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Is 'Scott Pilgrim's' Michael Cera still a long way from being a movie star?

Michael_cera Michael Cera's new movie is called "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," but it was really "Scott Pilgrim" vs. two much more worldly films at the box office this weekend. And "Scott Pilgrim" got pummeled, barely doing $10.5 million, which is a pretty woeful opening, especially considering that the movie cost an astronomical $85 million to make. (My colleague, Ben Fritz, has more box-office details here.) It's even more frustrating for Universal, since the studio delivered a movie that did well with both critics -- who gave it an 80% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes -- and with audiences, who gave it an A-minus at CinemaScore, which measures the reactions of rank-and-file moviegoers on opening night.

So the people who saw it liked it. But with "Eat Pray Love" drawing lots of women and "The Expendables" getting nearly all the guys, young and old, not nearly enough people saw "Scott Pilgrim." What does this tell us? In essence, it means that neither the movie's quirky, video game-based humor nor its star, Michael Cera, was able to help propel the film beyond its hard-core teen fan base. My 12-year-old son went to see it with a bunch of his friends, who came back unimpressed. "It was OK," one of them said. "The jokes were only good if you play a lot of video games." (Their older brothers, who apparently play a lot more video games, liked it better.)

The movie's wan box-office reception is bad news for Universal, who will probably end up with another money-loser on its books. But it's also bad news for Cera, who is now starting to look more like a young Andy Samberg (the one-time "Saturday Night Live" star who hasn't cut it as a movie comic) than a young Adam Sandler. After emerging as a critic's darling in supporting roles in "Juno" and "Superbad," Cera has now starred in four straight films that haven't connected with bigger audiences: "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," "Year One," "Youth in Revolt" and "Scott Pilgrim."

Give Cera credit. It's not like he's Adrien Brody. He hasn't made really dreadful choices. In fact, they've all been interesting movies (OK, maybe it would be a stretch to call "Year One" interesting). But that makes it even worse, since if you're looking around to cast blame, and the movies aren't so bad, you have to point the finger at the star, who's supposed to be the drawing card that pulls fans into the theaters. As of now, Cera looks like a really gifted supporting actor who needs to stand at the side of a more conventional star so he can build up a solid body of work instead of having all of the opening-weekend weight on his shoulders.

Cera is only 22, so I'm certainly not going to start writing his career obituary. He's like a young baseball phenom who tears up the minor leagues only to bat .185 when he reaches the majors (in fact, sorta like the Angels' Brandon Wood, who has been riding the pines lately, mired in a horrible slump). Like a good young hitter who's lost his mojo, Cera needs to make some adjustments -- like working with a different kind of director or looking for a different style of material. But the reception for "Scott Pilgrim" is a definite sign that it's time to try something new.  

Photo: Michael Cera in a scene from the new film "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Credit: Universal Pictures /Associated Press

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Honestly, I think it's a bit unfair to blame the lack of success on opening night of "Scott Pilgrim" on Michael Cera's lack of a fan base. Cera's movie choices are all focused on a mid-teen to early twenties market. "Youth in Revolt", "Juno", and "Nick and Norah" are all movies that were very widely received by that exact market. "Scott Pilgrim" follows this same trend. It's a movie that will appeal widely to people in their mid-teens and early twenties. I'm not surprised that your twelve year old son wasn't exactly that into it. The movie although it doesn't really go too deep into them addresses a lot of more mature feelings. The jokes are also more on this level. You have lots of jokes about dating situations and sexuality. On the whole, it's a movie for young adults. A lot of the gaming humor is broad enough for a non-geeky audience to understand it. I'm a big fan of the comics that the movie was based on and feel they did a good job of including humor for the diehards and humor for everyone else. I don't believe there's any flaw in the movie or the actors they chose that led to the lack of a booming success. They released it on the same night as "The Expendables" and "Eat Pray Love" which feature much more well established actors. "The Expendables", as it is even advertised, stuck every well known action actor in one film with a bunch of explosions. Many of my friends went to see "The Expendables" opening night and saw "Scott Pilgrim" the next day or later that weekend. "Eat Pray Love" is based on a bestselling book that attracted millions of women, and then they cast Julia Roberts, star of many hit chick flicks, as the lead. I feel that it was a bad choice to release the movie on the same day as those other two. With casts like the two have, of course, "Scott Pilgrim" was going to be overshadowed. You can list Cera's acting credits on a napkin, and you'd have to print out several pages to get the rest of those guys' movies. It's more like taking a rookie baseball player who is doing a pretty decent job so far trying to get his career where it needs to be, having him teamed up with several other relative unknowns, and then putting him up against the likes of Babe Ruth, Mark McGuire and so on in a popularity contest. Who do you think is going to win? Opening night relies greatly on the popularity of the actors starring in the movie. Cera is a solid actor and good at the kind of movies. While I agree, it's about time to see him try a different kind of character and build up a much more solid credit list. I disagree that the movie failed opening night solely due to a lack of interest in Cera as an actor or in the movie. I think it was that they tried to put it in a losing battle against two movies that were almost assured blockbusters. It was the underdog, and, a friend who manages one of the local theatres said that they had planned a small opening for "Scott Pilgrim" from the start when they saw the other two movies coming out and planned to have less screens ready for it.

tl;dr Cera is a solid actor and not the one at fault for a less than satisfactory opening. "The Expendables" and "Eat Pray Love" are movies that had blockbuster written all over them. "Scott Pilgrim" was fighting a losing battle for viewers.

Let me state the obvious.

Michael Cera plays the exact same role in every one of his movies.
You could drop his 'Juno' and 'Super Bad' character into 'Scott Pilgrim', and no one would know the difference.

Two things:

First "Andy Samberg (the one-time "Saturday Night Live" star who hasn't cut it as a movie comic) "

Um, WHAT? Are you thinking Chris Kattan maybe?. Andy Samberg has been in what, that stupid kid on his bike thinks he's Evel Knievel movie? He didn't used to be an SNL star, he IS an SNL star. He may be a movie star in the future, but he's certainly not had enough failures to warrant this comment.

That, and if Sherwood Schwartz is reading this - I know you were thinking Michael Cera for Gilligan, but I implore you to give that role to Andy Samberg. Bonus point if "I'm on a Boat" plays under the credits while Gilligan is prepping the Minnow. Ask your Grandkids, if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Second: I'm 44 - took the 14 and 12 year old to see the movie. The marketing job for this movie is AWFUL. I had no idea what I was going to see - "Teen Romance", "Kiddie Cartoon", "Bandslam 2". I was not familiar with the Graphic Novel character - maybe that would have helped. The bottom line is that this is a terrific movie. The mix if fantasy and reality and snark and emotion and living graphic novel is, admittedly, hard to describe. But the trailers gave me no hint at what I was in for. This is a Very, VERY contemporary movie. I was particularly struck by the treatment of Homosexuality. Prop 8 Proponents, beware, this film is a terrific representation of how the 30 and under set view homosexuality. It's given treatment similar to the way an NBA movie would treat the 3-Point shot - old folks might not like it, but it's now just part of the game.

If I'm Universal, I would can whoever it was that was responsible for the Scott Pilgrim Ad Campaign. A lot of people are going to miss this film that would really like it.

Oh, and Mr. Cera was pitch perfect.

I agree with the fan above, SCOTT PILGRIM's supposed failure at the box office isn't due to Cera. I saw it opening night and loved it, and I'm in my 30's - but I love Edgar Wright's type of humor. It went up against Sly and Julia - that was stupid of Universal to open it thinking it would be counter programming. THE EXPLODABLES and EAT PREY SNOOZE were counter programming for each other, not leaving much else a chance.

I could see PILGRIM gaining a following and being a bit hit on DVD. Another big problem was, Wright's last two films cost reportedly $4 million and $16 million respectively and did well for those budgets. As much as I liked the film, it was dumb to greenlight it on $60 M and spend another $25 on marketing (other reports said it cost 60 so I'm assuming the 85 has 25 marketing in there). You don't jump from 16m to 60m - maybe like 30 at the most. But really this should have been a $20 million film tops- then the 10.6 m that is did would have been respectable, albeit still not a hit right out the door.

This movie isn't failing at all - it's Edgar Wright's largest opening weekend ever. Hot Fuzz made around $6 million and entered at #6, and Shaun of the Dead made $3 million and entered at #7. Plus both of those movies made the majority of their total overseas (Hot Fuzz most notable - over 70% of its total).

Considering that Shaun of the Dead made 10x its weekend opening when all was said and done, and Hot Fuzz made 13x its weekend opening, there's no telling what Scott Pilgrim will get.

This isn't a flop at all - it's going exactly as planned. Why don't news/blog writers realize this instead of immediately jumping to conclusions? There is no one to blame because there's nothing to blame anyone about; they've done exactly what they've set out to do.

It's not surprising that "Scott Pilgrim" bombed at the box office. Just by watching the previews, I could tell that it was another one-dimensional, pseudo-quirky hack job from the Hollywood cookie cutter. In fact, the only thing that surprises me is that ANYONE would subject her/himself to this kind of intellectually condescending drivel.

He plays the same role over and over and over and over.
Also has a prima donna reputation.
Not a good mix.

I loved the movie but I can see where a lot of people wouldn't see it. The humor is very dry and I don't think everyone would enjoy it. Quirky and nerdy doesn't appeal to a lot of people.

Cera is not good looking enough to play a leading man. Period. Stop trying!!
It was Universal and Wright's fault for casting a character actor in this role - and not even bothering to shove him in the gym first, if they wished to progress this way. They also screwed up by putting Winstead in terribly-styled wigs (and not sending her to the gym either), instead of the rainbow of adorable cuteness she has in the comics. Scott Pilgrim is supposed to be a "shaggy-haired dude who doesn't know he's a heartthrob," but Cera is not that guy. And the film was shot with such harsh lighting in certain scenes that everyone's skin looks terrible (except, of course, the adorable Knives Chau).

Who’s NOT excited about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World… or at least a little curious. Michael Cera has been on a roll lately and has been in some the past decade’s most memorable comedies. The way this looks and the fact that Edgar Wright(SHAUN OF THE DEAD!) is directing… yeah, how could it not rock?

Here’s The Top 4 Michael Cera Movies:

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