They don’t make movies like 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World anymore — but then again, they never did. Based on a series of graphic novels by Canadian writer-artist Bryan Lee O’Malley, this box office bomb-turned-beloved cult classic is — deep breath — a superhero film, martial-arts epic, coming-of-age comedy, rock musical, exercise in magical realism, and love letter to vintage videogames. The story revolves around Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), bassist for fictitious Toronto band Sex Bob-omb, who dumps his high-school student girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) for a Rollerblading Amazon courier named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The problem? Ramona’s most recent partner, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), has formed the League of Evil Exes with Ramona’s other former beaux, many of whom Scott battles in fantastical fights. Directed by up-and-coming British filmmaker Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), the $60 million-plus Universal Studios-backed movie adaptation was shot in Toronto with a cast full of notable young talent: Chris Evans played one of the Evil Exes, action-movie star Lucas Lee, while another future Marvel Cinematic Universe hero, Brie Larson, portrayed Scott’s former girlfriend, rocker Envy Adams. Other future stars included Kieran Culkin, Mae Whitman, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Pill, and more. “Imagine doing a gym class all together with [these actors],” says Wright. “It was extraordinary.”
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CERA: We got annihilated by Sylvester Stallone.
WRIGHT: It opened the same weekend as The Expendables and Eat Pray Love. I remember getting an email from Marc Platt, one of the film’s producers, on the Friday asking Universal to put more into the spend and predicting doom for the weekend. And I thought — naively — I thought, Well, it’s only Friday morning, how could they know? They know. It opened at number five. It’s that thing where it becomes a bit of a punch line. I’ve never liked Seth MacFarlane, because that weekend he tweeted “Scott Pilgrim 0, the World 2.” I was like, f— you. And then I lay in wait until 8 Million Ways to Die in the West came out, or whatever it was called, and I rubbed my hands with glee. I didn’t tweet anything because I’m not a total monster. [Laughs] But Monday morning Michael Moses sent an email with three words. It was one of the sweetest emails I’ve ever gotten from anybody in the industry. It said, “Years, not days.”
MOSES: You always wonder: If you had a chance to redo a campaign, what would you do differently? I hate that I don’t have an answer for you. I think it may have just been truly a movie that was ahead of its time. So, maybe I would have put it out 10 years later!
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