Last column (and, uh, yeah -- it's been a while), I teased you with the promise of a column about V for Vendetta, the opening weekend sucess of which seemed unlikely for a host of reasons. The film, after all, has faced a host of obstacles on its 20 year journey from B & W British comic strip to Warner Brothers' most prominent Spring widget: the Wachowski-brother-speared adaptation was abandoned by comic co-creator Alan Moore (who, to be fair, has a general policy of distancing himself from filmatizations of his work); after the London bombings last summer, WB was forced to abandon both its original release date (November 5, the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawlkes' aborted bombing of the British Houses of Parliament) and its original marketing campaign ("Remember, remember, the 5th of November..."). But most interesting of all was the outsized fervor the film instigated, months and months before its release, amongst conservative film critics.
Add it all up, and and Vendetta's $26 million opening seemed sufficient for study. But two things happened the following week: 1) I finally got around to seeing the film, and 2) Vendetta's numbers dropped a precipitous 52% in its second weekend, with the holdover title easily falling victim to Inside Man's $30 million opening onslaught despite an advantage of 500 screens. The weekend-to-weekend drop isn't exactly a mark of failure -- at virtually exactly this time last year, another comic adaptation, Sin City, opened just under $30 million, dropped 50% a week for about six weeks, and was eventualy considered one of the year's biggest hits -- unless we're playing this as a zero-sum game, On those terms, V for Vendetta could safely be considered a massive failure: the most pretensiously political film to come from a studio in some time, it's managed to fail to either rally the Left or vidicate the Right. On the ideological spectrum, there's no winner here -- which means everybody loses. But just the very fact of Vendetta's failure to inspire much more than a shrug from most parties points to the possibility that the culture wars might be far less potent than certain pundits – not to mention publicists – would have you believe.