EMRAH GÜLERANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
With his recent box office smash plumbing the depths of IMDb.com’s Bottom 100 list at number two, comedian Şahar Gökbakar once again shows the troubled relationship between Turkey’s arthouse cinephiles and the majority of audiences that go for vulgar comedy and cheap laughs
Cem Yılmaz’s ‘CM- 101MMXI Fundamentals’ and Şahan Gökbakar’s ‘Celal and Ceren’ (above) draw millions of Turkish audiences to movie theaters.
The epitome of a Turkish blockbuster boils down to two names. Two names that are guaranteed to draw millions to movie theaters: Cem Yılmaz and Şahan Gökbakar.
Both Yılmaz and Gökbakar made sure that the release of their recent, highly anticipated movies coincided with the mid-year school break. The prolific entertainer Yılmaz’s cinematic compilation of footage from his popular stand-up shows, “CM101MMXI Fundamentals,” drew an audience of 3 million in four weeks, according to Box Office Turkey. Gökbakar’s collaboration with brother Togan Gökbakar in the director’s chair, “Celal ile Ceren” (Celal and Ceren) has been seen by 1.5 million so far in its second week.
The romantic comedy “Celal ile Ceren” has set yet another record, gracing the web’s ultimate movie database IMDb.com’s infamous Bottom 100 list at number two. As of yesterday, the movie had a score of 1.7 (the same as number one) with more than 11,000 votes. IMDb.com’s Top and Bottom lists, unlike Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic which aggregate reviews from around the web, are not an accurate portrayal of critics’ point of view. They are more likely to be determined through the votes of lovers and haters among passionate cinephiles.
Why, then, would “Celal ile Ceren” be so hated that it managed to top such a popular global list in just its second week? Gökbakar, the lead actor, writer and the producer of the film, is famous for his series of “Recep İvedik” movies. Named after the untamed anti-hero with tasteless jokes, the three films have all broken box office records. Art-house cinema versus cheap laughs
The jokes and vulgarities in all three “Recep İvedik” movies were directed at the urban upper-middle class, a testament to the troubled relationship between the classes in big cities, namely Istanbul. İvedik was the personification of the migrant who felt out-of-place in urban offices of emerging plazas and the Starbucks of city and was a character who showed no intention of honing his skills or finding new ones to earn a living or a place among the so-called White Turks.
The “Recep İvedik” movies also served as the antithesis of something else, the art-house Turkish cinema that is increasingly earning global recognition on the international festival circuit. Box Office Turkey’s 2012 numbers showed that seven out of the 10 most-watched films in Turkey were Turkish.
What was interesting with these numbers was that none of the seven films in the list were the films that brought home dozens of international awards.
“Celal ile Ceren’s” awkward position at number three seems to be something a little bit more than a collective dislike of a mediocre movie. It seems more like a collective passive-aggressive cry from art-house aficionados directed at Turkish audience’s disinterest in movies that wow festival-goers across the globe while attracting little interest from the average movie-goer. Perhaps Gökbakar’s Twitter reaction to his film’s debut on IMDb.com’s list says it all: “Imdb? Hahhahahhahahgagahahaha.”
TURKISH BOX OFFICE FIGURES
According to figures from Turkish Box Office, Yılmaz’s movie “CM101MMXI Fundamentals” has been watched by 2.9 million people in four months. “Celal ile Ceren” (Celal with Ceren) has been watched by 1.5 million people in two weeks. Özcan Deniz’s “Evim Sensin” (You Are Home) has been watched by 2.6 million people in 12 weeks. “Çakallarla Dans 2 (Dancing with the Jackals 2) has reached 927,000 people since Dec. 7. “Karaoğlan” has reached 121,000 people in two weeks. “GDO Karakedi” has reached 98,000 people.