MONTREAL Late last week, bilingual Montreal-made action-comedy “Bon Cop Bad Cop” was nearing the Canadian box-office take of “Porky’s,” the lowbrow 1981 Florida-set sex comedy that has been the Canuck box office champ for the past 25 years. But “Bon Cop” still has not managed to crack the oh-so-difficult English-Canadian market. It made 90% of its cash in Quebec.
“Porky’s” grossed C$11.2 million ($10 million) in the Great White North. “Bon Cop” was hovering at around $9.9 million in ticket sales in Canada. (“Porky’s” also grossed $111 million in the U.S. and, barring a sudden outbreak of interest in French-Canadian culture in the U.S., “Bon Cop” is unlikely to even be released in the States.) “Bon Cop,” which preemed Aug. 3 in Quebec, and two weeks later in the rest of Canada, has out-grossed all other films in the French-speaking province this year, including “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “The Da Vinci Code.”
Execs at “Bon Cop” distributor Alliance Atlantis and Telefilm Canada executive director Wayne Clarkson had been predicting “Bon Cop” was going to break big across Canada, but their optimism proved unfounded. The comedy about a randy, foul-mouthed French Quebec cop working in tandem with an uptight English cop from Ontario has grossed $1.2 million outside of Quebec. That’s good compared with the majority of French-Canadian films that do almost no business in English Canada, but it is far from blockbuster status.
Just look at all the Hollywood fare “Bon Cop” was competing against in English Canada, notes Jeff Sackman, CEO of rival distributor ThinkFilm. “The bigger surprise would be if it worked,” Sackman says. “I was very curious to see how it would work in English in Alberta and it appears not to have worked.”
The dialogue in “Bon Cop” is roughly half French, half English; in the English version, the French dialogue comes with English subtitles — vice versa for the French version. Pic stars popular Quebec thesp Patrick Huard — who came up with the original idea for the film and co-wrote the screenplay — and Stratford legit vet Colm Feore. Erik Canuel directed.
Patrick Roy, senior vice-president at Alliance Atlantis, is happy to underline that the English version — including ticket sales in Quebec — has generated $2.2 million.
“What’s the last English-Canadian film that’s done ($2.2 million)?” Roy asks. “So we can’t be disappointed by that. There are almost no hits in English Canada. In English Canada, we have to build the market.”
There are already plans for a “Bon Cop” sequel.
Meanwhile, Alliance Atlantis is hoping the box office jinx in English Canada might finally be broken by “Trailer Park Boys,” the bigscreen adaptation of the popular cable series about a trio of pot-smoking, hard-drinking hosers who live in a Nova Scotia trailer park. The pic, exec produced by Ivan Reitman, rolled out on 200 screens across the country Oct. 6, and the distrib has big expectations. Lead thesps John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells and Mike Smith — who play muck-ups Julian, Ricky and Bubbles respectively — are as well-known as rock stars in Canada. And the TV show’s profanity-laced humor has struck a chord with Canadians.
But will it work on the bigscreen? The average audience for the TV show, which runs on the Alliance-owned Showcase network, is between 300,000 and 400,000 viewers, and Alliance is counting on those couch potatoes to head to the multiplex.