Entourage ended on the 11th of September 2011.
The show concluded with the cast riding off into the sunset. Entourage being Entourage, the gang rode off in a plane. Two planes. Two private planes. And a car. That’s how you ride off into the sunset, on the back of eight series and the one-time title of “Obama’s favourite show”. Having scooped up one Golden Globe, one BAFTA, six Emmys and nine Teen Choice nominations (it never did get that win), Entourage was done, and we were done with Entourage.
Inevitably there was talk of a movie adaptation; you have a popular television show, you get fans clamouring for more – it’s natural. Sometimes it seems a good idea to provide the all-important closure; sometimes it’s to get a new audience for syndication; more often it’s for a quick buck. But for Entourage? What could make the returning of a gradual critical nosediver seem like a good idea?
Every week on HBO, a great group of great friends with great hair would dish about their love lives, career plans and who performed fellatio on them last night. Entourage was Sex and the City for the guys, the dudes, the bros that could afford cable. What set Entourage apart from its predecessor was that in some cases those oral acquaintances would be celebrities(!). Vince dating Ali Larter, Mandy Moore, Sasha Grey? Turtle hooking up with Jamie Lynn Siegler? Johnny Drama and… Vanessa Angel? It happened!
Ultimately, most series of Entourage boiled down to the following: Vincent Chase finishes a movie and looks for another; he is either hot or he is not. Vince buys his friends something expensive and Turtle gets high. Vince finds a movie he’d like to do but something conspires to stop him doing it (not least that there are a dozen episodes left in the series order). Turtle gets high and Vince finds a new distraction, or a new film. Just as you think Vince is going to take movie #2, the gang return to movie #1. Everything has worked out! Hurray! And for eight consecutive seasons?! That’s a bit weird! Nevermind! The gang go out to celebrate by drinking a lot and, if named Turtle, by getting high.
It was a great time to be alive.
For some reason, this is all coming to the big screen and people are confused: why is there an Entourage movie? Why is there more of this? What could possibly be in store? Well, the official synopsis promises that this time the titular entourage’s “ambitions have changed, but the bond between them remains strong as they navigate the capricious and often cutthroat world of Hollywood”. Yes, the times they are a-staying exactly the same – with obligatory celebrities! (Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Saget, Piers Morgan) – Glamorous locations! (Hollywood, Miami) – Fancy dames and plenty of them! (Ronda Rousey, Emily Ratajkowski).
Let’s take a look at what’s in store.
0:00 – 00:47 Vince is a jungle-mashing underground DJ. His fans are in raptures, but all is not well, and while speeding on the needle bliss we see the authorities massing. “Sadly”, speaketh Vince, “all good parties must come to an end” – at least until it’s deemed financially viable to reboot them as a movie. Calvin Harris looks pensive, a bottle is thrown at riot police and Vince injects himself with bright green gloop ready to face The Man.
00:48 – 0:59 “Lloyd!” Ah, it was a trailer within a trailer; we’re through the looking glass here, people. Ari Gold, Vince’s onetime mega-agent, now mega-studio-head, is being treated to a screening of Vince’s new project and he does not look best pleased – maybe he’s missing his big ol’ London department store. And why? Because Vince went 50 million dollars over-budget on a film where a be-hooded DJ injects himself with fluorescent slime and incites a riot.
Also, it stars Vincent “Aquaman” Chase as its main character.
1:00 – 1:08 “It’s like when a girl asks if you want to bang her hot sister”, opines Drama. “What is he doing here?” queries Ari. What indeed, Ari. What are any of us doing here?
1:09 – 1:33 Our first montage! Cars. Sun. Cars. Girls. Boats. Tattoos. MMA star Ronda Rousey. “Sound the alarm, I’m ready for trouble. I’m ready for trouble, trouble; wind me up and let me go, I’m ready for trouble,” blasts the music. Here we go.
1:34 – 1:39 Celebrities! Entourage brings its A-game with Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment: two men, six names, one on-screen family – the McCredles. Lights flash, however, as Billy Bob warns that “this movie’s enormous; it fails, you go down in flames quicker than Hindenberg.” Hear that, audience? Maybe this movie is enormous. It’s all got very meta. Oh, the humanity!
1:40 – 1:51 Montage #2, this time of angry Ari. Skip this part and watch one of the 7 minute montourages on YouTube. For reference, Ari smashes a picture frame and his wife makes the kind of face that (I’m informed) sex dolls have, which is fitting considering the usual female characterisation in the series. This section ends with Ari stating “I’m okay to continue” – and thus does this most intelligent of trailers follow suit.
1:52 – 1:58 Drama says how he doesn’t like the weather in Queens. Canned laughter not found.
1:59 – 2:08 Turtle challenges Expendables 3 participant Ronda Rousey to a fight. The stakes are apparently set at intercourse and Turtle shows regret (in this specific instance, that of agreeing to fight Rousey). Ding ding.
2:09 – 2:11 Boom! Our title bursts through the blackness of Turtle’s cranial trauma – “Entourage” – illuminating all in its path. Truth is revealed.
2:12 – 2:20 “What’s up, Ari?” – why, it’s Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg, wearing a T-shirt with his supplement company printed on the back – “GET MARKED”, it informs us, get in line it tells us – to snap us back. Unfortunately Wahlberg is there to hear a problem. Someone doesn’t like Johnny Drama. Will Vince cut his own brother out of his film? Stakes meet several thousand feet in the air.
2:21 Summer 2015 is our time to find out. #entouragemovie. Be there.
So yeah, why?
Presumably all of this comes down to money rather than artistic achievement. A show made for television isn’t going to cost the earth – especially considering the California tax break being speedily taken advantage of – and Cinemablend estimates the budget at 30 million dollars. Veronica Mars found itself in a similar position two years ago – crowdfunded into relevancy by a Kickstarter campaign that drew $5,702,153 in donations/investments (never sure how to class that kind of thing) – sparking “Hey, maybe this TV to movie thing could really work again?”
Where Mars drew an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode at its peak, Entourage was a 7 million person juggernaut, when factoring in DVR and on-demand viewings. Where Mars was a commercial failure, grossing $3.5 million from a $6 million budget, Entourage could hope to recoup nearly 60 million dollars purely from its long-dormant fanbase currently bemused at how an HBO show about single guys living together and talking about their penises doesn’t include celebrities. Or Bob Saget.
It’s not Veronica Mars that provides the best comparison though; it’s what Entourage really was all along: Sex and the City. $65 million budget, $415 million worldwide gross? That’s music to a studio’s ears. Guess “quick buck” was correct after all. If Warner Bros. does this right, they just might forgive Vince that time he jumped ship on Aquaman 2.