Lost in Translation has looked at Jem and the Holograms before. The original cartoon was based on Hasbro’s line of dolls developed to challenge Mattel’s Barbie. The cartoon was popular but failed in its primary mission, selling the doll line. The 2015 film revival faltered at the box office because fans were expecting the cartoon. IDW picked up the Jem license for an ongoing series of comics beginning in 2014, leaning heavily on the cartoon as a base but going its own direction.
Lost in Translation has also looked at fan works before. Fan works can be variable in quality, but the common theme is that they’re made by fans. Fans will get into the minutiae about what they’re fanatical about, and may know the work possibly better than the creators. With the cost of recording technology coming down far enough to let anyone with a mind to creating a video do so, fan works are getting more common.
The video takes the form of a live-action version of the 80s cartoon, including a bumper halfway through where a commercial break would be, but mixes in some of the ideas from the IDW comic. The characters’ appearances are based on the cartoon, with an eye to the wigs and costumes seen there. Almost every major character from the cartoon makes an appearance, including the Limp Lizards. It’s obvious that Feldman was and is a fan of the series.
The plot would fit in after the series if slightly overblown. Jem and the Holograms are still big in the music world, garnering attention for their latest efforts to raise funds for the Starlight Foundation. Eric Raymond, though, has hit rock bottom. His schemes have failed. The Misfits are in prison. There’s nowhere for them to go. In a nod to IDW’s continuity, Stormer really misses Kimber and isn’t doing well in prison. But Kevin, who is totally an American, really, has information that will help Eric and the Misfits turn their fortunes around.
It’s not just the attention to detail in the characters, though. “Truly Outrageous!” includes several songs that reflect not just the plot but how the characters are feeling. There’s also the required morale of the story, the bits needed in the 80s to qualify what would be thirty minute toy ads as educational programming. The morale is a little heavy-handed, but that appeared in the original cartoon, too. The film is well aware of what it is, and even winks at the fourth wall to let the audience in on the fun.
The result is a video that pays homage to the original cartoon, taking the ideas shown there and expanding on them. “Truly Outrageous!” is definitely Jem.
Time again to try to fix an adaptation. Previous attempts to figure out what went wrong and how to fix the problems include the Dungeons & Dragons movie, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, and the 1998 American Godzilla movie. This time out, the 2015 Jem and the Holograms film.
The biggest problem the 2015 Jem had was obvious – it wasn’t the cartoon. Not that it wasn’t animated; the movie only shared names with with cartoon, going in its own direction, one that the potential audience wasn’t interested in. The obvious solution is to build a time machine, go back to 1986, and prevent the cartoon from airing. Of course, doing that means there’s no reason to adapt the series as a movie, thus the film is never made, so there’s no reason to go back in time. Depending on the theory of temporal mechanics, this could destroy the universe from paradox; create two timelines, one with the cartoon, the other without; or have some grumpy man in a blue police call box step in grumbling how amateurs shouldn’t mess with the space-time continuum.
Given the complexities of time travel, the obvious solution isn’t workable. Given that the audience was expecting something like the cartoon, what could have been done? Simplest, and doable barring problems with rights, is to just adapt the first five episodes of the series as the movie, with the music and technology updated to reflect what’s possible now. The episodes, “The Beginning”, “Disaster” (aka “Setbacks”), “Kimber’s Rebellion”, “Frame Up”, and “Battle of the Bands”, are one story, each but the last ending with a cliffhanger and set up the premise well. Along with Jerrica/Jem, the Holograms, and the Misfits, there’s a corrupt corporate executive in Eric Raymond as the villain.
“The Beginning” introduces everyone, sets up the relationships, shows the need that the Starlight Foundation has, brings in the love interests, and puts Jerrica in the position of having to fight to keep control of her father’s company. Even Synergy is brought in before the first commercial break, to introduce Jem. The difficulty may lie in the updates. Holographic technology is better understood now, but miniaturization will still let Synergy use Jem’s earrings as projectors. The fashions are dated, but with the likes of Lady Gaga performing today, outrageous outfits shouldn’t be a problem. The music needs a careful hand; Jem and the Holograms should have a different sound from the Misfits. In the cartoon, the Misfits had a harsher tone in their music, with Jem being softer for the most part, as the song “Click/Clash” demonstrates. Given that the sequel hook had Kesha as Pizzazz, the difference between the two bands would happen.
The last of the first five, “Battle of the Bands”, provides a natural climax, as Jem and the Holograms face off against the Misfits in a battle of the bands that will determine who owns Starlight Music and will live in Starlight Mansion, with the added threat of the life of one of the Starlight Girls in the balance, thanks to Eric. A race against time for the final act should pump up the audience, with the added benefit that the Holograms succeed thanks to Jerrica’s thinking and actions.
Casting the above is easy – keep the same cast, just let the actors playing Jem and the Holograms get a little older. They had chemistry with each other and deserve a proper shot. Ke$ha as Pizzazz had promise, and Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond nice flipped the villain’s gender without losing any of the sliminess of the corrupt exec.
That isn’t to say that the 2015 Jem movie is bad. Unlike the other movies featured in the Adaptation Fix-it Shop, Jem‘s biggest sin was not being what people wanted. The movie did get a number of items correct. The writers understood that while the Misfits were rivals, Eric Raymond was the villain. He used the Misfits for his own ends. The movie also remembered Eric’s thug, Zipper, who played a supporting role in the first five episodes of the cartoon. The fan videos that appeared deserves a look just for how the creative crew managed to fit them in. The Jem movie deserved better than a two-week run in theatres. It may have been better served by airing on a family programming channel instead, where the expectations of the audience who will be paying for the fare would be low to non-existent. As it stands, the movie made only half its $5 million budget, a rounding error for Universal in a year that included Jurassic World.
The 2015 Jem and the Holograms wasn’t a bad movie. It was just not what people wanted, and fixing that happens not on screen, but in marketing. Sometimes, misreading the audience leads to missteps.
A while back, Lost in Translation reviewed the 2015 Jem and the Holograms film. Today, let’s look at the cartoon that people were expecting to be the base of that film.
As mentioned in the movie review, the Eighties saw rules and regulations over children’s programming relaxed, allowing toy manufacturers to create animated series that were effectively ads for the toys. Hasbro saw success with both Transformers and G.I. Joe, thanks to the collaboration with Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions. With the boys’ line of toys comfortable, Hasbro turned to its girls line.
The fashion doll industry is dominated by one company, Mattel. Mattel’s Barbie line dominates the doll aisles at stores. Hasbro decided to try to get a piece of the action by introducing its own line of fashion dolls, Jem and the Holograms. The initial line in 1986 featured Jerrica Benton, her rock star alter ego Jem, her younger sister Kimber, and foster sisters Aja and Shana, all of whom made up the band. A rival band, the Misfits, also received dolls – Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer. To round out the line, Jerrica/Jem had a boyfriend doll, Rio. The dolls and fashions were inspired by the music videos of the time, with wild coloured hair and pastel tones. The initial dolls came with music cassettes with two songs each from the Holograms and the Misfits.
The doll line lasted two years before Hasbro discontinued it due to lack of sales. Mattel’s introduction of the Barbie and the Rockers line the same year Jem and the Holograms debuted didn’t help matters. However, by the time the Jem line wrapped up, twenty-four dolls were released, including two releases each of the Holograms, the Misfits, and Rio and three sets of Jem and Jerrica.
To help with sales, Hasbro went with the Marvel/Sunbow team up that had success with G.I. Joe and Transformers. Christy Marx, who had written scripts for both prior cartoons. became the story editor for the new series, Jem and the Holograms. The series revolves around Jerrica Benton, Starlight Music, and the foster home, Starlight Girls. Jerrica starts the series as co-owner of Starlight Music, her late father’s company, along with Eric Raymond. Eric, though, sees Starlight as a means to an end, getting rich, and is using the company to line his pockets. To this end, he backs the Misfits, a punk band made up of Pizzazz, Roxy, and Stormer. Jerrica discovers Eric’s duplicity and tries to find a way to take full control of Starlight Music. The answer is a contest highlighting new bands.
Jerrica, though, doesn’t have one immediately available. She discovers, though, that her father had been working on a secret project and tracks it down to an abandoned drive-in theatre. Inside, her father’s computer, Synergy, reveals itself and its advanced holographic capabilities to Jerrica, allowing her to become Jem. Her sisters Kimber, Shana, and Aja, join Jerrica and become the Holograms. The contest boils down to one between Jem and the Holograms and the Misfits.
Pizzazz wants to win. She’s in music for the fame and has no scruples in how she gets it. She’s perfect for Eric’s purposes, sabotaging Jem’s public appearances. However, the key element is performance, and Jem and the Holograms edge out the Misfits, letting Jerrica get the money to fully own Starlight Music and fund the Starlight Girls. Thus ending the first five episodes of the series. Eric is arrested and the Misfits are looking for a new label as a result.
The series continues in a similar vein. Eric gets out thanks to being able to afford the best lawyers money can buy. The Misfits become rivals to Jem and the Holograms, trying to sabotage the latter group’s efforts any time they can. Eric continues to try to retake Starlight Music, using evvery avenue of attack he can, at least until he starts up Misfits Music with the Misfits. Meanwhile, Jerrica’s relationship with her boyfriend Rio Pacheco becomes complicated thanks to Jem. As much as Jerrica wants to tell him the truth,. Synergy insists that her technologies remain secret. The lives of the Holograms are no less complex. Kimber has her own love triangle develop between a British singer and an American stuntman, while she tries to live in the dual shadow of her sister and her alter ego.
In the third season, a new band appears. The Stingers, comprised of lead singer Riot and musicians Rapture and Minx become a rival to both Jem and the Holograms and the Misfits. Working with Eric, the Stingers take over Mistfits Music and rename it Stinger Sound. The third season ran shorter than the first two, in part because the Hasbro had discontinued the toy line. No toys, no need to advertise. However, the cartoon was a ratings success.
Each episode featured two or three songs, either as a montage related to the scene it appears in or as a more traditional 80s music video. The Misfits appear in most of the episodes, one key exception being the anti-drug “Alone Again“. Some of the draw for the series was the music; the show revolved around two bands, after all. Each band had a distinctive sound, with the Misfits having a harsher tone than Jem and the Holograms.
Ultimately, while the series was popular, that popularity didn’t translate into sales. The sheer size of the line of dolls, which included three of the Starlight Girls, Synergy, and two friends of Jem, Danse and Video, may have spread what sales there were. Availability was an issue in some areas, where the cartoon aired but the dolls weren’t in stores. Mattel’s Barbie and the Rockers may have also eaten into the sales, having a known name despite the lack of cartoon. From this view, Jem and the Holograms failed on what it was supposed to do, sell dolls. However, a cartoon that still draws in viewers over twenty-five years later, that is truly outrageous.
The 1980s saw the regulations about children’s programming relaxed, allowing toylines to have shows. These shows, mostly cartoons, were meant as advertising for the toys. Hasbro took advantage of the situation and had several animated series based on their toylines, with Transformers airing in 1984 followed by G.I. Joe and Jem and the Holograms in 1985*. However, no one informed Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, the companies behind the series, that the shows were meant to be just advertising. Each series left an impact on its viewers.
With Jem, Hasbro entered a doll market dominated by Mattel. To try to gain an edge, The Jem dolls took their cues from MTV and singers like Cyndi Lauper. The first of the dolls, featuring Jem/Jerrica, her sister Kimber, her foster sisters Aja and Shana, the rival Misfits, and Jerrica’s love interest Rio. Most of the dolls came with audio cassettes featuring four songs, two by Jem and the Holograms, two by the Misfits. The Jem cartoon came out in 1985, leading the way for the dolls in 1986. Mattel, though, released the “Barbie and the Rockers” line the same year, also taking advantage of the popularity of MTV. Rocker Barbie also came with audio cassettes, though with far fewer songs.
For Jem, Marvel and Sunbow recruited Christy Marx, who was already working for them on the G.I. Joe cartoon. Marx took the ideas that the doll designer had – two rival all-girl bands, the boyfriend, and Synergy, the holographic avatar of a supercomputer – and brought the concepts together to create Jem, the Holograms, Rio, and the Misfits. The series begins with Jerrica Benton inheriting half of her father’s company, the Starlight Music label. The other half, though, went to Eric Raymond, a scheming corrupt businessman out to control all of Starlight. The music label also supports Starlight Foundation, a charity funding a foster home for girls. Naturally, Eric wants to shut down the Foundation. Jerrica’s father, though, knew what sort of person Eric was and built a supercomputer, Synergy, to help Jerrica. With Synergy’s help, through the “Jemstar” earrings and the phrase, “Showtime, Synergy,” Jerrica becomes Jem.
Eric has his own girl band to counter Jem and the Holograms. The Misfits consist of Pizazz, Roxy, and Stormer, who all work to beat out the Holograms, by hook or by crook. While the Misfits are the Holograms main antagonists, it is Eric who is the villain. That said, the views of Eric and Pizazz don’t necessarily reflect the view of the rest of the Misfits. Stormer and Kimber, in one episode, become friends, bonding over a feeling of neglect by their respective bandmates. The friendship continues beyond that episode. Eric also has a henchman, Zipper, to do the heavy lifting and dirty work that the businessman wouldn’t sully his hands with.
Naturally, there is a love interest, Rio. The stage manager for the Holograms, Jerrica and Rio have a complex relationship. The course of true love never did run smooth, and the course of the love between Jerrica and Rio takes an added twist when Rio develops a crush on Jem. Jerrica is hesitant to tell Rio the truth, that she is Jem, because Rio has an odd aversion to secrecy. While love triangles involving superheroes and secret IDs is known, Jem gender-flipped the concept. Adding to the love triangle is Pizazz, who has a crush on Rio.
Jem and the Holograms became the top rated syndicated cartoon in the US. Over 150 songs were written and performed on the show, a third making it on to the cassettes sold with the dolls. In comparison, Barbie and the Rockers had four songs, total. Jem aired for three seasons and ended only because the doll line was discontinued. The Jem dolls, while popular, couldn’t compete with the Barbie behemoth, and the line was discontinued in 1987. Twenty-seven dolls were released over the short run. As a doll, Jem couldn’t overcome the name recognition Barbie had. Thanks to the cartoon, though, the name Jem permeated pop culture, leading to a DVD release and a re-airing of the series in 2011. In 2012, Integrity Toys licensed Jem for a collector’s edition line of dolls, with over twenty-five dolls now released. IDW picked up the comic license in 2015 for a modern take on the characters.
With the resurgence of Jem as a property, Hasbro, through its fill studio, Allspark Productions, and Universal brought the doll to the big screen as a live-action movie. The movie remained in theatres for two weeks before being pulled from distribution, grossing just $2 million on a $5 million budget. Reviews were expecting a different movie than what was released. What happened?
The Jem and the Holograms film opens with Jerrica Benton (played by Aubrey Peeples) narrating into a vlog about the nature of secret identities and public personae and giving a few details about her background. After her father (Barnaby Carpenter) died, Jerrica and her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) were sent to live with their Aunt Bailey (Molly Ringwald), who had already taken in two other fosters, Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). Jerrica was close to her father, helping him in the garage as he tinkered with various things and learning out to play guitar from him. Kimber is the more outgoing of the two, and is constantly vlogging to YouTube. Jerrica, though, is more reclusive. When she discovers that her aunt only has thirty days to to pay the mortgage on her house, Jerrica tries to record a song about her feelings, but finds that she has to use a persona and pseudonym, Jem, to do so. Even after recording the video, she tries to delete it but has problems. Jerrica hands the camera to Kimber, who, instead of deleting the video, listens to it then uploads it publically.
The video goes viral, becoming even more popular than the waterskiing squirrel. Considering the number of musicians who have careers thanks to viral videos, it’s not unbelievable. The video’s popularity gets the attention of Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), the owner and CEO of Starlight Productions. Erica sends an email to the mysterious Jem, offering a contract deal. Jerrica pushes to have her sisters included on the deal, and Erica relents. Erica arrives at home to pick up her new stars and whisk them to Los Angeles. Jerrica, in her packing, brings along the last items her father gave her, a pair of pink star earrings and a half-finished robot, 51N3RG-Y, or Synergy. As the girls arrive in LA, Synergy, which has never worked, begins to power up.
The girls go through a process to get them ready for stardom, including hair, make-up, and wardrobe. Erica takes the star earrings from Jerrica, calling them a holdover from the 80s. Jerrica finds a way to hide herself as Jem for performances. Erica starts her marketing campaign as the girls settle in at Starlight’s manor. Jerrica meets Rio, the band’s manager and chief cat wrangler, and some sparks fly as Rio lays down the rules. That night, Synergy is up to full power, glowing under a discard sheet. The girls, unsure what is happening, uncover the robot, which then displays a map with coordinates as a hologram. Despite their midnight curfew, the girls leave the house, “borrowing” Rio’s truck to go to the coordinates. Jerrica recognizes where they are; she and her father had gone to the pier many times before he passed away. She finds one of the pieces missing from Synergy, who then displays another map coordinate, one for a nightclub that showcases hot acts.
Before the girls can leave, a flashlight shines on them. A male voice starts telling them about the laws they have broken, including breaking and entering and being out after their midnight curfew. Rio steps forward so they can see him and explains just how he followed them and that they tripped a silent alarm. He helps the girls escape. Jerrica explains why they were on the pier and wonders how they’ll ever get to the nightclub. She also discovers that Rio is Erica’s son.
In the morning, Erica Raymond announces that the mysterious Jem will make an appearance at that nightclub for her the first live performance. Jerrica and her sisters prepare for the night. The concert goes well until a blackout hits the club mid-song. Thinking fast, Jerrica, as Jem, gets the club goers to light the stage using their smartphone flashlights. She spots a familiar guitar and, as Aja and Shana get the club goers to clap and stomp a beat, she continues the song acoustically. After the concert, Jerrica inspects the guitar and confirms it is her father’s. Inside, there is another part for Synergy.
The day after, Bailey gets in touch with Jerrica to tell her that the house will be going up for auction in several days. Jerrica goes to Erica to ask for an advance. Erica agrees, with one condition – Jem performs alone, not with a band. In a tough spot, Jerrica agrees. Her sisters overhear the last part and are understandably upset. Jerrica tries to explain but the girls won’t listen. Jem’s next appearance is as a solo artist, but Jerrica isn’t happy about what happened. Upset, she wanders through LA and winds up at her old home. Through a window, she sees a young family enjoying each other’s company, further accentuating Jerrica’s feeling of being alone. To her surprise, Kimber arrives, followed by Aja and Shana. They’re still upset about what Jerrica did, but understand why. Rio also arrives, since he had to drive the girls there, and helps Jerrica make the connection to what the last pieces of Synergy are, the earrings. The earrings that are locked up by Erica.
Jerrica and Rio head to Starlight after first getting his mother’s car from Brad the valet, who only provides the keys if Rio can get his mother to listen to his demo CD. Rio, using the darkness of the night and one of Erica’s hats, gets by security in the car with Jerrica in the trunk. Kimber, Aja, and Shana distract the guards by pretending to be Jem fangirls and getting the guards to take their photos so that Jerrica and Rio can get into the building. In Erica’s office, Rio tries guessing the code for her safe. When Jerrica suggests entering what is most important to her, Rio types in Erica’s full name. The safe opens. Jerrica retrieves her earrings and Rio retrieves a legal notice addressed to him.
Erica discovers that Jerrica is up to something when she tries to get her car from Brad. With some encouragement from Zipper, Brad confesses to what happened. Erica and Zipper rush back to Starlight and review the security footage. She orders security to seal the exits and detain Jerrica and Rio. Rio delays Erica by playing Brad’s demo CD**, piping it to a conference room. On the ground floor, Jerrica puts on her wig to become Jem. Security, unaware of her dual identity, happily let her leave.
Safe, Jerrica places the earrings together. They start glowing with a purple light before she adds them to Synergy. The robot reacts, leaning back to project a hologram of her father. He explains why he created Synergy and why he had her go on a scavenger hunt.
The big concert arrives. Jerrica is determined that she goes out on stage with her sisters. All of them are ready, and Bailey arrives to watch the show now that the house is safe. Erica arrives backstage. She demands that only Jem go out, not the others. Rio, though, exercises the clause in his father’s will that states that he takes over Starlight when he is ready, and he is ready. Zipper escorts Erica out of the building and the girls take the stage. During the concert, an editor from Rolling Stone (Christy Marx) asks Rio about the band’s name so she can feature them on the front cover. He calls them “Jem and the Holograms”.
As the credits roll, a sequel hook comes up. Erica, thoroughly disgraced and humiliated, has tracked down one of her former acts. The group, understandably, isn’t interested, having been used and tossed away by Erica once before. Erica, though, mentions that Rio is in love with Jem, perking the interest of the band’s leader. Pizazz (Kesha) comes out and declares, “Our music is better. We’re gonna get her,” then leads Erica into the Misfits’ trailer.
The Jem cartoon was a product of the Eighties, with all the sensibilities of the time. The Jem movie is a product of the Teens, and also reflects the era. The movie integrates social media into the narrative. The film’s website allowed fans to upload audition videos, some of which got into the movie. The film also delves into the impact a star can have on the lives of fans. Jem’s music calls out to people to be themselves, even if Jem is just Jerrica’s public persona.
The main problem the movie has is not being the cartoon. The expectations were badly handled. Older fans saw that it wasn’t going to be the cartoon and stayed away, and since the older fans are the ones to bring the target audience to the movie, the film just didn’t perform at the box office. There is too much in the movie that ties into what has been established for Jem for the film to be generic. Producer John M. Chu made the decision to go a different route than the cartoon, acknowledging its existance and not wanting comparisons. Problem there is that comparisons would still be made. Looking at just the dolls, ignoring for the moment the classic cartoon series, the movies does work as an adaptation. Audiences were expecting the cartoon, though. As Lost in Translation has seen before, an adapation became the definitive work. The animated Jem joins the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series and the 1978 Christopher Reeve Superman. In Jem‘s case, this was caused by the marketing of the dolls using the cartoon.
The Jem movie isn’t a bad one. It is far better than its budget would suggest. The girls have an onscreen chemistry that helps sell the characters as sisters. Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond brings in a veneer of respectability over the character’s greed and sleeze. The lack of Misfits isn’t a problem; in the cartoon, Eric was the mastermind, using the band for his ends. The best way to view the film is as an alternate universe Jem.
* My Little Pony had specials in 1984 and 1985, but wasn’t a series until 1986.
** Brad’s music is essentially death metal on cello and is decent enough, though not something Erica would bother with.
If you haven’t seen Jem and the Holograms in theatres, and going by the numbers, you haven’t, you missed your chance. Universal has pulled the film after just two weeks. In its second week, Jem was getting $160 per movie screen* it was shown on. With today’s movie ticket costs, that’s about ten to fifteen per showing. The movie just did not get an audience.
Early reviews indicated that the movie had one of the most generic plots possible, with a “Remember Your Friends When You Are Famous” theme and having little connection to the Jem and the Holograms cartoon beyond just the name and being about an all-girl band. People saw the trainwreck coming and decided that they had better things to do, like wash their hair or dig a hole and fill it back up.
There may have been a fundamental disconnect between producers and audience. The Jem movie was based on the dolls, made by Hasbro. The audience was expecting a movie based on the 80s cartoon, with a heftier plotline that involved crooked music producers, a bad-girl band wreaking havoc, and a love triangle where two of the interests were really the same person. The audience who wanted to see the cartoon done in live action had no reason to go, and the generic plot may have kept away the younger set.
Might have been the targeted set. Advertising for the movie was minimal. It’s possible that Universal, the studio behind Jem, knew exactly what it had and went for a contractually-required minimal effort to promote the film. The pulling of the film may have been in defense of the Jem brand. This Jem and the Holograms movie was a flop, but it was one no one saw in theatres. In five years time, the movie will be forgotten enough to try again. Universal gave the film a $5 million budget. Given what Universal made from Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Minions, the loss from Jem is minimal. While Jem failed at the box office, it wasn’t the bomb Gigli was. The movie won’t hurt the brand, especially after being pulled after two weeks**. The IDW comic series is doing well and will keep the brand alive.
For the hypothetical movie in five years, what lessons can be learned from this attempt at a Jem movie? First, forget the generic plot. Jem has established characters, thanks to the cartoon and comic. Each character has her story, from Jerrica’s work to keep her father’s record company afloat to Pizzazz’s family issues. Tailor the film to the characters, not the other way around. Second, at least ask Christy Marx to be involved. Fans of the cartoon were dismayed when Marx wasn’t involved at all. Ignoring the creator and writer of the original Jem cartoon may have kept more people away from the film than anything else, including a lack of marketing. Even if Marx is brought in as a script consultant to make sure the characters feel right.
As Lost in Translation keeps finding, it’s the eye to details that make or break an adaptation. The generic-ness of Jem and the Holograms that caused audiences to just not go. The fans of the cartoon didn’t see their characters on screen, just their shells.
* Not the full theatre, but the actual theatre room in the multiplex where the movie played.
** In comparison, Gigli was pulled after three, but theatres were cutting the number of showtimes by then.
A few tidbits for the month. The big news involves the Doctor Strange movie.
Jem and the Holograms comic due in March.
The new design for the characters has been released. The art is updated while still keeping to the original looks of the dolls and TV series. The hair is outrageous, as to be expected, but either hair spray or holographic display can explain it.
Benedict Cumberbatch to start as Doctor Strange.
Marvel has confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch will play the title role in Doctor Strange, the first of the Phase 3 movies. All Marvel needs to do now is get Loki in the movie.
JK Rowling releasing new Harry Potter.
The releases started on December 12. Among the works are stories about the Malfoy family, Prof. McGonigle before Hogwarts, and how Floo Powder is made.
TOHO announces first Godzilla movie since hiatus.
TOHO will be ending the fallowing of Godzilla movies in 2016. The success of the 2014 American Godzilla has encouraged TOHO in bringing back the iconic kaiju.
Archie Comics restarting at #1.
Mark Waid and Fiona Stevens will helm the title after the reboot. Archie Comics, the publisher, has been on a rejuvenation spree of late, adding darker elements while still being family friendly.
SyFy picks up Krypton.
Air date is still unknown, but SyFy will air the Superman prequel series, Krypton, which will follow Jor-El, father of Kal-El, aka Clark Kent, aka Superman. As with the other DC properties airing on television, there is no connection to the cinematic releases.
Titans pilot to shoot in 2015.
Geoff Johns confirmed that Titans, the live-action version of the follow-up to /Teen Titans/, will have a pilot filmed in 2015. Nightwing, aka Dick Greyson, has been confirmed as one of the characters and rumours have added Starfire and Raven. The show will draw influence from Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s New Teen Titans.
May had a lot of news about upcoming adaptations and remakes.
Farscape movie in the works.
Rockne O’Bannon, creator of Farscape, has confirmed the rumours that a Farscape movie was in production, at least as far as the script. The confirmation was announced at WonderCon.
Prequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in pre-production.
The movie brings back Michelle Yeoh and fight coordinator Yuen Woo-ping to present what Yu Shu Lien did before the events of the original movie. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came out in 2000; the delay was caused by a rights conflict between the studio and the estate of Wang Du Lu, whose novels were the base of the movie.
Six issue Avengers mini-series coming from Boom!
John Steed and Emma Peel will be back in a comics mini-series called Steed and Mrs. Peel. The cover art in the article really does suit the show.
Casting started for the Jem movie.
After seeing how crowdfunding worked with Veronica Mars, the director of the live-action Jem and the Holograms turned to YouTube and asked for fans to sumbit video auditions for online casting.
Twin Peaks returns in fan-made web sequel.
Fans of David Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks have begun the 25th anniversary celebrations by having a third season done on Twitter. The central repository for the fan series is Enter the Lodge, where the tweets are collected.
Hector and the search for a distributor.
Hector and the Search for Happiness, based on the book of the same name by Francois Lelord, has been picked up by Relativity. The movie, starring Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike, tells the story of a psychiatrist travelling the world in search of happiness.
JK Rowling novel to become TV series.
The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling’s first novel after finishing the Harry Potter series, has been picked up as a BBC and HBO co-production. The book will be turned into a mini-series, following the town of Pagford, England, after the local councilor dies.
More Jem casting news.
All the actresses have experience to some degree but aren’t major names. Hayley Kiyoko, playing Aja, has an EP, “A Belle to Remember“, on her resume. Aubrey Peeples, playing Jem, has performed as a singer, including on the TV series Nashville, but doesn’t have a release. The live action adaptation still has some hurdles, especially with the original creator Christy Marx not involved, but the casting of the core allows the movie to be about Jem and the Holograms and not furthering the singing careers of the leads.
SyFy getting in on the adaptation train.
Four new series on SyFy, all of them are adaptations. Letter 44, Pax Romana, and Ronin are all based on comics. The fourth, The Magicians, is based on the novels by Lev Grossman.
Dad’s Army to hit the silver screen.
The BBC sitcom Dad’s Army is being adapted as a film. Toby Jones will play Captain Mainwaring, portrayed by Arthur Lowe in the original. Bill Nighy will be Sergeant Wilson. The original TV series focused on a British Home Guard unit in World War II. The writer of the original show, Jimmy Perry, added a provision when he signed over the rights that he wouldn’t have to write anything in the adaptation.
Sailor Moon cast announced.
More on the Sailor Moon news from last month. The Sailor Senshi have been cast, with Kotono Mitsuishi is back as Usagi. The character designs for the new series are based on their appearances in the manga.
Toy and snack movies ahead!
First, Barbie. A live action Barbie comedy is in the works from Sony. It’s not too surprising a move; the animated /Barbie/ features have done well and the online series /Life in the Dreamhouse/ has gone four seasons. Mattel, like all toy companies except Hasbro, is also trying to recover from a drop in sales in the past year.
Next, Peeps. The pink and yellow marshmallow candies are following in the footsteps of The LEGO Movie. Adam Rifkin will helm the movie, basing it on the Peeps dioramas his niece and nephew made.
Another Disney ride gets tapped for a movie.
In celebration of the attraction’s 50th anniversary, It’s a Small World will be turned into a family movie. The earworm generating song will be part of the movie. Disney is batting .500 with rides turned into movies lately; while The Haunted Mansion stumbled a bit, Pirates of the Caribbean became a huge hit. It’s a matter of finding the right team. Or inserting a subliminal message into the song.
Minecraft, the movie.
The producers of The LEGO Movie will bring the digital version of playing with blocks to the big screen. Warner Bros, the studio involved, will also work on a live-action tie-in for the movie.
Scarface to be remade, too.
The remake will bring the story into the today’s world. The immigrant’s story will see Tony’s background change to Mexican from the original Italian as seen in the 1932 and 1983 versions. The filmmakers are looking to cast a Latino in the role.
Marvel’s Peggy Carter to get her own series.
Peggy Carter, who first appeared in Captain America, is getting her own spin-off series on ABC in the fall. The series will be set in 1946 following the events at the end of the movie. This comes in the wake of the renewal of Agents of SHIELD. Meanwhile, over at Warner, no news of a Wonder Woman movie.
Private Benjamin to be remade.
The Goldie Hawn movie about a spoiled rich girl who joins the Army is being remade, with Rebel Wilson in the title role. The update will see a redneck join with the rich girl.
Animated Flintstones movie to be produced by Will Farrell and Adam McKay.
The Stone Age family will return to the big screen animated instead of live-action. The movie will be the first animated film of the characters since the 1966 The Man Called Flintstone.
Go, go Power Rangers!
Lionsgate has licensed Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers from Saban for a reboot movie.
Didn’t see the Rosemary’s Baby remake? You’re not alone.
Maybe Mother’s Day wasn’t the best day for the airing. The remake was up against A Game of Thrones, the season finale of Once Upon a Time, and Cosmos.
Corner Gas movie being Kickstartered.
The Canadian sitcom about life in Dog River, Saskatchewan is being turned into a movie if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.
Blade Runner sequel may see Harrison Ford return as Deckard.
Ridley Scott may provide the answer to, “Is Deckard a replicant?” in the Blade Runner sequel. Ford himself showed interest during an AMA on Reddit.
Infamous Chick tract being adapted as movie.
Dark Dungeons, Jack Chick’s infamous anti-Dungeons & Dragons comic tract, is getting the movie treatment. Zombie Orpheus Entertainment will be treating the tract with the respect the company, staffed by gamers, think is due and will play it straight and accurate.
A change of plans this week. I’ve been holding on to some items too long and I realized that I hadn’t had a round up last month. On with the show!
A Game of Thrones, the Movie
With the TV series catching up to George R.R. Martin’s writing, something needs to be done. One potential fix, feature-length movies. The movies would be prequels, set 90 years prior to the start of the books. This should give Martin the time to finish or at least pad out the series long enough to prevent the TV series from overtaking.
Jem and the Holograms to get film treatment.
Truly outrageous! The movie has a webpage set up where fans can make suggestions on plot and casting and submit audition video. However, Christy Marx, the creator of the original series, is not involved. How this will affect the movie remains to be seen.
No more Inspector Morse adaptations?
Creator Colin Dexter has added a clause in his will that will prevent other actors from playing Inspector Morse. He feels that the performances of both John Thaw and Shaun Evans cannot be surpassed. The clause can be challenged, but it is likely that Dexter’s estate will agree with him.
Left Behind movie series to be rebooted.
Nicholas Cage will star in the remake of the adaptation of the first of the Left Behind books. Release date has been announced for October 3. The first adaptation was by Kirk Cameron in 2000, with the sequels released direct-to-video.
Fox to spin-off a Mystique movie while Sony does the same with the Sinister Six.
While Marvel Studios is busy with the Avengers, the licensees aren’t content to be left in the dust. Fox has plans for a Mystique movie to go along with the Wolverine series. Over at Sony, the Sinister Six, Spider-foes each and every one of them, has signed on director Drew Goddard. The movies mean that Marvel will have more characters on screen than rival DC Comics, despite the latter’s owner, Warner, having not licensed any character to another studio.
New Sailor Moon series to debut July, broadcast includes Internet streaming.
The Pretty Soldier-Sailor is returning and can be seen through Niconico Douga, a video streaming site similar to YouTube. An account will be needed to watch but the new Sailor Moon will be available internationally. The build up has been kept low, with very little hype to create expectations.
Cracked.com lists the five adaptations that are overdone.
Beyond just naming, Cracked looks at why the movies don’t work well. The key appears to be the creativity ends with the original idea and doesn’t continue through the actual production.
Mrs. Doubtfire sequel being written.
Chris Columbus, the director of the original, has been signed, as has Mrs. Doubtfire himself, Robin Williams. The original movie hit theatres in 1993, and a sequel was attempted in 2001 but never got past pre-production. Given the age of the original movie, it may be Williams’ name that proves to be the draw.
Princess Jellyfish to get live-action adaptation.
The manga Princess Jellyfish, aka Kuragame Hime, will be getting the live-action treatement. The official site is now up. Release date is December, 2014.