Sometimes, I think that the internet is a wonderful tool. Other times, it seems to really bring people out of the woodwork. Not since the release of the new Battlestar Galactica have I seen so much pent-up drama and somewhat misguided angst over a film. For those of you who don't know, the upcoming movie Fanboys is about a small group of fans who go out to Skywalker Ranch to steal a print of the upcoming Phantom Menace. In version A, they steal the movie to show a dying friend, aka the Cancer Subplot. Version B, no mention of cancer, the guys just steal the movie because they want to see it first. There's been a bit of teetering about which version would be released, and it's seeming like Version B will be released to theaters.
Okay. Take a breath. I was looking forwards to the Version A, because it does have that heart and moral point that would set this film apart from other comedies that are out there. Granted, there's nothing in the trailer that shows the Version A, and the trailer alone is pretty funny, so I think that regardless, we're going to get a pretty funny, if somewhat more mindless movie, which is fine - I go to a comedy to laugh, not necessarily for a profoundly interesting story.
Now, where the 501st comes in. They were in the movie - The Dunes Sea Garrison was part of the film, and they supplied some props for the film. This is pretty cool, to get some troopers on the big screen. We also got reined into this when someone started bandying our name around when they started a web-based protest against the film, the Stop Darth Weinstein movement. Or myspace.
We sent them off an e-mail about their use of our name and logo, because as a legion, we don't have a stance on the film yet. And while members have a range of opinions, using our name in that way paints our whole group in a bad light, something that we really don't want.
To me, the SDW group is really overreacting and injecting a whole lot more drama into a situation that really doesn't warrant it. While it's a little redundant to say "It's just a movie", we are all movie fans here, and Star Wars is something that a lot of us have gotten emotionally attached to. Fanboys, a film that hasn't even been released yet, isn't something to get attached to.
I'm going to address some points from their blog;
The thing that people have to remember is that this is a movie - it's a product that's designed to bring in more money than it cost to make. End of story. Weinstein's is in the business to make money, and then continue to make more movies. It's senseless to boycott a movie that they're going to try and open up to a larger audience, which seems to be the case there. The original film was a Star Wars fan film, and the current director was a Star Wars fan, but this film wasn't made simply because a couple of Star Wars fans got together and into the same room.
"Last summer, the director, Kyle Newman, screened his rough cut of Fanboys for the fans at the Star Wars Celebrations in both Los Angeles and London. It received several standing ovations at both screenings. The creators of this website are fans just like you, and were at those screenings. We witnessed the audience reaction ourselves! Everyone in attendance absolutely loved the movie! Fanboys is like Stand By Me for Star Wars fans. It is the ultimate Star Wars fan film!"
Of course is recieved a standing ovation, you idiot. You're at a Star Wars convention - you're going to have an audience there that's going to absolutely love anything that has any remote connection to Star Wars. I'm sure people there loved it, and there would have been a wonderful vibe in the room - however - that's just one part of the target audience that the film's intended to go to.
"The head of the Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein, seems to think he'll make more money if he rips the heart out of the movie and turns it into another mindless comedy. And he thinks fans like us won't mind if he recuts FANBOYS so that it portrays Star Wars fans as idiotic criminals who would break into George Lucas's offices just because they're hopeless dorks."
I'm sure that they will make more money this way. The sad reality of American entertainment is that it's incredibly watered down. Go watch something from the UK when it comes to comedy and just see how weak some of our things are. The thing is, people here buy it. It doesn't really matter what Star Wars fans think , really. As a group, we're subject to all sorts of stereotypes, and this sort of protest, written out the way that it is, doesn't help things at all. Yes, I mind that a bunch of Star Wars fans are going to be portrayed in a humorous situation because they're geeks, but it's nothing new, and a movie isn't going to change that at all.
"Now that the film is finished, the Weinstein Company, the studio who controls the film, is trying to change the plot of the entire movie SO THAT IT RIDICULES STAR WARS FANS!
For some reason, Harvey "Darth" Weinstein thinks FANBOYS it will make more money of it mocks its target audience."
I think that was sort of going to come across in the first place - you can't have comedy without people to laugh at, and it's going to be the guys on the screen. And, as I said before, we're not the target audience. The broad 18-24 through late 30s crowd is probably the main target demographic, and they sure ain't all star wars fans. And if it's a bigger audience, it'll make more money.
Group's been sending out e-mails to people involved with the film, and received this one back allegedly from the director:
" I can hook you up with the facts on this one. My only advice is don't judge something til you have seen it. Have you seen the cancer version of this movie? I have. It is unreleaseable. It would be irresponsible to release it. The cancer is used as a convenient subplot and is actually offensive to anybody who knows anything about or has gone through cancer. Trust me. You are fighting for something that you would not be proud of. Cancer is trivialized, marginalized and reduced to the worst kind of contrivance. That is what you are fighting to see. And you will see it. At least on the dvd. And you will cringe at the bad, manipulative melodrama that goes against the true spirit of the piece.The non cancer version is true, joyful and and in no way condescending to star wars fans. But again. You should see it. And perhaps you will. If you stop ranting about things you have not seen. You honestly remind me of the religious right condemning movies and books they haven't seen or read, and have only been fed inflammatory facts about....usually from people with an agenda. Your precious Star Wars homage movie has been made, and has been preserved......you will see. And then you should apologize to Darth Weinstein......"
I somewhat doubt that this is actually from the director. However, it does have a couple of good points - The new version hasn't really been seen by anyone. The Cancer one was, and it got good reviews all around. If they can eliminate the cancer plot with just a couple of re-shoots, I highly doubt that the quality of the film will be impacted that much.
Now, I'm not thrilled that Steven Brill was handed the film - from what little I've seen of Without A Paddle, it's certainly lower common denominator comedy, but keep in mind that he was only brought in for the re-shoots - this isn't something that's likely to change the entire film from it's original screenplay - remember, they did some re shoots, but they didn't reshoot the entire film. This leads me to believe that we've got much of the original still intact.
The group's also getting a lot of press, which is just fueling them up a bit more. Weinsteins has countered:
"We are thrilled to see all this great interest and excitement for 'Fanboys.' While a potential conflict like this has not occurred since Luke last walked into that bar in Tatoonie, everyone can be assured that there has been no stir in the force and the film stays on target."
Okay, a bit mindless there, but this is generating a lot of press for the movie. The group's claiming that 500 websites list their story. That's going to bring more people out to the film to see what all the fuss is about. Any news is good news.
A nice thing is that a good chunk of people in the Star Wars community is concerned with the film's status. According to a Starwars.com poll, 75% of respondents said that they knew about the drama and were concerned. A further 2 % said that they knew about the drama, but weren't concerned. The remaining 23% didn't know and didn't care.
"What do these poll results tell us (and Darth Weinstein)? Several things.
77% of the fans have been following the production of FANBOYS. The majority of the fans are interested enough in the movie to follow what's going on with it. Star Wars fans CARE about this movie and about how they will be portrayed in it, Darth Weinstein!
And 75% of them are "pretty concerned" with the current state of the film. A whopping 2% are "not too worried."
Someone with enough intelligence to wrap their head around these confusing numbers might get the distinct feeling that...
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY IS ALIENATING ITS TARGET AUDIENCE!"
1 - Internet polls aren't really that reliable. This star wars one targets only people who vist the main page, and doesn't list the number of people who responded. Again, it's not targeting the entire target audience, just the built-in audience. They're annoying their built-in audience, but not alienating them. If they hired Paris Hilton, they're be alienating their built-in audience.
"Fine, Darth Weinstein. You have officially incurred the wrath of the Rebel Alliance. Our new goal is to make sure your next release (SUPERHERO MOVIE) grosses exactly $0 on its opening weekend. On the day it opens, there will be a crowd of Star Wars fans outside every theater, urging people to go see "Run Fatboy Run" instead. That movie stars Simon Pegg - and he's an actual Star Wars fan. Like all of us."
This is after the Weinstein Page changed text to reflect the new version. Please, I'm sure they're quaking in their boots. There's no way that these guys are going to have any substantial impact on the film (although I am hoping that nobody will see it - it's going to get slammed critically, and will probably earn a good spot on the top 10 for a week), because it's a known formulaic comedy. It might be crap, but two protests in the US are hardly going to slow anything down.
"The Weinstein Company has ignored the vocal outcry from Star Wars fans around the globe, all demanding that they release the original version of Fanboys.
They have ignored the results of the Official Star Wars website poll which shows that 78% of the fans are following the production of Fanboys, and that an overwhelming 94% of those fans disapprove of the changes they're making to the film!
They have ignored our pledge to boycott all Weinstein Company/Dimension films, even though our intentions have been reported in the New York Post, the Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair, and on thousands of websites."
Um, it was 76%, and it's a 97% margin of respondants who are concerned. Let's learn to use a calculator and read the polls correctly, shall we? Again, a poll like that pulls in a small number of people out of the target demographic - it can't be construed as reliable by any stretch of the imagination. And they might have ignored the poll, so what? Honestly, this movement and your pledge aren't really that worrisome - if anything, they'll generate more interest in the film, which in turn means more people going to see it. You have just under 500 friends on myspace, which, at let's say $7 a ticket = $3500 in lost revenue. Let's count the 115 people on the facebook group as different people, and that brings up to a lost $4305. Maybe a couple hundred more in lost ticket sales to people who join on with protests. A drop in the ocean when it comes to what films take in nowadays.
Honestly, I'm just annoyed that these guys were trying to use the good name of the 501st to galvanize things. It just annoys me to no end. It seems to me that there's a lot more productive ways to go about this.
I'm looking forwards to this film, a bit less so than before the news of the recuts, but I'm still going to see it. It's not good to see what was a very promising and interesting cut of the film taken out, but for a film like this, it's not really worth getting all worked up about.