Nobody Wanted Any

I’m playing the odds a bit here, but: You didn’t see Everybody Wants Some!!

Maybe you don’t even know what it is! It’s the latest Richard Linklater movie, released quietly in one of those N.Y./L.A.-only ways on March 30, before expanding into around 450 theaters, but now currently fizzled into just about nothing. It was (is?) out there for most of you to see, but you haven’t. The film has made $3 million dollars back from its $10 million budget, which suggests the same enthusiasm as a dental appointment. Anecdotally, I personally know three other people who have seen it, and a whopping zero who’ve posted anything about it on social media. Interest in the movie, scant to begin with, has evaporated into a Google Plus-like void.

This is surprising to me! Let’s not get into whether it’s good*, as that’s not the point.

This is a movie some more people should’ve maybe seen. Here’s Linklater, fresh off Boyhood, a time-lapse experiment that garnered so much universal praise even Joyce Carol Oates thumbed out a tweet of support. Here’s a movie that nearly the same glowing critical reviews (84 on Metacritic, 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, Richard Brody calling it “Linklater’s personal best”) to justify a trusting dip sight-unseen by filmgoers. Most importantly, here’s the “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, one of the most beloved movies for children of the nineties, who now presumably have enough disposable income for a night out at the movies.

And yet, none of that happened. So, what gives? I have me some theories.

Badvertising.

Ew boy. This trailer — focusing on dumb jocks picking up chicks, while in attire/haircuts that seem annoyingly period appropriate, partaking in snippets of faux intellectualism that went out of style once the fifteenth Tarantino clone wrote a scene where gangsters discuss the metaphysics of the “Saved by the Bell”Tori-verse — does not represent a good movie. The posters are either a big shrug that looks like a Photoshop class or a dude-heavy one-shot that’s a deathbed hallucination of your life’s enemies rounded up for one final curtain call. These elements do not make me want to see the movie!

However! After re-watching the trailer with the movie in the rearview, I’m not sure what they should’ve done differently. The movie doesn’t have an assortment of trailer-made quips, à la Paul Blart. Rather, the enjoyment comes from hanging around the characters for extended periods of time after the initial cringe wears off, and you fall into their rhythms. It’s an impressive sleight-of-hand Linklater pulls off, where during the first ten minutes you’re all, “I have to watch these assholes for an entire movie?”, and then at the end it’s, “Man, I miss those assholes.” Can’t really get that sentiment with a two-minute “best of” comp.

Boyhood backlash.

A lot of people liked Boyhood! So, due to the overcorrection part of the pop culture cycle, a lot of people vocally most certainly did not enjoy Boyhood, because they are very interesting people, you know.

Dazed and Confused fans have chosen to procreate.

That seems unwise, but for our purposes, that means a night at the cinema necessitates getting a bunch of ducks lined in a row, i.e., agreeing to a time and place, hiring a babysitter, presumably first vetting said babysitter, and performing the final cost/benefit analysis to give oneself good odds at making the entire headache worthwhile. A low-budge frat-house sports comedy probably doesn’t cross that last threshold. Maybe — like Dazed and Confused before it — it’ll find an audience in the home environment, this time around the late night viewings caused by brats not being able to sleep rather than some innocuous act of rebellion against the ‘rents.

Too many sporps.

Technically, Linklater’s an art-house guy, which says more about his audience than him. And art-house folk, at least the ones who elbow their way into playoff Twitter with dismissive “sporps ball” quips, at least — aren’t drawn to the sporting life, which that stupid, stupid ad campaign made out as one of the movie’s key aspects? There’s maybe five minutes of baseball, and a few conversations that view sports and competition and bro-hood through a critical lens. A mumblecore Mike and the Mad Dog, it is not, but the continual refrain of “baseball comedy” didn’t do it any favors.

That damn title.

Try saying it out loud. “Want to see Everybody Wants Some?” “Did you see Everybody Wants Some yet?” “Hear anything about Everybody Wants Some?” Doesn’t roll off the tongue. I kept conflating it with non-titles “Everyone Wants Some” and “Everybody Wants More,” and this was after I’d seen it. Linguistically, it’s not easy to grasp.

Those damn exclamation points.

Think the title’s tough to vocalize, try punching it into social media. Do you leave out those extra exclamation points? If you’re asking a question about it, do you put them into weird parenthesis so it doesn’t look like you’re aghast, so it comes out “Everybody Wants Some(!!)?” (No, don’t do that.) If there was only one exclamation point, it could be easily dropped, but two seem like a purposeful artistic expression, so you think twice about how to write it, and then the moment’s gone, so you don’t post about it at all, and there goes any chance at trending.

Part of Linklater’s diabolical plan.

His entire career has been throwing lightly funded projects at the wall and seeing what happens. When he’s had a big budget (i.e., > $25 million), they’ve either done really well (School of Rock) or flamed out spectacularly (The Newton Boys, Me and Orson Welles), but his small budgets have been consistently in the black. Overall, he’s “earned” over $100 million, so studios aren’t fretting. Maybe this finds its audience, maybe not, but if $7 million in the red for Paramount is that big a deal, they can just take Paranormal Activity out of mothballs and print more money.

The point is, no massive losses are good. But no massive earnings aren’t terrible either! With no huge box office receipts setting up expectations, Linklater can continue doing what he does, plodding along and keeping his head down, telling whatever stories he wants without being goaded into filming the sixth Iron Man or something. It’s a neat trick!

Rick Paulas saw this movie.

*It’s good.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.