Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can Money Buy Respect?

Can money buy respect? The question isn't prompted by what Mitt Romney is asking of Republican primary voters but rather is occasioned by the release of the AMPAS list of nominees for Best Picture of 2011. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris made the list, but it's about as far from a conventional SF time-travel movie as you can get. Otherwise, it was a shutout for science fiction and fantasy.

Perhaps it goes without saying that the genre does better in the ghetto category Best Animated Feature Film:

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

notable in part because this year's Pixar entry, Cars 2, didn't make the cut.

Now let's look at what ordinary theater-goers actually like, as determined by the most pragmatic measure there is: money. (Note: Some of these films are still in release, so this isn't the final word for 2011, but it's not going to change a lot.)

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 WB $381,011,219
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon P/DW $352,390,543
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Sum. $280,288,438
4 The Hangover Part II WB $254,464,305
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides BV $241,071,802
6 Fast Five Uni. $209,837,675
7 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Par. $197,800,131
8 Cars 2 BV $191,452,396
9 Thor Par. $181,030,624
10 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows WB $178,667,811
11 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Fox $176,760,185
12 Captain America: The First Avenger Par. $176,654,505
13 The Help BV $169,598,523
14 Bridesmaids Uni. $169,106,725
15 Kung Fu Panda 2 P/DW $165,249,063
16 Puss in Boots P/DW $147,744,777
17 X-Men: First Class Fox $146,408,305
18 Rio Fox $143,619,809
19 The Smurfs Sony $142,614,158
20 Super 8 Par. $127,004,179

Notice the difference? Here it's easier to count the movies that aren't SF or fantasy (#4, #6, #7, #10, #13, and #14).

In fact, the dominance of genre films at the box office is nothing new. For the past quarter-century, even tho the individual entries keep shuffling around, SF&F movies have represented at least 80 of the top 100 money-makers of all time. Here's the current list.

I would never argue that popularity invariably equals quality, but surely one wouldn't expect them to be mutually exclusive. Yet look at the overlap: The Help. Period.

SF&F may pay the bills in Tinseltown, but it still has to use the back door.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


In solidarity with other freedom-minded websites that have gone dark in protest against the draconian SOPA/PIPA legislation, I am not posting anything today.

Oh, wait ...