Monday, November 17, 2008

James Bond versus Twilight

As far as I know, James Bond has never gone up against a family of vampires (I've seen most of the movies and read a couple of the books, but I suppose I could've missed something). And yet, this holiday season, the elite British spy will be engaged in a battle against the undead of Twilight.

Last weekend, the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace was released in theaters. This coming weekend, Twilight makes its major debut.

Now, in my mind, there is no need for a contest. I acknowledge that the Twilight crowd is huge and ravenous for the adventures of Bella and Edward (yes, I have read the book). But the James Bond crowd is no less excited for the latest chapter in the saga of a perennial favorite.

So why am I claiming the need for a contest at all? Because the market has decided that there is a contest to be had.

Last week when my wife and I made plans with a sitter so we could go see Quantum of Solace we began scoping our nearby theaters to decide where we'd go. When we go to movies, we have two choices based on the variable of time. One choice is to go into "the city" (Salt Lake) to the large, high quality theater with great audio/video and comfortable seating. Our other choice is close (within ~3 miles of our house) but isn't a high quality theater...the theaters are small with bad sound (thin walls) and less comfortable seating. It may seem obvious that we would "always" choose the higher quality theater...but with kids and sitters, we are sometimes forced to choose based on time.

Anyway, being a high energy action film, our first choice was the big budget Cineplex. Unfortunately they were only showing the film in one-and-a-half theaters (meaning they had one theater completely dedicated and another one that was only showing a "10 o'clock" show after they vacated a 'younger' film). Because they were showing the film all day, their "7 o'clock" film actually started at a little after 8 o'clock...which would mean an extra late night for the sitter & kids.

So, we decided to look at our 'local' theater...and were shocked to find that our local theater was not showing Bond at all. In fact, the only new movie they brought in was The Secret Life of Bees and other films were beginning to stagnate. Having driven past the theater on my way home, I knew they were advertising hard for the midnight showing of Twilight so on a hunch, I used the "buy advance tickets" feature to look at their showings for next Friday. The only two films listed are Twilight and Bolt. (I won't fault Bolt since it has a smaller demographic audience and will likely only be in one...maybe two theaters).

Now, I don't know yet just how many theaters they intend to actually fill with Twilight but it was evident that they decided to put all their money in the Twilight bucket rather than even bring Quantum of Solace into one theater and bump out lesser films (like perhaps Beverly Hills Chihuaha???)

To wrap up the ticket buying story, we headed North to an older theater in Layton (I haven't been there in at least 5 years) which has good seats and decent audio (although their lighting wasn't great) so that we could see the show in a time appropriate to our kids/sitter. I'll post a review of Quantum later.

What I did learn is that the market has made its bets and for some reason local theaters seem to believe that the big year-end movie battle is between Quantum of Solace and Twilight.

James Bond has been around for 50+ years in written form with 12 novels & 2 collections of short story and 40+ years in film with over 20 movies. Edward and Bella showed up in the Twilight novel 3 years ago, with 4 books in the series now and this movie marking the first film.

Still, the fanatacism surrounding Twilight has been huge, and vampires are immortal/timeless, so simply stating that James Bond is "older" than Twilight is probably silly. Only time will truly tell if Twilight can stand strong for the next 40+ years or if it will turn to dust after sunrise.

What's interesting to me is that these two films are pitted against each other despite having (for the most part) widely varying target demographics. True, I can foresee teenage/college males purchasing tickets to Twilight, but only because their girlfriend/wife/mom/sister/etc wants to go. At the same time, I saw plenty of females heading to Quantum but as far as I saw, they were all on the arm of a guy.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are some males who will of their own volition decide to go to Twilight and there are some females who will gladly head to Quantum of Solace. I'm definitely speaking in generalities and stereotypes...but I'm also confident that those stereotypes will hold true in many cases when it comes to the main decision maker for the ticket purchases on either of these films.

I suspect there will be some bartering going on in relationships..."I'll see Bond with you this week if you take me to see Twilight next week". You know it will happen.

Bartering aside, I suspect that most audiences who opt for Quantum of Solace will not be seen gracing the seats in front of Twilight and vice versa.

So as this battle rages on between these two disparate films, I pose the question...why is there a battle at all? Why do some theaters (such as my local theater) feel the need to put all their eggs in one basket? Why not grab copies of both movies so they can bring in the big audiences from each? It just seems like good market practice that if there are two big shows guaranteed to draw a crowd, that you'd want both of them. Instead, they'll fill all/most of their theaters with only one of these "hits" and then they'll be stuck as demand starts to drop. They'll have 5+ screens showing a film that people aren't coming to see anymore because those who truly cared hit it opening weekend and the remaining crowd doesn't need a showing every 30 minutes.

I'll possibly be seeing Twilight in the theater. If not in the theater, I'm certain we'll catch it on video. (I leave the theater/video decision to my wife on this one...I read the book, but wasn't compelled enough that I must see it on a big screen).

What about the rest of you out there? If you had to choose...would it be Quantum or Twilight and why?


Josh Moore said...

Is there any question? The reasoning of Bond has over Twilight:

1. Series and the following that comes with it (I guess this could be a bad thing for some, but not Bond). But I've never seen a better Bond than Casino Royale. Budget films based on books never hit it big, unless you're Harry Potter. They got so big they were out of the budget category. Look at Eragon. The Bourne and Narnia series weren't low budget.

2. Director did Bourne movies. How can this not make every guy on the planet want to see it? The women get to see Daniel Craig. The men get...bitten?

3. How many wives can talk their husbands into going to see Twilight? Obviously a lot of girls-night-outs, but I would guess it will be almost 3-1 Bond to Twilight (conservatively).

Anonymous said...

haven't seen Twilight, but it looks too much like a "teenie bopper" for me to risk seeing it in the theatre... Quantum wasn't that great, so saying I'd prefer Bond over vampires doesn't say much about either one