The movie Extreme Job (2018) , directed by Lee Byeong-heon, has topped the Korean box office as the most successful comedy of all times. It has attracted more than 12 million moviegoers, which is considered a miracle as other contenders received much interest as well. However, what made the fever even more noticeable is that the film was initially categorized as a B-movie. No one had expected the movie to be that huge of a success, because it was produced by a less-known director and had a relatively simple plot line compared to other bigbudget films. B-movies, which were once considered as low-quality films for minorities, are now threatening the long-run popularity of A-movies.
According to Annette Kuhn and Guy Westwell, professors in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London, B-movies are low-budget films that are often made efficiently by using recycled resources left over from higher-budget films. The term was introduced around the 1920s, when televisions were not prevalent as they are today. Due to the low popularity of televisions, movies were mainstream in pop culture, resulting in countless movie productions around that time. Consequently, B-movies appeared for the first time as a new genre in the movie industry.
Because the essential purpose of B-films was to satisfy the needs of a minority of viewers who were tired of bigbudget films, it mostly dealt with distinctive matters. However, the distinction between the two started to fade as more people started to become fond of the peculiar charm of B-movies. Director Quentin Tarantino marked the starting point by producing movies such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) that were based on B-type stories and themes with famous actors, increasing the accessibility of such films. Since then, numerous films have been released, pulling off a delicate balance between A-movies and B-movies.
As can be seen from many cases, B-films provide certain traits that cannot be derived from A-films. For instance, B-films present people with a feeling of catharsis . After watching a B-film, people often comment that they feel a high level of satisfaction from appreciating the unconventional aspects of the movie. Because most A-films are highly influenced by the sponsors, they tend to deal with limited themes. However, B-films, given relatively more freedom, present the keen thoughts of directors, usually leaving sensational images and critical messages for the audience to deeply ponder on.
Moreover, B-films are not standardized but have their own unique style. Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) was also a B-movie that earned high praise from audiences. It may not be as eye-catching as an A-film but it certainly has its own wit. Throughout the movie, there are many scenes that seem unfashionable and exaggerated, they yet oddly give more pleasure. It depicts the type of characters that can be seen commonly, making them not the perfect figure but joyful to watch. The movies contain swear words, humor, and slapstick, which make them attractive.
B-films, with their own merits, have now formed an independent genre and a new culture. This shows that the name B does not matter at this point but rather what matters is that these new approaches, with clear purpose, are capturing people’s attention. The popularity of these movies shows that people earnestly crave for novelty, not cliché ideas that are overly repeated. B-films have certainly opened a gateway for diverse genres like C films and D films to be produced in the future. To develop the culture industry, people should not be bound to custom but should constantly search for diversity and freshness that bring innovation to society.