Why ‘Iron Man’ So Solidly Beat Out ‘Speed Racer’

This isn’t one of those “Superman versus Flash” posts, but rather, “Oh for the love of all that is holy, wake up you morons!” posts. With the weekend drawing to a close, the box office estimates are beginning to come in, and it looks as if for the second week running Iron Man is going to take the top place.

However I was a little annoyed at Latino Review‘s heading for this information; “Iron Man Still #1 While Speed Racer Crashed and Burned at the Box Office.” THR managed a more succinct title, announcing that ” ” “”˜Iron Man’ beats all comers” and that “”˜Speed Racer’ settles for second at the box-office.”

This, in response to the fact that in its second week at the box office, it is estimated that Iron Man will rake in another $50 million, compared to Speed Racer’s opening of only $20 million.

Let us not confuse ourselves, Speed Racer is not and was never going to be a massive box office hit. Iron Man is one of the stars of one of the two biggest comic book publishers on the planet, whereas Speed Racer is an English adaptation of a Japanese anime TV show called Mach GoGoGo.

Furthermore, Iron Man starred recovering substance abuser Robert Downey Jr., everyone’s favorite Gwyneth Paltrow, an awesomely balded Jeff Bridges, and a freaking flying tin can! Speed Racer features no one’s favorite Emile Hirsch. Granted, Matthew Fox from Lost and Christina Ricci would have been enough to drag me to the theatres, but I live in Australia and it isn’t here yet so apparently I don’t matter.

If you want to take the analysis another step further, look at who is behind the making of this film; the brothers Wachowski, Larry and Andy. Need I remind you of just how horrible the Matrix sequels were? Believe it or not, they essentially destroyed half of the market for Speed Racer by screwing over those two films so royally, because fans of the Matrix would have been big fans of Speed Racer.

However, and this I want to stress, Speed Racer is going to be an awesome movie (or apparently already is”¦ damn Australia!). The graphics look sensational and are of such a quality and degree that we simply haven’t seen before, that for that alone I will go and enjoy the film. No one watched the original Speed Racer cartoons for its scintillating storyline. It was fun and campy, just like the old Batman series.

And coming in second place with a U.S. domestic gross of around $20 million is not horrible, especially when you’re coming in to a box office still reeling from the massiveness that was Iron Man.

Either way, to anyone who attempts to judge Speed Racer on the merits of how much money it has earned, let me just remind you of a little show we like to call Firefly!


  1. Pick your Paradise

    Americans want movies about terrorism, living in fear, revenge, and the military industrial complex. They get what they want.

    Do they want a sleek vision of the future with fusion centrifuge powered vehicles and a vivid rich clean world to live in.

    I think they picked the first and that is the world they are living in in the year 2008.

    Sign of the times baby

    Comment by Aril — May 11, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  2. Iron Man is a hard act to beat.
    Speed Racer picked up the second half, but what you said about the Wachowskis is very true.
    Great post!!

    Comment by Jerry — May 11, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  3. I have to say I disagree with you both. Speed Racer was the most hit them hard movie over the weekend. I have seen both movies and I have to say that Speed Racer should have came in first. Iron Man was indeed a good movie and I think it had some great parts but come on. Speed Racer had GI in this movie that no one had seen before. It was indeed better then Iron man and the wachowskis bros. did a hell of a job. But to put them down because of Matrix is wrong. But if Speed Racer came out a week before Iron man, then you would be cheering for Speed to finish in first. And oh by the by dont say Speed racer wasn’t the biggest cartoon of it’s time because anyone in their 40’s and up would say it was the biggest show every. Iron man wasn’t the biggest comic book because if it was, why did Spiderman brake the world record for sells. Speed will make the money it was hoping for, you just wait and see. GO! SPEED! GO!

    Comment by Adidas — May 11, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

  4. Speed Racer bombed because it looked like a gaudy, vacuous, noisy and brainless movie. Whether it is those things I can’t say, but the trailers kept me away.

    Comment by Jon — May 11, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

  5. Iron Man doesn’t pander like Speed Racer does to it’s audience. Things are too child-like in Speed Racer and this is not A way to think of your viewer. Kids, I think, can handle the content of Iron Man and are inclined too. Children as much as any other spectator wants something that somewhat challenges what they know and not something that gives them what someone expects they want. And I think Iron Man does just that. Gives them something enjoyable, but isn’t made especially for them. And the Matrix sequels weren’t that bad either. Speaking of business not being where it should, if they had released the Grindhouse movies separately it would have made twice as much money and been much more enjoyable.

    Comment by S.R. Ledbetter — May 12, 2008 @ 12:28 am

  6. I liked the Matrix sequels quite a bit, thanks. I think it’s ridiculously unfair for you to say that the Wachowski brother’s direction on those films undercut the financial performance of Speed Racer. They are geared toward completely different audiences. That’s like saying Robert Rodriguez’ ‘The Adventures of Lava Girl and Shark Boy’ effected his other actions movies or vice versa. The Wachowskis will make another R rated feature and it will perform well.

    Comment by Ahren — May 12, 2008 @ 11:49 am

  7. If you think $20 million is “not horrible,” you must not be a Warner Bros. executive. WB is crapping their pants right now because they just opened one of their summer tentpole films and it almost got beaten by an Ashton Kutcher rom-com. Speed Racer cost well over $100 million to make, and another $80-100 to market and distribute. This movie will probably not even make it to $100 million domestically, and I doubt it will do much better overseas. Even with DVD sales, it will be very difficult for this movie to make its money back, much less turn a profit.

    And when you write that “Speed Racer is not and was never going to be a massive box office hit,” keep in mind that WB wouldn’t have spent all of that money on it if they didn’t damn well think it was going to be a big hit. They don’t make movies as a public service for ’60s anime fanboys, they make moves to make money.

    I think it’s debatable whether the Wachowski name had any impact on the film. Every fanboy bitches about how bad the Matrix sequels were, but what they forget in their slavish loyalty to the fanboy party line is that a) they weren’t that bad, especially Reloaded, and b) they made a ton of money. Reloaded made way more that the original, and everyone involved made a shit ton of money off of the sequels. There are a lot of fanboys out there who revile the sequels, but they were clearly popular with the mainstream because they made a lot of cash. So let’s get off the Matrix bash train already, can we please?

    The fact of the matter is that most people could smell the stench coming off of Speed Racer from a mile away. Audience tracking showed that people were LESS interested in seeing the film the more ads they saw for it, which is unusual for a big summer film and obviously disastrous for a film’s box office prospects. Even I couldn’t get excited about this one, and I’ve been huge fan of both Speed Racer and the Wachowskis for years. I even like Matrix Revolutions, for God’s sake! But even I caught of whiff of that flop funk coming off of this film. It’s a disaster for WB, it’s a disaster for the Wachowskis, and it’s a disaster for producer Joel Silver.

    Comment by Slayve — May 12, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  8. SALVE big studios don’t make movies as apublic service for 60’s anime fanboys. my belief in the world is shattered now,

    Comment by stephen — May 12, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

  9. Awesome call on this and I saw Speed Racer at Imax and it fucking rocks

    Comment by Phil — May 20, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

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