On this day in pop culture history: ‘Serenity’ opened in theaters
In 2005, fans of Joss Whedon’s shiny space western “Firefly” had spent a couple years deploring the show’s cancelation on Fox, and the sci-fi series had only just begun to garner its cult following thanks to the power of the DVD. With support from its growing fanbase and with some persistence from Joss the Boss, the canceled series finally got a conclusion to the tale of the ragtag crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity with the release of a feature film. That film — named for the crew’s beloved spaceship — was released in theaters 10 years ago today, on Sept. 30, 2005.
The film featured all nine regular cast members of “Firefly,” along with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the antagonist role, years before his Oscar nomination, and a brief appearance from Sarah Paulson, before TV viewers would come to know her for “American Horror Story.”
“Serenity” ultimately under-performed at the box office, but today, the ’Verse has no shortage of “Firefly” fanaticism. At the 10-year anniversary panel for “Firefly” at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, a reported 10,000 fans lined up to get in the room hosting the panel, which sadly only had an occupancy for 4,000.
Other notable Sept. 30 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1868: The first volume of Louisa May Alcott’s serialized novel “Little Women” was published. Among the film adaptations of the beloved book are a 1933 version starring Katharine Hepburn, a 1949 film with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy and Janet Leigh as Meg, and a 1994 feature starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst and Christian Bale.
• 1955: James Dean died in a car crash at age 24.
• 1960: “The Flintstones” began its six-season run on ABC. The show remained the most financially successful network animated franchise for three decades, until “The Simpsons” hit the scene.
• 1966: “I Love My Dog,” Cat Stevens’ first single, was released. It appeared on his debut album, “Matthew and Son,” the following year.
• 1982: The first episode of “Cheers” aired on NBC. The sitcom ran for 11 seasons and inspired the successful spin-off “Fraiser.”
• 1984: “Murder She Wrote” premiered on CBS. The show aired for 12 seasons.
• 1985: Howard Stern was abruptly fired from New York City AM radio station WNBC. After his departure, the station’s ratings plummeted.
• 1991: “The Jerry Springer Show” premiered, airing in only four markets, with a very different format than today’s tabloid talk show version of the program.
• 1995: Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” became the second single in Billboard history (and the first by a female artist) to debut at the top of the chart. The song that had previously achieved this feat was Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone.”
• 1997: Production wrapped on “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace” at Leavesden Film Studios in England, having began on June 26 that year.
• 1999: “The Bad Beginning,” the first of the “Series of Unfortunate Events” children’s novels, was released. The odd, sad tales of the Baudelaire siblings would be told in 12 more books.
• 2005: Michael Eisner resigned as CEO of Disney, after 21 years with the company.
• 2008: Neil Gaiman’s children’s fantasy novel “The Graveyard Book” was released.
Birthdays: “Inception” actress Marion Cotillard (turns 40 today), “The Matrix Reloaded” actress Monica Bellucci (51), “Mean Girls” actress Lacey Chabert (33), “The Nanny” actress Fran Drescher, “Dharma & Greg” actress Jenna Elfman (44), “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” actor Ezra Miller (23), “Some Kind of Wonderful” actor Eric Stoltz (54), rapper T-Pain (30), “The Brady Bunch” actor Barry Williams (61)