TORONTO — Canada’s comic-book super-hero Scott Pilgrim failed to conquer the world with his big-screen debut featuring Michael Cera as the butt-kicking slacker, but director Edgar Wright says it’s only because his effects-laden adaptation needed more time to find an audience.
Now that Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is being released on DVD and Blu-ray, the British director predicts it will enjoy the same slow burn that made his comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz cult favourites.
“Sometimes when things are a bit fresh and different it takes people a little bit of time to acclimatize,” Wright said Thursday of the film’s dismal box office performance when it hit theatres in August.
“Say a film like The Hangover — all that anybody needs to say about The Hangover is, ’Oh, it’s funny, go and see The Hangover.’ Whereas Scott Pilgrim always needed a little more explanation, and a little more qualification. And I think that’s it, really. Sometimes when things are a little different it takes a while for them to kind of hit home.”
The romantic comedy, based on a graphic novel series about a 20-something Torontonian who must battle the evil exes of his crush — was one of the best reviewed films of the summer, but it was also one of the season’s more notable flops.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed just over $31 million domestically and another $14 million in foreign receipts, falling far short of its $60 million production budget.
That has Wright and members of the sprawling cast criss-crossing the United States and Canada in a bid to push the DVD and Blu-ray release, mounting the type of extensive promotional tour usually reserved for theatrical debuts.
The tour included a screening and Q&A session in Los Angeles earlier this week, when filmmaker Guillermo del Toro led a fan discussion of the film. Future stops include Boston, New York, and Hollywood.
The one Canadian stop will be in Toronto on Friday, where Wright, O’Malley and Wong will meet fans and sign copies of the DVD and Blu-ray at a downtown music store.
Later, the trio is set to host a screening and Q&A that will be moderated by director Don McKellar (who has a small cameo on the film).
Wright says there is a lot of pressure for movies to score big at the box office immediately, but he says some films just cannot be measured that way.
“I’m very much a believer that a film’s story cannot be fully told in 72 hours,” says Wright, seated beside O’Malley and Wong during a day of media interviews Thursday at a downtown hotel.
“There’s become a culture whereby things sort of have to perform on their first Friday and that doesn’t really kind of factor in for every type of film. This is a film where there’s a lot to explore and a lot to discover.”
“Some films can be measured in years and not hours. It’s still up to us to get the word out, really.”
Scott Pilgrim’s Blu-ray and DVD release are packed with 17 hours of extras, including a blooper real, extended and cut scenes, music videos and a behind-the-scenes making-of documentary.
It comes out Tuesday.