The Most Bankable Film Genre?

The Most Bankable Film Genre?

We all know there’s just a little bit of ‘cashing in’ present in the film industry… ok maybe more than a little. Respected Directors make cheesy kid flicks, talented actors play one dimensional characters in snooze-worthy blockbusters. But where are the real big bucks? What genres are the biggest money spinners? Access Reel’s Sian Dhu checks it out.

We often forget that film is an art form. Millions of dollars are spent each year in the preservation of paintings, sculptures and architecture for fear of losing something imperative to our cultural history.

A night out at the theatre is still considered most sophisticated – yet film so often goes overlooked.

Ok, there are obvious reasons: film is mass-produced unlike any other art form (except perhaps music) and – let’s be honest with ourselves – there’s probably more crap films out there then good ones.

It’s a majorly saturated market and the mainstream film industry has become less about the integrity of the medium, and more about the dollar signs.

So what genre of film is a studio’s best bet for big bucks?

Surely ‘Comedy’? It’s a crowd pleaser that’s for sure. People love a laugh.

Or ‘Action’? There’s nothing quite like settling down with a mammoth box of popcorn for two hours of muscles, cleavage and explosions – escapism at it’s best.

But then there’s family films. Sure-fire money maker there: parents have to pay for tickets as well as the kids. Surely that bumps up admits?

But the figures of the Worldwide Highest Grossing Films of All Time say otherwise.

Of the Top 50 Grossing Films Worldwide, 36 of them are Science Fiction – that’s a staggering 72%. Titanic (rated 2nd on the Worldwide Gross List) is the only non-Sci Fi film that made it into the top five.

Who would have thought today’s society would go for such a thing?! And that’s not even including three of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (ranked  6th, 8th and 12th) which contain enough fantasy to scrape into the genre,  though I decided to lump into ‘Action’ for the purposes of this study.

Even more impressive is the consideration of ratings. The majority of before-mentioned 36 top Sci-Fi films had at least an M rating. Though the M classification is recommended and doesn’t carry any enforced restrictions, it does affect ticket sales by dissuading the family market.

So what does this mean? Is Sci-Fi the guaranteed go-to for the big bucks?

Well the genre certainly ain’t foolproof. Some of the biggest losses of all time come from failed Science Fiction. Battlefield Earth starring John Travolta (2000) cost $80 million but clawed a measly $30 million.

Indiana Jones wanna-be Cutthroat Island (just take a look at their poster; how they weren’t done for copyright infringement I’ll never know) cost $92 million but stumbled to a close with a pitiful gross of $19 million. Surely someone lost their job over that $73 million loss…

Though undoubtedly the worst was The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002). Even star Eddie Murphy couldn’t pull this one off. After spending $120 million, the studio made a pitiful $7 million….. ouch!

So what does this teach us?

The genre certainly isn’t a certified way to wealth, but if a Sci-Fi flick is made well, the figures do indicate a ready willingness from the public to spend their paychecks on repeated trips to the cinema….

Hell, it may even convince those “I wait til it comes out on DVD” types to get off their couches and take a chance on the silver screen….

The Top 10 Highest Grossing Films (Worldwide) of All Time

  1. Avatar (2009) 
  2. Titanic (1997)
  3. Harry Potter DH Part 2 (2011)
  4. Lord of the Rings Return of the King (2003) 
  5. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (2011)
  6. Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Mans Chest (2006)
  7. Toy Story 3 (2010)
  8. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
  9. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  10. The Dark Knight (2008)

The full list can be viewed here.

Sian's love for movies spawned from having a tight mother whose generosity stretched only to hiring movies once a week for entertainment. As a pre-teen Sian spent more pocket money then she earned on cinema tickets and thus sought a job at the cinema. Over the next decade she rose to be one of the greats in her backwater, six-screen cinema complex, zooming through the ranks from candy bar wench with upselling superpowers, to pasty projectionist, to a manager rocking a pencil skirt. Sian went on to study Journalism at university though feels her popcorn shovelling days were far more educational