Sunday 16 May 2010

Iron Man versus World Cup: And the winner is ... movie fans in Singapore

I don't know if you've heard, but apparently, there's going to be a World Cup this year in June.

I was so caught up in the excitement of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games and the third Formula 1 night race that I forgot about all other sporting events outside Singapore.

Not for nothing was our great country named the world's No. 2 Ultimate Sports City by the Sport Accord Convention last month. Melbourne is No. 1.

If only we hosted the International Pole Dance Championships, we could've beaten those fly-ridden Aussies.

Anyway, due to the recent lack of publicity regarding the World Cup and how much Singaporeans have to pay to watch it on TV, I was completely oblivious about the upcoming premier international soccer tournament to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa - that is, until a superhero came to my rescue.

That superhero was, of course, Iron Man.

What does Iron Man have to do with the World Cup? you ask. Good question.

Hollywood is a long way from Singapore, but nowadays, it's commonplace for Hollywood blockbusters to open in Singapore on the same weekend as in the US.

I'm old enough to remember the pre-multiplex days of yore when this was unheard of - it could take months for a movie to reach our shores.

Which was what made the opening of the Iron Man movie sequel in Singapore two weekends ago so special. It's easily the most anticipated movie of the year and we actually got to see it one week before it opened in the US.

One whole week!

If you were in the US, you'd be a little frustrated. Finally, the Americans get a taste of how the rest of the world have felt for a years, reading about some cool movie that we can't see because it's not showing in our country yet. Spoiler alert!

Is this the start of a new trend, like bad 3D and big-screen adaptations of comic books non-geeks have never heard of?

According to Paramount, the studio behind Iron Man 2, the reason it released the movie internationally a week before the US opening was to avoid clashing with the World Cup and since you can't even pay most Americans to watch soccer, the World Cup is not a factor in the US.

And this was how I found out about the World Cup via Iron Man.

Except the World Cup explanation doesn't quite hold water.

The tournament starts on June 11, about four weeks from today. Let's say Iron Man 2 opened in Singapore last weekend like in the US, that's still five weeks before the opening World Cup match. Where's the clash?

Other male-oriented flicks like The A-Team and The Karate Kid even have the machismo to open on the same weekend as the World Cup.

Could Iron Man really be such a wuss? Don't tell me Iron Man, War Machine and Mickey Rourke really be afraid of a sport played by girls in their home country. That would break my heart.

I suspect the real reason is the old reason - the same reason many major Hollywood releases now open simultaneously around the world: piracy.

Unfortunately, non-Americans (like Singaporeans) are culturally more inclined to watch pirated movies than Americans.

On the bright side, we got to watch Iron Man 2 first! God bless America!

I wonder if they'll reschedule the Phua Chu Kang movie to avoid clashing with the Youth Olympics.

- Published in The New Paper, 16 May 2010