Reports say that Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro's awesome monsters vs mechs movie, is tracking very poorly. I'm not hugely surprised - it's an original movie without name brand recognition, the stars aren't marquee level and, to be frank, Warner Bros has been only selling this movie as a CGI spectacle, with almost no hint as to what the story is or who the characters are. But here's the thing... why do we care?
Today was the Pacific Rim junket and Shock-Til-You-Drop asked Thomas Tull, the honcho at Legendary, who mostly financed the film, about the tracking. I like Tull's answer:
"It has almost become like sporting events. Every weekend, it's so wildly reported on and now even opining about tracking, which is kind of weird to me. I can tell you, when I was a kid and Star Wars came out, I wasn't like, 'I don't know, the trailer looks cool, but the tracking sucks.' I don't know what that is."
On some level I get the obsession with tracking and early buzz. It's about the way that movie fandom has become a home team endeavour - fans seem to cheer on franchises and companies more than movies or even filmmakers. Instead of being glad that del Toro got a mega-budget for once, fans focus on whether there will be a Pacific Rim 2. It's part of the obsession with box office numbers - which have the added value of validating a fandom. If you like Man of Steel a lot not only does the box office guarantee Man of Steel 2, it allows you to feel like you're objectively right.
Having a rooting interest makes some sense, but it feels like it's gone too far. Part of that is the internet age; where Variety and other trades were once really trades - ie, published for people in the industry - they're now closer to general interest publications. General interest publications that also serve as trades and that also know certain search terms - like Guillermo del Toro or Pacific Rim - will get them hits. Tull didn't know about tracking when he was a kid because it wasn't reported anywhere. Box office was barely reported back then. But that's changed in a big way.
Yeah, I'd like to see Pacific Rim tracking well, if only because it's a really good movie and I want people to see it where they should see it - on a big, big screen. But the movie is the movie, and it's the movie del Toro wanted to make. I'm glad it exists. The tracking and the opening weekend won't change the fact that Pacific Rim is essentially the robots vs monsters movie you've been hoping to see your whole life, just like Star Wars was the Flash Gordon movie Baby Boomers had wanted to see their whole lives.
It reminds me of the recent brouhaha about Jim Carrey refusing to do Kick-Ass 2 promo. People were mad he 'broke his contract,' as if they knew what was in his contract. Even if he did break his contract... was it with you? His performance matters, not his fealty to the corporations behind the films. We don't owe the corporations anything. We're on the side of the artists, of the directors and the actors and the writers and everybody who works on a movie, not the people who fund them. I don't care if Legendary gets rich, I care if Pacific Rim is good.
And it is.