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‘Scott Pilgrim’ vs. the box office? Epic fail -- and here’s why

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Ben Fritz covers the business of show business for the Los Angeles Times and the Company Town blog and is a familiar byline here at the Hero Complex. Today he looks at the weekend fizzle of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.’

You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie as beloved by those who turned out opening weekend as ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.’ It garnered an average grade of A- and it would have been an A if not dragged down by the small number of people over 35 who saw the movie and just didn’t take to it.

‘Pilgrim’ fans loved director Edgar Wright’s loyalty to the books, from quirky humor to visual effects inspired by video games. Acoloytes were all over blogs and Twitter professing their love, and many are already planning to go see it a second time, if they haven’t already.

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Nonetheless, it ended up one of the summer’s biggest box-office bombs. Universal Pictures spent $85 million to make the effects-heavy movie (that’s before tax credits) and sold only $10.6 million of tickets on opening weekend, far behind box office winner ‘The Expendables,’ which opened to $35 million.

Why the disconnect? John Horn and I investigated with a piece in today’s Los Angeles Times. Here’s an excerpt:

For Amy Berciano, this was the moviegoing weekend of the summer.More than a year before ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ hit movie theaters, the 20-year-old UCLA junior became a huge fan of the graphic novels that inspired the film. At July’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, she waited more than an hour to meet the cast and filmmakers; ‘I even kissed [director] Edgar Wright on the cheek!’ she bragged.After attending the debut midnight screening of the movie Thursday night while dressed as one of the characters — Knives Chao, Scott Pilgrim’s obsessive ex-girlfriend — Berciano declared herself eminently satisfied. ‘They got the tone of the book just right, especially the way they brought to life those fighting scenes,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t get enough.'Her enthusiasm was shared by nearly everyone who saw the film in its opening weekend, particularly those younger than 35, who gave ‘Scott Pilgrim’ an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Universal’s internal exit polls were equally strong, and the film attracted scores of positive reviews.But as last weekend’s box office numbers rolled in, all that hardly mattered at all. The movie sold only $10.6 million worth of tickets, a disappointing figure given that Universal Pictures spent about $85 million, before tax credits, on production and tens of millions more on marketing. THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST

-- Ben Fritz

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