Why Conservative Movies Outperform Liberal Ones

Ben Shapiro is a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. He is the author of the new book "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration" (Threshold Editions).


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The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week about Dr. Ted Baehr’s Movieguide Awards, handed out to the most family friendly films of the year.  According to the Reporter, “The report praises such 2011 releases as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Battle: Los Angeles, Moneyball, We Bought a Zoo and Hugo while heaping scorn on the likes of Super 8, Red State, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Bad Teacher and Happy Feet Two.”

Just as importantly, the report demonstrated that such family friendly films are significantly more lucrative than non-family friendly films: “Movieguide identified 91 movies in 2011 that scored high in ‘conservative/moral categories’; these earned an average of $59 million apiece. On the other hand, it identified 105 movies that scored high in ‘liberal/leftist categories’; each of those titles earned an average of just $11 million.  The average movie scoring four stars from Movieguide earned $53.5 million while the ones that scored just one star earned $10.6 million.”

“Most moviegoers want good to conquer evil, truth to triumph over falsehood, justice to prevail over injustice and true beauty to overcome ugliness,” said Baehr.

Baehr’s exactly right.  But there’s another element that’s just as important as morality in determining whether a movie makes money or not: who goes to see it.  And family friendly films are just that: family friendly.  You can bring your kids to them, your wife to them.  While I may love Team America: World Police, it’s not exactly the sort of thing I’m going to take my wife to see (in fact, I told my mom that it was too old for her).  On the other hand, there’s nothing in Moneyball that anyone from age 13 can’t see.  Family films, in other words, have an automatic demographic advantage over non-family friendly films – take a movie ticket and multiply it by three to start.

So why is Hollywood so addicted to making drivel like A Dangerous Method?  It really comes down to the Cocktail Party Mentality.  In Hollywood, all business is social.  That means you get jobs based on which parties you attend, which bigwigs you hobnob with, and which rears you kiss.  There are no families at these parties – no kids allowed.  You’re more likely to see a child being molested at a Hollywood party a la Roman Polanski than to see a child being shuttled around by her doting parents.

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  • gentlemanwarrior

    This is, perhaps, something the conservative rich may want to consider. It's a well known fact the liberals/leftists/socialists/communists have fo decades been steadily eroding true American values with the trip they make and market. An alternative 'Hollywood' , funded by big conservative money, would be a very welcome thing among the larger conservative demographic. Why would this NOT make sense? I'm sure a new conservative 'Hollywood' (perhaps in the South, or Midwest?) would attract a great number of conservative actors, directors, and others now trapped in the machine of liberal Hollywood politics? Give it some thought. It WOULD be a great success and eventually would diminish the grasp of 'Hollywood' on the nation.

    • Tom

      Didn't Jack Abramoff already have a go at that?

  • Rifleman

    Last year was the lightest movie theater year for me yet. The only movie I went to see was Atlas Shrugged. Since I got my 60" 1080p, I pretty much only go to movie theaters to vote with my wallet or see something on Imax.

    Computers and hollyweird itself are making hollyweird less relevant by the year.

    • Wolfhound66

      Atlas Shrugged, that massively successful conservative movie.
      It had a box office return of $4,6million dollars.
      It was so financially successful that it lost $15,3million dollars.
      Hmm, well, it will make for a good tax write off.

      And that liberal movie that celebrated witchcraft, it made 381 million dollars.
      Yeah I can see how it's not as successful as movies with "conservative" values.

      And even if one used just the profit vs production cost ratio, the top grossing "conservative" movie. Transformers had a profit of $1.80 for every dollar it cost to make.
      In comparison, the liberal Twilight Breaking Dawn pt 1 made $2.55, or 1.4 times more than the conservative movie.

  • Questions

    What Shapiro and other critics of "Hollyweird" (gotta love that Bloomsbury wit) refuse to admit is that the term "family-friendly" is itself a highly subjective term, one fungible to the ulterior whims of an organization doing the rating. More apropos, any article relying on the "research" of a hustler like Ted Baehr is automatically suspect.

  • NotaBene

    Ah, it makes money – it must be good art! The conservative culture warrior strikes again.

    • Wideband

      Naturally, if a lot of people like it and want to pay to see it, it can't be any good, it's much too common! The liberal culture snob strikes back.

      • NotaBene

        'Avatar' is the highest-grossing movie in history. Do you think that was a good movie? or conservative?

  • Sicario

    Their was only one movie I wanted to go see in a theater last year, and I had a hard time finding a theater that showed it. " ATLAS SHRUGGED "
    Didn't want to wait for the DVD release.
    Can't wait until part II and part III are shown in theaters hopefully later this year.

  • Amused

    You're outta ideas Shapiro . What's next ? Conservatives eat Corn Flakes and Liberals eat Raisin Bran for breakfast ?
    I guess this is what happens when those kids you used to know who were bathroom and hallway monitors in grade school , grow up to be "writers " .

    • Jim_C

      "Conservatives eat Corn Flakes and Liberals eat Raisin Bran for breakfast ?"

      Ba hahaha! That's EXACTLY what all his articles are. Good call.

  • Amused

    What's your toothpaste brand Ben ? Is it conservative ? LOLOLOLOL

  • Amused

    Wanna see "demographics " ? Just take a look at the posts on the Fox blog regarding the death of Whiteny Houston ……nuff said .

  • Jim_C

    Gosh, what does it all mean, Ben? Something-something conservative, right?

    Wrongowitz.

    It's no secret: parents like quality films they can take their kids to. They're not gonna take their kids to Bad Teacher. And they're also sick of crappy animated talking-animal franchises. Make a family movie like Hugo or Tin Tin with a good story that doesn't insult the intelligence, you'll usually do pretty well. Not always; depends on the season and the competition. Some good stuff gets overlooked…whatever. Just because it's wholesome doesn't make it "conservative."

  • Malcolm Smith

    I don't know how it went in the US, but here in Brisbane, Australia, a small South African film called, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" was passed over by the major distribution chains. It ended up in a small suburban theatre which used to have to get by with cheap pornography. Guess what? Soon the big chains were kicking themselves for not taking it. It became a cult, and ran for months. The message passed by word of mouth, and social clubs and churches used to arrange outings to see it. Viewers came back time and again.
    I tell you, if you have good film with a good message, the people will come.

  • Amused

    That was a GREAT MOVIE Malcolm . I bought the video and have it in my collection .And just think , no sex , no sw earing , no violence . A fathers love is universal …lol…yea EVEN LIBERAL FATHERS LOVE THEIR KIDS !!!
    But then there's the greatest movie of all time …"The Big Lebowski " !
    Bet Shapiro would form some political psyco-babble editorial about it .
    HEY SHAPIRO , TRY LAUGHING A LITTLE BIT , I PRPOMISE YOU , YOUR FACE WONT CRACK >

  • Amused

    In gthe meantime Ben , I'll be waiting with baited breath , for your next …er …uh …" pearl of wisdom " …..but I do find your writing AMUSING ..lol…they are indeed a case study in anal retentiveness .

  • Drew Mac

    Atlas Shrugged was a horrible movie (and the book is a joke). Also, Team America is not a liberal or conservative film. It makes fun of all political persuasions (I love it BTW). The Sherwood Baptist Church (Sherwood Pictures) movies are awful, low budget proselytizing nonsense .

    As an added note, "We Bought a Zoo" lost money. It had an $85 million budget….and it grossed $75 million….

  • Tyler Durden

    The Tree of Life wasn’t a financial failure; Fireproof and Courageous were poorly received critically, but were successful due to their sappy and pandering nature; We Bought a Zoo was the same, except better received critically; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close did worse both financially and critically than The Tree of Life; Battle: Los Angeles was a pandering action/science fiction film that did wonderfully commercially, and horribly critically, as most pandering action/science fiction films are; Moneyball was a financial and critical success, but that’s because it’s an actually good movie; Hugo was a minor financial success and a critically acclaimed, but rather poorly made, in my opinion, film; Super 8 was a financial success, and well received by critics; Red State was a financial bomb, and poorly received critically, because it was a horrible movie; I can’t really tell you how well A Good Old Fashioned Orgy did, as its budget hasn’t been released, but it did horribly critically because it was a pandering and idiotic comedy film; Bad Teacher was a commercial success and critical failure because it, too, was a pandering and idiotic comedy film; and Happy Feet 2 was a minor financial success and poorly received critically because it was a soulless cash grab by those who made it, making it a very poor film indeed. District 9 was a financial and critical success which featured many liberal ideologies, as was Elysium and to a much lower extent, Pacific Rim, the Godzilla films always did well financially, if not always critically, and they really hammered liberalism in there, and many of the Marvel films have done well, with varying political beliefs playing out in each one, the most liberal of which being the latest (as of this writing) film, Captain America: the Winter Soldier. So it doesn’t really matter if it’s conservative or liberal, it only matters if it’s a good fucking movie. Oh, and it’s a pretty commonly known fact that more family friendly films will do better due to a larger audience, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the film or the film’s politics. You ever see the live-action Smurf movies? Fucking horrible. And yet, they were extremely financially successful primarily because they were family friendly.