[Spoilers for Serenity’s batshit twist below.]
Serenity, a movie you probably haven’t heard of despite it starring Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, has one of the looniest twists this side of Remember Me. That said, the reveal that the neo-noir’s characters are actually video game characters programmed by a 13-year old who wants to see his stepfather die—yes, really—wasn’t enough to humiliate the stars, who are reportedly furious over the film’s lack of publicity.
According to Deadline, McConaughey is “breathing fire over feeling like he was duped” by the distributors at Aviron, who apparently bailed at the last minute on a full publicity campaign—including a press junket, commercials, and TV appearances—for the film. Aviron, dismayed by poor test screenings and the failure of their Oscar hopeful A Private War, decided to entirely forgo any press or advertising, though they’re receiving plenty now in the realm of “did that just fucking happen” reaction pieces. That’s not the kind of press McConaughey was hoping for, however, as the actor reportedly pushed the studio for some kind of support and received only passive aggressive words in response. In the end, “maybe only nine spots aired in obscure locales,” per Deadline’s sources.
Aviron defended their decision in a response to the reports, saying “it’s next to impossible for an adult-skewing drama to overcome a 23% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a D+ CinemaScore.” When all else fails, it seems, blame Rotten Tomatoes.
Read their full statement below.
We had the best intentions for Serenity. We were excited for the opportunity to release this uniquely original movie and work with such a stellar cast and talented filmmakers. As much as we love this film and still hope it finds its audience, we tested and retested the film — with audiences and critics alike — and sadly, the data demonstrated that the film was not going to be able to perform at our initial expectations, so we adjusted our budget and marketing tactics accordingly. Regardless of the spend, it’s next to impossible for an adult-skewing drama to overcome a 23% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a D+ CinemaScore. To have spent more would have been irresponsible to our capital partners and wouldn’t have made prudent business sense for an independent distributor. We have enormous respect and admiration for the talent and all the hard work they put into the film and wish the box office results were better.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably curious about that ending. Well, here’s writer David Chen with a full breakdown. Buckle up, it’s weirder than words can capture.