Editorial by Alec R. Lee
The film Ender’s Game has been out a month and already the prognosis is not looking good for the studio. At the time of writing, the film has not cracked $80 million on a budget of $110 million. Naturally, this does not look good for a sequel because of the fact that films that underperform at the box office rarely get a sequel greenlit. Films like The Golden Compass and The Host are proof of this fact, and sometimes even films that make back their budget such as Legend of the Guardians don’t get a sequel because they did not make enough money to warrant another film in the series.
In both cases, this will most likely be the path that the Ender’s Game “series” will end up at. So, why did it not do well? In the review I gave, I praised it, saying that it was a solid adaptation of the book and that it even exceeded my expectations (I even saw it twice, as a matter of fact). But I guess I still don’t have enough pull in this country to make thousands upon thousands of people to flock to this movie. My guess is that the film got a lot of bad press simply because it is the adaptation of an Orson Scott Card book, and people who read my review got the Cliffsnotes version on a reason the film might fail. For those who skipped that post, Card is a notorious homophobic asshole (for lack of a better word, which he doesn’t deserve) who has been a staunch advocate against gay marriage, extremely in some cases. Amazingly, it appeared that nobody involved with the film knew about this side of Card (completely missing the fact that there is an entire Wikipedia section documenting all of his hate-filled rants) until Lionsgate, the studio behind Ender’s Game, in light of protests from LGBT advocates, publicly distanced themselves from Card. Roberto Orci (Transformers, Star Trek), a producer for the film, baffingly said that, “It didn’t occur to me to run a background check on anyone.” I thought that was pretty much mandatory in this industry. Either that or they’re just covering their ass in light of a potential box office fallout. I guess it didn’t help.
Another potential problem for any Ender’s Game sequel are the sequels that Orson Scott Card has already written. There are three sequels to the original book: Speaker of the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind plus a spinoff series and an interquel and prequel. I personally Speaker of the Dead was just “ok,” Xenocide was confusing, and Children of the Mind was just plain awful. Another problem with these sequels is the timeline. The second book in the series jumps forward in time to a 35 year old Ender. This is quite a huge time gap because the person that we were familar with in the first book is now a completely unrecognizable person. To add to the confusion, it is revealed that Ender spent most of his time traveling in deep space, and because of relativity, means that a couple thousand years after the first novel ended have passed. The world that Card built up has now been twisted into something different for the reader and is quite a jarring and annoying transition, even for a fierce reader. This means that most of the people in Ender’s Game are dead, and the people who are still alive are unfamiliar to us. It was a poor decision on Card’s part and I don’t think that a sequel should go that path.
Let me elaborate. The Ender spinoff series, Ender’s Shadow, focuses more on Bean, Ender’s friend in Battle School. That series involves most of the characters from Ender’s Game, sans of course: Ender and Valentine. From the studio’s point of view, it’s more economical to reuse actors that have already signed on for sequels rather than just recast them with their older counterparts. I would expect a sequel to use plot elements from Ender’s Shadow, but feature Ender as the main character, not Bean. I realize that it would deviate a lot from Card’s original vision, but given how much the man’s writing has deteriorated over the years, it might even help the film. (edit: “supposed film”)
If that Ender’s Game/Ender’s Shadow film ever does get released, (highly doubtful at the moment) I will see it. If an adaptation of Speaker for the Dead gets released, I will see it. I really did enjoy Ender’s Game to the point where I’m planning to buy it on Blu-ray. I loved the book as a high school and I love the movie now (hate the author). I want this movie to do well, I really do. It was well made, well acted, and made me want to see more of the universe that the movie only hinted at.
If you saw Ender’s Game, tell me what you think of it and what it could have done better or what it should do in the future. Post your comment below!