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Will Kick-Ass Connect with General Audiences?

Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass

In a few weeks Kick-Ass is going to try to achieve what films like Mystery Men and Blankman could not. “Not suck,” you might say and you’d be right on that. But the latest superhero dark comedy, inspired by Mark Millar’s smashing graphic novels, will try to also break past the barrier of comic fan approval alone and burst into the hearts and wallets of the general public.

Kick-Ass tells the story of teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a comic-book aficionado who takes his obsession to another level by becoming a real-life superhero, even though he has no superpowers. Almost everything said about the film, which opened the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, has been glowing and a large group of bloggers have anointed it as one of the early hits of the year. However, what matters is how much of a punch the film can pack to the average moviegoer. According to Bleeding Cool, Kick-Ass may have its work cut out for it in that department.

The film is tracking surprisingly low to test markets in the U.S. and appears to be capturing virtually no attention from over-25 women, mainly because there isn’t really anything for them to relate to. The film’s largest female role comes in the form of an eleven-year-old superhero, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), with a mouth that would make a younger and funnier Eddie Murphy blush. Aside from that, the movie pretty much caters to the whims of teenage boy fantasies. That doesn’t mean the film can’t make it without that demographic, but it would certainly be nice to have that section come along for the ride.

The assumption that the geek and teen demographic alone can carry the film to glory is a presumptuous one as well. Internet buzz and fanboy hysteria are great but they don’t always equate to box office success. Look at Zack Snyder’s Watchmen as proof of that. The film sank faster than Michael Keaton’s career after he chose to quit the Batman franchise, all this in spite of a $55 million dollar opening weekend. Without the staying power of the general audience, a film’s ceiling of profit is lowered.

Like Watchmen, Kick-Ass is being branded with an R rating and there’s good reason why. The action sequences are brutal and the language pulls no punches, but what else would you expect from a movie called Kick-Ass? Those elements would often lead us to believe the general public might be weary of the film. Most parents don’t want their kids to see a film like this and that is exactly why we think it will succeed in bringing crowds through the doors. Right now the marketers behind the film haven’t taken the “we’re the film your parents don’t want you to see” approach, but it wouldn’t hurt them to do so if numbers aren’t good in the first couple of weeks. We’re guessing the film will be fine.

Zombieland proved last year that a genre film can splash violence and comedy together and come out on top at the box office. The film is unconventional and fun, and just like Zombieland it turns its particular genre on its head while still paying respect to the elements that make it great.

Success has to be measured relatively for Kick-Ass. The production budget, set at $30 million dollars, could be matched on the opening weekend alone. Plus, there isn’t pressure for the film to break records or live up to set standards, like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise. Mix in DVD sales and it could be a very good day for Lionsgate. Like its central protagonist, the odds have been stacked against it but Kick-Ass will find a way to beat down its competition.

How do you think Kick-Ass will perform at the box office?

Adam Sweeney has a background in journalism, having spent 4 years on the Lone Star Lutheran as an Opinions and Arts & Entertainment columnist. He graduated in May 2008 from Texas Lutheran University with a Dramatic Media degree and hopes to become a filmmaker/journalist/radio host/actor extraordinaire. He also writes film and play scripts and figures if Good Luck Chuck can make it to the big screen then why can't he? He can also be read at TalkHoops.net as a feature writer on all things basketball, and his personal blog covers everything from politics to why Keira Knightley is looking more like Jack Skellington every day. (www.myspace.com/theadamlee)

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