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Monday, January 7, 2013

How Canadian Films Fared in Canada's Largest Film Market

Written by Wyndham Wise

(reposted from

Despite rumours to the contrary, 2012 was not a particularly good year for Canadian film. Consider this: the top four films in terms of audience appeal and weeks played in the Greater Toronto Area, the largest market for English-Canadian films in the world, were all 2011 releases: Jean-Marc Vallée’s masterful Café de Flore (at 19 weeks); Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar (17 weeks); David Cronenberg’s psychological drama A Dangerous Method (14 weeks); and Sarah Polley’s romantic comedy Take This Waltz (13 weeks).

The longest-running new release was Paul W.S. Anderson’s Canada/German co-production Resident Evil: Retribution 3D at 9 weeks. It’s the fifth in the franchise from Toronto producer Don Carmody and a sure bet for the 2012 Golden Reel Award. At eight weeks was Cosmopolis, a second film by Cronenberg that received his worst reviews since eXistinZ; Michael Dowse’s hockey bruiser, Goon, making it the most well-received English-Canadian hockey film, and a relief after the box office failures of Breakaway and Score: A Hockey Musical; and Deepa Mehta’s sumptuous epic, Midnight’s Children.

The Oscar-nominated Canada/Poland co-production, In Darkness came in at seven weeks, the personal documentary Stories We Tell, another Polley film, at six weeks, and Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary based on text by Margaret Atwood, Payback, clocked in at five weeks. Ruba Nadda’s unsatisfactory political thriller Inescapable and Guy Maddin’s eccentric Keyhole both did four weeks each.

At three weeks were Brandon Cronenberg’s debut feature, Antiviral, Nathan Morlando’s biopix on Toronto’s most notorious bank robber, Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster, Xavier Dolan’s gay romance Laurence Anyways and Michael Bassett ‘s Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, another Carmody co-production. Four documentaries round out the features that played more that two weeks at any one theatre in the GTA: Jesse Mann’s Material Success (4 weeks), Steve Suderman’s To Make a Farm (4 weeks), Peter Mettler’s End of Time (3 weeks) and Léa Pool’s Pink Ribbons, Inc. (3 weeks).

In total, 50 Canadian features were released in the GTA in 2012, and as usual the majority (60 per cent) don’t play beyond two weeks. This is typical of any year, and the ones that didn’t make the two-week cut include films from Québec, documentaries, indie features and films that have been funded by Telefilm, which require a theatrical release before heading straight to cable, DVD or VOD.

This year, Kim Nyguen’s Rebelle (which played two weeks at the Bell Lightbox) is on the short list for the final five nominated for the Foreign-Language Oscar, making it the third year in a row that a Québécois film has landed on the short list. Both Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies and Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar made it to the final five, but neither won. The last time a Canadian film won in that category was Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions in 2004.

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