More tales from “Earthsea”

August 19th, 2010

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With a movie like Tales From Earthsea, sometimes even a cover story reviewing the film isn’t enough to cover everything properly. Considering that Earthsea won’t be ending today like I originally thought it would — it appears it’ll be getting second life at the Kahala complex starting tomorrow, with showings at 12:30, 3 and 5:30 p.m. — I thought I’d reflect a bit on those additional thoughts.

Unfortunately, we have nothing new to report on the Earthsea dub. Wilma was planning on seeing it on Sunday. She even bought tickets for the 11:30 a.m. showing for herself, her fiance and her friend several weeks in advance. But due to what could only be described as a technical oversight at a certain ticketing site that shall not be named save for the fact that its name rhymes with “canned mango,” the 11:30 showing simply did not exist. She and her cohorts showed up at what she thought was a half hour early for a screening that was already 30 minutes into its run. That’s quite a bit of Arren and Sparrowhawk walking around staring at pretty landscapes that was missed by then.

So Wilma’s movie review from the day reads as follows: The Expendables was very fun, albeit slow at the beginning, with some funny cameos. And it was also very loud.

Undeterred, we press on with those notes:

The weekend box office take for Tales From Earthsea, according to Box Office Mojo’s chart, was $20,614 over five theaters — good enough for 57th place for the period, an average of $4,123 per screen. It seems on the surface like it outperformed Ponyo – that movie made an average of $3,868 per screen. The biggest difference, though: Ponyo bowed on 927 screens, and it had a sizable promotional push behind it, to boot. Earthsea? At five screens, that’s easily the smallest release I’ve ever tracked with this list. And because there were so few screens, there was no promotion for it whatsoever. A more apt comparison may be with Princess Mononoke, which was released in eight theaters on Oct. 29, 1999, and ended up making $144,446 over its debut weekend — an average $18,055 per screen. (Trivia note: Yuko Tanaka, the Japanese voice of Earthsea’s Cob, was also the voice of Lady Eboshi in Mononoke. And yes, Cob is, indeed, supposed to be a guy. Granted, he’s a bishonen, Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth-esque guy, but a guy nonetheless. Those of you confused at the screening whom I overheard, now you know.)

This was, as I and many others suspect, was Studio Ghibli’s “black sheep” film, the one that Disney wanted to sneak out to theaters in the dead of night just to keep the studio happy. Heck, I was actually a bit surprised that there was even an advance screening, and that it was hosted by KUMU, no less. (By the way, if you were in the audience that evening, you know that guy that deejay Devon Nekoba called out for tweeting during the pre-show festivities? That, umm, was me.)

Speaking of Twitter, one of my followers who was also at the screening told me that she liked Earthsea’s music. It’s a valid point, and one that I forgot to mention in the review: The music is wonderful. One of the biggest highlights is when Aoi Teshima, the voice of Therru in the Japanese version, sings “Therru’s Song” toward the middle of the film. But “Therru’s Song” also brings up another flaw of Goro Miyazaki’s direction: Anything he seems to love in his own film, he draws out to excruciating lengths. Those pretty landscapes, the song, the film’s climax that had some people chuckling (an effect I’m sure Miyazaki never intended) — all of them made me squirm a bit with impatience after a while. I kept thinking, “Okay, that’s great, that’s nice, but can we please move ahead with the narrative now?”

With all that said, would I buy a DVD of Earthsea when it comes out? Most likely. On the same token, though, I’d also like to read Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle first. I’m sure there’s a whole new depth to her work that’s only hinted at in the movie but never fully realized.

8 Responses to “More tales from “Earthsea””

  1. Tweets that mention In Otaku Ohana: Additional thoughts on Tales From Earthsea, including info on more HI screenings starting Friday: --

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by A. Furuichi, Jason S. Yadao. Jason S. Yadao said: In Otaku Ohana: Additional thoughts on Tales From Earthsea, including info on more HI screenings starting Friday: [...]

  2. AniMatsuri:

    After reading the books, you might want to watch the Sci-Fi channel mini-series and see how it compares to the anime version.

  3. parv:

    Jason, with your admission of buying the DVD of Earthsea (anime version I suppose) you have me confused as you seemed to have liked only the music. What would be the reason then to buy a DVD of the stuff that you (apparently) did not like?

  4. Jason S. Yadao:

    @parv: Just to clarify: I haven’t bought the DVD yet. The only official release to date is in Japan, and I’m more than happy to wait for it to be released in the U.S. first … as you can probably tell, I wouldn’t exactly pay the Japanese import premium price for that. As for why I’d buy it: I admit, I’m one of those obsessive-compulsive completist collectors who HAS to have everything Disney releases of Ghibli stuff on home video in the U.S., just to support the company and encourage future releases of Ghibli material. And if that means buying Earthsea, so be it … hopefully we’ll be rewarded later on if, say, Spirited Away or Totoro ever get released on Blu-ray.

  5. Diane Masaki:

    I would also like to support this film…Any idea if it will still be at Kahala on Friday? I didn’t even know it was already released. I had a super busy weekend though.

    BTW, you can find both the books (of course) and the Scifi miniseries in the library system. ;-)

  6. Jason S. Yadao:

    @Diane: Not sure yet whether the run will extend beyond Thursday, but I’ll try to update later this week when I find out. (I tend to monitor the theater websites like the rest of y’all, so.)

  7. Jason S. Yadao:

    @Diane: Updates are up, and looks like the last day will be Thursday. Sorry!

  8. Diane Masaki:

    Nooooo!!! Kahala is so far!!! I can’t even get there by 5:30. I guess I have to rent it or something… =-( Only days I can get to Kahala that early is Friday and Sunday… =-(

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