Why ‘Kick Ass’ is Kicking Butt in DVD/Blu-ray Sales

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 8th, 2012 at 7:08 am,

Kick Ass 2 movie release date Why Kick Ass is Kicking Butt in DVD/Blu ray Sales

Lionsgate announced yesterday that Kick Ass “proved dominant across all revenue channels this past week.” The film debuted in the number one position in DVD and Blu-ray sales – as well as the top movie download on iTunes since its release August 3rd.

The critical success of Kick-Ass hinted at the potential for excellent performance in home entertainment sales. While it wasn’t a huge surprise, for many of us, it offers a welcome sense of validation. Those of us who believed in the film’s potential for ‘cult’ success were rewarded with quantifiable proof this week.

Last April, there was much ado about nothing with regard to the film’s “failure at the box office.” In fact, the film was only a “failure” when measured against the inflated projections for opening weekend numbers – numbers that were based on perceived “audience awareness.” What these projections failed to consider was that the perceived awareness was isolated to a powerful, but segmented, fraction of the population at large – meaning an improper sampling. The blogosphere often becomes a self-cannibalizing entity and the response to Kick Ass illustrates that trend beautifully.

There was (an understandable) fan boy and girl fervor in anticipation of the film. One which lead credence to the notion that Kick Ass would strike it big opening weekend – and by big I mean projections forecast a $35 million open weekend – for a film that cost $25 million to make.

There was also an enormous influx of trailers, videos, and other marketing materials prior to the release of the film – a tactic that could have backfired, positioning the audience to rail against a film – as a result of overexposure. When the film failed to perform as projected, the blogosphere (unsurprisingly) jumped at the opportunity to write a bunch of snarky articles outlining the film’s financial shortcomings. To put that in perspective – remember the film cost $25 million and went on to make $96 million worldwide.

kick ass red mist1 Why Kick Ass is Kicking Butt in DVD/Blu ray Sales

Here is what those projections failed to account for:

  1. As mentioned, the “audience awareness” sampling came from a community predisposed to be aware of, and interested in, a film like Kick Ass – as well as its source material. Without a recognizable name attached, or broader brand appeal, that awareness wasn’t representative of the general movie-going audience.
  2. Much of the target audience for Kick Ass was not old enough to take themselves to an R (hard R) rated movie, and this film is not an easy sell to parents. “Oh yes mom, can I please go see this film that features an adorable mass murdering twelve year old who makes liberal use of the ‘C’ word? Yep, it’s the very one Roger Ebert called ‘morally reprehensible’!”
  3. How hopelessly square Americans really can be (this feeds off of number two on the list). Now, don’t misunderstand, I like Roger Ebert. I don’t always agree with him, but I like him. However he asked in his review if his response to Kick Ass made him “hopelessly square.” My response is – yes, yes it does.
  4. Misinterpretation or rejection of the film’s central characters and story lines. Again this is a follow-up to number three on the list. I will use Mr. Ebert as the singular representative to a broad stick in the mud reaction to the film.

Many felt that the film was morally bereft due to its depiction of an exquisitely violent little girl. Emphasis on little girl. I contend that Hit Girl’s gender played a powerful subconscious role in some people’s negative reactions to her. Further, people felt that the film lacked a broader social message. To that I would ask: What kind of message would you like? A lie? Would you like to be told that good triumphs over evil every time and all is really simple and neat in the end?

kick ass review 1 Why Kick Ass is Kicking Butt in DVD/Blu ray Sales

I would follow those questions up with another: Is a film under an obligation to deliver a standard ‘moral of the story’ which is easily digestible by all? An idea already broadly accepted that adds nothing new to our cultural discussion? Or can it not simply be tons of fun and wickedly entertaining? I did myself the favor of steering clear of all the videos released for Kick Ass prior to its open. As a result I was both delighted and surprised with Chloe Moretz. I found Hit Girl’s action sequences alone enough to justify a trip to the movies.

However, I would argue that the film does in fact have a moral and societal message. A very simple message perhaps, but a clear one imbued in every moment of the movie. The message is this: You, even you, ordinary, non special “regular Joe” you who is just like ordinary, “regular Joe,” non special me can do something – so why don’t you? Why do you, do we instead just sit back and watch?

We see this in the character of Kick Ass himself. This perspective is clearly laid out in his “YouTube treatises,” but can also be seen in everything he tries, fails and succeeds at doing throughout the film. We see this theme play with Nick Cage as the  hilariously overzealous Big Daddy – crazy, but committed. We see this in Kick Ass’s love interest Katie who takes the more traditional social action route. We particularly see this in the character of the “bystander” who watches, but does nothing – and is eventually shot for it.

kick ass aaron johnson Why Kick Ass is Kicking Butt in DVD/Blu ray Sales

What Kick Ass does so beautifully is set itself up as a film that is going to be the “anti-comic book” movie, the one that breaks all the rules – and pokes fun at the accepted tropes of the genre. Then at a certain point (around the time of Big Daddy’s confrontation with his ex-partner) the film takes a turn and fulfills every aspect of a standard comic book tale. Kick Ass tells you it is making this turn by visually propelling us into the comic book world of Big Daddy’s creation. This is some fun and outstanding filmmaking.

Kick Ass felt like a film that was destined to be misunderstood in its initial release and then appreciated by a large cult audience as time progressed. The kids who could not get their parents to take them to the movie can now buy the DVD. Those who balk at $10 in the theater seem okay with $15 spent on the more permanent DVD or $25 for a Blu-ray.

“Word of mouth” has had a real chance to spread to the general population. Many “non-traditional” films have followed this same trajectory to cult film success. Some notable selections include; Blade Runner, Office Space, Fight Club, TV series would include Firefly, Freaks and Geeks and Arrested Development.

What do you think the future holds for Kick-Ass?

Follow me on Twitter @jrothc and Screen Rant @screenrant

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  1. I watched it at the theater, I loved it! The soundtrack from John Murphy was used nicely during the film, the director/actors paid homage to the classic comic book themes in a not so cheesy way, the action was awesome although sometimes very violent but in a way that you stick your tongue out thinking “ouch, but this is cool” and some moments are hilarious too.

    Always thought Kick Ass will have a small but strong following like Chuck/Donnie Darko type of support, I’ll definitely watch its sequels in the theaters, but I’ll try to avoid reading the sequel comic books until I’ve seen the film.

    • Yes I’ll look forward to the sequel as well :) I can see how it’s not everyone’s cut of tea – but I loved it too!



  2. @Roth Cornet

    Wonderfully written article,Roth.I cant agree with you more on this topic.I saw Kick-Ass before DVD/Blu Ray release,and I loved it.Its a very,very good movie.My issue always came in the form of how they marketed the movie to begin with.If you saw any TV spots that included the fans “testimonials”,it seems as if they were trying to market the movie to a young audience below the age of 15.This movie earns its Hard R,but it definitely does it in the proper way.

    • Thanks – I really enjoyed it as well! I can understand how you felt in terms of the marketing – that is always a tricky thing.

      All The Best!


  3. I saw it twice in theaters and got the Blu Ray last week. I really hope a sequel is forthcoming. Hahaha, I enjoyed the “Americans are prudes” section of the article. I say that all of the time!

    • :)

  4. Very well written piece here that I totally agree with.

    • Thank you!

  5. I don’t live in the USA but I ordered my DVD so I hope to have it today or tomorrow. I saw the film 4 times and I would love to see it again more times!

  6. Loved the movie in the theaters and can’t wait to pick it up on DVD or Blu Ray. I’m kind of waiting though in hopes that a special edition or something will come out. The editions i’ve seen out seem fairly bare bones.

    • thats what im waiting for too daniel..i can wait..hell i waited for ten years for the special edition of Get Shorty to finally come out on DVD as a 2 disk set

      • Do you know if there’s a commentary on that one, anthony? It’s been on my To Get list for a long time now. Gene Hackman cracks me up every time I watch it.

        • dentist i can check, let me get back to you on that, been a while since i pulled it out and watched it

          • thers only a commentary track from Sonnenfeld himself on the two disk special edition

            • Ah well, has to be worth getting anyway. Cheers for that.

  7. Umm, just a question but where did you find that Kick Ass made $150 million dollars worldwide? Just a quick run through from many respected sites whose sole job is to ‘follow the numbers’, Kick Ass production budget is listed at $30 million and worldwide gross is $96 million ($96,043,351 to be exact).

    I saw Kick Ass in the theaters as well and am a fan, as well as I respect the intentions of the this article, but the ‘funny’ numbers took me for a loop when I saw them. I like to (as a hobby/point of interest) know how much money a movie/album/video game makes total to see whether there is a chance for a sequel, etc…especially for a property I enjoy.

    So if you wouldn’t mind, or sworn to secrecy, can you divulge where the $150 million number came from?

    • Hey,

      I’ve seen budgets estimated from 25-28 million for the film. The Box office numbers are from the press release that Lionsgate released.



    • Oh and there is a Kick Ass sequel in the works. Kick Ass 2 Balls to the Wall
      see article here: http://screenrant.com/kick-ass-2-release-date-rob-58082/

      Now I am not the accountant for this film – but from what I understand funny numbers come into play mostly when studios lie and say a film or other property made LESS than it actually did to avoid paying people what they actually owe. There was a couple recent law suits that had to do with this practice. Including the British production company that created Millionaire (the TV series) and had to sue to get what their full share from the American version. Don Johnson also sued over Nash Bridges profits.

      Thanks :D!



      • Thanks for the info!
        Yeah, I already assumed that a sequel would be on the way with the numbers at the end of it theatrical run, it more than warranted a sequel based on production and advertising budgets (look a Predators, same numbers–greenlit for the sequel).

        I kinda figured it was Lionsgate giving out those numbers to soothe the perception that Kick Ass failed,–which it certainly did not. I was just scratching my head for a moment thinking “this movie was a couple million short of $50 million domestically, so it made $100 million+ internationally? How the hell?!” That would be great, but I was skeptical….

        Nice article once again.

        • I have to apologize, I misread the numbers as listing domestic and international separately. It is being corrected now.

          Thanks Again,


  8. You raise some interesting issues, Roth. I don’t think any film’s under an obligation from anyone’s point of view but its investors to deliver a moral tone: see David Cronenberg, whose attitude in every film he’s ever made has consistently been “Here’s a bunch of stuff that happened – you sort out how you want to feel about it”. And I mean that in a good way. The notoriety of some of his movies has come about because of that same lack of a broader social message, onto which some have projected their own agenda – either intentionally or because they’ve found themselves outside their comfort zone without a moral compass to guide them.

    Although I liked Kick-Ass a lot, I had a growing feeling whilst watching it that something was going…odd with the tone. I went out and bought the Mark Millar comic book, and yes indeed, the transition to screen changed some small but significant details. The torture scene has Kick-Ass with his nuts wired to a car battery, and Big Daddy revealing he’s not an ex-cop at all, just some unhappy fantasist who’s basically snatched his daughter away from her very-alive mother, and finances their lifestyle by selling his old comics on eBay. After which he gets shot through the head, bang, done. No batsuit or Adam West references, no jetpack with gatling guns, no schoolgirl outfit, no action requiring inexplicable wire-work or mid-air reloading. Instead Hit Girl huffs coke and takes the henchmen out with a flamethrower, job done.

    Yet I’ve heard nothing but how faithful an adaptation the movie was. It was and it wasn’t. It tried to have its superhero cake and eat it, and then tried to tell you the cake was only a bit of a laugh anyway. All this aside, I STILL like the movie (I’ll probably end up buying the DVD), but in terms of tone it was all over the place, and I can understand why the likes of Roger Ebert didn’t know what the hell to make of it.

    • Make that “superhero deconstruction cake and eat it”.

      • Oh yeah, and of course Kick-Ass does NOT get the girl! There’s a reason why they put that in…

    • Hmmm, I never read the comic – that’s really interesting. I’d like to check it out now. That certainly would tell a very different story. Need to think on that more. Thanks for bringing that my attention.


      • It’s quite a different kettle of monkeys. Superficially the film follows it almost to the letter, but the story’s told as a kind of “blank narrative” you have to read your own significance into. “This happened – deal with it.” The changes I mentioned above were made for very specific reasons, mainly to do with the fact that if Matthew Vaughn had followed that approach he’d have found himself in the same position as Watchmen. By adding or embellishing the comic book conventions the original either inverted or avoided completely, he got the film made, gained some things and lost others in the process.

        The movie does stand up on its own, despite coming from a different place than the source material. In a similar way, Zack Snyder went as far as using Watchmen comic panels as storyboards; and then presumably forgot to actually READ them in his eagerness to add some gratuitous slo-mo violence and mess up the end spectacularly. The movie works perfectly well…and its not what Alan Moore intended. And neither was V For Vendetta. The movie was about inspiring a democracy, the comic a completely anarchist society. Change small details and instantly reduce the risk of alienating potential backers and eventual viewers. All in all, we’re lucky Chloe Moretz pulls off such a good “version” of Hit Girl – one that works completely on her own terms; 11 or 12 or whatever, the comic makes her look about 8 years old, seriously!

        • Just checked – she’s supposed to be 10, and Vaughn definitely wouldn’t have got away with that!

    • And in Book 2 of KICK-ASS, things get even darker and more violent when to the superhero fantasizers are added… SUPERVILLIAN FANTASIZERS!

  9. I want to address this question: what is a cult movie anymore? Kick Ass is not a cult movie. It was a very well received and widely viewed film. That makes it a mainstream hit! Films like Donnie Darko and Fight Club used to be cult movies but now they have elevated to having more of a mainstream popularity. I don’t even think “Kick Ass” can be called a sleeper hit either being that it was so heavily advertised. It didn’t sneak under the radar by any means. We all need to sit down and reevaluate our usage of “cult movie.” At this rate, “Avatar” is going to be dubbed “the biggest cult hit of all time!”

  10. Turn on your PlayStation and order the KICK-ASS theme. While you’re there, check out the movie and have a KICK-ASS weekend!

  11. Facts

    kick Ass made 48,071,303 DOmestic
    47,971,948 Foreign
    Total 96,043,251 worldwide

    The Production budget has no exact budget released it will only be estimated and the most accurate estimate is 30mil

  12. This movie may be considered a “cult classic” in the sense that it will only appeal to a minority of the population (a la Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2). Those who don’t like seeing an eleven year old girl cussing and making grown gangsters shake in fear, a dad who gives her a super-blade for their birthday and use her for target practice might not be “hip” to this very creative and well-made film. Those that do may watch it 5 or 6 times driving up its revenue.

    The movie’s strength as I see it was the constant violation of expectations, the non-conformity to not only the comic genre but the difference between right and wrong which is blurred in this film to say the least. You could see the the future “Red Mist” really wanted to meet David and his buds yet instead of becoming friends and using his wealth to fund Kickass’ escapades he becomes the Lex Luthor of this story. Nicolas Cage parodies himself fantastically. I believe he auditioned for the original Batman, and this role may be his answer to his good friend John Travolta’s Pulp Fiction. And then of course Kickass himself becomes second banana to Hit Girl (the real star). This is actually portended in the opening scene, if you think about it.

    Anyway, it deserves all the $$ it gets, 96k or 150k PLUS the sequel.

  13. I want Kick-Ass 2!!! I never read the comics so I have no idea what goes on. I think a good villian name would be “Bad-Ass”

  14. I hope for a part two. Great movie!!

  15. Agree with 99% of what u said.
    In some parts of the world KA was not “heavily maketed” actually no one I know does even remember seeing any commercial at all, it has achieved success exclusively by word of mouth, therefore KA is considered a cult-film.
    I believe nowadays there’s a public need for expression, so basically everyone can post his own comments and that is ok, but comments from unknown people on youtube or rotten tomatoes don’t necessarily represent the view of the general public nor make a film good or bad, but many are really influenced by them, even people who didn’t even bother to watch it are writing about it, that’s how twisted things became. It’s unreal how a comment saying “how unreal a fiction movie is” gets so many spokesperson, Do we have go that deeper? Are we really that smart? Do we have to analyse every aspect of a movie, find its flaws and then consider if its worth or not watching it even after already watched? What’s the point?
    What many people are forgetting is to appreciate a movie trusting his own heart and not because one has to write some witty comments afterwards and get a lot of “likes” on youtube. Many so-called reviewers should reflect upon writing what are opinion and facts like any decent journalist, leaving to the viewers to decide if it’s good or not and people should watch a movie more open-minded leaving less room for disapointments and more for good surprises. Movies like The Matrix and The Sixth Sense and even KA were so successful because they caught us off-guard.