Pacific Rim: Five Reasons We Want It To Succeed

Pacific Rim Review

There's been a great deal of discussion about the potential for box office performance of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, the latest big-budget bonanza from Warner Bros. and Man of Steel financiers Legendary Pictures. From its ostensibly-poor tracking numbers to its public perception problem (it's rarely good when your film is repeatedly compared to Transformers), the film seems to be having trouble connecting with non-fanboys in spite of the fact that it took Comic-Con by storm last year and has what seems like a self-evidently fun premise: giant monsters and giant robots whaling on each other. And as with every film whose box office performance we keep a keen eye on, the question becomes: why do we care? Unless we've got stock in Warner or Legendary, what does it matter whether this movie makes money? There are actually a few reasons, insofar as Pacific Rim is concerned...

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It proves Guillermo del Toro's blockbuster pedigree For every blockbuster on his filmography, del Toro has a handful of smaller films--and not all of the big ones have worked, either critically or commercially. It's been five years since his last live-action feature as a director (Hellboy II: The Golden Army) and another two before that since the last time one of his films turned a profit at the domestic box office (Pan's Labyrinth). The last time he did a big, tentpole movie that made more money than it cost to make was Blade II, with even the first Hellboy not making as much as it should have in the U.S. While the international markets have always covered his "losses" and made him look good, studios and industry trades pay disproportionate attention to American numbers, since the cost of marketing and distribution means that as a rule of thumb, movies that doni't make a profit in the U.S. don't make a profit.

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Hellboy 3 Related to that last thing, we get this: If del Toro and actor Ron Perlman can put together the kind of massive hit that can launch a franchise, as Legendary has been hoping for Pacific Rim, it could tell Legendary and others that they're capable of making Hellboy 3 a bit. Why's that important? Well, word has it Legendary will join forces with current Hellboy rights-holders NBC Universal this week. That means after years of false starts and half-hearted promises, the movie is as close to getting made as it's ever been...and if it doesn't happen soon, it probably won't at all. It's an original concept We'll give you that similar ideas have been done before, albeit not on this scale or with this level of realism, but Pacific Rim isn't an adaptation of anything. That might not sound like a particularly great reason to throw support behind it, but let's be honest: almost every movie this year to make over $100 million at the domestic box office has been an adaptation, sequel, reboot or something of the sort. Pacific Rim will almost certainly be the year's highest-grossing film that doesn't fit into one of those categories, just on the strength of its scope. And if it's going to occupy that space anyway, to see the film actually do objectively well might tell Hollywood that more original ideas are worth trying. It's huge for Legendary This might be an insular reason for caring about the film as well, but it would be nice to see Legendary continue to succeed; they put together some damn fine Batman and Superman movies, and while they originated The Hangover series, it's unlikely those are going to continue on as box office juggernauts. They're leaving Warner Bros. and heading to another studio with almost no intellectual property of their own, but if they could make Pacific Rim a hit, it would position them to get their hands on more lucrative and interesting intellectual properties in the future. Hellboy 3 is just the start--a strong new chapter for Legendary could mean a lot of cool properties could fall into their hands post-Warner; Universal has control of franchises like Jason Bourne, Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious are housed there, and those are just some of the ones currently active at the studio. Good sci-fi is good for everybody If Pacific Rim can generate positive buzz and a lot of money, maybe it can throw into sharp relief that the shabby Transformers movies aren't bad because they're big, loud actio movies but because they're not all that well-written. That's the hope, for us--if Pacific Rim can succeed and see that a big-budget, action-packed movie doesn't have to be JUST explosions, it can open the door to more ambitious filmmaking in Hollywood, where playing it safe and following the trend are the orders of the day.