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RED redeems comic book movies at the 11th hour


Despite worries, RED held its own against the Jackass onslaught this weekend at the box office. The Summit Pictures film — loosely based on the Warren Ellis/Cully Hamner comic of the same name, came in a solid second and appears to have had wide appeal:

Meanwhile, Summit Entertainment was aiming for audiences more likely to break hips than ribs with the Helen Mirren—starring elderly actioner Red. So what if nearly 60 percent of its audience was over 35? The DC cult comic adaptation proved that a fresh idea, well-executed, can be a lively dancer: Box office actually increased markedly from Friday night ($7.3 mil) to Saturday ($9.2 mil), a sign that even if it won’t play as long as its relatively hoary stars — median age: 59 — Red likely has a long life ahead of it in theaters.

We’d heard back at Comic-Con in July that RED had been tracking well, so this comes as no surprise — especially given its extremely veteran and likable cast – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman.

Warren Ellis was quietly pleased, although ill:

I am sick with the Komodo Dragon Hantavirus, but I am at peace.

  1. There doesn’t seem to be much to take away from RED’s box office success. The story material, about retired agents reuniting on a mission, could easily have been in a book or in an original screenplay. The cast appealed to specific demographic groups.

    Slate’s reviewer lumped RED in with other comic book movies —

    Sitting down to review Red (Summit Entertainment), a graphic-novel adaptation directed by Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife), I felt a bit like the time-traveler’s wife myself. Hadn’t we just been here before, with Wanted, Watchmen, Kick-Ass? The punchy, tongue-in-cheek, hyperviolent action movie based on a cult comic is becoming its own mini-genre, and almost all of them leave me cold in the exact same way. (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was an exception; I didn’t love it without reservation, but found it more inventive and less sadistic than its peers.)

    — but his attitude says more about him than about comics as source material.

    If people weren’t tying the comics format so closely to specific types of plot material, “comic book movie” wouldn’t be a negative reference.


  2. After seeing RED this past weekend, I can’t see the film doing much in the way of repeat business. It’s not a terrible film, but the pacing is very slow at times and the dialogue is pretty flat.

    I’d like to see it keep doing well, though, if only so Hollywood finally wakes up and realizes what potential gold mines there are in Warren Ellis’ PLANETARY, THE AUTHORITY and TRANSMETROPOLITAN.

  3. RED was fun and had some great moments, but its plot holes were big enough to fly the Goodyear Blimp through. Still, I’ve done far worse for the price of a first-run movie ticket.

  4. “Median Age: 59”
    That’s kind of awesome. Between Twilight and RED, Summit has bookended two demos…

    Now they slowly squeeze inward!

    Congrats to Summit and Warren– I thought it was a highly entertaining film.

  5. Hear, hear Tim and R. Maheras. It did what it was supposed to do and entertained. It had less holes than the average Bond movie and certainly more coherence than the abysmal A-Team. everyone who was involved seemed to be having a good time and that made its way onto the screen.

  6. My family and I WERE looking forward to seeing this on Thursday, but grandson Xander showed up two weeks early … I will still find a way to see RED, even if I have to go alone …

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