Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
|Scott Pilgrim vs. the World|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edgar Wright|
|Based on||Scott Pilgrim
by Bryan Lee O’Malley
|Music by||Nigel Godrich|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Budget||$85–90 million (gross)
$60 million (net)
|Box office||$47.7 million|
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a 2010 action comedy film co-written, produced and directed by Edgar Wright, based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a slacker musician who must battle the seven evil exes of his newest girlfriend Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
A film adaptation of the comics was proposed following the release of the first volume. Wright became attached to the project, and filming began in March 2009 in Toronto. The film premiered after a panel discussion at the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 22, 2010, and received a wide release in North America on August 13, 2010.
Despite being a box office bomb, grossing $47.7 million against its production budget of $85–90 million, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World received positive reviews from critics, who particularly noted the film’s visual style and humour, and eventually garnered a cult following.
In Toronto, 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim is a bassist in Sex Bob-Omb, a floundering garage band. To the disapproval of his friends, roommate Wallace Wells, and younger sister Stacey Pilgrim, he is dating Knives Chau, a 17-year-old high-school student. Scott meets an American Amazon delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, having first seen her in a dream, and loses interest in Knives, but doesn’t break up with her before pursuing Ramona. When Sex Bob-Omb plays in a battle of the bands sponsored by record executive Gideon Graves, Scott is attacked by Ramona’s ex-boyfriend Matthew Patel. Scott defeats Patel and learns that, in order to date Ramona, he must defeat the remaining six evil exes.
Scott breaks up with Knives, who blames Ramona and swears to win him back. Scott defeats Ramona’s second evil ex, Hollywood actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee, by tricking him into performing a dangerous stunt. He defeats her third ex, superpowered vegan Todd Ingram, who is dating Scott’s ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams, by tricking him into drinking half n half. Todd is arrested by the Vegan Police and de-veganized. He defeats her fourth ex, Roxy Richter (with Ramona’s help, as he refuses to hit a girl), by touching the spot behind her knee (Ramona tells him this is Roxy’s weak point).
Scott becomes upset with Ramona’s dating history, and Ramona breaks up with him. At the next battle of the bands, Sex Bob-Omb defeats Ramona’s fifth and sixth evil exes, twins Kyle and Ken Katayanagi, earning Scott an extra life. Ramona gets back with her seventh evil ex, Gideon. Sex Bob-Omb accepts Gideon’s record deal, except for Scott, who quits the band in protest.
Gideon invites Scott to his venue, the Chaos Theater, where Sex Bob-Omb is playing. Resolving to win Ramona back, Scott challenges Gideon to a fight for her affections, earning the “Power of Love” sword. Knives interrupts the battle, attacking Ramona, and Scott is forced to reveal that he cheated on both of them. Gideon kills Scott and Ramona visits him in limbo to reveal that Gideon has implanted her with a mind control device.
Scott uses his 1-up and re-enters the Chaos Theater. He makes peace with his friends and challenges Gideon again, this time for himself. He gains the “Power of Self-Respect” sword and disarms Gideon. He apologizes to Ramona and Knives for cheating on them, and Scott and Knives join forces to defeat Gideon.
Free from Gideon’s control, Ramona prepares to leave. Knives accepts that her relationship with Scott is over and, at her encouragement, he leaves with Ramona.
- Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers
- Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells
- Chris Evans as Lucas Lee
- Anna Kendrick as Stacey Pilgrim
- Brie Larson as Natalie V. “Envy” Adams
- Alison Pill as Kim Pine
- Aubrey Plaza as Julie Powers
- Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram
- Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves
- Johnny Simmons as “Young” Neil Nordegraf
- Mark Webber as Stephen Stills
- Mae Whitman as Roxy Richter
- Ellen Wong as Knives Chau
- Satya Bhabha as Matthew Patel
- Shota Saito as Kyle Katayanagi
- Keita Saito as Ken Katayanagi
- Nelson Franklin as Comeau
After artist Bryan Lee O’Malley completed the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, his publisher Oni Press contacted producer Marc Platt to propose a film adaptation. O’Malley originally had mixed feelings about a film adaptation, stating that he “expected them to turn it into a full-on action comedy with some actor that I hated” but ultimately “didn’t even care. I was a starving artist, and I was like, ‘Please, just give me some money.'” Universal Studios contracted director Edgar Wright, who had just finished Shaun of the Dead (2004) and agreed to adapt the Scott Pilgrim comics. In May 2005, the studio signed Michael Bacall to co-write the screenplay. Wright cited Mario Bava‘s Danger: Diabolik (1968) as an influence on his approach to Scott Pilgrim, describing it as an “Italian influence, a sense of completely unbridled imagination. They don’t make any attempt to make it look realistic. Mario Bava’s composition and staging has a real try-anything attitude.” Bacall said that he wanted to write the Scott Pilgrim film because he felt strongly about its story and empathized with its characters. By 2010, casting had been completed and the film was titled Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wright said that O’Malley was “very involved” with the script of the film from the start, contributing lines and adding polish. Due to the long development, several lines from various scripts written by Wright and Bacall were used in later Scott Pilgrim comics. No material from Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, the sixth Scott Pilgrim volume, appeared in the film, as the comic was not complete at the time of the film’s production. O’Malley contributed suggestions for the film’s ending and gave the producers his notes for the sixth volume, but stated that the film’s ending was “their ending”.
Casting of the principal characters began in June 2008. Principal photography began in March 2009 in Toronto and wrapped as scheduled in August. In the film’s original ending, written before the release of the final Scott Pilgrim book, Scott gets back together with Knives. After the final book in the series was released, in which Scott and Ramona get back together, and divided audience reaction to the film’s original ending, a new ending was filmed to match the books, with Scott and Ramona getting back together. The film was given a production budget of $85–90 million, an amount offset by tax rebates that resulted in a final cost of around $60 million. Universal fronted $60 million of the pre-rebate budget. O’Malley’s commentary track was recorded on August 14, 2010, one day after the film’s theatrical release.
One of the producers, Miles Dale, said that the film is “the biggest movie ever identifiably set in Toronto.” The film features Casa Loma, St. Michael’s College School, Sonic Boom, the Toronto Public Library Wychwood Library, a Goodwill location on St. Clair West, a Second Cup, and a Pizza Pizza. The developers planned to set the series in Toronto because, in Dale’s words, “the books are super-specific in their local details” and director Wright wanted to use the imagery from the books, so Universal Studios had no plans to alter the setting. Dale stated that “Bathurst Street is practically the cerebral cortex of Scott Pilgrim”.
Director Wright felt confident with his casting in the film. Wright stated that “Like with Hot Fuzz how we had great people in every single tiny part, it’s the same with this. What’s great with this is that there’s people you know, like with Michael [Cera] and Jason [Schwartzman], and then we have people who are up and coming, like Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza and Brie Larson, and then there’s complete unknowns as well”. There was no studio interference with casting more unknowns, as Wright stated that “Universal never really gave me any problems about casting bigger people, because in a way Michael [Cera] has starred in two $100 million-plus movies, and also a lot of the other people, though they’re not the biggest names, people certainly know who they are.” Wright planned on casting Cera while writing Hot Fuzz after watching episodes of Arrested Development. Wright said he needed an actor that “audiences will still follow even when the character is being a bit of an ass.” Wright ran all his casting decisions by O’Malley during the casting session. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was Wright’s choice for Ramona Flowers two years before filming had started, because “she has a very sunny disposition as a person, so it was interesting to get her to play a version of herself that was broken inside. She’s great in the film because she causes a lot of chaos but remains supernaturally grounded.” Ellen Wong, a Toronto actress known mostly from a role in This Is Wonderland, auditioned for the part of Knives Chau three times. On her second audition, Wright learned that Wong has a green belt in tae kwon do, and says he found himself intrigued by this “sweet-faced young lady being a secret badass”. Aubrey Plaza has a supporting role as Julie Powers. She said of the film, “there’s a lot of weird, perfectly casted people” and cited Michael Cera and Alison Pill for their accuracy to their characters.
Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, Beck, Metric, Broken Social Scene, Cornelius, Dan the Automator, Kid Koala, and David Campbell all contributed to the film’s soundtrack. Beck wrote and composed the music played by Sex Bob-omb in the film, with Brian LeBarton playing drums and bass for the band on the film’s score and soundtrack. Two unreleased songs can also be heard in the teaser trailer.
Cast members Webber, Pill, and Simmons all had to learn to play their respective instruments, and spent time rehearsing as a band with Cera (who already played bass) before filming began. The actors also sing on the film’s soundtrack. Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene wrote all the songs for Crash and the Boys. The tracks were sung by Erik Knudsen, who plays Crash in the film. Drew stated that the reason behind this was that “[he] knew that [Knudsen] didn’t need to be a singer to pull [it] off” because the songs were “so quick and punk and fast” and “it needed to be the character’s voice.” Metric is the inspiration for the film’s fictional band, the Clash at Demonhead, and contributed the song “Black Sheep” to the film. The clothing of Metric’s lead singer, Emily Haines, is also the basis for the clothing of the lead singer of Clash at Demonhead. Brie Larson provides the vocals for “Black Sheep” in the film, while the soundtrack features a version of the song with Haines as lead singer. Chris Murphy of the band Sloan was the guitar coach for the actors in the film. Music from the Legend of Zelda video game series is used in a dream sequence in the film. To get permission to use the music, Edgar Wright sent a clip of the film and wrote a letter to Nintendo of America that described the music as “like nursery rhymes to a generation.”
You can’t study animation and not be well-versed in Len Lye, Oskar Fischinger, Stan Brakhage, and Norman McLaren. We went back and re-watched those films and they were still full of life. We got excited about projecting such vivid imagery on the big screen, in front of an audience who most likely hadn’t experienced that work.
Wright got the idea from fellow director Quentin Tarantino, who famously uses title sequences at the beginning of his films.
A Scott Pilgrim vs. the World panel featured at the San Diego Comic-Con International held on July 22, 2010. After the panel, Wright invited selected members of the audience for a screening of the film which was followed by a performance by Metric. Scott Pilgrim was also shown at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on July 27, 2010 and was also featured at the Movie-Con III in London, England on August 15, 2010.
The film premiered in Japan during the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival on February 26, 2011 as an official selection. It was released to the rest of the country on April 29, 2011.
On March 25, 2010, the first teaser trailer was released.
At the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, the first clip was released featuring Scott facing Lucas Lee in battle. The actors playing Lee’s stunt doubles are the actual stunt doubles for Chris Evans. Alison Pill, who plays Kim in the film, stated that her character’s past relationship with Scott will be explored in other media stating that “There will be a little something-something that will air on Adult Swim“. The animated short, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation, produced by Titmouse Inc., adapts the opening prologue of the second Scott Pilgrim book and was aired on Adult Swim on August 12, 2010, a day prior to the film’s theatrical release, later being released on their website. Michael Cera stated that he felt the film was “a tricky one to sell. I don’t know how you convey that movie in a marketing campaign. I can see it being something that people are slow to discover. In honesty, I was slow to find Shaun of the Dead“.
A video game was produced based on the series. It was released for PlayStation Network on August 10, 2010 and on Xbox Live Arcade on August 25, being met with mostly positive reviews. The game is published by Ubisoft and developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Chengdu, featuring animation by Paul Robertson and original music by Anamanaguchi.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in North America on November 9, 2010 and in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2010.
The DVD features include four audio commentaries: (director Wright, co-writer Bacall, and author O’Malley; Wright and director of photography Pope; Cera, Schwartzman, Winstead, Wong, and Routh; and Kendrick, Plaza, Culkin, and Webber), 21 deleted, extended, and alternate scenes including the original ending (where Scott ends up with Knives) with commentary, bloopers, photo galleries, and a trivia track.
The Blu-ray Disc release includes all DVD features, plus alternate footage, six featurettes, production blogs, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation, trailers and TV spots, storyboard picture-in-picture, a DVD copy, and a digital copy. The “Ultimate Japan Version” Blu-ray Disc includes a commentary track that features Wright and Shinya Arino. It also includes footage of Wright and Cera’s publicity tour through Japan and a round-table discussion with Japanese film critic Tomohiro Machiyama. It was released on September 2, 2011.
In its first week of release in the US, the DVD sold 190,217 copies, earning $3,422,004 in revenue, and by 2011 earned $27,349,933 on the US home media sales, and has grossed over $29 million as of 2018. It reached the top of the UK Blu-ray Disc charts in its first week of release.
The film was widely released in North America on August 13, 2010, opening in 2,818 theaters. The film finished fifth on its first weekend of release with a total of $10.5 million ($12.1 million when adjusted for inflation), and by its second weekend of release had dropped to the bottom of the top ten. The Wall Street Journal described this as “disappointing” while Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times noted that the film appeared to be a “major financial disappointment“. Universal acknowledged their disappointment at the opening weekend, saying they had “been aware of the challenges of broadening this film to a mainstream audience”; regardless, the studio’s spokesman said Universal was “proud of this film and our relationship with the visionary and creative filmmaker Edgar Wright. … Edgar has created a truly unique film that is both envelope pushing and genre bending and when examined down the road will be identified as an important piece of filmmaking.”
In the UK, the film opened in 408 cinemas, finishing second on its opening weekend with £1.6 million, dropping to fifth place by the next weekend.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 81% based on 263 reviews, with an average score of 7.52/10. The site’s consensus states: “Its script may not be as dazzling as its eye-popping visuals, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is fast, funny, and inventive”. Metacritic has assigned an average score of 69 out of 100, based on 38 reviews, which indicates “generally favorable reviews”.
At a test screening, director Kevin Smith was impressed by the film saying “That movie is great. It’s spellbinding and nobody is going to understand what the f*** just hit them. I would be hard pressed to say, ‘he’s bringing a comic book to life!’ but he is bringing a comic book to life.” Smith also said that fellow directors Quentin Tarantino and Jason Reitman were “really into it”. Carla Gillis, a writer for Now and former lead singer for the band Plumtree, also commented on the film, as her band’s song “Scott Pilgrim” was the inspiration for O’Malley to create the series. Gillis felt the film carried the same positive yet bittersweet tone of the song.
After premiere screenings at the San Diego Comic-Con International, the film received positive reviews. Variety gave the film a mixed review, referring to the film as “an example of attention-deficit filmmaking at both its finest and its most frustrating” and that “anyone over 25 is likely to find director Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the cult graphic novel exhausting, like playing chaperone at a party full of oversexed college kids.”
The Hollywood Reporter wrote a negative review, stating that “What’s disappointing is that this is all so juvenile. Nothing makes any real sense … [Michael] Cera doesn’t give a performance that anchors the nonsense.” and “Universal should have a youth hit in the domestic market when the film opens next month. A wider audience among older or international viewers seems unlikely.” David Edelstein of New York magazine wrote that “The film is repetitive, top-heavy: Wright blows his wad too early. But a different lead might have kept you laughing and engaged. Cera doesn’t come alive in the fight scenes the way Stephen Chow does in the best (and most Tashlin-like) of all the surreal martial-arts comedies, Kung Fu Hustle.”
Cindy White at IGN gave the film a positive rating of 8/10 calling the film “funny and offbeat” as well as noting that the film is “best suited for the wired generation and those of us who grew up on Nintendo and MTV. Its kinetic nature and quirky sensibilities might be a turnoff for some.”
Nick Schager of Slant Magazine gave the film a positive review of three and a half stars out of four, calling Edgar Wright an “inspired mash-up artist, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may be his finest hybridization to date”. A. O. Scott made the film a “critics pick”, stating “There are some movies about youth that just make you feel old, even if you aren’t … Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has the opposite effect. Its speedy, funny, happy-sad spirit is so infectious that the movie makes you feel at home in its world even if the landscape is, at first glance, unfamiliar.” According to Michael Phillips, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is different, and not just because it’s funny first and everything else second. Director and co-writer Edgar Wright understands the appeal of the original Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novels … O’Malley’s manga-inspired books combine utter banality with superhero hyperbole, and it’s a lot for a director to take on. Wright, who is British, has taken it on and won. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World lives and breathes the style of the original books, with animated squiggles and hearts and stars filling out the frame in many individual shots. Some of this is cute; some of it is better, weirder than ‘cute.'” Phillips concludes:
“To enjoy the film you must enjoy the brash, satiric spirit of hero’s quest. Cera and his fellow ensemble members, including Kieran Culkin as Scott’s roommate, Anna Kendrick as his snippy younger sister and the majestically dour Alison Pill as the band’s drummer, mitigate the apocalyptic craziness with their deadpan wiles. At its best, Wright’s film is raucous, impudent entertainment.”
After its premiere in Japan, several notable video game, film, and anime industry personalities have praised Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, among them Hironobu Sakaguchi, Goichi Suda, Miki Mizuno, Tomohiko Itō and Takao Nakano.
In June 2013, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley, who is of Korean and white Canadian parentage, stated that he regretted the fact that the film’s cast was predominantly white, and that there were not enough roles for minorities.
The film received four nominations at the 2010 Satellite Awards held on December 19, 2010 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City. It won in two categories; Best film – Comedy or Musical and Best Actor – Musical or Comedy for Michael Cera. The film also made the final short list for a nomination for Best Visual Effects at the 83rd Academy Awards, but did not receive a nomination.
|Artios Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Big Budget Feature – Comedy||Robin D. Cook and Jennifer Euston||Nominated|
|Austin Film Critics Association Awards||Best film||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Picture||Nominated|
|Best Overlooked Film||Nominated|
|Detroit Film Critics Society Awards||Best Director||Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Best Ensemble||Overall casting||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Film||Nominated|
|Best Director||Edgar Wright||Won|
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form||Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Sierra Awards||Best Art Direction||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Laura Jean Shannon||Nominated|
|Best Song||Beck for “We Are Sex Bob-Omb”||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Editing||Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|SFX Awards||Best Film Director||Edgar Wright||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||Best Editing||Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss||Won|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Film – Musical or Comedy||Won|
|Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Michael Cera||Won|
|Best Art Direction and Production Design||Nigel Churcher and Marcus Rowland||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|Scream Awards||The Ultimate Scream||Nominated|
|Best Director||Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Best Villain||Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, Shota Saito, Keita Saito and Jason Schwartzman as The League of Evil Exes||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Ellen Wong||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Kieran Culkin||Nominated|
|Fight Scene of the Year||Final Battle: Scott Pilgrim and Knives vs. Gideon Graves||Won|
|Best Comic Book Movie||Won|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Action Actor||Michael Cera||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Action Actress||Mary Elizabeth Winstead||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Action||Nominated|
|Utah Film Critics Association Awards||Best Director||Edgar Wright||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright||Nominated|
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Universal spent about $85 million to make the picture, along with a small investment by Relativity Media
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Universal’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” opening Friday, cost $80 million-$90 million
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What’s disappointing is that this is all so juvenile. Nothing makes any real sense. The “duels” change their rules on a whim, and no one takes the games very seriously, including the exes, who, when defeated, explode into coins the winner may collect.
Certainly Cera doesn’t give a performance that anchors the nonsense. His character sort of drifts, not really attached to any idea or goal other than winning the heart of an apparently heartless woman while dissing a girlfriend who, despite her “youth,” seems ideally suited to his slacker personality.
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