Tron: Legacy? Whoop-Doo!
Yogi Bear? Whoop-doo!, too!
That's right. I said it. I'm actually excited about watching this latest CGI monstrosity that will shit on everything we've come to know and love about our favorite "pic-a-nic" basket stealing bear. Like it or not, Yogi Bear is a beloved institution, and we cannot look to the extreme failures of this year's talking animal fiascos Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and Marmaduke as any indication of the damage this family outing will do to the box office when it arrives December 17th. Just in time for Christmas.
Those two earlier films are in a completely different class. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore was a continuation of a film that came out nearly ten years ago. It's a sequel to a modestly successful DVD that most people had forgotten about. The kids that loved it are now burgeoning teenagers uninterested in the family-friendly exploits of a couple household pets. And Marmaduke? Who the heck likes Marmaduke? The cartoon strip from which its based stings like a gulp of whiskey, and it was never intended for, or attractive too, children. Of course it wasn't going to fare well in theaters. Never, as a kid, do I remember making a B line to that obtrusive Marmaduke square with its just as square punch line. It was filler for a kinder, gentler time. A time when your grandpa would sit at the dinner table with his pipe on Sunday morning, reading the paper. Marmaduke was meant for that guy. Not a crowd of screaming toddlers.
Yogi Bear, on the other hand, is adored by every demographic imaginable. He has been a part of our collective childhood experience since first debuting on both television and film in the mid-60s. He's ageless. Funny. And attractive to most age groups. It's a fact, people love Yogi Bear. Just as much as they love Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, and Scooby Doo. Perhaps even more so. And the feature length films based on these particular characters have all been hugely successful. Scream all you want Mr. Sophisticated Filmgoer, there is no denying that fact. They all opened number one at the box office. And the Chipmunk franchise, in particular, has been especially lucrative during the holiday season. Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D won't be released until December 16th of 2011, so Yogi Bear will slide into that open slot this year like a greased hot dog up a pig's butt (i.e. quite nicely).
Add to this the fact that Yogi Bear and Boo Boo are being voiced by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, and that the ensemble cast is rounded out by always welcome comedian Anna Faris, with the very likable Tom Cavanagh and T.J. Miller appearing as park rangers, and you have a nice, tidy recipe for attractive family fare. Which always translates to big business at the holiday box office. Not only that, this isn't the first time Yogi has appeared in feature length form. His 90-minute animated narrative adventure Hey There, It's Yogi Bear was a smash hit when it hit screens back in 1964. The DVD, which was released in 2008, has done steady, stellar business for Warner Bros., and it was one of the deciding factors in bringing this Hannah-Barbara property back to multiplexes around the country. It doesn't take Nostradamus to predict that Yogi Bear's latest theatrical incarnation is going to be a major bread winner this coming Kwanza.
"Okay, that sounds about right," You might be saying to yourself, "But who cares? What does this have to do with me? I'm not going to pay to see that atrocity of a so-called movie." Well, as we reported last week, a huge "geek" event picture, one that had been loved and nurtured, celebrated and supported mostly by movie bloggers, fan sites, and comic book aficionados, bit the dust. Hard. There's no denying it. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was a huge bomb. It wasn't supposed to be. It was one of two seemingly important flicks that the small, yet extremely vocal, film pundit associate have rallied around this year. Championing its ever-waking move towards an official release date. Still, those acts of attrition and a handful of stellar reviews couldn't keep the film from finding itself tossed into the box office dumpster like an aborted fetus.
Heck, the movie made less on its opening weekend ($10 million) than such 2010 duds as Tooth Fairy ($14 million), When in Rome ($12 million), Cop Out ($18 million), The Bounty Hunter ($20 million), The Back-Up Plan ($12 million), Killers ($15 million), and a whole other slew of absolute garbage. Of course fans and cinefiles alike cried foul. That audiences got it wrong. That the general public was full of ADD-riddled dummies. They took it quite personally, and are steal feeling, and reeling from, the pain. Especially after Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World dropped to number 10 during its second weekend of release, and will either be gone all together or playing at the dollar theater this coming weekend.
Saddened yet not defeated, these film fans are now turning their collective attention back to the one film they feel can't fail them in 2010. The second most rallied around geek wet dream of the year: Tron: Legacy! But what sci-fi and genre movie lovers are failing to realize this early out is: They may very well have to contend with another huge failure and disappointment at the box office. One that will be a bit bloodier than the battle for box office glory Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World fought against The Expendables and Julia Roberts.
Its sort of cool and mostly expected that a mopey, emo-themed comic title would lose out to Sylvester Stallone, an action icon that has made three genre-pushing films over the course of the past five years. But for a (seemingly) highly anticipated sci-fi sequel first realized in the Golden era of the 80s to lose out to a tapeworm infested, animated bear? That is utter blasphemy. Still, it will most likely happen when both Tron: Legacy and Yogi Bear are forced to share a release date the week before Christmas. If history has told us anything, it's that kid-friendly cartoons generally win hands down over whatever else is getting released, especially when said kids are on vacation. Sure, Tron: Legacy is a Disney movie. Its glowing colors and action packed scenes are geared towards young children and adults alike. But lets face facts. Tron is not Star Wars. It doesn't have the types of characters that attract a young audience. The youth of today has not been clamoring for a sequel. Those few who have seen the original were bored by it. And the geek cry you hear isn't coming from anyone outside the realm of movie Blogs.
You may not believe me now. And I am in no way saying that Yogi Bear is going to be the better film. That couldn't be farther from the truth. It will most likely be a hard to digest, empty endeavor. But it will also be somewhat fun. Its colorful, light, amusing, and all but has Tron: Legacy in a headlock. If history has told us anything, its that Yogi Bear will be the sure fire winner when it comes to tallying up receipts. You don't want to admit it. But even Disney knows this to be true. And the studio is cringing, because they have so much riding on this potential franchise in the making.
As it stands now, advanced word on Tron: Legacy is not good. The first cut was deemed a botched job. Director Joseph Kosinski is currently immersed in reshoots, working closely with the team over at Pixar to deliver the mind-blowing experience audiences are all but demanding. The biggest snag seems to be Garrett Hedlund and his performance, which lies at the heart of the film's storyline. Insiders are nervous. They say he is awful. His part is being pared down and shaped into something malleable. Of course these are all rumors. And the finished product could kick the sci-fi genre past the sky. But the rumors could also be true, too. And sometimes there is no saving what can't be fixed. Even if Garrett Hedlund is as awful as they say, it still has to be a fun film on some level. It just has to be. Its Tron. It's a B movie construct shellacked in a glammed-up Hollywood sheen. Someone, somewhere is going to not just like it. But love it. To death.
And that person is going to cry on December 20th, when the final tally is summed up, and Yogi Bear is deemed the winner. It will be worse than the morose cries heard yelped over the dying body of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Bloggers will see it as the umpteenth sign of the impending apocalypse. Family filmgoers will shrug and scamper away as if nothing happened. It will be a sad day for both champions of sci-fi and movie nerds alike. But it won't affect Yogi Bear much. He'll probably get a sequel green lit within the week. While we'll all have to wait another 30 years for a third Tron.
No matter how you slice it, genre films have to abide by the same rule regulations as Rock, Paper, Scissors: Sci-fi never beats quality animated family fare. You can Boo! that rule all day long, but it doesn't stop it from being true. Yogi Bear? It's going to be a hit. Tron: Legacy? It's less than stellar opening, and loss to a food-addicted predator, is going to make fanboys weep.
Pretty much: It's going to fuck up their Christmas. Boo!