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September 4, 2006 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Almost 7 years after the release of his previous film Office Space, Mike Judge's Idiocracy is being all but abandoned by Fox. Despite favorable reviews and fan letters exhorting Fox to give the movie a chance, Idiocracy was released to seven cities on the 1st September with no promotion, no official release poster, no press screenings and a post-production budget so restrictive Judge had to ask fellow Austinite Robert Rodriguez to complete some effects shots for free. Is it because the film skewers Fox subsidiary Fox News (as well as advertisers like Starbucks and Costco) that Mike Judge is getting screwed (again)?
posted by PenDevil (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Office Space is a classic. I love it. It's ashamed that politics have to get involved and sometimes it chokes the release and reshowing of good movies.

:)
posted by sawthesign at 12:32 PM on September 4, 2006


If you're gonna criticise Fox, why should Fox release your film at all? Do they have some kind of moral duty to criticise themselves? I don't think so. Just get someone else to release it.
posted by reklaw at 12:36 PM on September 4, 2006


If FOX keeps screwing Mike Judge, Mike Judge can always get up off his ass and start his own production company. I can name a handful of other studios that would probably kill to get the kind of robust ticket and/or DVD unit sales Judge's work pulls, so he doesn't really have much of an excuse to stick with this company if his work is so great.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on September 4, 2006


I want a trailer damnit.
posted by pwally at 12:40 PM on September 4, 2006


Maybe he was contractually bound to Fox, through his King of the Hill work. I bet his contract said something about any movies that came out of his TV work or his own ideas were owned by fox until the contract was up.
posted by mathowie at 12:43 PM on September 4, 2006


According to this review the movie is actually pretty terrible.
posted by slow, man at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2006


If FOX keeps screwing Mike Judge - Blazecock Pileon

heh heh heh. Hey, Beavis, he said screwing...
posted by SteveTheRed at 12:49 PM on September 4, 2006


slow, man

who are these pajiba people and why do I give a shit about their "scathing reviews for bitchy people"
posted by sourbrew at 12:54 PM on September 4, 2006


The end of the Esquire article (which doesn't give much info at all about what or who's been keeping the movie down) implies it's not a contract issue:

There's no reason why someone as brilliant as Mike Judge should be at the mercy of a bunch of marketing tools, or taking seven more years between movies. But there's also no reason he should have allowed himself to get trapped in this situation all over again—even down to working with the same studio.

Could be sloppy reporting, but they seem to be saying he had a choice.
posted by mediareport at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2006


It got a %75 at rottentomatoes, which I find more reliable than pajiba(?).
posted by bob sarabia at 1:01 PM on September 4, 2006


"scathing reviews for bitchy people"

Man, they're edgy. You know their reviews aren't tainted by what The Man markets to the sheep populace.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:01 PM on September 4, 2006


That's what those stupid pajiba! banner ads with no other text and presumably unlicensed images are for?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2006


I want a trailer damnit.

It's strange that there's no trailer around, even on a tight budget, you would think someone would at least take a few minutes to upload a trailer to Youtube.
posted by bobo123 at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2006


Conspiracy!
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2006


Maybe they're just afraid of getting sued by Cyril M. Kornbluth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on September 4, 2006


It got a 75% at rottentomatoes

But only a handful of reviews so far and only the LA Times among the major dailies since it opened in only six markets "not including New York and San Francisco." This is the first I've heard of it, but everything I'm reading about it makes it sound at least as funny as Talladega Nights, and probably much more biting in its satire. I really hope I get to see it sometime.

Conspiracy!

Well, come on, not opening in NY *is* a pretty shocking move that cries out for some kind of explanation. That and no trailer available at any of the usual places get me thinking this really is a campaign by some folks at Fox to sink the movie, for whatever reason. I figure quint at aintitcool probably got it right with this:

I'd love to hear what kind of bizarre, ugly political jumble must exist between Mike Judge or the producers and the studio. There's gotta be something going on and we all know that Tom Rothman is the kind of guy that'd go out of his way to cockblock his own projects in order to stick it to someone he doesn't like. There's gotta be something there, underneath all this.

Hey, I've seen Entourage, I know how these personal vendettas work :) Filmjerk seems to think it's the savageness of the corporate satire that's the problem, along with rumored lawsuits:

In my January 2004 review of the screenplay, I said “So savage and scabrous does this screenplay get at times, this reviewer cannot imagine the powers of be allowing everything in the script to make it to the final cut. Which would be a shame, because what makes the screenplay so uproarious is its brutal honesty about what is happening with the world today.” There are a number of minor scenes that ended up being scaled down or outright truncated between the writing of the screenplay and the release of the final film, but that could also be because Judge was never given a proper chance to finish the film as he saw fit...What is surprising, though, is how much of the screenplay actually did make it to the screen. (Rumor also has it that the film was the target of a civil suit by several large corporations who were unhappy with the way they were being satirized in the film, and the lawsuit helped the studio lose confidence in the film, even though this all happened after the film was greenlit.)

Even if it's just incompetence, Judge should be furious. Here's the poster for the film, which may be the only ad you ever see for it.
posted by mediareport at 1:40 PM on September 4, 2006


A movie by a director who's previous movie gained popularity mostly by word of mouth, and made most of its money by DVD sales. A release of his new movie that is done in such a way that it creates a lot of talk and interest on the internet. I smell a conspiracy, but not the kind you guys are talking about.
posted by svenni at 1:47 PM on September 4, 2006


Oddly enough, I just saw a comercial for this a few days ago. It's not playing around here though.
posted by bob sarabia at 2:02 PM on September 4, 2006


svenni,

lol... internet hype != benefits of promotion budget.
posted by sourbrew at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2006


I hope they increase the limited release a bit, so that I get the chance to see it.
posted by graventy at 2:09 PM on September 4, 2006


"lol... internet hype != benefits of promotion budget."

A hypothesis proven by Snakes on a Plane.
posted by graventy at 2:09 PM on September 4, 2006


I'm inclined to think that svenni is correct. My best guess is that the movie is inconsistent and just average, and they're trying to get whatever mileage they can out of it as a "cult" film. Claims that the studio are "afraid" of this movie because of an anti-corporate stance strike me as naive, to say the least. They simply wouldn't have even shot the movie if that was a problem.
posted by dhammond at 2:17 PM on September 4, 2006


I love Mike Judge. "office space" and "beavis and butthead" were brilliant. I thought he was being screwed by the studio too.

Until I saw the movie Friday. It's absolutely awful. One-note, incredibly bitter and hate-filled without containing any real satire, and just plain not funny.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2006


One of my writers at LAist saw it the other day at the Arclight in Hollywood and gave it a resounding eh
posted by tsarfan at 2:22 PM on September 4, 2006


Those are heavily qualified "favorable reviews" - maybe the movie just blows.
posted by Flashman at 2:23 PM on September 4, 2006


"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."
Jonathan Swift- "Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting"
posted by ColdChef at 2:26 PM on September 4, 2006


"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

Is that quote still relevant today? Because I just saw Dane Cook on television.
posted by dhammond at 2:32 PM on September 4, 2006


IIRC studios have been doing a lot of viral marketing lately – for 'Serenity', this was about not taking out a lot of print ads and depending upon internet buzz to get the word out.

But since Fox doesn't even seem to want to open this movie in one of the most lucrative markets in the US, in order to recoup their 'loss', I can only imagine that this limited release is the product of some kind of Rothman-like vendetta (cf. Entourage, ^above).

OTOH, if Judge were being professional about this, he would have sought his day in court.

Then again, maybe Fox just cashiered him on this limited release – but then again, Fox seldom allows taste or political-correctness get in the way of their bottom-line.
posted by vhsiv at 2:33 PM on September 4, 2006


Is Fox TV still in existence? I was hoping it was dying along with UPN & WB to create that stupid CW thing, which I ALSO hope dies a quick and painful death. Afterwards I hope penguins on top of televisions sets everywhere will simultaneously explode.

I stopped paying attention to FOX soon after Firefly was unceremoniously boned, just as I dismissed cable from my life when MST3K was torn asunder. Highlights of cable I can pick up in DVD rentals, and I try not to give my money to anything else that FOX has a hand in, when I can possibly help it.

This tendency on my part to boycott crap I don't like didn't stop them from making multiple sequels of Batman after that first horrendous botch-job with Nicholson & Keaton, but does anyone remember that fondly now? I was right, wasn't I? Uh-huh! Told you so!
posted by ZachsMind at 2:54 PM on September 4, 2006


It's a trap. Limited release with no adverts encourages word of mouth and a range of conspiracy theories which equals free publicity, thousands and blog posts, public outcries which equals more profit and less wasted on flash microsites and other marketing black holes. duh.
posted by shoepal at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2006


More likely, Fox like other distributors are tightening up after such a mediocre (if not worse) summer for movies.
posted by mischief at 3:19 PM on September 4, 2006


That Rodriguez had a hand in this only makes me want to see the movie even more.

/Fun fact: the reason Mike Judge played the bad guy in the second spy kids? Because their kids attended the same class and they got to know each other in a totally non-film related capacity.

As to whether or not this is some sort of viral campaign, I really doubt it. Fox let this sit on a shelf for the better part of a year. Fox, in my experience, has no clue whether or not something is going be good.
posted by quin at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2006


vhsiv: I though of Serenity also - but that opened in 2000+ theatres. Hardly comparable.
posted by Sparx at 3:26 PM on September 4, 2006


Limited release with no adverts encourages word of mouth

I dunno, there's a difference between a limited release and a limited release that doesn't include the biggest city in the U.S. And if this is some kind of cult strategy, as dhammond suggests, not including NYC becomes even more bizarre. Lots of cult movie buffs/word-of-mouthers in that city. I wonder, are there other examples of limited release-strategy movies whose first opening wave didn't include NYC? That's really the part that's making me scratch my head and think studio politics has to be playing a part.
posted by mediareport at 3:26 PM on September 4, 2006


thought. sorry
posted by Sparx at 3:26 PM on September 4, 2006


Of course, pure capitalism is not nearly as stimulating as bandying about conspiracy theories. ;-P
posted by mischief at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2006


The favorite channels of the future being The Masturbation Channel and Fox News. The favorite television show being “Ow! My Balls!” and the favorite film being “Ass” (a single shot of a bare ass, which farts every few seconds).

Well, this made me laugh just reading it. I'll definitely be seeing it.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 3:34 PM on September 4, 2006


This is one of the rare occasions where Ain't It Cool News has a more insightful comment thread than Metafilter.
posted by jefbla at 3:53 PM on September 4, 2006


This is one of the rare occasions where Ain't It Cool News has a more insightful comment thread than Metafilter.

Every letter of that sentence is like a small seizure of horror in my brain.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:57 PM on September 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


Is that quote still relevant today? Because I just saw Dane Cook on television.
posted by dhammond


Is that an insult or a compliment to Dane Cook?
posted by papakwanz at 4:22 PM on September 4, 2006


To tell the truth, I'm not exactly sure, papakwanz. But I saw some of that Tourgasm on TV earlier and my head hurts. Somebody please explain that one to me.
posted by dhammond at 4:44 PM on September 4, 2006


When I lived in Austin, it was not unusual to see Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge, or even Quentin Tarantino sitting next to you at the theater, many times together.

I sat in front of Judge and Rodriguez at the Austin premiere of "Way of the Gun". Judge giggled the whole way through it, but what was really cool is that his laugh (I swear to you that this is true) is Beavis's "hehhehheh".
posted by ColdChef at 4:52 PM on September 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I also sat behind Tarantino and Linklater at a screening of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3" at the Dobie and they HOWLED laughing the entire time and threw popcorn at each other.
posted by ColdChef at 4:54 PM on September 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


We'll be showing it.
posted by bjork24 at 5:15 PM on September 4, 2006


We'll be showing it.
Sell a lot of tickets. You have to make up for the lost NYC revenue.
posted by ColdChef at 5:42 PM on September 4, 2006


So, if it's a good movie, he'll just release it on DVD simultaneously. And it'll sell like hotcakes and hit the Netflix Top 100 right away.

Right?
posted by drstein at 5:43 PM on September 4, 2006


ColdChef, on the one hand, I want to thank you for telling us that very cool story. On the other hand, I hate (/envy) for the same reason.

I want to be able to tell that story. Hell, I'm not even that big a fan of Tarantino, but I would love to sit through a slasher flick with the guy. Throw Rodriguez in the mix and all bets are off.

/Lucky bastard.
posted by quin at 6:26 PM on September 4, 2006


Idiocracy is a deeply flawed movie. It's also the funniest movie I've seen in a long time. I mean side splittingly hilarious, if you go for smart-but-lowbrow humor. It's a devastating take on our "celebrate stupidity", corporate sponsored culture.

Nepotism alert: here is my wife's positive review of the movie.
posted by chipr at 7:44 PM on September 4, 2006


I saw the movie on Saturday afternoon and thought it well worth the matinee price. It's not particularly well produced or edited, but it's brutally funny in many parts. Whether you end up loving or hating it (if you even get to see it), you've got to admit that there's worse film sludge out there that is better promoted.

What I can't figure out is why, despite the limited release, at least half a dozen theatres are showing the movie in Austin, and more than 20 have the movie in L.A.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:49 PM on September 4, 2006


I just got back from seeing it here in Austin and thought it was very funny and extremely biting satire, much more so than Talledega Nights (which was funny too). It's hard to fathom what Fox is thinking. Office Space really made an impact in pop culture and it seems like a no-brainer that they could have really cashed in on that with minimal effort.
posted by swamptiger at 8:25 PM on September 4, 2006


I read the script a year ago and I've been chomping at the bit to see it, but I'm stuck in NYC.

The script was hands-down hilarious, and I'm not sure what they could have changed to make it "meh." This only adds to my frustration.
posted by ®@ at 8:44 PM on September 4, 2006


ColdChef - I lived in Austin for 10 years and I never saw any of those guys at the movies!
I did meet Mike Judge a couple of times at concerts, including at a Jimmy Smith show.
posted by papakwanz at 8:50 PM on September 4, 2006


I lived in Austin from 1997 until 2002. Tarantino and Linklater were often at the Dobie or the Alamo downtown. Rodriguez was often at the Cinemark Barton Hills or the Tinseltown South. I saw Mike Judge at the Village (when it still was the Village) and at the Arbor, before it moved across the street.

In the years I lived there, Austin used to be a great place to spot celebrities. I saw Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston in the Warehouse district once (while he was filming "The Mexican" but before they were officially an item). I pulled over to tell him that I thought he was the shit in "12 Monkeys" and they both laughed because they were used to people in New York telling them that they sucked.

Oh, and I saw Metallica eating at Gueros.

I have many, many bland stories like this.
posted by ColdChef at 9:26 PM on September 4, 2006


Here it is on myspace. Under "Who I'd like to meet:"
Movie fans who like comedy (especially OFFICE SPACE) and don't like it when the studio execs who, just this year alone, brought you such masterworks as DATE MOVIE, GRANDMA'S BOY, GARFIELD 2: A TALE OF TWO KITTIES, JUST MY LUCK, JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE and X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND have the chutzpah to deem a film "unreleasable."
posted by whatnot at 10:05 PM on September 4, 2006


They did a sequel to Garfield? Lord, help us all.
posted by rsanheim at 6:11 AM on September 5, 2006


Well, so far I'm sold. I think people forget that Office Space (while fantastically entertaining and a pop cultural touchstone), had some huge flaws: the Superman III plot, the romantic relationship without much point, etc. From everything I've read, Idiocracy sounds like it might even be a bit better. I'm hopeful that someone will pick up for wider release, or else, I'll definitely be buying it on DVD.

They did a sequel to Garfield? Lord, help us all.

I am absolutely astonished. I remember Jennifer Love-Hewitt on the Daily Show trying to work past Jon Stewart's shock that she actually came on his show to promote the first one. Was definitely a funny moment.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 6:24 AM on September 5, 2006


I saw a rough cut of this movie a year ago in Irvine, California, and it was something I only endured because my friend who I hadn't seen in forever somehow had free tickets and we were both able to meet that day. Maybe they've changed some things around, but I left totally happy I hadn't spent any money on it.
posted by mdonley at 6:59 AM on September 5, 2006


I'll definitely be seeing the film, if it ever gets released here in the UK.

And I kinda liked Grandma's Boy...
posted by slimepuppy at 7:00 AM on September 5, 2006


Yeah, and X-Men 3 wasn't bad at all. I mean, COME ON!

/G.O.B.
posted by UKnowForKids at 7:36 AM on September 5, 2006


This guy is brilliant. Execs probably didn't understand Office Space either. I'm shocked they didn't promote this.
posted by xammerboy at 7:47 AM on September 5, 2006


Idiocracy is a deeply flawed movie. It's also the funniest movie I've seen in a long time. I mean side splittingly hilarious, if you go for smart-but-lowbrow humor. It's a devastating take on our "celebrate stupidity", corporate sponsored culture.

I've heard that a thematic idea in the movie gets repeated over and over again many times. I'm only speculating here, but that might be one of Judge's metatextual exclamation points in this context.

And 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend' is another craptacular movie that Fox felt comfortable enough to release this season.

(Wikipedia posts the estimated budget of MSExGF at $65M. Has it made any money yet? No. But then Uma and Anna Faris are non-threatening and easy to look at...)
posted by vhsiv at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2006


"lol... internet hype != benefits of promotion budget."

A hypothesis proven by Snakes on a Plane.


No promotion budget was going to help drive people to SoaP. Internet hype helped people hear about the movie; they then realized they'd have a better time bashing their head against the wall for two hours and didn't go to the movies.

As for Serenity, the studio got it half right: letting fans spread the word meant that fandom, in all its obsessive glory, would climb on board. Now they'd have to get all of the regular people to show up. That's where your traditional marketing should have come in.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:43 PM on September 5, 2006


Austin360 reports:
Someone close to Judge grumbled, "Fox dumped the film."

A Fox representative disagreed with that. The handling of the movie "was an executive decision from the chairman," she said. "It's not that we are treating the film coldly."

Asked why there is no marketing, no previews and only a limited release, she repeated, "It was an executive decision." That's all she had to say.
posted by forwebsites at 4:00 PM on September 5, 2006


if you go for smart-but-lowbrow humor

I've been wracking my brains for a good 25 seconds trying to figure out what that means, and now I give up.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 PM on September 5, 2006


Fart jokes in Shakespeare plays.
posted by mediareport at 6:35 PM on September 5, 2006


Wouldn't that be dumb-but-highbrow?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:07 PM on September 5, 2006


To-mah-to.
posted by mediareport at 8:21 PM on September 5, 2006


Spoon!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:46 PM on September 5, 2006


I was hoping it was dying along with UPN & WB to create that stupid CW thing, which I ALSO hope dies a quick and painful death.

No.

The CW shouldn't die a quick and painful death, because this endangers the fantastic Veronica Mars. Once that show's either moved past its prime, or moved to another network, then you can have your painful death.
posted by sparkletone at 11:08 PM on September 5, 2006


Saw Idiocracy on Friday night, also at the ArcLight. It is a cruel, devastating movie. The laughs are constant, but they are not frivolous laughs.

I've never seen a movie (indie, major studio, whatever) so filled with disgust and anger. And I've never heard people laugh louder at the movie theater.

Saw it with my buddy Os, who says later, "They should've had the DVD on sale as you walked out. Everybody there would've bought a copy."
posted by kenlayne at 10:47 PM on September 17, 2006


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