break out and fell 46.9% the following weekend to $5,352,090.  It then sank 54.3% to $2,443,870 in its third frame and promptly lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with a poor $25,514,517.

Serenity did not fare any better overseas, which saw a weak $4,840,196 from the UK as the highest offshore gross.  The overseas cume was only $13,354,947 and Universal dumped the film straight to video in a few smaller markets.  The worldwide gross was $38.8M and the studio would see returned about $21.3M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — leaving much of the global P&A costs in the red and the theatrical receipts would not touch the budget.

After Serenity tanked in theaters, the movie had a more prosperous life on home video.  Universal picked up an additional $3M from a broadcast sale to the USA network.  On a completely trivial side note, Serenity was the first hacked movie on the unsuccessful HD DVD format in January 2007 by Muslix64.

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