Are The Most Popular Films The Best Films?


This is a paper I wrote comparing the Canadian and American film industries. It outlines some of the specifics on whether or not a Canadian-made film could ever reach blockbuster status within the industry.

Movie Comparison

James Cameron’s “Titanic” is the highest-grossing movie of all time, cashing in with approximately $1.8-billion in box office sales. In comparison, Canadian made “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” barely broke even with an approximated $12.7-million.

In their respective countries, both movies have achieved the top spot as the highest grossing film in the box office. However, “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” is speculated to be the third highest-grossing Canadian film in history; losing out to the 1970s comedy “Porky’s” due to inflation.

Even though it was a success in Canada, “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” failed to reach the kind of recognition “Titanic” achieved in 1997. When comparing the films statistically, it is hard to speculate whether or not “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” even had the makings to be as successful if given the same opportunity “Titanic” had.

Below details some of the figures for each film.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)
Production Budget (USD) = $8-million
Worldwide Box Office Sales* (USD) = $12.7-million
Widest Release = 260 theatres
Awards = 5 wins & 20 nominations
Average Review Rating (As seen on Rottentomatoes.com) = 6.1/10 (Counting 6 reviews)

Titanic (1997)
Production Budget (USD) = $200-million
Worldwide Box Office Sales* (USD) = $1.8-billion
Widest Release = 3,265 theatres
Awards = 11 Oscars, 76 wins & 48 nominations
Average Review Rating (As seen on Rottentomatoes.com) = 7.3/10 (Counting 95 reviews)

* The information presented does not include aftermarket revenue and has not been adjusted for inflation.

With box office sales being used as a tool for film comparison, numerous aspects should be taken into consideration when comparing Canadian and American films alike.
1. Economic inflation.
2. Opening on a weekend against strong competitors.
3. The size of the marketing campaign.
4. Credibility of the filmmaker and production company.
5. In Canada, due to economic and distribution issues, theatres will often choose films that are more likely to generate money over ones that wouldn’t, giving Canadian films little opportunity for success.

Critical Acclaim

Depending on the filmmaker, the definition of success may vary. Some may seek the approval of established figures within the film industry, while others will look to the box office and their audience. Still, a movie that has received rave reviews from critics may have done poorly in the box office and vice-versa.

Critics are often people already of the film industry, which can be viewed as highbrow by some. For this reason, a number of filmmakers prefer to base their film’s success on box office sales and audience feedback. This gives the filmmaker positive reinforcement and the financial means to continue making films.

Popularity

Before a movie opens, a marketing campaign is put into motion. Trailers, websites and actors appearing on talk shows are just a few ways studios build hype for their film. Studios spend copious amounts of money on advertising to help make their films as attractive as possible before the audience has a chance to view it. After the opening weekend, the film then lives on through word-of-mouth. Now having seen the movie, the audience quickly spreads their opinion on to family and friends. A simple text message or a full review on a blog can potentially make or break a movie after its opening weekend.

Using pop-culture and capitalizing on currently popular themes also helps to keep a studio’s film marketable after the initial hype has died down. This is seen in the current vampire craze among young-adults, which taps into a pre-existing audience, set off by Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series. Vampires, and the lore surrounding them, have been retrieved from pre-existing material. However, a series of films are scheduled for release, with two already available, which will take advantage of the popularity surrounding the series. In addition, a slew of copycat content has followed suit with the likes of “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Vampire’s Assistant”.

Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cannes Film Festival and Music Television (MTV) are a few types of diverse organizations that host their own brand of award show. Each respective award has its own distinct style and audience. Whether one award is more influential than another is subjective. However, the general consensus leans toward the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, as being the most prestigious.

As mentioned above, movie awards can be seen as subjective. Consider MTV and the programming they provide. MTV draws a young audience by utilizing current trends and popular culture. As part of it, advertisers market their must-have products to the channel’s impressionable age group, helping create the MTV brand. Naturally, when the award show arrives the nominees end up being the most popular among their target audience regardless of the film’s quality. Because of this, the MTV Awards have little influence over the success or failure of a film.

On the other hand, the Academy Awards carry the title of being the most influential among award shows. Simply winning an Oscar can drive up ticket and DVD sales. Nevertheless, the Oscars are not without faults. Despite raking in approximately $1.1-billion at the box office worldwide and having an average rating of 8.5 out of 10 (as seen on Rottentomatoes.com), they excluded 2008’s “Batman: The Dark Knight” from nomination.

The Academy Awards have the stigma of being extremely political. Some people suggest that the committee is filled with elitists due to their criteria for member entry. Ty Burr gave his opinion in a Boston Globe article saying, “The Oscars are in fact a popularity contest designed not to award good movies but movies that make the film industry look good.”

Final Thoughts On Critical Acclaim, Popularity & Awards

They say Canadian cinema is cinema with heart, but even heart can’t win out against Hollywood. With American studios fronting blockbuster films with massive budgets and paying even more on marketing them, Canada has little hope of ever finding a place in American cinema. Each country’s style of cinema is radically different, with Canada’s being artistic and America’s appealing to a mass audience.

When looking at the numbers for “Bon Cop, Bad Cop”, you can clearly see that the film didn’t stand a chance compared to “Titanic” in the box office. The funding for Canadian movies does not exist; limiting what a film can and cannot do. No matter how much acclamation and attention the film received, “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” still did not have the financial means to market their film.

Once again, money seems to be the deciding factor on whether or not a film will become a success. Critical acclaim, popularity and awards are all icing on the cake, which help an already established film reach atmospheric heights. With the Canadian film industry not having the means to compete with Hollywood, Canada will continue to be hard pressed in the highly competitive film industry.

Bibliography

“All-Time USA Box Office.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Amazon. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. .

“Bon Cop, Bad Cop – Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information – The Numbers.” The Numbers – Movie Box Office Data, Film Stars, Idle Speculation. Nash Information Services, LLC. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. .

“Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) – Awards.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 26 Nov. 2009. .

“Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) – Box Office Mojo.” Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. .

Burr, Ty. “The Oscars still wobble on an axis of art and popularity – The Boston Globe.” Boston.com. The New York Times Company, 22 Feb. 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. .

“Canada’s Awards Database.” The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television – Promoting, Celebrating, and Recognizing Canada’s Film and Television Industries – L’Acad. Web. 26 Nov. 2009. .

Canadian Press. “CTV News | ‘Bon Cop’ passes ‘Porky’s’ on all-time box office.” TV, Video and News – Catch up with full episodes – CTV.ca. CTVglobemedia, 11 Oct. 2006. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. .

Dwyer, Sean. “Bon Cop Bad Cop Becomes Most Successful Canadian Movie Of All Time – Film Junk.” Film Junk Blog And Podcast. Web. 18 Nov. 2009. .

Weird Sex and Snowshoes: A Trek Through the Canadian Cinematic Psyche. Dir. Jill Sharpe. By Gabriela Schonbach and Katherine Monk. Moving Images Distribution, 2004. DVD

Leipzig, Adam. “FILM; How to Sell a Movie (or Fail) in Four Hours – New York Times.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times Company, 15 Nov. 2005. Web. 21 Nov. 2009. .

“Rotten Tomatoes: Movies – New Movie Reviews and Previews!” ROTTEN TOMATOES: Movies – New Movie Reviews and Previews! IGN Entertainment, Inc. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. .

Stevens, Jim. “Blackflix.com: Movie Awards: What Do They Mean.” Blackflix.com – African American Movie Stars, Reviews, Interviews And More! Blackflix.com. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. .

Vivian, John, and Peter J. Maurin. The Media of Mass Communication. Fifth ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007. Print.

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