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The Globe and Mail

Canadian movie-goers, critics don't see eye to eye

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USA
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English

Few films were as lambasted by critics as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But that didn't stop the wham-bam science-fiction sequel from earning bragging rights as the highest-grossing commercially released movie in Canada in 2009.

According to statistics released last week by Montreal-based Zoom Services on behalf of the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada, Transformers 2, released in late June, grossed almost $34.4-million. It was also the top-ranked film in the United States, earning $402.1-million (U.S.), according to Time.com.

Predictably, no Canadian-made film cracked the Top 10 at home. However, nine movies did manage to earn more than $1-million each commercially, and seven of them were from Quebec - an impressive return to form by the province's francophone cinema industry. In 2008, five Quebec films managed to cross the $1-million threshold.

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Overall, the top-10 Canadian-made films - eight of which were from Quebec - earned a total of about $26-million, a 29-per-cent increase over 2008. Occupying the summit for '09 was Émile Gaudreault's hugely popular father-and-son cop comedy De père en flic, which took in almost $11-million - 98 per cent of it coming from summer screenings in Quebec movie houses.

The tally was three times greater than the $3.7-million that the dubbed version of Transformers 2 earned in that province.

Finishing a distant second, with a $2.95-million gross, was Trailer Park Boys 2: Countdown to Liquor Day, a film its distributor, Alliance, didn't even bother to release as a dubbed or subtitled feature in Quebec. The only other English-language Canadian movie in the Top 10, at number eight, was Michael McGowan's One Week, about a teacher (played by Joshua Jackson) who, upon learning he has terminal cancer, heads across the country on a motorcycle. It earned just over $1.24-million, all of it in English Canada.

Unsurprisingly, the top box-office performers overall in Canada were largely the same as those south of the border. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, for instance - the sole British movie in Canada's Top 10 - finished second in both Canada and the U.S., taking in, respectively, $31.5-million and $302-million (U.S.). James Cameron's Avatar, released in the waning days of 2009, earned more than $27-million in Canadian theatres by year's end, enough for fourth place here. In the U.S., the big-budget fantasy had grossed close to $284-million (U.S.) by Jan. 1, thereby finishing fifth.

As ever, there were anomalies. The Blind Side, a heart-tugging football feature starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron, was the eighth-most-popular feature in the U.S. last year, earning more than $209-million (U.S.). But it didn't crack Canada's Top 10. By contrast, Angels and Demons, the critically lampooned adaptation of Dan Brown's thriller, earned 10th place in Canada with a cumulative box-office total of almost $17.1-million, whereas in the U.S., the Tom Hanks springtime release ranked 20th with a gross of about $134-million (U.S.).

There were concerns that a plethora of spring/summer sequels and blockbusters might cause gridlock at the box office early last summer, but those concerned proved unfounded. The total taken in at Canadian box offices for the Top 10 films was more than $250-million - a 6-per- cent increase over 2008, though seven of them had May, June or July release dates.

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2009 box-office rankings

Top-grossing films in Canada (in millions of Canadian dollars)

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $34.4

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $31.5

3. The Twilight Saga: New Moon $27.9

4. Avatar $27.15

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5. Up $25.2

6. Star Trek $24.8

7. The Hangover $24.5

8. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $20.8

9. Monsters vs. Aliens $18.45

10. Angels and Demons $17.1

Source: Zoom Services/Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada

Top-grossing films in the United States (in millions of U.S. dollars):

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen $402.1

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $302

3. Up $293

4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon $284.6

5. Avatar $283.8

6. The Hangover $277.4

7. Star Trek $256.7

8. The Blind Side $209.1

9. Monsters vs. Aliens $198.4

10. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $196.6

Source: Time.com

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