By now it’s been chiseled into box office history that We Are Your Friends, a feature-length film portraying Zac Efron as a struggling DJ immersed in EDM culture, had one of the worst opening weekends ever, selling about $1.8 million in tickets; which, as a colleague pointed out, means about 180,000 people actually saw it. So, who are these people? They’re certainly not DJs (Deadmau5 tweeted that Friends‘ abysmal sales “restored my faith in music”) and they’re definitely not critics, so they must be millennials — at least according to Sony Pictures Entertainment executives who predicted, “EDM (electronic dance music). Wondering if there’s an EDM angle somewhere with Spidey? His movements are beautiful, would be awesome with a killer DJ behind it.”
With Electric Zoo descending upon New York City’s Randalls Island for Labor Day weekend, SPIN decided to go straight to what we suspected was the target demographic: fans of electronic dance music, especially those in the 20- to 30-year-old range. Below, read our findings, which have been condensed and edited for easier reading.
Did you see Zac Efron’s EDM movie, We Are Your Friends?
Trey, 19: No, ’cause that s–t’s whack. It just looked kinda corny and kinda just, like, cheesy — not something I would want to watch.
Jesus, 21: Yes. It didn’t really capture the scene like I was hoping that it would. it didn’t really show the love and the actual unity that’s here in the festivals. It showed the drug side and all that stuff, usually the bad parts about it. I dunno, I thought it was kinda crappy but I was doing nothing on the weekend. [Laughs.]
Crosby, 21: It was all right — wasn’t too bad. I like how they were always just doing random s–t, miscellaneous stuff — going out, partying, and having a good time with [their] friends. I think it could’ve captured the scene a little bit more. Especially with the last scene of the movie, when he was making his track, he put a little too much in the beginning of it: all these random noises he’s just randomly throwing into the actual song.
Thomas, 13 (not real name or age): Uh, yeah, of course. I love Zac Efron. He’s a very good looking man and… he’s handsome.
Clarissa, 20: I don’t really watch movies, honestly, so I feel like I’m the wrong demographic that you’re looking for. [Laughs.] I would’ve watched it because, like, why wouldn’t I watch Emily Ratajkowski or Zac Efron? But I’m not a movie person.
Julia, 18: No. I heard about people talking about it and that it’s really sh–ty, actually. [Laughs.] I mean, it’s a little too mainstream, you know? Just because this is getting popular they’re trying to sell that s–t. So, I don’t know, I don’t want to watch it. I don’t care if it’s Zac Efron.
Matt, 31: Uh, no. I did not see it but I know exactly what you’re talking about. It just looked like more of a white privileged kid trying to make it with his entourage. It looked like somebody who was gonna make it regardless, ’cause he had something to fall back on. It was just his journey of trying to be a DJ.
Joni, 19: I did not [know about it] until about two minutes ago when you mentioned it. Uh, I think Zac Efron has a beautiful face.
Anonymous passerby: He is sexy as f–k!
Did you know that it had one of the worst performing opening weekends in box office history?
Trey: No, but I know it was at the same time as Straight Outta Compton and that was the best movie ever. [Laughs.]
Jesus: Yeah. [Laughs.] It probably came out at the wrong time. It didn’t really capture the audience that it was going for — like, this audience here. But, other than that, it could have been a lot better.
Clarissa: Oh, seriously? That’s kind of unfortunate.
Anonymous passerby: Worse than, uh, what was it called — that movie with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck — Gigli? That’s rough.
Daniel, 29: Why? That kind of makes me wonder. I’m not big into this scene. It’s been a while since I came to one of these, so I wouldn’t be a good person to judge, but I’d still check it out.
Lauren, 22: Well, I’m not really surprised with it being Zac Efron. He hasn’t really done much since High School Musical, right? I imagine anybody would want to see it since there’s such a huge following, but I think that the people who listen to this type of music probably aren’t fans of Zac Efron. Right?
Chelsea, 27: In history? Ever? Shut the front door. No f–king way. Oh my god, I feel bad for him. Well, I don’t like to give that a lot of credit because it could do really poorly in the box office and be a cult hit, you know what I mean? [But] I never saw that s–t, I can’t guarantee that it’s gonna be good either.
Joni: I think everyone should burn their TVs. I enjoy a good movie theater every once and a while if you’re pretty stoned.
Dana: Box office history? Worse than Ishtar? I heard it did poorly. I didn’t know it was that bad. Speaking as a marketing person, I wonder if they partnered with any of these festivals to promote it. I saw a preview online, I saw the trailer but I didn’t see any real advertising for it. You’d think they should be here handing out stuff, or, if they’re releasing it at the end of festival season, they should have been at every single festival handing out promotional materials.
What kind of audience do you think the film was aiming for?
Trey: Like, the 12-year-olds. [Laughs.] The little kids that sneak into raves.
Glendy: If they were trying to [aim for Electric Zoo attendees], they should have just made a movie about Electric Zoo, or about what, I guess, our generation experiences when we come to this: It’s just the environment, it’s amazing. Just seeing everyone just go f–king crazy. [Laughs.] Not just about some one kid that’s trying to make it big. That’s what it basically was.
Matt: I would say, more upper middle class, so. It’s not possible to portray this scene on film because each year is different. There’s no one type, because it keeps evolving from every generation, and every generation brings their own thing to the table. That’s the greatest thing about it.
Chelsea: I don’t know. I don’t like the scene. I used to go to shows like this when I was younger and it just got really grody. Drugs, man! It’s not cool. I got into it late, but it was never like this. It seems like no one actually cares about their fellow human next to them, whether it’s by selling them drugs or it’s by leaving them there when they’re clearly incapacitated on the ground or whatever. We as a species are losing sight of the fact that we need to take care of each other.
David, 23: I love this music, but I don’t really think I’d want to see a movie necessarily [about] the scene, unless it was a documentary-style thing about an artist or something like that. I’ve seen A Year With Armin Van Buuren that he put together, and that was online, so I could watch that. I really enjoyed that. It was cool but I was at home just chilling out, just kind of put it on in the background. Not sure if I want to go to a theater to necessarily see something that’s more low-key. I will say my curiosity’s piqued and and I’ll watch it when it’s on cable — or Netflix.