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Guillermo del Toro is rallying his rabid fan base and telling them not to worry about negative press for his latest movie, the monsters-vs.-robots tentpole Pacific Rim.
“We just need to keep working. Our numbers are going up. Not in a minor way. Significant. We are on the right track,” del Toro wrote on the forum of Deltorofilms.com, which bills itself as the official fan site of the filmmaker.
The thread was under the topic “Buzz and ‘Word of Mouth’” and followed Wednesday’s posting of a Variety article, the headline for which blared, “Is Pacific Rim Doomed to be This Year’s Battleship?”
Pacific Rim is a big bet for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros., with early tracking numbers suggesting the movie could have a soft opening. But Pacific Rim doesn’t open until July 12, which gives the Warners marketing machine time to raise awareness among U.S. audiences. The studio overcame soft early tracking for The Great Gatsby to launch it with a $50 million opening and had even more success with Man of Steel, which bowed to $200 million in global box office.
Legendary is on the hook for 75 percent of the movie, which cost between $180 million and $200 million to make (Warners has the other 25 percent). The movie, which features monsters fighting mechas, is also one of rare tentpoles that is an original and fresh property and not based on a comic or a sequel.
Pacific Rim is opening against Grown Ups 2, the comedy starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock, which is eyeing a $40 million opening, according to early tracking.
Del Toro acknowledges that sequels have an edge going in.
“Whatever sequel opens will have, by definition, higher awareness and numbers across the board, but we are moving strongly in the right direction,” he writes.
In January, Universal’s Mama, a horror movie that del Toro produced, didn’t track very well initially and was projected to open around $18 million. The movie overperformed by opening to $28 million. Latino families, often undercounted by traditional tracking services, were one factor in the success.
Tracking has proved to be a bit of an unreliable indicator this summer. On top of Gatsby, World War Z had its numbers revised upward several times as it surpassed expectations.
“We are working on it,” del Toro wrote. “We concentrated on the core for a long time — but we are barely started on the campaign. I am seeing the ads now and I am seeing outdoors and we are now supplementing what we did with character or tone. Thank you all for your good faith and love.”
Del Toro is one of a handful of filmmakers who has a deep and devoted fan base dating back to his Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth films. He also takes time to connect with his audience and is known for his self-deprecating and genial nature as well as his childlike glee for movies.
How else to explain this reaction from a devoted fan named ShanghaiShock: “If Pacific Rim loses to Grown Ups 2 in the box office, I’m going to head over to the marketing department of every studio that has a share of Pacific Rim and I will personally gut every single person in the marketing department.”
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