Do Canadians see the same movies as Americans?

I like numbers, and I like comparing and contrasting different cultures, and last summer I discovered a website that posts the weekend box-office figures for both Canada in particular and North America in general. So, naturally, I began keeping tabs on this site and noting which films appeared to be more or less popular in Canada than they were in the States.

I actually first started thinking about this around the time I read a news report to the effect that The Passion of the Christ made about 7% of its money in Canada, a country that has about 10% of the combined Canadian-American population. And since The Passion had broken The Return of the King‘s record for a five-day opening, I thought it was striking that it had made, in Canada, only half of what The Return of the King made here.

However, it wasn’t until I began reading about Fahrenheit 9/11‘s popularity in Canada that I began to scour the web for some sort of freely available Canadian box-office report. After that, I kept tabs on the weekly top tens for that year at this other site — and now I’m going to do the same here. The totals for all the films that made the Canadian top tens in 2005 will be updated here.

FWIW, a few broad patterns have presented themselves already. Films with an African-American or “urban” angle tend not to do quite so well in Canada, while films with a British or Asian angle will do better here than in the States.

Some of the most glaring examples of this have occurred in just the past few weeks: On the one hand, Diary of a Mad Black Woman opened at #1 in “North America” four weekends ago, but — despite being distributed by a Canadian-owned company! — it was not released in Canada at all until last Friday, and it still failed to make a single appearance in our top ten. On the other hand, Bride and Prejudice — a Bollywood riff on an English novel — has been in the Canadian top ten for the past four weekends, yet it has never been higher than #15 in “North America”. (An even more glaring example would be the martial arts film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which opened at #4 in Canada over a month ago but has never been higher than #17 in “North America”.)

So, without further ado, here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Bride and Prejudice — CDN $1,306,771 — N.AM $4,812,473 — 27.2%
Hostage — CDN $2,417,521 — N.AM $19,503,139 — 12.4%

Million Dollar Baby — CDN $9,075,366 — N.AM $89,943,692 — 10.0%
Constantine — CDN $7,018,363 — N.AM $70,382,151 — 9.9%
Hitch — CDN $14,946,875 — N.AM $159,325,368 — 9.4%
Be Cool — CDN $4,350,260 — N.AM $47,275,015 — 9.2%
Ice Princess — CDN $592,094 — N.AM $6,807,471 — 8.7%

Robots — CDN $5,408,455 — N.AM $66,067,739 — 8.2%
The Pacifier — CDN $5,328,603 — N.AM $72,270,940 — 7.4%
The Ring Two — CDN $2,338,706 — N.AM $35,065,237 — 6.7%

A couple of discrepancies: Bride and Prejudice was #10 on the Canadian chart (it was #15 in North America as a whole), while Diary of a Mad Black Woman was #9 on the North American chart.

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