Will ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ be This Year’s Comic Con Disappointment?

ON

Yesterday morning I posted the latest MPAA ratings bulletin and among the major films being rated one was Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens, the helmer’s first film since directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Among the comments there were a few that specifically stood out:

“I’d completely forgotten about Cowboys & Aliens. I’ve heard nothing about it.” ~ Clay

“If the partial nudity involves Olvia Wilde I might actually endure this crap after all” ~ Adam Heatherly

“For some strange reason, my mom wants to see the movie. Don’t ask.” ~ m1

Now I don’t want to act as if these are the only sentiments out there. In April when I posted one of the many trailers for the film people said things such as “I cannot wait to see this movie! It definitely looks unique enough to separate itself from the rest of the comic book genre” and “You go, Cowboys and WHAT??? I laughed too, but, hell, I want to see.”

Yet, I think the more telling comments came when I featured a recent poster for the film and the responses sounded like this: “I can’t help it. I’m rather intrigued with the silliness of it all. I guess, it will be either hilarious or a complete disaster.”

This mixture of comments, I have to admit, surprises me. I actually thought we were looking at a film that would satisfy almost every quadrant. I always assumed the fanboy audience would be on board, if not because it was a comic book adaptation that involved aliens, then because it was from Iron Man director Jon Favreau. What I didn’t expect, however, is what m1’s comment above alludes to when he says “my mom wants to see the movie.” A friend’s mother was telling me the same thing back in April and she didn’t just want to see it, she wanted to know everything we knew about it. She was like a little girl and I couldn’t tell just what exactly was the main reason for her excitement. Was it Harrison Ford? I know the older generation has always had a crush on him. Was it the western aspect? Whatever it was, she was in.

So when I heard that I thought, Damn, this movie could rule the world. But recent comments don’t seem to suggest my previous assumption will come true and now Universal is preparing to make a splash at this year’s San Diego Comic Con in advance of the film’s July 29 release.

“The woldwide premiere of Cowboys & Aliens will be at Comic-Con,” Favreau told the Los Angeles Times. “And not only are we going to premiere it there, we’re going to find a way to include as many of the fans as possible. I feel like they’ve come out for me, they’ve supported me.”

Universal made a similar move with Scott Pilgrim at last year’s Comic Con where audiences raved over the film only to watch the $60 million budgeted featured crash upon its August 13 release to the tune of $31.5 million domestically and only $47.6 worldwide. In fact, there was a recent article in the New York Times that said studios were reassessing bringing their films to the comic book convention as films such as Scott Pilgrim, Sucker Punch and TRON: Legacy received rapturous approval among the convention goers only to watch the films under-perform at the box-office.

Doing a quick search around the Internet I’ve seen a variety of reactions to the film and its trailers ranging from comparisons to Will Smith’s Wild Wild West to those that look at it in terms as straight-forward as the film’s title, “James Bond+Indiana Jones+Cowboys+Aliens=Pure EPIC”. However, the other thing to note is that most of the blog posts around the Internet don’t really have many comments. It’s as if no one cares and maybe they don’t.

Cowboys & Aliens cost about $100 million to produce (source) before prints and advertising, which will easily make it a $150 million movie if not more. The Comic Con screening is set for July 23 at the 2,967-seat San Diego Civic Theatre where the first audience and critical impressions will be made and they’ll be made from the folks the film is targeting, an audience that strangely seems to be the one Universal needs to convince as the majority of interest seems to be elsewhere. A bit of a shift from the Scott Pilgrim screening.

Personally, I can’t wait to see the film, but then again I haven’t watched a single trailer. All I know is Jon Favreau has directed a film with an alien attack set in 1800s Arizona. I mean, if that doesn’t say “summer movie” to you I don’t know what does. It’s absurd on a level where we want these kind of films to take us. Like last year I’ll probably ignore the Comic Con buzz considering my taste in film doesn’t necessarily jibe with that audience all the time, though last year I fell right in line with their love of Scott Pilgrim, a film that made my list of top ten films of 2010. Who knows, Cowboys & Aliens may be able to do the same.

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