Sunday, October 26, 2008

Killjoys and Dog Shit.

" Sometimes it appears to me that Canada, even an intact Canada, is not so much a country as a continental suburb, where Little Leaguers govern ineffectually, desperate for American approval"
- Mordecai Richler

You can debate the above quote, but I would most certainly put the Canadian media in that category, especially this week.
Here is an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail this week. Monday, Oct. 20th to exact.

Gross's passion no Porky's


October 20, 2008

Actor-director Paul Gross's First World War epic Passchendaele failed to notch a breakout hit for Canadian film at the box office this weekend. The movie was the second highest-grossing film in Canada on the weekend, earning an estimated $940,000 from its debut on 202 Canadian screens, according to its distributor Alliance Films. The movie had a budget of approximately $20-million as well as at least a $2-million marketing budget.

Howard Lichtman, the veteran Toronto-based box-office analyst, said Passchendaele's performance wasn't "an unmitigated success ... but in perspective it did just fine," since it's aimed at an older audience and is being released in the fall, traditionally a time for either "art films" or "adult-oriented fare."

"Is it a commercial blockbuster like a Quantum ofSolace [the new James Bond film opening Nov. 14]? It's not - but I don't think it was intended to be," Lichtman noted. "If you take the just-under million dollars it generated and divide that by the average ticket price, there's still an awful lot of people that went to see a Canadian piece of history. Which isn't too bad."

"We're thrilled with the box-office," said Carrie Wolfe, Alliance vice-president of marketing, publicity and promotion, yesterday in Toronto. "Canadians across the country have embraced the film," which opened this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
Print Edition - Section Front

Passchendaelewas bested for top spot by Max Payne, a new Mark Wahlberg action vehicle shot mostly in Toronto earlier this year. No specific Canadian weekend gross was available yesterday for Payne but Box OfficeMojo estimated its North American receipts were $18-million (U.S.) from a total of 3,376 screens. Using whatLichtman calls "the 10-times factor" - that is, movies in the U.S. tend to have, on average, 10 times the box-office of Canadian releases - then it's likely Max Payne opened on 250-300 screens in Canada and earned $1.5-$1.8-million here.

It appears Passchendaele isn't en route to surpass Porky's (1982) or 2006's Bon Cop, Bad Cop as a Canadian box-office champion. (Porky's earned more than $11-million in theatrical receipts, while Bon Cop's take was more than $11.5-million.)

Nor is it likely to best Men with Brooms which Gross also directed, co-wrote and starred in. That comedy, budgeted at $7.5-million, played on 207 screens on its opening weekend in the winter of 2002 and earned $1.125-million. Its eventual total take from its theatrical release was $3.9-million.

Lichtman, however, said a film's performance needs to be evaluated in terms of its release date and its competition. He suggested the more apt comparison for Passchendaele should be with W., Oliver Stone's biopic of the current U.S. president. W grossed $10.6-million on slightly more than 2,000 screens. "It's right in the range [of the 10-times factor]," said Lichtman, meaning W.'s weekend box-office in Canada probably totalled about $1-million from approximately 210 screens - very close to that of Passchendaele.
Now if this isn't a supremely asshole thing to do. A Canadian movie breaks box office records in it's OPENING WEEKEND, and the headline is negative and goes on to compare it to American product. And it's compared to a teen sex-comedy when it's aiming at a different audience. If this isn't Little League thinking by the entertainment desk at the Globe and Mail, I don't what is. Instead of celebrating our culture, the donkey who writes this article decides to put a negative spin on it, after all...negative sells to the public. Right? 
The headline could have read: 'Passchendaele beats W. at the box office! Passchendaele BEATS dog movie at box office! Now let's be clear. I don't like blind patriotism, nor should you like any show because it's Canadian. If it's crap, it's crap. But publishing facts and statistics like box office and giving it a negative spin like a review is bullshit.
Here is another example of Little Leaguers at work, this time in the National Post:
'Between exotic and obscure': The Office comes to Winnipeg (via LA)
Posted: October 25, 2008, 9:42 AM by Brad Frenette

Winnipeg is about to get a star turn on an upcoming episode of The Office when Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) goes on a business trip to the capital of Manitoba.

With budget constraints in mind, the show decided that instead of shooting on location, they would recreate the city in their Los Angeles studio. According to CP, the show's writers chose the 'Peg "because it struck the right balance 'between exotic and obscure.'"

To help make things more authentic, Lori Walder of Destination Winnipeg sent shipments of Winnipeg curiosities to the producers of the show in L.A., including a variety of Old Dutch chips and beer from Winnipeg brewer Fort Garry.

Walder told CP that she doesn't think the city will become the butt of the jokes: "I don't think that's the humour of The Office... It's really about the characters ... I would be very surprised if the joke is on Winnipeg. I think it's more on Michael."

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, however, doesn't think that remaking Winnipeg makes a fair substitute for the real place: "We want the real deal. We're real people. We want reality actors here not virtual actors."

The last U.S. TV show to visit Winnipeg was The Simpsons. The show's plot saw Homer visiting the city in search of cheap prescription drugs.

The Winnipeg episode of The Office is scheduled to air November 13 on Global.
This is a friggin' NEWS STORY?! Denis McGrath does a fine job of displaying his displeasure on his blog Dead Things on a Stick, which you can find in the sidebar. Like him, I find this sad and embarrassing. The Canuckmedia only writes a story when Americans notice us. Meanwhile, there is a wicked, funny series called 'Less Than Kind' that shoots in Winnipeg. It employs Canadian cast and crew. And get's actually set and shot here! Oh yeah, and the film 'My Winnipeg' by Guy Maddin played here for FOUR theatres. That's worth celebrating and covering.

I know what your thinking. Cunningham, why so angry about this? Well, after a year with Bill C-10, arts and culture wars and cutting, I'm feeling a bit savage. Our national media is doing no better than Harper, they are feeding the bears who think Canuck entertainment is not worthwhile.

In a recent poll during the election, 60% of Canadians felt that arts and culture are worth supporting. To me that's not good enough. Those of use who work in the cultural industries have a lot of work to do in educating the public about what we do. And these kind of articles undermine the work.

To make sure Canadians remain Canadian, we rely on rules. We threaten legislation to keep American football out. We enact laws to promote Canadian music and give Canadian magazines (and newspapers) a leg up. We tie film and book publishing funds to Canadian content. We set up massive bureaucracy to ensure that Canada gets its fair share of the television and cable world. We establish foreign ownership controls to keep our communications and arts industries away from outside clutches.

And then, having duly protected ourselves from the rest of the world, we sit back and read British mysteries, rentHollywood movies, watch American TV shows, read New York magazine, listen to rock music from London and country music from Nashville on devices manufactured in Asia. 

Anyway. Back to Passchendeale. It is something to celebrate, no matter what you might think of the movie. Because, if it succeeds, all of us in this threatened industry succeed. Get it? It's like the first snow. It's clean and pretty for the first twenty minutes around dawn, but after that it's churned into filthy mush by garbage trucks and shitting dogs. And journalists, this week, and in my books, were the shitting dogs. Hopefully they rise above low-rent gibberish. There is something to celebrate here!

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