TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Doug Krizner: WThey’ve become a permanent fixture in American pop culture. And after 18 seasons on TV and 400 shows, The Simpsons goes to the big screen this weekend.
The film’s studio, Fox, has hopes opening box office could hit the mid-$30 million range, although some reports suggest the take could reach the $50 million mark. It opens today in nearly 4,000 theatres.
Mike Speier joins us — he’s executive editor at Variety. Mike, how well has Fox handled the marketing of this film?
Mike Speier: I think Fox has hit all the right notes in terms of marketing the film. They have certainly hidden the film from critics. And usually that’s a bad thing, but in this case, how can you let the plot out, or the secret out of a show that’s been on the air for nearly 20 years?
You want to keep it a secret, you want to make it special, you want to make it distant from the fact that it’s a TV show. And they treated this like a very special-event film, and it’s going to be like that.
Krizner: So, what do you think it means for Fox in the end? What’s it going to do for the studio?
Speir: Well, Fox — For 20 years, they’ve made, the rumor is one billion dollars on The Simpsons. This just creates a brand-new wave. And you’d think that after 20 years, the wave would’ve crested and you’d fallen off and it’s over. No show lasts for 20 years. What this does is it’s fresh and it’s going to create and entire new fan base, and the people who are there are going to say they want more.
Krizner: When you have an entity like this that’s been so wildly successful, what does it do to the value of the people involved?
Speir: Especially with The Simpsons — the success is so huge, the money is so huge — everybody associated with it, not only individually is rich, but their creative value has just soars. All of them get shows on their own. Whenever you have a successful entity on television, you all get opportunities — because every network wants to duplicate that.
Krizner: So, what’s the one most interesting aspect about this story that you don’t think has been picked up in the mainstream media?
Speir: I think how revolutionary this could be — some people just say “The Simpsons is just a cartoon, just a TV show. Eh, big deal if you’re just an average person.” But nobody really talks about the fact that you don’t see this. You haven’t seen — I know this is ridiculous — but you haven’t seen a Seinfeld film, you haven’t seen an American Dad film, you haven’t seen any TV show cross the border into major, major blockbuster status. This rivals big movies, and you’re going to see the floodgates open, because Hollywood loves to duplicate.
Krizner: You know, as I’m listening to you, I’m imagining the Broadway musical version of all of this.
Speir: Right, we’re going to have a musical version of Homer.
Krizner: Mike Speir is executive editor of Variety here in Los Angeles. Thanks very much, Mike.
Speir: My pleasure.