DVD Sales Push Serenity Over The Top

Submitted by: Sevens

Newsarama is reporting that the combined sales of theater tickets and DVD sales has turned Serenity out of the red and into the black.

The total production costs for the Joss Whedon film was $39 million with a rumored advertising cost at approximately another $10 million making the total out of Universal’s pocket at around $49 million. The total U.S. theater box office take was a disappointing $25 million with international theatrical sales fairing little better at $13 million leaving Universal in the red for a whopping $28 million when taking into account that studios receive around 55% of total ticket sales.

With that kind of red ink Universal and Whedon have been walking around with all their fingers crossed hoping that the DVD sales would at least allow them to break even and show the pic in the black, even if only marginally. And it looks like all the finger crossing has paid off as the latest DVD numbers look very encouraging. All DVD reports up to January 31st are in and it looks like over 2 million DVD’s have been sold and VideoBusiness.com, an organization that tracks video rental information, announced that Serenity has made $9 million in DVD rentals alone.

The fact that Serenity has taken Universal out of the red and into the black is great news, but don’t cheer too early. According to Universal execs it still may not be enough for them to wager on a costly sequel, even though Whedon brought this one in at $1 million under its original projected cost of $40 million.

So kids, perhaps, like Universal and Joss Whedon, we need to start crossing all our fingers for a sequel and maybe, just maybe, like the studio coming out of the red, Serenity Part 2 can come out on the big screen.


  1. fred says

    Personally, I think depending upon how Whedon’s next couple of projects do money wise will be the main determining factor for Serenity 2.

  2. Beth says

    Anyone else think it’s kinda funny that Serenity has gone “into the black”?

    “Now that we’re in the black,
    Tell ‘em I’ll be comin’ back…”

  3. bugleboy624 says

    Forget the movie, I want the series back. I think there would be much more money to be made in a second season of Firefly than any movie. I believe the Browncoats have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is a considerably large audience for this product. It’s a guaranteed ratings success just waiting to happen. And with Whedon’s writing style, it could have the same lifespan as, at least, most of the Star Trek franchises. If only given the chance.

  4. says

    I also think a 2nd season of Firefly would be better than another movie. I think it would be absolutely perfect for the SciFi Channel and I really think that it is something that The CW should look into…

  5. Charles says

    I had watched Firefly via torrent because it wasn’t anywhere on TV. I thought it was fantastic and bought the Serenity DVD and Season 1 because I wanted to support them. Not all torrent users are pirates…

  6. William says

    Loved the TV series and bought the Serenity DVD. I’ll go with either Serenity 2, or a new season of Firefly on SCIFI channel.

    We’re rooting for you and the cast Joss!

  7. Richard says

    Yeah, Serenity doesn’t come out in the UK until next week :D

    Can’t wait!!

    I also think a second season would be better than another film

  8. craigeth says

    in the aus version of the dvd, theres an extra where whedon is interviewed by a group of aussies just after the first aussie screening. and he says he doesnt think he’ll make another series, that firefly will never be the same again. and that he’d much rather do a sequel to serenity.

  9. Richard says

    I’m a great fan of the series, but Serenity sucked bad. What Whedon has always done best, apart from great dialog, is building plot on elements in earlier episodes of a series. Let the man do series, including more Firefly, and I’ll be very happy.

  10. Matt Wilcox says

    Great news. But I’d far rather a new series than a movie. Firefly is about long story arcs and character development. Not the short stories that movies require.

  11. Mike I. says

    I loved the series and the movie about equally, but I’d much rather have another season than another movie. It’s mind boggling that any network could stumble upon a “sure thing” and toss it in the garbage.

    Well, not that mind boggling considering it was FOX, and they’ve got a long history of cancelling shows ESPECIALLY if they have high ratings. (e.g. Sliders, Brimstone, Tru Calling, Futurama)

    Funny thing is, when a new show airs, FOX shuffles the time slots around so no one knows when to watch, then they wonder why no one is watching it.

    I can just imagine some executive at FOX saying “I think I’m psychic because everytime I move a show to a 2am Monday time slot, we air an episode that no one likes. It’s like I know that no one is going to watch it and sure enough, the week I use my psychic powers and change the time slot, no one watches it!”

  12. says

    I just want continuation that is _by_ Joss…as it is…I think I’ll be visiting fanfiction.net today to help tide myself over, but I don’t care if it’s a series a movie trilogy…whatever…I just would love to see him continue the story.

    If you want a reliable steady source for information regarding Joss’s projects then feel free to visit Whedonesque.com.

  13. says

    Serenity got almost no Cinema coverage here in the UK. I was hoping to go and see it but by the time I check it had come and gone. No wonder international ticket sales were poor. I’ll be picking this on DVD for sure. Doesn’t this just prove yet again that early DVD sales will earn the movie companies more money without harming theatres!

  14. Matt says

    I agree that the series is what should come back. I think that what Joss should do is make the whole first season available for free download (for viewing on a computer). That would attract people who may not normally have an interest because they’re getting something for nothing. I’d bet that would help to raise the kind of interest to get the series back on the air.

  15. Vectormike says

    I’ll take it an way I can get it Movie, comics, books, or TV show. I juat want more Firefly/Serenity. I’d like to see an iPod base series. that way it’s baseddon the browncoats and not some lame ratings system that doesn’t seem to work. If the bean counters are eeing money they won’t cancel it.

    I buy BattleStar all the time now. nad $2.00 every weeks is fine by me.



  16. says

    There aren’t superlatives enough in the English language to express how superior this movie was. Other sci-fi films can only dream of being as good. That it didn’t do better at the box office is mute testimony to the idiocy of the viewing public which makes “successes” of such drivel as so-called “reality” TV and that “American Idol” crap. Alas, on Whedonesque there is some discussion as to how the figures cited by Newsarama might be overly-optimistic. I’m not getting my hopes up, not yet.

  17. says

    It’s rather fascinating that many of you want a 2nd season as opposed to another movie. I happen to agree, as the TV series had a much more interesting and compelling character drama to it, that a movie can never do justice to.

    Movies are so “Bang, boobies, guns shooting”. So boring. The series had character and wit and was much better. Plus has many more hours of entertainment in it.

  18. jeff says

    I too hope the story continues. This is probably the best Sci-Fi story ever. A second TV season would be my preference.

    The movie, while it was a really good story addition to the firefly universe, seemed to have a bit of what I call the big budget movie syndrome. Most of the Star Trek shows seemed to have this wierd coldness or something when they moved to the big screen.

    In Serenity I think what I disliked the most was the relighting of the ship’s interior. What was the theory behind this? To me, it made everything look stark and uninviting. If there was anything that discouraged new fans and repeat ticket sales it was this cold dead look to the ship. I mean who would want to live in a house with blue light everywhere?

    I’ve never understood this tendancy in space ships to light everything with barley enough light to see what’s going on. No one would live like that for an extended period. These directors need to blance artistic creativity with believability. Not that a space ship is believable. But you know what I mean.

  19. says

    jeff: My supposition only, but I believe the altered ship lighting was to underscore the situation being dark and desperate compared to how things were in the series. From what little I know of Joss and the people he gets to light his sets, not a single lens flare or shadow is accidental or without some underlying purpose. I agree with your assessment that “real life” ships would probably be better lit to keep up a crew’s spirits, but in the context of the BDM methinks the cold and the dark worked. Just my 2 Pfennigs Wert.

  20. ZOD says

    >The movie sucked.. Can we please quit talking about this greatly overrated film

    The movie did not suck. It was a continuation of an already deep storyline that made little apology to those who had never seen the series. It’s kind of how Cowboy Bebop the movie as a story fits in between 2 of the episodes. That movie made no attempt to re-introduce the characters to you. Serenity gave you at least a little back-story. What parts did you dislike? The cinematography was superb, much like Star Trek: Generations, though that movie still blew chunks, the lighting and set detail was excellent and since they had such an already rich and detailed universe to work with they just made everything that much more impressive. the plot was good, the characters well defined and the humor was as always very enjoyable. What modern great works of Shakespeare are you comparing Serenity too? Episuck III? Star Crap: Nemesis?? Well truthfully Doom was better then those two but Doom is still a far cry from the depth of Serenity. Are you comparing it to truly great works such as Lord of the Rings or Underworld (haven’t seen the Sequel yet)? Those are different styles of movies. Its unfair to compare it to them. Even so Serenity still holds its own to most modern movies in terms of its technical and stylistic qualities. To say that serenity was a movie you didn’t like, that’s fine. I can deal with that, but as a film Serenity was well made, truthful to the universe that created it, and a successful continuation of an excellent story line and idea. Not epic enough for ya, or action oriented enough? Then go watch Aliens, Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, and 2001, and see how those movies defined what sci-fi should be and why serenity is worthy to sit on the shelf with all of those titles. Granted I like Serenity, so everything I have said is biased. But if its wrong to like a movie because I think it has an excellent plot, well developed characters, an awesome universe, and sweet special effects, then hey I don’t want to be right.

    >Personally, I think depending upon how Whedon’s next couple of projects do money wise will be the main determining factor for Serenity 2.

    True, But It would be nice to have a season 2 or a sequel movie, heck even a made for TV special would be acceptable. (My vote is for a “Spike” TV Movie)

  21. says

    I have a few episodes of the 1st season left to watch. I haven’t watched the movie for that reason. However, I love this series and would love to see a 2nd season on SciFi’s Friday Night lineup.

    Surely if they can breath new life into the aging Stargate SG1, then this would be a huge success.

    New Series Please!

  22. says

    I think one of the main reasons Serenity didn’t do so well in theatres was that there was very little mention that it was a continuation of Firefly.
    I saw it with a friend (who hadn’t even heard of Firefly) and although he said he enjoyed it, he also said that he couldn’t follow it as well as he’d have liked to and that there was no character development.
    Both reasonable comments from someone who hadn’t had any exposure to the TV series.
    I guess because the series belongs to Fox, and the movie by Universal, Fox didn’t want to promote it by rescreening Firefly on TV, heaven forbid someone make money off Fox’s shoulders.
    I believe that both studios could have made a good deal more were Fox to have screened a “this is where it all began” repeat of Firefly in anticipation of the theatrical release, but we all know what the prats at fox would have thought of that idea don’t we.

    I’d dearly love to see Joss do a second series, just so long as Fox has nothing to do with it :)
    Haven’t they damaged enough good shows like futurama allready in favour for flacid, stale recycled garbage such as The Simpsons has turned into.

  23. Andy says

    we all guessed what Joss thought of Fox when watching the interviews on the last disc of the series, I think…

    If I was him, I’d be weary of working with Fox again: he always said it was a dream of his to do the show and they tore it from under his feet… it’d be a shame to take a loss like that twice in a row :(

    The movie changed a lot of things. A shift in attention on key characters and making impacts that are irreversible given another series (trying not to give anything away!) so it’d be interesting to see what happens.

    What I do know is, Joss has got to finish telling the story one day! It can’t be left like this!

    I’ll be looking for books to hit the shelves pretty soon if none of the fatcat network execs get their butts in gear soon!

  24. Charles says

    I liked the series so much that I would happily pay for it on a subscription basis. How about an encoded torrent for which one has to purchase a key?

  25. says

    Doesn’t Fox still own the rights to Firefly? And not want to give them up? I think that is what is keeping SiFi from picking this up. Hopefully there is a reason for them hoarding it.

    I am not a big fan of Joss’ other stuff (yet) but like some of you guys I downloaded the Firefly torrent…then immediatly bought the DVD and watched/bought the movie as soon as it came out both times.

  26. James says

    Howdy all!

    I’m a relative newcomer to the ‘Verse but I fell in love with it from the first moment. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m off to buy a copy as well as the series DVD tomorrow. While I would certainly enjoy another movie I too mainly hunger and dream for another series. The depth of Joss’s Universe cannot be properly conveyed in a two hour movie.

    The way I came across it is a way I haven’t yet heard anyone mention so I thought I’d share it. There is an online webcast service called ESS (Every Show Sucks). This service you can watch for free through Winamp (and fight for bandwidth, usually only getting a few seconds at a time) or, using the MUCH preferred method, become a subscriber for Only $5 a Month! They currently offer Forty Two Shows! And are always adding more. All greats and classics like Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, X-Files, Angel, Smallville, Lost, 24, ST TNG & DS9 and of Course Firefly as well as many more. They continually stream episodes from the pilot to the last or current one then start over again. With No Commercials!

    It’s a Great service and I’ll be forever indebted to them for introducing me to the world of Serenity. And I would have never known to buy the Serenity Movie or Series otherwise. Take a look & try it out at at http://ess.tv/. I think it’s a great way to introduce someone to the series (as it did with me!) Just my little way of helping to spread the word and get Firefly Season 2 happening as well as my thanks to ESS.

    See ya ‘Out There’…;~)

  27. Hayley says

    ok, although i think everyone would like the series back, as opposed to the movie, it cant happen. because of some rights thing, even if they wanted to revive the show, because of fox, it isnt legally possible for another 4 years.
    anyway, could we really have another show without wash? book is replaceable, but there’ll never be another wash. im curious to see what zoe is like without him though.

    lets just all rush to the shops and buy the dvds in bulk and hope that it helps joss to do what he does best…suprise and enthrall us.

  28. Azhrei says

    Fred, you got the song wrong. The correct lyrics are –

    “Take me out to the black,
    Tell ‘em I ain’t comin’ back.”

    Also, on-topic, Serenity is number one on Amazon UK and the Firefly box set is at number five. And Serenity was only released on DVD in the UK yesterday.

  29. Gin says

    Well, I definitely want to vote for another movie. I believe that, by the time everyone is ready to go back to the series (assuming it does take a couple years to buy back the rights from Fox) many of the actors will have moved on. That definitely explains Wash. But I heard that Whedon has ALL of the cast signed and ready to do 2 more movies in order to make it a trilogy, whenever the money and backing come along. That’s where I want it to go.

    And I’m sure Wash and Book will be back. Maybe an evil Wash. Like… an evil clone of him made by the Alliance named… Soap? :)

  30. Jim says

    I rented the video…which got me hooked on the series…which got me pissed that there was only one season. I’d rather see another season, which could then be used to build up support for another movie… :D

    (Yep, I want it all)

  31. billyboy says

    I spent a whole day catching up on 10 remaining episodes of firefly tuesday, then watched serenity today. I think the reason it didn’t make as much money is cause joss didn’t follow his firefly formula. sure, some of the humor was there, but this was too angey. first mal almosts acts like he’s scared of offending simon. then he’s angry and cold, not in the humorous way of the series, but more dark. (I know its supposed to be due to inara’s absence, but it didn’t fit.) and the main reason this movie flopped in the box office: he ended it on a sad note. not 1, but 2 deaths? come on!? No one wants that kind of sad note to end on(and although the best star wars episode #5-Empire Strikes Back ended sad, it left room to make up for it in sequel. Serenty 2 will always have that sadness lingering from serenity 1. Not to mention the failure to reveal the mystery behind shepherd’s true identity.q

    with that said, I love firefly and the crew of serenity. i’d vote for series, but one without the lame suits calling the shots.

  32. Kairo says

    “Rumored $10 million in advertising?” That a load of crap. I live in a major city and I didn’t see a single ad for the movie after it came out. In addition, they never even bothered to make the obligatory This-Is-What-People-Thought-After-Seeing-The-Film spot, which would have had many crazed fans. Nor did they bother with the (oh, I don’t know) Two-Thumbs-Up commercial that EVERY DARN MOVIE THAT GETS TWO THUMBS UP SHOULD GET (and yes, Serenity got two thumbs up) or they could have used any one of the dozens of highly complimentary reviews.

  33. Slim says

    Actually, 10m would be about right, considering an average ad campaign would cost four times as much. Hence, you didn’t see what wasn’t paid for. The packaging of the movie, from ad to dvd has been rather poor actually. Shame as it is.

    Secondly, I think a tv series has a better chance of making money – you sell the ad space, then the show is an ad for the dvd release. Seeing as the tv series is still on Amazon’s top 25, there’s plenty of money to be made in the tv series over the movies. Likewise, at a million per episode it’s cheaper to make (assuming that numbers right)

    First things first though, got to see what Joss does with WonderWoman …

  34. MovieYesTVNo says

    All of you out there clamoring for a series rather than a sequel, get a clue! The only justification for continuing the storyline on the boob tube is that, with the incessant commercials, the TV medium better suits all you Attention Deficient Dysfunctionals out there who can’t sustain a thought longer than 30 seconds, let alone 2 hours.

    Instead, give Whedon Carte Blanc, and let him make a 3 hr. epic ala LOTR and I guarantee he’ll knock your socks off. His characterization was, of necessity, brief in the first movie purely because of time constraints. The poor box office showing was due purely to lack of sufficient promotion, once again the ‘suits’ making another decision to demonstrate their short-sighted proclivity for stupidity. Another 10~20 mil spent in promotion would have easily generated another 40 mil in B.O., PLUS add’l DVD revenues. If you have a good product, PUSH IT! Instead they act like it’s a loser they’re trying to hide. IDIOTS!

    As for the debate over the darkness of the spaceship, technically it is spot on. If you were engaged in long-flight space voyages, you would become MORE sensitive to light, since you’d no longer be spending half your waking hours walking around in daylight. But the difference between the TV sets vs. the movie sets is one of chemistry, not technical accuracy. The medium in which movies are shot have a far wider ‘usable’ light/illumination range than that used for TV productions. They’re simply ABLE to shoot effectively with far less light than is required by the equipment in a TV production facility. That is changing as we speak, due to the rapid adoption (finally!) of more and more digital improvments to both TV and cinema, but Hollywood has lagged behind the digital curve, thus the discrepancy when moving from a ‘bright’ TV set to a ‘dark’ movie sound stage.

  35. Andrew Mosher says

    If it can come back in any way, shape or form, I think that would make us all happy. Popular discussion around the watercooler is only beginning to gain momentum, and it will only continue to build. I think it will only be a matter of time before proven dvd sales and popular outcry spur on another season or another (or, god willing, both in the long run).

  36. CMC says

    Why don’t someone recommend Firefly to Bill Gates or Paul Allen and see if they like it. If they happen to like it, then Firefly’s financial problem solved. Send the complete series for free to either one of them…Hehe

  37. Matt Clark says

    I definitely would like a series vs. a movie but would take another movie over nothing. It’s so well written. The movie was great from my standpoint, but then I bought & watched the series DVD’s. I can see where someone who had not do so would not get all the nuances of this masterpiece.

  38. Stephanie says

    I think they should just make a series of straight-to-DVD Firefly movies. They should also just make a web site to promote it and let the internet fans do the rest. Think about it — how many of you read about the movie online and decided to see it WAY before you even saw a commercial for it? I know I did.

  39. Daniel says

    Fred didn’t get the lyrics wrong. He was playing off them to send a message. Read it again:

    “Now that we’re in the black, tell them all we’re comin’ back.” Meaning, now that Serenity has drawn a profit, we have some real hope that Serenity will be comin’ back for a sequel.

    “Trilogy, oh trilogy, I want my trilogy.
    Don’t stop at one, don’t stop at two, gorram it give me three!”

  40. luke says

    fire fly is one of a kind. i discovered it through serenity the movie. every shop i went to to get it was sold out except for one and i got the last copy. i say make another 20 seasons of it if thats how long it takes to tell the whole story i love firefly!

  41. Marc says

    Excellent show and movie, period. There is nothing scifi on TV that compares. If you all want to help, go to the “Bring FireFly Back” web sites and sign the petitions. I agree with whomever said that this would be a perfect SciFi channel project, but let’s help them make it sooner rather than later!

  42. Whedon Sucks says

    This highly-derivative movie and series sucked. Period. Nice to see the Whedon Kool-Aid drinking shills out in force, though.

    Move out of your parents’ basements…

  43. says

    Chill dude and try not to be so harsh. It’s just a form of entertainment that some people love, and obviously others don’t– not rocket science.

  44. Ceelly says

    The series was sooo.. much better than the movie.. Mind you it was the Movie that got me to watch the series in the first place. It is like comparing a book with a movie.. The series was more like a book with the time to explore ideas and characters. In a movie you could not explore the ideas such as the last episode “objects in space” (in the CD’s commentary it was heavily influenced by Josh’s ideas about reality without GOD where we are just “objects in space”). While a movie is only a couple of hours long no time to do such things… I am so please the movie was made and feel sadden that there are only a few episodes of firefly.

  45. jerry says

    I never watched the series when it was being aired. I probably saw the title and thought it was some wishy washy soap or girl’s show. My God, if I had only known what a fatastically cool show it was I would have been all over it. As it is, as soon as I discovered what it was I went right out and bought the entire series and the movie. It is a great show (but how could you kill Wash off!!!). Not a gunship in a shootem up with ugly hostile aliens but a entertaining everyman’s show with great wit and drama! Hope they bring it back, pray they bring it back. It’s so far and few between to see a decent show nowadays.

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