The Fourth Kind
November 6, 2009
Ah, Milla Jovovich. When she isn’t slaughtering zombie masses, attempting a music career or being the world’s highest paid model, she’s, well, being a successful actress, musician and model is probably enough. Then again, I’m also being a bit generous to describe her music career as a success. Nonetheless, she is undeniably a rock star in the modeling world and has been unexpectedly popular as an action heroine. None of her films has earned more than $63 million and the one that did earn that much box office, The Fifth Element, had a bloke by the name of Bruce Willis leading the way. Everything that has involved her battling the undead has wound up in the $40-$50 million range, however, and that is quantifiable bang for the box office buck. The problem is that no actress can make an entire career out of their relationship with the living dead. Okay, maybe Kristen Stewart, but that’s it. Everyone else has to expand on their repertoire a bit. This is the dilemma Ms. Jovovich has faced in recent years.
She tried to do a Resident Evil-like film wherein she was a kick-ass chick in Ultraviolet, the film from that guy who did the gunkatas movie with Christian Bale. The problem is that Ultraviolet was a cinematic abomination. So, she moved on to a cheery little vacation in Hell premise sardonically entitled The Perfect Getaway. Alas, movie audiences did not find the title apt. Ultraviolet cost $30 million to produce while earning only $18.5 million domestically. A Perfect Getaway had a $14 million budget against North American revenue of $15.5 million. Clearly, people like Milla, but their love has limits. The project itself is crucial in determining how much the Umbrella Corporation will earn each time out for Milla.
In the case of The Fourth Kind, that amount is up for debate. Billed as a sci-fi thriller (The Even Fifther Element!), this title follows the track of Fire in the Sky as a “based on true events” story of alien abduction. It seems that the people of Nome, Alaska are doing only moderately better than their friends in Barrow. Sure, there aren’t any vampires in this part of the state and Sarah Palin is no longer their leader, but Nome is still not living in a golden age. These damned owls keep showing up outside people’s windows and whenever that happens, an unavoidable amount of anal probing follows. Aliens are freaky like that, after all. Jovovich portrays a psychotherapist tasked with discovering why so many Nome residents think they’re getting abducted by aliens. Along the way, she starts to discover that the situation is much more complex and that the government may not be acting toward securing the well being of its northern-most residents.
The timing of The Fourth Kind will cause it to either sink or swim. The recent success of Paranormal Activity has raised the awareness of this style of cinema and its focus on faux-documentary storytelling. When The Blair Witch Project came out, it unintentionally aided the box office of several other titles that were similarly themed, at least on the surface level. The Fourth Kind could see a similar boost here. Alternately, it could be viewed as an inferior version of a $15,000 movie, which would be…not good. For its part, Universal Pictures is trying to create a buzz for the project by creating a couple of “unravel the mystery” Web sites, as has been standard operating procedure in the industry ever since The Beast online alternate reality game was used as an elaborate marketing campaign for A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. If you have a few minutes to kill and want to mess around with these sites, try: http://www.alaskanewsarchive.com and http://www.northpacificenewsarchive.com. (David Mumpower/BOP)