Ender’s Game opens this weekend, and it’s pretty great (I’ll have my full review up later today). But there has been some hesitance amongst some potential viewers because they don’t want to have any money go to the book’s homophobic author, Orson Scott Card. Those people need not worry. Card made his money off selling the rights years ago, and that’s all the cash he’s going to see. He certainly did see a lot of money we he sold the rights to the best-selling novel. He not only profited from selling the rights, but pocketed $1.5 million to write the screenplay. However, he was never satisfied with his own adaptation, and eventually the project moved on without him.
Hit the jump for more. Ender’s Game opens tomorrow.
Card made his deal long before authors were savvy enough to get deals with a back-end percentage of a film’s profits as well as input on casting, the script, etc. According to The Wrap, there were whispers, “that Card’s contract had ‘“escalators”’ – built-in box-office milestones with cash bonuses attached – individuals close to the film say he has no such profit participation.” Again, that’s not surprising. One of the benefits of Ender’s Game being in production so long is that the business changed enough to cut him out of it. Even his producing credit is nominal. He had absolutely no input on Gavin Hood‘s adaptation.
Production company OddLot and distributor Summit Entertainment have been vehement about explaining that Card had absolutely nothing to do with making the movie, and the companies fully support LGBT rights. Even though those statements are being used to save that audience, it doesn’t mean the statements are disingenuous. Card is part of a dying breed, which is why I think even the remote fear of him getting any money is a little short-sighted.
We’re going to be doing our podcast, The Collision, on separating artist from art, but right now I’ll say that when it comes to Card, I don’t mind him getting money. The fear is that he’s going to take those profits and push them towards anti-gay causes, and he probably will. But here’s the thing: he’s already lost. He’d have a better chance at trying to bring back pagers. History is against him, and he’s going to waste thousands of dollars trying to support intolerance that is fading every day. He can’t pay to stop you from having a gay friend or a gay family member and your acceptance that life is going to be okay. But he’s still going to flush his money down the toilet instead of spending it on things that would actually make his life better. That’s fine by me. I get to read a pretty good book and think about how the author is not only an idiot, but an ineffective idiot.
Nevertheless, the boycott of the movie looks like it will continue because the marketing of the film has boosted sales of the book, and he’s supported the movie on his website even though no one involved with the movie wants anything to do with him (they’d probably call it “The Adventures of Space Boy Against the Aliens” if they didn’t want the plot, which, ironically, is ultimately about the importance of empathy). So I’m slightly annoyed when MoveOn.org board member Jono Jarrett told the Wrap:
“Queer geeks have far better things to do with our time and money than line up to profit someone who’s spent decades advancing an anti-gay agenda that damages and demeans the LGBT community,” org board member Jono Jarrett told TheWrap.
When informed that Card would not benefit financially from “Ender’s Game” box office, Jarrett said it was “regrettable the way the film’s publicity has driven up book sales,” but that “I really feel like staying the course for Skip Ender’s Game, certainly through our events on Friday … it’s about how we as a community respond to the situation.
“If it turns out that the LGBT community’s refusal to see ‘Ender’s Game’ carries more of a symbolic rejection of Card and his rhetoric than a financial one, I think that’s still a powerful message to content providers,” Jarrett said.
That sounds like “Well…we didn’t do the research to find out he wouldn’t make any money off the book, but now that we’ve already amassed a coalition, we can’t really turn back, so we’re still going to protest albeit in a less substantial way.” It’s a disappointing response because the symbolism is about the act of joining together rather than what the joining together was supposed to accomplish. Jarrett and his members have already won. They got a movie that won’t benefit the author and a platform for the filmmakers to roundly reject that author. It seems like Jarrett’s purpose now is to have a group rather than to accept the success of the group’s mission.
Returning to Ender’s Game, I encourage everyone, including LGBT people, to see the movie. It’s really good, and it promotes the importance of empathy, a value the book’s author sorely lacks.