Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nacho Vigalondo|
|Written by||Nacho Vigalondo|
|Music by||Bear McCreary|
|Box office||$4.5 million|
Colossal is a 2016 science fiction black comedy film directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo. The film stars Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson. In the film, Gloria, an unemployed writer, unwittingly manifests a giant monster in Seoul, while struggling with alcoholism, and an abusively controlling colleague.
The film is an international co-production between producers in Canada, Spain, the United States and South Korea. Anne Hathaway signed onto the project in May 2015, which was described as "Godzilla meets Lost in Translation". Prior to the start of filming, Toho brought a lawsuit against Voltage Pictures, the film's producers, for unauthorized usage of Godzilla's image. However, a settlement was reached in October. Principal photography began on October 18, 2015 and primarily took place in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, finishing on November 25, 2015.
Colossal held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2016 and was followed by several festival screenings. It was theatrically released in the United States on April 7, 2017 by Neon, in South Korea on April 20 by Dreamfact Entertainment, in Canada on April 21 by Mongrel Media, and in Spain on June 30 by Versus Entertainment; it aired a day earlier, on June 29, on Movistar Estrenos as an exclusive preview. The film received positive reviews, with praise for the acting, direction, screenplay, and themes. Hathaway was singled out by many critics for particular acclaim. The film grossed $4.5 million worldwide against a production budget of $15 million.
Gloria is an unemployed writer struggling with alcoholism. Her errant behavior prompts her frustrated boyfriend Tim to break up with her and evict her from their New York City apartment. Forced to move back to her hometown in Mainhead, New England, Gloria reunites with her childhood friend Oscar, who now runs his late father's bar. Oscar is warm and welcoming to Gloria and offers her a job at the bar, which Gloria accepts.
Working at the bar aggravates Gloria's alcohol problem. After each shift, she hangs out and drinks until morning with Oscar and his friends, Garth and Joel, while sleeping it off on a bench near a children's playground. At the same time, a giant reptilian monster appears in Seoul, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Gradually, Gloria realizes that when she walks through the playground at exactly 8:05 am, she causes the monster to manifest and is able to remotely control it.
Gloria reveals her secret to Oscar and his friends by playfully dancing in the playground while they watch a news feed of the monster mimicking her movements. When a helicopter launches a missile at the monster, Gloria petulantly lashes out and destroys the helicopter, killing its pilot. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, she panics and collapses. When she awakens, she discovers that Oscar also manifests in Seoul, as a giant robot. Gloria ultimately tries to make amends by having the monster spell out an apology in Korean, to the delight of the South Koreans and the media, and begins to avoid both the playground and alcohol.
After spending the night with Joel, Gloria discovers that a drunken Oscar is using the robot to taunt South Korea. After a tense confrontation, Gloria manages to make him leave. Oscar is jealous, believing that something happened between Gloria and Joel. Later that night at the bar, he drunkenly insults his friends and demands Gloria have a beer, threatening to return to the playground if she refuses. The next morning, a sobered-up Oscar apologizes to Gloria, which she accepts.
Tim shows up in town on a pretense to see Gloria, but while he misses her, he can't help but be irritated and dismissive to her life situation. Upon meeting Tim at the bar, Oscar provokes a confrontation by setting off a large firework inside the bar. He boasts that, no matter how he behaves, he knows that Gloria will never go with Tim. Oscar later shows up at Gloria's house, telling her he is there to prevent her from going back with Tim.
This triggers a childhood flashback, revealing how Gloria and Oscar are able to manifest their avatars in South Korea: Gloria's school project, a paper diorama of Seoul, is blown over a playground. Oscar retrieves it but, because of jealousy over it being better than his, stomps on it instead. Gloria's anger triggers a lightning flash that strikes them both, as well as his toy robot and her toy reptilian monster. Back in the present, Gloria recognizes that his manipulative behavior, combined with the destroyed photos and other clues around Oscar's house, is sourced from Oscar's self-hatred, and resolves to leave town with Tim. Gloria and Oscar race for the playground but Gloria arrives first, and attempts to fight him again. Oscar incapacitates Gloria and destroys a large portion of Seoul, killing many people. He tells her that she's free to leave if she wishes, but every morning she remains absent, he'll take a walk through the playground.
Upon returning to her house, Gloria comes up with a plan to stop Oscar. She flies to South Korea, apologizing to Tim for not coming with him but insisting she owes him no explanations. At 8:05 am, U.S. time, Oscar causes the giant robot to manifest in Seoul. As she heads towards Oscar's avatar, Gloria causes her monster to appear at the playground back home. Gloria's monster flings Oscar into the distance, killing him and causing the giant robot to be launched into the horizon and disappearing. Gloria retreats to a bar and asks the bartender if she would like to hear an incredible story. After being offered a drink, Gloria lets out a long sigh.
Hathaway was the first actress to sign on at a time when the project had no financial backing. Hathaway heard about the script after finding herself "in a little bit of an artistic no man's land" for inspiration. Director Jonathan Demme screened for her a copy of A Field in England, after which Hathaway decided that it represented exactly the type of movie she wanted to make. After asking her representation to see a similar script that she could join, she was sent the Colossal script. Hathaway found herself attracted to the genre-hopping nature of the script, later comparing it to Being John Malkovich, one of her favorite films.
Prior to the start of filming, Japanese company Toho brought a lawsuit against Voltage Pictures for unauthorized usage of Godzilla's image and stills from previous Godzilla films in emails and press documents sent to potential investors. A settlement was reached that October.
Principal photography on the film also began in Vancouver on October 18, 2015, and ended on November 25, 2015. No motion captured footage was used for the creation of the monster; rather, footage of Hathaway acting out her parts was given to the CG team, who used this as reference points. The CG artists, as opposed to Vigalondo, were responsible for the look of the monster itself. Vigalondo stated that this was partly due to his lack of artistic skill and partly due to him "[wanting] them to feel like characters that felt like a part of the genre we're playing with".
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2016. Shortly after, an unnamed Chinese company acquired distribution rights to the film, which was later announced as Neon, a newly-founded distribution company. It held its European premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival on September 19, 2016. The film was selected as the closing screening for Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar on September 29, 2016, where it was awarded Best Picture in the Fantastic Features section. It was screened at the Sitges Film Festival on October 7, 2016. The film went on to screen at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2017, and at South by Southwest on March 10, 2017. The film began a limited theatrical release in the United States on April 7, 2017. In South Korea, the film was released on April 20 by Dreamfact Entertainment. It was released in Canadian theaters the following day, on April 21, by Mongrel Media. In Spain, the film was co-distributed by Versus Entertainment and Movistar+. It premiered as an exclusive preview on June 29, 2017 on Movistar Estrenos before it was released theatrically the following day, on June 30, by Versus Entertainment.
Colossal earned $3 million in the United States and Canada and $1.5 million in other territories for a total international gross of $4.5 million against a production budget of $15 million.
Colossal earned $120,226 in its opening weekend from four theaters at an average of $30,056 per theater, finishing twenty-ninth at the box office. The film grew by 278% in its second weekend, grossing $454,258 in 98 theaters and finishing in #17. In its third weekend, the film grew again by 35%. earning $615,089 in 239 theaters. By its fourth weekend, the film crossed $2 million domestically, earning $563,344 on 326 screens, averaging $1,728 per theater. The film made its international debut in South Korea on April 21, 2017, where it grossed $50,712 (₩57,518,565) in 294 theaters.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 259 reviews, with an average rating of 7.17/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Colossal's singular strangeness can be disorienting, but viewers who hang on may find that its genre-defying execution—and Anne Hathaway's performance—is well worth the ride." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Writing for RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz awarded Colossal 3.5 out of 4 stars, stating "I'll just say that the cast is quietly superb, that the movie always knows what it is and what it wants to say." IGN awarded it 7.0 out of 10, saying "It isn't always successful, but when the film works, it's a blast—another completely original and unique genre mash-up from the mad mind of Nacho Vigalondo." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded it 3.5 out of 4, saying "Colossal is seriously unmissable".
Jake Coyle writing for the Associated Press gave it 2 out of 4 stars, saying "The one-trick act of 'Colossal' becomes tiresome even as its leads—particularly an excellent Hathaway—work to find some depth in the story." Mark Jenkins of NPR said "The longer the movie runs, the more its novelty fades. The tone wavers, and plot holes that appeared small at the halfway point start looking like chasms." Rex Reed of The New York Observer gave it 0 out of 4 stars, saying the film was "almost as unwatchable as it [sic] incomprehensible".
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