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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

WT Billion Dollar Baby Brit Record

Catherine Shoard reports the landmark figure for the British production co

Well hello, hooray! For their competition its welcome to my nightmare, but school's out for the unrivalled masters of the British cinema market...the first British billion dollar babies of the UK (though Rep. of Ireland figures are often combined) cinema audience.

If you're bewildered by the intertextual puns in the above, it may be that you're not old enough to remember Alice Cooper in his prime (the artist in the video below) - Working Title don't go back nearly 50 years in the biz like Cooper, but they do go back 31 years at the time of writing (2016), so their bold social realist (with a comic edge) debut feature My Beautiful Laundrette (they're associated with 1984's The Man Who Shot Christmas too).
THEORY TIP: Stuart Hall argued that semiotics, and much early media theory, had one major flaw: assuming that meaning was completely tied to the producers of a text and their intentions (what they attempted to encode). He argued that meaning is also generated by the audience, and that the meaning they take will be influenced by their age, gender, nationality, cultural tastes, education level etc. Adult readers may pick up on my Alice Cooper intertextual puns, but younger readers may not - though they may generate their own independent meaning too.
If you followed my meaning, thats a preferred reading (the textual author would prefer that); if you follow some but not a substantial part, a contested or negotiated reading; if you reject or interpret in a very different way, thats an oppositional reading.


Today's juggernaut company, with its latest ultra-commercial hit Bridget Jones's Baby yet another franchise release featuring major US stars to boost its international appeal, is barely recognisable from the radical young company that produced a gay, inter-racial romance tale at the height of 1980s Thatcherite homophobia and race riots in Britain, following it up with an edgy wartime drama making a star of its young (unknown, just like the MBL leads) female lead and her catchphrase, up yer bum!



When they started out, recalls Tim Bevan in the (out of print) history of Working Title, you could find almost all the major players based around the pubs of one London street, so smallscale and provincial was the industry - and within a decade, almost every single company was gone - WT's longevity is an achievement in itself, never mind their colossal commercial success.

Published in 2013, you can get 2nd hand copies (eg Amazon).



Bridget Jones's Baby makes Working Title first British film company to take $1bn in UK.

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