While I question the importance of box-office numbers when it comes to cinema (millions of Twilight fans don't negate the fact that those movies make me want to punch the screen), I do think they're a good barometer of public consciousness around films, mainstream and independent. So it was with great interest I read a recent list of the top-grossing LGBT-related films of the 2000s, compiled by indieWIRE, a popular source of news and information about independent cinema.
indieWIRE contributor Peter Knegt points out that "LGBT-related" was "in the eyes of the beholder" and acknowledges that eligibility on the list could be argued. That said, while compiling the list, Knegt made some interesting discoveries about LGBT cinema over the last decade.
Since 2000, thirty-four films with perhaps arguably LGBT related themes have grossed over $1 million. Very significant is that fact that, in the 1990s, forty-seven LGBT-related films grossed over $1,000,000, including five films ("The Birdcage," "In & Out," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Philadelphia" and "The Crying Game") which grossed over $50 million (and that number jumps to seven if you adjust for inflation). Only two did in the 2000s - "Brokeback Mountain" and "Bruno," that latter of which some argue was actually rather homophobic. Another distinction between the decades is that while in 1990s eight of the top ten releases were released by studios, only three were in the 2000s (though many of them were released by specialty subsidiaries of studios).
Here, then, is indieWIRE's list of Top Grossing LGBT-Related Films of the 2000s. indieWIRE counted North American box-office performance, and only included films that grossed more that $1,000,000. [Update @ 6:00 p.m.: indieWIRE feels that the list overlooked Notes on a Scandal, so the list below has been changed to reflect the addition.]
1. Brokeback Mountain, 2005, $83,043,761
2. Bruno, 2009, 60,054,530
3. The Hours, 2002, $41,675,994
4. Monster, 2003, $34,469,210
5. Milk, 2008, $31,841,299
6. Rent, 2005, $29,077,547
7. Capote, 2005, $28,750,530
8. Frida, 2002, $25,885,000
9. Notes on a Scandal, 2006, $17, 510,118
10. Far From Heaven, 2002, $15,901,849
11. The Next Best Thing, 2000, $14,990,582
12. Y Tu Mama Tambien, 2002, $13,839,658
13. Kinsey, 2004, $10,254,979
14. Transamerica, 2005, $9,015,303
15. The Deep End, 2001, $8,823,109
16. Taking Woodstock, 2009, $7,460,204
17. Mulholland Drive, 2001, $7,220,243
18. Kissing Jessica Stein, 2002, $7,025,722
19. The Closet, 2001, $6,678,894
20. The Rules of Attraction, 2002, $6,532,619
21. Mambo Italiano, 2003, $6,253,026
22. Bad Education, 2004, $5,211,842
23. Before Night Falls, 2000, $4,242,892
24. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 2001, $3,067,312
25. Walk On Water, 2005, $2,713,932
26. But I'm a Cheerleader, 2000, $2,205,627
27. Shortbus, 2006, $1,985,292
28. The Broken Hearts Club, 2000, $1,746,585
29. Camp, 2003, $1,629,862
30. Saving Face, 2005, $1,187,266
31. L.I.E., 2001, $1,138,836
32. Chuck and Buck, 2000, $1,055,671
33. A Home at the End of the World, 2004, $1,029,872
34. All Over The Guy, 2001, $1,022,324
35. My Summer of Love, 2004, $1,000,915
I've managed to have seen 21 of these 34 films. Is that a lot? I'm not sure. Do I win something? How many have you managed to catch?
I know that there must be films that some of you wish were on this list, and some of you certainly bristle at the idea of Bruno being counted. Certainly, chime in.
For me, I'm thrilled that Fancis Veber's French farce, The Closet, made it on the list because I had always assumed that hardly anyone ever saw it. It's a very funny movie that does the whole straight-guy-pretending-to-be-gay thing with intelligence and wit. Indeed, Veber is a master of the genre and turns Daniel Auteuil's mild-mannered and meek condom factory accountant into an endearing minor hero. (He plays gay to save his job.) There's also a delightfully pitch-perfect supporting turn by Gerard Depardieu, who plays a macho homophobe who goes through a hilarious catharsis.
Films that I wish were on the list and I wish more people had seen include Beautiful Boxer (2001), which tells the true story of a Thai man who wins kickboxing matches to pay for a sex-change operation; The Iron Ladies (2000), another true Thai tale about a volleyball team made up of mainly gay and transgender players; Love Songs (2007), director Christophe Honore and composer Alex Beaupain's beguiling bisexual musical full of lush pop songs; Nico & Dani (2000), which is about two boys' coming-of-age in Spain; and Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway (2008) - far superior and truer to the original than the 2005 movie adaptation (which is #6 on the above list), this thrilling document of Rent's closing night on Broadway captures exactly why Jonathan Larson's musical won a Pulitzer Prize and lasted so long.
But wait! There's more! My friend Mike Roth and his filmmaking partner John Henning are responsible for the stirring and inspirational documentary, Saving Marriage (2006), which traces Massachusetts' path to becoming the first state in America to legalize same-sex marriage.