In celebration of Independence Day we also decided to look at great American dance films. This article will feature high grossing films of the last decade and look at the result of two high grossing classic dance films that have recently been remade.
Five movies that have been released since the year 2000 made it into the top ten highest grossing dance movies since 1977.
The highest grossing dance movie (since 1977) is unsurprisingly Black Swan. To date it has pulled in $106,954,678. Black Swan’s plot involves a ballet dancer who wins the lead role in Swan Lake however in an effort to become more perfect and embody the black swan Odile; she starts to lose her mind. Only classical ballet featured in this film. Critics loved this film scoring an average 88%. It was a massive success with audiences receiving an 86% score. The psychological thriller garnered many award nominations, with the lead actress Natalie Portman winning Best Actress at the Oscars.
The fourth on the list was Save the Last Dance released in 2001. It has made $91,057,006 to date. This film was probably the first successful film that fused classic ballet, contemporary ballet and hip hop/street style of dancing that we are quite familiar with in more recent movies. Save the Last Dance is about a teenage girl whose dream to be a ballerina is cut short by her mother’s sudden death. She moves in with her father, who lives in Chicago and transfers to a predominantly black school. She becomes friends with a young girl and falls in love with the young girls brother, who then helps her find her way back to her dreams. Critics gave it an average rating of 53%; audiences were a little kinder scoring it as 63%. None the less, it was still financial success with predominately teenage girls enjoying it the most.
Step Up came in at sixth place. Released in 2006 it has made $65,328,121 since then. This film also uses the popular classic/contempory dance mix, this time with break dancing and ballet. Plot follows a young man (Tyler) who has to work at an art school, in which he vandalised, as part of his community service which also gives him the chance to earn a scholarship. There he meets a girl preparing for her final showcase. After her dance partner is injured and finding no one good enough to replace him, Tyler volunteers to help her. After her initial doubts she changes her mind and the two become close. Critics slated this film giving it only a 20% average score however it was a hit with audiences who gave it an average rating of 85%. Two more sequels were release (Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) and Step Up 3D (2010) and the fourth sequel (Step Up 4Ever) is planned to be released in 2012.
Ninth place went to Stomp the Yard which was released in 2007. It made $61,356,221 in total. This movie’s plot follows a troubled young man (and a talented street dancer) attend university and therefore skip juvenile detention, after his brother’s death. Two fraternities battle to win him so they can compete and win the National Step Show but by doing so his education and a potential girlfriend are pushed aside. Only pure street dancing is featured in this film. Again, critics mauled this movie (it received 26%) however it was very popular with audience, with them scoring it 83%. It also featured Chris Brown and Ne-Yo, two talented and popular singers.
Finally in tenth place is Coyote Ugly released in the year 2000. Since then it has made $60,786,269. Though Coyote Ugly isn’t an overall dance movie it does feature a lot of raunchy country style dancing. This film is about a young woman moving to New York to become a song writer. After unsuccessful attempts to break into the music industry she is forced to take a job at a rowdy bar called Coyote Ugly. While working there she becomes more confident in herself and her attempts to make it big in the music industry. Once again critics scored it a low 22% but this time the audience gave it a low score too, only 38%. It still however brought in the money, perhaps because of the provocative dancing.
Remakes are tricky and dance films may have it a little harder. Not only do they have to update the plot but also the choreography too. It has a fine line to walk, too much of the original may deter younger fans but too little of the original routines maybe put off older fans of the beloved original unless they are lovers of all dance genres.
Fame (1980), for example is well loved. Although only coming in at number 25 (earning a total of $21,202,829) it is still classic many dance lovers include in their favourites. The plot centres on a group of students at the New York High School of Performing Arts through their studies. It earned many award nominations and won two Academy Awards and one BAFTA Award. It scored high with critics (an 80% average score) but audiences had mixed reviews, awarding it 52%.
The 2009 remake however received 25% off critics and 43% from audience. It still came in at number 23 on the Greatest Dance Movies list and earned $22,455,510. The problem was it felt “undone by choppy editing” and “its incomplete characterizations”.
This year the remake of Footloose is released (October 14, 2011). The original Footloose (1984) features high on the Greatest Dance Movies list, coming at number five and earned $80,035,402. It plot is about a teen (Ren played by Kevin Bacon) who moves to a small town where dancing and rock music has been banned. Ren encourages people to overturn the ruling. Although only scoring average ratings off critics and audiences (58% and 54% respectively) it still did very well.
The remake stars Kenny Wormald (his first major role) as Ren and Julianne Hough (only her second major role) as his love interest. The reaction so far is mixed with some liking the idea of a remake and those hating it. By the look of the trailer the dancing is much raunchier and incorporates more modern style of dancing.
Of course all remakes (regardless of the film genre) do face these problems to varying degrees. But will this remake have the same fate as Fame 2009 or fair better. What are your thoughts and opinions on the fate of Footloose 2011 and other dance movies in general?