Film company gives up promoting Serenity

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in Serenity, which has received poor reviews.
Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway star in Serenity, which has received poor reviews.PHOTO: AVIRON PICTURE

LOS ANGELES • After the admittedly delightful experience of watching the critical dud Serenity, viewers were left with a number of questions, but most importantly, why did two Academy Award winners - Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey - agree to star in this movie?

In response to a report that Hathaway, McConaughey and director Steven Knight were upset with Aviron Pictures for pretty much giving up on marketing Serenity, the independent distributor issued a statement to Deadline blaming the lack of promotion on poor reviews and box-office numbers - a bold move, given that companies generally stay mum on such matters.

"As much as we love this film and still hope it finds its audience, we tested and retested the film - with audiences and critics alike - and sadly, the data demonstrated that the film was not going to be able to perform at our initial expectations, so we adjusted our budget and marketing tactics accordingly," Aviron stated, adding that it would not have made "prudent business sense" to pour more money into a project that received a 23 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and a D+ CinemaScore.

Serenity, which is billed as a neo-noir thriller, follows Baker Dill (McConaughey), a fishing boat captain hunting a single elusive tuna off a Caribbean-esque island called Plymouth. He lives alone and drinks rum straight from a World's Greatest Dad mug, which is how you know he has family issues.

And here struts Karen (Hathaway), Baker's ex-wife and the mother of his son, who asks the captain whether he will take her abusive husband (Jason Clarke) out fishing and throw him overboard.

One critic referred to Serenity as two different movies "oddly pressed together, like a grilled roach and cheese sandwich". Another noted that the stars "share a mesmerising anti-chemistry, not only implausible as lovers but as occupants of the same dimension".

According to Deadline's sources, Hathaway and McConaughey had agreed to a full campaign, "including a junket and as many late-night and daytime talk shows as would have them" when Aviron agreed to promotion and advertising "commensurate with a 2,500-screen release".

While the stars held up their end of the bargain, the article states that, after dillydallying, Aviron executives admitted there would be no such spending for the film, right before the actors hopped on a plane to the Los Angeles press junket.

Serenity made US$4.4 million (S$6 million) on its opening weekend and, as Aviron noted in its statement, it is "next to impossible for an adult-skewing drama" to overcome such terrible reviews.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Film company gives up promoting Serenity'. Subscribe