Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Bridget Jones's Diary v This is England

We've been exploring the similarities and differences between these, and I'm going to note some of the points we raised below - I've blogged extensively on both, and I'm not trying to reflect the full range of that in this one post!

To add:
BJ:Edge of Reason The-Number.com report; box office report; with the 2001 original taking $282m and the 2004 sequel $264m, only Les Miserables (2012) keeps the franchise off WT's all-time top spot ($442m) [the-numbers all-time list].

Other films that come close: Bean (1997) $257m, Love Actually (2003) $248m, 4 Weddings (1994) $242m [their most profitable film as a $4.5m budget!], Everest (2015) $204m. Those are the 7 WT films that grossed $200m+ worldwide.

9 more top $100m: Burn After Reading (2008) $168m, Johnny English Reborn (2011) $165m, The Interpreter (2005) $163m, About a Boy (2001) $131m,  Atonement (2007) $130m, Everest (1998 44min IMAX film) $128m, The Theory of Everything (2014) $122m, Billy Elliot (2000) $110m [2nd most profitable as a $5m WT2 production], Paul (2011) $101m.


Working Title, StudioCanal, $26m budget. £42m UK box office ($61m), $72m US ($281m world)

The money and the lead are American; the marketing in the UK featured Grant and Zellwegger, but everywhere else it was only Zellwegger featured on posters, sleeves etc. (Stereo)typically London/South setting, and comfortably middle-class (and upwards) white characters. A female director ... who wouldn't work again for several years despite the success with this (she didn't direct the sequel). A franchise, an increasingly key part of a successful film company's output and strategy, with considerable merchandise too - and even tie-ins (Does my Butt Look Big In This 2-for-1 London-New York seat?). 

It may not be the most important franchise to WT - the likes of Nanny McPhee and Johnny English might have stronger claims (and there are plenty more too, such as Elizabeth, or even Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy!) - but it is really the most iconic WT film. Lets reiterate the key features:
Already booked in for a September 2016 release: BJD3. (The-Numbers.com)

  • its a successful franchise (sequel, number 3 in production right now (December 2015), musical)
  • its an adaptation of IP (intellectual property): a huge hit novel by Helen Fielding ...
  • so, in theory, there is a pre-existing audience
  • its a highly commercial genre - indeed, a hybrid: rom-com (with the comedy boosting appeal to the secondary male audience)
  • it features high-profile British stars which greatly boost its profile in the UK, but...
  • Hugh Grant and Colin Firth were mostly missing from US and other international posters, OST/DVD sleeves etc; this film did make both into significant international stars, but to really break global markets you need ...
  • an American A-lister, which they had with Rene Zellweger (we see the same strategy from 1999's Notting Hill, Julia Roberts at her global peak [it took $364m from a $43m budget], to Rachel McAdams [strictly speaking, Canadian!] with 2013's Richard Curtis' modest hit About Time [IMDB] - $87m off a low $12m budget
  • the American star impacts on the budget; while we can look at the likes of the £1m Warp X production Donkey Punch, where most of the budget went on hiring the boat its set on, the bulk of the budget for BJD went on the fees for the US star (the book rights were not cheap though!). An A-lister can demand a flat fee of $20m!
  • It was directed by a woman - still a very unusual occurrence, even for a 'chick flick' film clearly targeting a primarily female audience; Sharon Maguire was dumped for the sequel, but is back for the Bridget Jones's Baby, the third film [lots of BJD3 production shots here; production background here]
  • It was theatrically [ie, cinema] distributed in 15 territories outside the UK [boxofficemojo] - actually a low number for WT - we looked at 2015's $55m WT production Everest [Wiki - also 12A: BBFC] ... which got distribution in a more typical 65 territories!!! [boxofficemojo]
  • It got a typically low 12 rating (BBFC) - PG-13 from the MPAA (USA); WT tend to aim for 12/15 to maximise box office potential; 18 or R rated films rarely compete with lower-rated movies. This meant minimal swearing, and tame sexual scenes.
  • The settings and characters were the normative white, middle-class Southern English and London/rural South (like the quaint little village in the opening). This is a London where Bridget can run out onto a London street in her undies, leave her flat unlocked, pass a joke with a beggar - hardly social realism!!!
  • It had a high-profile OST with even more high profile music videos, especially from Geri Halliwell's post-Spice Girls relaunch single, It's Raining Men, which cleverly set out to cover every audience type, including gay men (the campness of Halliwell's video), men (Halliwell's raunchy performance), Americans (a country song!), black Britons (Gabrielle, also a very mainstream pop star) ... see the PowerPoint later.

The video below is an eg of UGC...
IF ITS BLOCKED: This is a spoof trailer, which re-cuts clips and adds a new voiceover to make BJD appear like a political thriller!


This PowerPoint covers a lot of points on the marketing, looking at sleeves and posters, the soundtrack CD (OST or official soundtrack) and more, making comparisons with Elizabeth and Love, Actually amongst others.


'71 boxofficemojo; BBFC (15); trailer
This is England boxofficemojo
Everest IMAX only boxofficemojo; all boxofficemojo; Wiki; BBFC
BJD spoof trailer;

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