Edge of the Rules

Not too long ago, we got an update to a sequel some of the film community is looking forward to…

The sequel to the 2014 Tom Cruise-starring sci-fi actioner, Edge of Tomorrow. Or… Live. Die. Repeat. Or Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. A movie with multiple titles! Yet no matter what certain box art says or what the channel info states, the movie is pretty much called Edge of Tomorrow. The end credits sequence that shows the movie’s title has never been altered… It says Edge of Tomorrow. It was that way in the theaters and on Blu-ray/digital/TV. Some people even got confused, thinking at first that it was two separate movies!

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Why all of that confusion, then?

Warner Bros. is well-aware of how badly they messed this film’s box office life up. Edge of Tomorrow, a film directed by Doug Liman, is based on a manga called All You Need is Kill, and for the longest time the movie adaptation was going to be called that. Warner Bros. changed the title to the very bland-sounding one we have, and “Live. Die. Repeat.” was the movie’s tagline. That honestly should’ve been the title, if they didn’t want to go with a dodgy-sounding “All You Need is Kill.” Then I had seen an exclusive IMAX preview for the film. I believe it was before WB’s own May blockbuster Godzilla, that trailer got me a little more interested in it. Then the movie came out, scored an excellent 90% on Rotten Tomatoes with great reviews out the wazoo. I ended up loving it!

The $178 million-costing movie opened with a meager $28 million. In the generalization city that is Hollywood and the press, that $28 million meant the movie was low-quality. It wasn’t. Edge of Tomorrow was a good movie, and those who saw it on opening weekend thought so, too. They spread the word. Unlike most big summer action movies, Edge of Tomorrow made over 3 1/2x its opening weekend gross. Most movies like that fail to make 2 1/2x their openings! WB had something special on hand, and they botched it. Grossing $370 million worldwide, the movie technically flopped, barely doubling its budget.

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Warner Home Video re-branded the film as Live. Die. Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow, whilst not having the title card in the film itself altered. Perhaps they knew they messed up, and were hoping a catchier title would help the film sell better on home media? It did open at #1 on the Blu-ray sales charts, something it did not do when it hit theaters.

For a while, there has been talk of a sequel to the Doug Liman-directed film. Recently, we found that they gave it a title… Live. Die. Repeat, and Repeat. Now that’s an extremely stupid-sounding title, and one that’s inconsistent. All that aside, it’s good to know that some work is being done on it. I have some people in the trenches who are telling me the film is indeed a go, regardless of the fact that the first movie failed at the box office. We shall see, but when it comes to movies like this, I prefer to be cautious. Very, very cautious. You know why?

Because Hollywood has a history of this. A director or writer will say something like “Oh yeah, [x] movie is happening! Eventually!” Then it doesn’t happen.

Need I remind the world about Justice League: Mortal? Visionary director George Miller was set to direct the world’s first theatrical DC team-up movie, with a script completed and a full cast assembled by the beginning of 2008. The thing was totally going to happen, regardless of the fact that there was another big-screen Batman in town. Marvel Studios’ debut feature Iron Man wasn’t even out yet, so the shared universe concept wasn’t on the table… Then the movie was canceled, completely. That Justice League movie we’re getting this coming November? No relation whatsoever.

TRON 3. Walt Disney Pictures’ TRON: Legacy, the sequel to their 1982 cult sci-fi film, was released in late 2010. The half-wits running the film division at the time thought that they had the “next Avatar” on their hands, and were hoping for a December smash that would blow the $170 million and equally enormous marketing budget away like a tidal wave. Yes, all those expectations for a sequel to TRON. A sequel to TRON… The movie made decent numbers, and I argue to this day that $400 million worldwide is an excellent number for a movie like this. They stalled and stalled on any continuation. The animated midquel TV series was death-slotted halfway into its pretty successful run in 2012, Disney sent the message: TRON was no longer in their interests… But then we had heard talk of a third film continuing the story threads of TRON: Legacy. Then we heard… It was going to begin filming in October 2015! The script, the cast, it was ready! Disney then pulled the plug in late May 2015, after their live-action sci-fi tentpole Tomorrowland completely went belly-up at the box office. There’s currently talk of a new TRON film, but not TRON 3. Not the continuation of the Flynns’ story that we were supposed to get.

Moral of the story… When it comes to lots of big Hollywood films, and especially follow-ups to flop franchises… Don’t get your hopes up. They could pull the plug at any minute.

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This almost, almost happened with Pacific Rim. Warner Bros. also screwed up with that film. Guillermo del Toro’s super-fun robot and kaiju smash spectacle looked absolutely BORING from the trailers. I was puzzled, I wanted to be excited for this genre mash-up! The movie turned out to be great fun, but its opening weekend numbers were pretty bad. Costing $190 million to make, the film barely cracked $100 million domestically and made $411 million worldwide. Also barely double the budget. Yet, by mid-2014, a sequel was on the docket. It was scheduled for this coming August, but this time Universal was going to release it because of Legendary’s move from WB to the globe studio.

Then it disappeared. The movie was then in the “TBD” mode, which usually spells trouble. So I stayed cautious and said “Not happening till cameras are rolling.” I kept TRON 3 and Justice League: Mortal in mind. But I was pleasantly surprised, after all the cast announcements and director change news, that the sequel was filming. It’s currently in post-production, and will be released on February 23, 2018. I was overjoyed, but I reckon the movie made it because the Wanda Film Group – a massive Chinese conglomerate – purchased Legendary Pictures… And Pacific Rim was a biiiiiig hit in China, so…

That being said, I’m still going to be cautious with Live, Die, Repeat, and Repeat

Now from here on out, I will argue why the sequel should happen, regardless of the fact that the first movie flopped.

There’s a difference between a movie that loses money at the box office, and a movie that audiences did not like. Most movies fail at the box office because audiences don’t even want to see them to begin with. With so much media out now and so many platforms, audiences are very choosy with movies. Movies are super-expensive, and if you’re taking the family, it costs a fortune! The other problem is, these studios pump ridiculous amounts of money into these things, and equally ridiculous amounts into the marketing budgets… So a $300 million worldwide gross isn’t enough. But $300 million indicates that a good amount of people *GASP* saw the movie!

The press on the other hand natters “Flop! Audiences didn’t like it! The movie didn’t strike a chord!” No, the movie cost way too much and no matter how many people saw it, it wasn’t enough to make it a “profitable” success. I don’t know why I still have to spell this out for folks in this day and age, but that’s how it works.

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Edge of Tomorrow was critically acclaimed, and the domestic box office legs show that audiences dug the picture. It seems to be living a good new life on video and TV some three years after its release.

Right now, the press sites are nattering about this summer being full of box office flops. They’re worrying about Hollywood’s reliance on sequels and franchise entries, bemoaning the fifth installments of series like Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers. They’re also worried about films like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and The Dark Tower, thinking that they won’t successfully launch franchises for the studios that are putting them out.

Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said this…

“I’m not seeing anything this summer that can sequelize or build a new franchise. If we end the summer on a downturn, then a fundamental change may need to happen.”

A fundamental change. Yeah…

Like… Making a sequel to a movie that people actually liked!

Pacific Rim‘s getting one, Edge of Tomorrow should get one, too. Keep the budget in check, actually market the thing, and you may have a big hit on your hands next decade. WB is lucky if you think about it… Edge of Tomorrow could’ve came and went, with no sequel plans whatsoever. They’re at least on the table, and there’s indicators that the movie could move forward, so hopefully WB learns from their mistakes and realizes that they got out of this one in one piece… And actually prevent it from happening again by giving this movie a good title, not botching the marketing, and convince audiences into seeing it.

Hollywood can try, try, try to make franchises and they can try, try, try to make hits out of old hat that isn’t Star Wars. They can also try to listen to audiences for once, instead of annoying generalizations and “conventional wisdom,” things that smash context harder than a boot smashes an ant. Hey, if they were truly that smart, animation would probably be in a better state too.

But you know how it goes in showbiz…

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