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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Am I the Wachowski Curse? IT'S POSSIBLE

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 9:59 AM

JUPITER ASCENDING In which alien-dog Chatum dances on sparkles.
  • JUPITER ASCENDING In which alien-dog Chatum dances on sparkles.

Just yesterday I was (kind of) waxing (sort of) rhapsodic about Jupiter Ascending, this summer's big sci-fi blockbuster from the Wachowskis, which stars Mila Kunis as Princess of the Universe and Chatum as an albino dog person, and therefore is obviously right up my alley. And now comes word that—not two months before its release—Warner Bros. is delaying the film until 2015, "citing the need to finish extensive special effects."

I should've known this was coming, because I was really looking forward to Jupiter Ascending, and as far as I can tell, my enthusiasm for the Wachowskis' movies directly correlate to how much trouble those movies run into.

Somehow, when very few filmmakers can say the same, the Wachowskis have managed to keep making ambitious, weird, big-budget projects—even as their ambitious, weird, big-budget projects fail to deliver the kind of massive box office return that their Matrix movies did. Both of the Wachowskis' post-Matrix films, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, were considered big financial disappointments.

But I, at least, really like Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, which are exactly the kind of non-sequel, non-prequel, big-scope, expensive movies that major studios should be making. (I'd rather have $200 million go to whatever thing the Wachowskis are doing next than, I don't know, Transformers 4 or X-Men 7.) I'll be the first to admit that neither of those films is 100 percent successful—but I'll also point out that they get a lot more right than they get wrong, and there's an energy and excitement and ambition to them that's legitimately hard to find in most other big-budget offerings. It's as if, after the drubbing they got for the Matrix sequels, the Wachowskis just looked at each other, said "fuck it" in unison, high-fived Mathnet-style, and started making whatever they were most excited about, even though they easily could have easily become hired guns, taking on whatever sequels and franchises they got offered.

So that's why I was pretty stoked about Jupiter Ascending, which still, I think, looks like a movie that nobody else could have made, because who else could come up with any of this.

Maybe the movie really does need more time to be finished, but my hunch is that Warner Bros., seeing how competitive this summer is, and seeing how audiences have reacted to the Wachowskis' past two movies (or, possibly test screenings of this one), are hedging their bets and putting out Jupiter when there's a lot less competition—like, say, the cinematic dead zone of February 2015. Delays of big films this close to release dates are exceedingly rare, and a huge amount of studios' resources are devoted to making sure films are finished in time for their release. So I dunno.

Shrug. I'm just some guy in Portland who likes space Chatums, so what do I know? Other than that I have to wait until 2015 to see Mila Kunis be Princess of Universe, I mean.

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