Dear America & Canada: can we talk about The Pirates! please?
To our American and Canadian readers, we’d like you to do something for us. Can you turn Aardman’s The Pirates! into a hit for us?
We’re very lucky at Den Of Geek to not only have people in the UK who put up with our daily mutterings and incomprehensible writing, but that we have chums in the US who endure the same thing. We welcome you all, and would gladly offer you coffee and cake were we able.
However, if it’s okay with you all, this particular piece is directed towards Den Of Geek readers living in America and Canada. We promise we won’t do this too often, but this is important.
Anyway, here we go.
Last Christmas, some very clever people in Bristol here in England conceived, wrote, designed and put together a film (with a lot of help from some equally clever people in America), that was released at the end of 2011. It was called Arthur Christmas. It was lovely. It was funny. It was an answer to the many posts you read on the Internet decrying how uniform and childish a lot of family entertainment had become.
The thing is, we did our bit over here. People in Britain went to see it in droves, and it proved to be a very big hit. But in America and Canada? Well, there’s no easy way to say this: you let the side down a bit. Around three times as many of you went to see Puss In Boots instead, leaving Arthur Christmas failing to break $50m at the US box office. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around how that was allowed to happen.
Truthfully, it wasn’t all your fault. The film wasn’t scheduled helpfully on your side of the pond (it had to do battle with The Muppets, Hugo and Happy Feet Two in a short space of time), and from what I can tell, it didn’t seem to be marketed as well over there as it was over here. But still: under $50m? That’s not right. Ask the majority of people who’ve seen it.
The thing is, too, the film was the first new movie from Aardman in five years. The last two – Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away – both got good to great reviews, but failed to set the North American box office alight either.
It’s surely time to do something about that.
This weekend, then, Aardman is sending you another one of its films. And I’m begging you not to make the same mistake again.
Here in the UK, we’ve supported many of the brilliant animated films that have been made in the USA and Canada. Check the box office figures: you send us a good family movie, we tend to go and see it. We’ve supported Pixar to the hilt, we loved Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Rango, How To Train Your Dragon and many more. What’s more, it’s been a pleasure to do so.
Now? It’s your turn.
Aardman has put together a funny, engaging, beautifully crafted and exquisitely designed piece of work, by the name of The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. Just to make your job a little harder, it’s got a different name over there. The Pirates! Band Of Misfits is the title in the USA and Canada, for reasons I’ve heard, but don’t pretend to understand.
Here’s the bit that matters: if you care about quality family entertainment, and about genuine craft in your movies, this is a film you should support. If you’re looking for a good weekend out at the movies for your family, likewise. If you just want to be entertained by a bunch of people who are utterly world class at what they do, then this is your chance.
Because the thing is, Aardman doesn’t bang out one or two films a year. It’s been a coincidence of scheduling, and no more than that, that it’s brought us two in six months. It released its first full-length feature, Chicken Run, back in 2000. The Pirates! is its fifth. And once The Pirates! has gone, we’re a good four or five years away from another stop motion movie from the firm.
This weekend, then, a favour. Do consider showing your support to an amazingly talented group of people who've shaped yet another winning slice of entertainment. I say that having no affiliation to Aardman at all. I just find it odd that one of the most consistently brilliant, uncompromising makers of films doesn’t get the box office it really deserves.
I say that also appreciating that box office isn’t the be all and end all – we’ll still be talking about Aardman movies decades into the future – but it’ll certainly help pay for more films, as well as one or two decent parties in Bristol.
If nothing else, go along to see it to compensate the UK for sitting through the last pirate-themed movie that was gifted by America to Britain. Trust me on this: the one we’re sending back is much, much better…
The Pirates! Band Of Misfits arrives in the US and Canada this Friday.