Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why Super Troopers 2 is Important for Film

While some people will think of other big name people for alumni that went Colgate University, there are five that you will see pop up every once in a while. They are the group known as Broken Lizard, who have been around since 1990, and have been doing full length films since 1996. Consisting of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske, their beginning days were pretty rough with their first film Puddle Cruiser, which went to film festivals. They achieved a big following with their next film. Despite a meager 1.2 million dollars after many rejections from a lot of people, they shot Super Troopers, and brought it to Sundance. It would be bought by 20th Century Fox and found a little success in theaters and much bigger success on DVD.

Even with doing other films either together or on their own, there has always been the idea of doing a new Super Troopers film. It was a development hell one, unfortunately. While there is a loyal fanbase, none of their films have been well received or made mad amounts of money. (Dukes of Hazzard doesn't really count, but it was instrumental in green lighting Beerfest) Film companies are always out to make revenue, and possibly see the group as one that can not make it in Hollywood's eyes. Individually, they have carved out their own stuff. Stand up is something they have all done. Chandrasekhar has directed a number of TV shows (Arrested Development, Psych, Community) Heffernan has been on several shows in a guest starring spot (Workaholics, Agent Carter) along with doing a podcast with Lemme. Soter has made a few films of his own. Stolhanske is part of his home state's film board in Minnesota. I'm not going to claim myself to be a super fan of Broken Lizard, but they are people who may not be A-listers but the ones who slip through the cracks and find their audience.

That being said, in an era of Netflix and streaming, DVD has become somewhat of an afterthought. It is stuff that is addressed by some of the group. As talking about the performance of their films, that is what the studios will look at. It seemed like they had a hard time convincing Fox (where Super Troopers was bought under their Searchlight Pictures division) to have a new Super Troopers film. With that in mind and after struggles, the company got the film, but wouldn't give them money. That's where they did Indiegogo in 2015. They managed to get 4.5 million dollars and as of now, they have the film completed with a few small things to adjust and to hear about the release date. That money was not only for the filming. It is also for the advertising.

While it is a little down from the crowdfunding of the Veronica Mars film, Super Troopers 2 has a lot bigger crowd anticipating their release than a generic crime show that couldn't make it's budget back in movie form. That's why this is really important for film. If it were to do well, it could potentially change how films are made. It would also show people still have a hunger for seeing low budget films that may not get the recognition or success compared to a vanilla Marvel film until the Oscars and Academy Awards if it's nominated. (I'm talking films in general, not Super Troopers) There's that horror film, Get Out, which has made back it's 4.5 million budget 15 plus times already in two weeks. Even something in the 20 to 30 million range could be considered cheap, but not overly expensive by today's standards. At least it's not a huge risk compared to the ones that have 100-200 million dollar budgets. Unless you know it's guaranteed to make money, it's hard to know if audiences will go for it. It is a little ridiculous seeing certain comedies have these very bloated budgets, though I think some of them are being brought back down to earth a little bit in recent years.

This article from Chandrasekhar himself pretty much describes his feelings regarding today's film industry and crowdfunding. (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/27/why-we-re-making-super-troopers-2.html) One of Super Troopers 2's perks is getting a ticket to see the film whenever it does hit theaters. Broken Lizard is putting a lot on the line to give people something they've wanted for a very long time. They are not like Matt Damon or Jennifer Lawrence where they demand 20 plus million paychecks. There is such a high bar for it because the original had so many memorable scenes and lines that it stands along other films like Anchorman and Dumb and Dumber for being very quotable. The characters are so ingrained into your head, you're hoping for more evil shenanigans out of Farva, Foster and Mac trying new games on drivers, and Ramathorn and Rabbit working on a new prank. 

Broken Lizard may not be a big deal to Hollywood, but they are one of the backbones like many others trying to show they can stand out in the midst of comic book popcorn flicks, and many other bloated films. Personally, I think this will do better than all the other films they have done. If successful, there could be films that could do the same thing Super Troopers 2 has going. I'm expecting 30 million dollars at the box office. Let's hope that the film gets a release date soon.

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