‘Good’ Films and Profitable Films

Theatrical poster of "Your Name." PHOTO COURTESY OF MAKOTO SHINKAI
Theatrical poster of “Your Name.” PHOTO COURTESY OF MAKOTO SHINKAI

In just five months after release, the science fiction romance film, “Your Name”, surpassed “Spirited Away” as the highest-grossing anime film of all time with its box office of $331.6 million USD. And considering that the film hasn’t even been released in the US yet, its unprecedented momentum is only expected to grow.

This level of success is, as broken records typically are, surprising. Is “Your Name” simply that incredibly good? Makoto Shinkai, the film’s very own director and screenwriter, disagrees.

In an interview with The Japan Times, Shinkai joins a number of critics in declaring his own work “unbalanced” and tries to deflect comparisons to Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki by citing “Your Name’s” relatively formulaic and cliché plot.

“Your Name” is but one of many films which has enjoyed runaway, seemingly ‘unfair’ success. In western cinema, this phenomena can be observed between the critically-acclaimed thriller “Children of Men” and the critically-panned comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”

Can you guess which of the two was a financial flop and which, a success? (Hint: It’s not the R-rated film.)

“[It’s] a very exclusive factor – if you have a rated-R movie, it’s no longer a film that families can go and see,” says English Teacher, Mr. Yankowsky, “… it narrows down the audience, which translates to dollars and cents.” Junior Raymond Lu also believes that accessibility has a big role in financial performance. “Everyone likes comedy right? You can’t go wrong with that.”

To someone looking to break into the creative industry, the correlation between ‘accessible’ and ‘profitable’ can be disheartening, especially if accessibility comes at the cost of creative vision. Senior and aspiring author Rachel Fong, however, is unconcerned. “As long as I can get a message across that makes a person go, ‘Wow that’s another way to look at life!’ or something similar to that, then financial success isn’t that important.”

In response to that prospect, Mr. Yankowsky says, “It’s a gamble. It’s something critics and a narrow audience will enjoy, and history will look favorably on it. If that’s something you care about, then by all means, go that route.”

 

Evan Cheng

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