Why Did Kick-Ass Bomb? A Movieline IM Discussion

With just $7.5 million on Friday, Kick-Ass is a certified bust. Was it the marketing? Roger Ebert? The c-word? Spurred by these questions, senior editor S.T. VanAirsdale and I got into a feverish IM conversation about Kick-Ass. Basically: What happened?

Christopher: How about Kick-Ass, huh? What a huge disaster.

STV: How did that even happen? The R-rating aside, how could NO ONE see that?

Christopher: I don't even know. That's a horrendous opening. Especially since geek movies are totally front-loaded. That sh*t might not cross $15 million for the weekend. I mean no one saw it. It had to be the marketing. It was all consuming, but mostly it was just bad. I don't know one person over 30 who wanted to see it. And forget girls.

STV: It needed stars. It should have exploited Nicolas Cage more than it did. He sells tickets! People go see his terrible films.

Christopher: I think Aaron Johnson and his voice cracking was a huge turn-off. Get worse. You're not McLovin'. Also: more McLovin'.

STV: Well there is a perception problem. Like, New York profiled Christopher Mintz-Plasse and there was lots of attention in the Times. Prestige and sh*t. It got a ton of press. But! Did it really? When the principal web piece about Kick-Ass turns out to be Harry Knowles reacting to Roger Ebert's pan, that's a web FAIL. The audience for this film was online and they were totally overlooked in favor of the high-culture home run. Also, maybe there's something to people not really wanting to see average folks pretending to be second-rate superheroes. They want STARS with ACTUAL POWERS.

Christopher: They probably don't want little girls either. They focused the marketing on an 11-year-old girl and that's just weird. Her saying the c-word aside.

STV: Also: THE MOVIE WASN'T GOOD. That's a problem.

Christopher: I'm seeing it later. I don't think it's the movie, though, on opening weekend. People don't even know how good or bad it is.

STV: No, but word of mouth is important, especially when you can argue that the film peaked all the way back at Comic-Con last year. It had pretty short-lived momentum out of South by Southwest.

Christopher: I think the no stars is important. I mean Watchmen didn't have any stars, but that felt like an EVENT. This just felt like some sh*tty B-rate comic book movie based on a comic book that no one ever heard of. At least Watchmen is iconic, even if the movie was bad.

STV: I guess this means that Lionsgate will stick to Tyler Perry and Saw films from here on out, thank you very much. They probably see Killers next on the calendar and are cowering under the desk.

Christopher: Seriously. This opening is flat-out embarrassing. It will open lower than The Bounty Hunter.

STV: So no franchise, I guess. You'll see at the end of the movie why this might be a problem. It's kind of embarrassingly presumptuous

Christopher: It can join Terminator Salvation in that category. I think this proves that the pure geek audience is not as big as people assumed.

STV: Good! May the future belong to original ideas and flesh-and-blood characters who don't have to tie on a cape or strap on some rocket pack or milk anemic genre tropes in the desperate hopes of reaching audiences. Good riddance, Kick-Ass.

Christopher: Well, until the next comic book movie.


  • littlemissprune says:

    I'm a 21 year-old, and my sister has been raving about the movie. She watched it at an early showing at UCI. She said that it was highly enjoyable, especially the scenes with Hit Girl. I am SO EXCITED to see this. And yeah, I'm a girl.

  • ted says:

    It's not a 100 million dollar movie. Lionsgate got it for about 20 million. Are you just rooting against it? Although the article is about marketing it would have had more weight if you actually saw the movie. It was pretty damn entertaining aside from the boring villain. Hacky article and website.

  • Dimo says:

    This is a great post...for Monday morning!

  • Jo Jo says:

    Because it fucking sucks...All I ever hear about this piece of shit is Hit Girl this and Hit Girl that...fuck that future slut and this fucking movie.

  • TurdBlosom says:

    The movie is actually very, very, funny and surprisingly good. Most of the lines from Hit Girl are hysterical and she stole every scene she was in. Movie should do well, word of mouth is growing.

  • Christopher Rosen says:

    Normally, I would agree with you -- "The Bounty Hunter" was not a bomb and has grossed near $60 million, which is what should have been expected for a spring release in that genre -- but "Kick-Ass" was tracking in the mid-20s to low-30s. That it will wind up grossing below $20 million for the weekend is a disaster. Sure, Lionsgate won't lose that much money but you know they were expecting it to perform at least as high as Saw 15. That it didn't -- that it will be lucky to crack $40 million domestically and won't spawn a franchise -- certifies it as a bomb.
    Any other read of this opening is revisionism of the highest order.

  • There has to be some problem with the R-rating as well. This is a teen-centric story with a lot of focus on a 12-year old girl. hat audience could not get in to see it, and those who could get in had trouble identifying with the younger marketing.

  • Masturbation, gruesome murder scenes, grievous potty mouth from an 11 year old, and minors having sex. This movie was in the sandbox before it opened. It could have been great, the edge could have cut a profit and kept the edginess. Did a 15 year old produce this movie? The shallow content suggests it. When will Hollywood realize that invoking imagination in a move sells tickets, this was a dumb story told by in a minor mentality.

  • In the movie theater, two girls, three straight guys, 12 gay guys. In my opinion.
    Why would anyone see this movie? Male or female. I was hopeful that it would be a funny crappy movie. Instead is was just crap. The one enjoyable moment was Cage doing the cute talk then firing the 9mm. When he was teaching his daughter how to take a bullet. The feathers flying in the air from her cute pink down jacket. If moments like that filled this movie, it would have been a cult classic.
    The girl should have been more real. No 11 year old girl can do those things, even with massive steroid injections.

  • HwoodHills says:

    After reading these comments and seeing the movie on Saturday I think a bit reason for the failure might be the rating as well.
    There's no nudity but a lot of cursing and one horrific scene that's kind of disturbing for kids, but I think if this thing had been edited to be a border line PG-13 it would've had more tickets sold.
    I liked it. It was fun for what it was.
    But the marketing definitely hurt.
    And if you're looking to find plot holes about the reality of a kid challenging street thugs with batons, maybe you're expecting too much. Not every single street thug carries a gun on him and since the movie's about a kid who's big time into comic books, it's conceivable that one would be that stupid.
    We're not talking about thugs with guns (at first) we're talking about street guys who mug high school kids.
    The internet fan community doesn't always hold up B.O. wise. Because, as noted somewhere above, a lot of those "geeks" already know how to download stuff illegally and watch it at home.

  • Timbouk says:

    You guys must have been watching a different movie. It does sound like some kind of vendetta is being played out. One of you hadn't even seen the movie yet. Are standards slipping at Movieline? I hope not.
    British reviews more or less overwhelmingly positive. See The Guardian, Times, Empire etc. etc. The only really bad review in the rabidly conservative Daily Mail. And it's done well at the box office over here. It must be a cultural thing......The 'c word' (as you insist on refering to a good old Anglo-Saxon expletive) that seems to be causing so much concern is not treated with quite the same amount of horror for a start.

  • Edward Wilson says:

    Don't fuck with Eyjafjallajökull.

  • I think it's even simpler: audiences want their costumed vigelantes to be cool, and these ones were simply uncool.

  • MPow says:

    Since when is $20M a "certified bust"?
    In the end Kick Ass is an R RATED niche comic book movie with over the top language and violence…Sorry for all the bruised egos out there that were fooled by the marketing campaign into thinking this movie would open bigger. The film will go on to make lots of money for the studio!

  • Sandy says:

    Let's be honest. Do you REALLY believe that How to Train Your Dragon could have made that big of a comeback on it's fourth weekend? Isn't it a little strange that the weekend violent and hardhitting Kick-Ass comes out there's a surge in profit from a childrens movie??? Hmm...sounds like those teenagers who were being turned away bc they're too young are actually pretty smart and probably purchased tickets to a PG rated movie to get into the R rated movie! Is that so absurd an idea? Not really, not really at all. The real problem was that the movie was marketed as it should be- fun, action packed, entertaining and worthy of seeing in the theaters and the only people who won't dissect it as more than that are the 16 and 17 year-olds who do get it. It's unfortunate that the MPAA are a bunch of prudes who don't realize that the teens of 2010 are already saying words you wouldn't believe and doing things you don't want to know about. Yep, that's right, they can handle it. America isn't going to start crumbling now because of a movie like Kick-Ass. It's obvious that the demise of American society started when the tweens on Gossip Girl started asking their friends to join in on a threesome. I have to say though, when I went to see it I sat in a row with two dads and their sons who were probably about 15 or 16 and the reaction I heard was nothing but laughs. So if you're cool AND realistic about the nature of this movie, then you'll like it. If you're part of the Parents Against Fun committee then don't see it.
    Oh, and by the way, since it seems like some of the comments on this post are so focused on it, I'm a young woman who went to saw it and enjoyed it. Wow, what a concept!
    All in all, KICK-ASS was a fantastic movie- the color, the score, the cast, the action sequences, the cinematography - it all made for a perfectly entertaining piece of comic book adaptation. I don't need A list celebs to dress up a comic movie, I just need people who are talented and can carry the characters off and the online content the marketing teams put out there showed me that was the case. Perhaps that's another issue, there was plenty of video content released on the internet that gave a clear picture of the movie. The marketing teams did their job, but YOU probably didn't watch any of them. I mean if you're savvy enough to be reading this article on this website then you're more than capable to take a moment and check out the clips.
    Here's hoping that all this hoopla post opening weekend will make for bigger second weekend results! How's that for word of mouth!

  • Dcncider says:

    Sounds Like Your just another piece of Shit hater in the world. You jealous of a 12 year old girl?

  • Dcncider says:

    Sounds Like you have no sense of the word 'Entertainment' As Hit Girl said "What a Douche'

  • Austin says:

    The whole "c-word" thing is bull shit. As is the "over highlighting Hit-Girl". I for one was a FAN of the comic. After reading it I wanted more. I saw Kick-Ass, and I think that it was an alright film on it's own. My problem was that the comic was so good, compared to it the movie was SHIT. First of all, I want to point out that the last half of the movie was completely FUCKING MADE UP. It was all shit writers yanked out of their asses. Kick-Ass hooking up with Katie? FUCK THAT. The warehouse? well there WAS a burning building, but it wasn't a setup, and Red Mist was all "Fuck that." The web-cam bullshit? THERE WASN'T ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THAT IN THE FUCKING COMIC. Lets ease of the end half go go back to the beginning. Where was the testicle electrocution scene? That was a very important part. And you can't say shit about censorship or any bullshit like that. It was R-rated. A TEN (or eleven) YEAR OLD GIRL SAID C*NT. Another thing, Red Mist was a surprise for a reason. I shit my pants at that reveal. And another thing Big Daddy's backstory? It's like they were reading poorly taken footnote when writing this film. On its own? it would have been great, but I think to many people realized they should read the comic before going to see it, saw it, told their friends it was shitty.
    I don't the whole "Hit-Girl's creepy" thing, as a person who read the comic I am biased by it when I type this, but first, if you would've read the comic (which before you say dick, I know that's unlikely) you'd notice she had an ENTIRELY different personality (killing aside)
    and as for the concept, I suppose it's supposed to be inspiring. "A ten your old girl's out there killing bad people, why aren't you?"
    I will say that making a movie about a comic nobody read WAS a bad idea (even if I fucking loved the comic), but I think it would've done better if only the COMIC had more exposure. And that's not even bias. Who the fuck sees a movie about a comic they've never even heard about?
    That all said I will repeat that it COULD ave been a good stand-alone movie, or a better adaptation. Ether one would've been fine by me.

  • clara says:

    (i didnt read what people said before so im sorry if i repeated anyone)
    the battle sequences, the soundtrack and the characters, the raw yet real dialog
    this movie defines what a good movie of our age should be
    digs deep to the heart with its message
    and how drug dealing is bad and hate will only lead to bad consequences (Big Daddy and the fall of D'Amico) plot progresses at a good pace, the lessons to be learned was learnt
    with amazing
    camera work, sound editing, movie editing and AHHH just everything about this film is flawless. There is romance, action, betrayal, external internal conflict/drama, hot girls and hot guys … actually ONE hot guy but hot enough to last through the next ice age
    just total epicness
    what more could you ask for???
    I think this movie didn’t do too well in the box office is because:
    1) THE MOVIE WASN’T SHOWING IN THEIR COUNTRY (I know this because I live in china and a whole lot of my friends wanted to watch but couldn’t. The only city in China it was playing in is hong kong) I would have totally chosen Kick Ass over Iron Men 2 by a 1000 times
    2) because conservative people didn’t want to watch little 11 year olds running around, screaming the c-word and killing men double her size
    3) they thought that this is just another parody movie (the scary movies, superhero movie, epic movie)
    4) or the movie just didn’t seem like their cup of tea. the violence, Hollywood’s over usage super heroes and rowdy, irresponsible teenagers. it is true that most people above the age of 30 will not enjoy this film at first look
    5) hmm did i mention it was R rated? this means the audiences is in the ages between 18 to 30...
    KICK ASS ITSELF, despite all the public mumblejumble IS AN AMAZING piece of cinematic work
    THERE’S A REASON way kick ass is 124 in the top best ever movies on imdb guys
    Give it a chance, because you peeps are probably jealous you don’t have Hit Girls’ mad skillz 😉

  • JMA says:

    I've been wondering a lot about the causes of the lackluster boxoffice of Kick Ass myself, and I have a theory: It's a niche film. Maybe it's because I'm in that niche, I can't pull my head out of the box long enough to see how anyone could NOT want to watch this awesome film.
    I think it may also have something to do with our current collective taste in entertainment. Here in the US, we're fighting 2 wars, the economy is, well, you know, and people want to be transported, not reminded of the bleakness and darkness of the current state of affairs. That's why all those Iraq war movies have either flopped or barely broken even. Remember during the Vietnam and post-Vietnam era, they hadn't figured this out yet, and the market was filled with dark depressing films that reflected the mood of the times - disaster movies and gritty cop films. Then some guy called George Lucas figured out this was not what the people wanted to see and made the biggest hit in the world at the time.
    I think somewhere in their minds most people don't want to shell out $10 to see raw bloody violence which Kick Ass (and Zombieland before that, which also have a "meh" B.O. run) had in spades. Think about it: has any movie so far this year that featured loads of people getting killed been a roaring success? The Losers lost, and prior to that Ninja Assassin made less than 20m more than its budget. Honestly, I fear for both The Expendables and The A-Team.
    Yes, loads of people are getting killed in movies like Iron Man 2 and Avatar, but it's for a righteous cause - an upstanding superhero and defenders of their beautiful homeworld, respectively. And then of course there's also the tremendous hype surrounding these films as well.
    Basically what I'm saying is these days people will only see a film with lots of gruesome deaths if A) the good guy is the very embodiment of the archetypal hero and B) The bad guys are really, really evil. The gap between good and bad needs to be exaggeratedly massive (which, in my opinion can sometimes prove to be so extreme as to be laughable). Basically, films where both the good and the bad are are not clearly distinguished, that is, it takes place in some kind of gray area...they will not be extremely successful.
    Why? I don't really know...my guess would be that the movie-going public doesn't want to have to think about a film - a movie with a clear-cut protagonist is preferable to one with an antihero and a bunch of questions about ethics and morality.
    However, that type of genre seems to flourish on the small screen: The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Bridge.

  • JMA says:

    You know what? I'm just gonna come out an say it. If the whole 11-year-old girl had anything to do with the movie's box office performance it was that a bunch of guys who saw the trailers were turned on by her and then promptly felt pervy and ashamed, so they didn't see it.
    I bet this film is huge on DVD/BR though.

  • Betty says:

    I LOVE KICK-ASS and I'm a girl 🙂 I'm buying the movie as soon as it comes out.

  • editboy says:

    What the fuck are you talking about?!!! Movies like "Watchmen", "Kick-Ass", and even "Fanboys" were all fan favorites at Comic-Con and yet they didn't do well at the box office. But you know what? I still LOVED all three of these movies!!! I bought "Watchmen" and "Fanboys" on DVD and will be doing the same with "Kick-Ass"! You must be one of those pretentious moviegoers who loved "Inception" and that WASN'T good!!!

  • Whistler says:

    Saw the movie for first time yesterday on bluray. OMG Best movie EVER!!! How can you say it's not good? It's on imdbs top 250 also.