That said, I’ve seen them all on numerous occasions. I grew up watching the damn things, in fact, especially the cheesier and kid-friendlier later installments.
Like Police Academy 5? Shit, I’ve seen that probably 10 times at least!
So what do these films have to do with SEO? I mean, yeah, if you want to have a shitty site perhaps you should take your cues from these shitty movies.
I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Far from being worthless, pointless, and just full of low-brow humor and sexual innuendo, the Police Academy movies give us insight into all facets of SEO and content marketing.
And what’s more, they really show us what it means to work as a team. Just like the ensemble cast of the Police Academy franchise worked well together to get laughs, your SEO team needs to work together to get traffic.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Police Academy Franchise
In other words, it’s 90 minutes of shits and giggles.
The movies rely on physical comedy, an ensemble cast of character actors, and all manner of 80s-style humor, chauvinism, homophobia, and sexism. Really, great movies to watch while you and your buddies are starting on the second 12-pack of the day.
Most will say Police Academy is the best in the series. This film came out in 1984 and made $81.2 million. The next 6 movies? They made $150 combined. Think about that the next time you read about the latest Hollywood bomb.
Let’s go through each movie and look at the 7 SEO lessons we can obtain therein.
Police Academy (1984)
Lesson #1 – Your First Effort Sets the Tone
Your site’s first incarnation, your blog’s first post, or the first links you begin to build – all send a clear message to your earliest visitors and users what you’re about and what you’ll deliver.
What’s more, it sets the tone for you. Let’s face it, blogging is hard. After you get 10 posts up you’ll probably run out of steam. What do you do when you hit 150, or 500?
As we mentioned above, the movie made $81.2 million during its theatrical run in the US, which included 1,587 theatres. It did even better worldwide and on video, grossing $146 million overall, nearly as much as all the other films in the series combined.
It was the 6th most popular film of 1984, behind Beverly Hills Cop, which was #1. The film beat out such other blockbusters as Footloose, Romancing the Stone, Amadeus, and Purple Rain.
So why was this movie successful?
Well, pretty much because it was off the wall, silly, and didn’t take itself too seriously. Listen, people like to laugh, it’s no secret, and this movie did a good job of making people laugh in an election year when the country wasn’t doing too good economically.
Would the country have been better off if the film was shot in America and not Toronto, Canada? Perhaps.
The point is, this film was great content targeted at a specific audience that needed it. These folks needed a good laugh in March of ’84 and producers knew that. They delivered, the public was responsive and accepting, and that formed a relationship. Forevermore Police Academy was a good thing, a friend, and someone we could trust and count on.
Talk about setting the tone, right?
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985)
Lesson #2 – Develop an Entertaining Formula
It was also the 10th most profitable movie in the country that year. VHS copies and rentals brought in another $27 million.
Even the Swedes loved it, making up $2 million of that total.
The film beat out such Hollywood heavyweights, and simply better movies, as Fletch, The Breakfast Club, and that year's James Bond film, A View to a Kill.
Of course the critics hated the hell out of it. And rightly so – it doesn’t really have any redeeming cultural value and will never be chosen for the National Registry of Historic Films. But by golly, it can make you laugh.
That’s a powerful thing, and oftentimes people will remember your SEO article or website because something made them laugh.
Remember, people can get information anywhere – it’s free. Entertainment, however, often comes with a price. Anyone can go to the library or look up something on Google. Facts are out there and all the best sites are using them.
But entertainment? That’s a far scarcer commodity. You can read all about space in the library for free, but you’ll plunk down $10 to go see that new sci-fi movie at the theatre.
Perhaps most of all, however, Police Academy 2 allowed us to forget the rigors of 1985 and another 4 years of Reagan. For many that was a blessing, but for just as many it was a headache. Laughter is often the best medicine and it’s obvious they poured into those theatres over that late March weekend in ‘85.
Police Academy 2 took that winning formula from the first film, mixed it up a bit and repackaged it, and struck gold a second time. And audiences? They loved it!
How many people are pouring into your site because of the entertaining and quality content you have, you know, the stuff that makes them forget about their life here in the US 20 years after Police Academy 2 was released?
You have that content, right? Oh, you don’t? Oops.
Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986)
Lesson 3 – If It Ain’t Broke…
Police Academy 3 beat out such acclaimed and award-winning films as Hannah and Her Sisters, Children of a Lesser God, Hoosiers, and Heartbreak Ridge.
It made more than $43 million and opened at #1. Pretty good for a movie everyone hated and counted off as nothing, right?
By now you’re starting to see a theme develop. I’m sure you’re like most people, and think the Police Academy movies are rubbish.
Great, me too! So now how do you explain their massive success?
Police Academy 3 was a real doozy. It was the first of the series to get a PG rating, down from the earlier R rating of the first film and PG-13 of the second. Remember, those had a little T&A, perhaps something your mom fast-forwarded over.
In this installment the old gang is now training new recruits, ensuring the streets will be safer for all, everywhere. Of course a boatload of zany antics and harmless fun ensues, leaving you laughing and gagging for a good 83 minutes before the credits roll. And remember, this was back in the day when you’d only get 3 to 4 previews before a movie, and none of that advertising bullshit. Sore asses begone!
Producers could have done anything with Police Academy 3 but they kept most everything the same and saw that money roll in again.
It might sound a little silly to us in hindsight, but this movie and this franchise were popular. Looking back at them now we laugh at their quaintness and silly-factor, but doesn’t that just make us laugh more?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987)
Lesson 4 – Everything Breaks Eventually
Sometimes those that go on to star in other things, making big names for themselves, have to start with shit first. But at the time this movie was wildly popular. They were hitching their cart to a rising star.
Things really started to go downhill with this film, at least with critics, although as we’ve seen they were really never on board with the fun and games of the Police Academy franchise.
The movie has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was only the 44th highest grossing film of 1987. But that didn’t stop it from opening at #1 and raking in over $28 million.
While it may not have been competing with the heavy hitters for largest box office takes of the year, the film still performed better than favorites like Raising Arizona, Empire of the Sun, and…Ernest Goes to Camp.
Yeah, Ernest. So the series is slipping, right?
Yes, I don’t think there’s any doubt that it is, but it’s still raking in money, right? So why not milk it for all it’s worth?
Now would be a good time to debate whether the Police Academy films should have ended at 4. Hey, a trilogy is 3 so maybe they should have stopped then.
And when you’re biggest star, Steve Guttenberg is saying goodbye? Perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel.
Or just pick one up and head to Florida.
Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach (1988)
Lesson 5 – You Can Always Continue
That’s exactly what producers thought when they brought in Matt McCoy to replace Steve Guttenberg.
Never heard of the guy? Don’t worry, I haven’t since either.
For the longest time I thought Steve Guttenberg didn’t want to be in the Police Academy movies anymore. That may have been the case, but he was going to be in this movie, except his filming schedule for Three Men and a Baby precluded that.
And why wouldn’t he have wanted to have his picture front and center on a movie everyone knew was going to be #1 at the Box Office? After all, the other 4 had been, right?
The film opened in 1,700 theatres the day after St. Patrick’s Day and did quite well, debuting at #1 like always. The film made it to the 52nd best overall at the box office that year, ahead of other power-hitters like…well, honestly it really only beat out a bunch of cheesier comedy sequels like Arthur II: On the Rocks, Caddyshack II, and Big Top Pee-Wee.
Yes, things were not looking good. What to do? Make another one.
Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989)
Lesson 6 – Know When to Call it Quits
It made just over $11 million and opened in 1,217 theatres.
There’s not much else to say about the film. Perhaps film historian Leonard Maltin put it best when he said this film was really only for people that felt Police Academy 5 was “robbed at the Oscars.”
In that regard it’s probably a good idea the producers chose to stop the series at this point. You always need to know when it’s time to quit or even better, a little before it’s time to quit.
Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow (1994)
Lesson 7 – Don’t Beat a Dead Horse
Now, I’ve only seen Police Academy 7 once, and I think just 20 minutes or so. I have no desire to see it more than that.
The movie made just over $125,000 after being released direct to video.
Sometimes we want to say goodbye, and that’s what the cast and crew really wanted to do with this film – say goodbye to Toronto where so many of the earlier films were made.
Just the wait time alone on this is too much. I mean, five years after the last movie was made? You know that’s not going to turn out good.
Are you doing similar things with your blog or site? I mean, even if you had the hottest thing back in ’84, how hot is it going to be in ’94, and when all the A-listers (or B) are gone and all you’re left with are some folks that need money to pay the bills?
It’s almost an embarrassment is what it is, not just for you, but for your users. Don’t beat a dead horse like that.
Police Academy 8 (2014)
Lesson 8 – You Can Always Reboot
This sucker is scheduled to hit the beat sometime in 2014 and I’m willing to bet it’ll be pretty stupid. I also think it’ll cause people to pine for the original.
Steve Guttenberg was scheduled to direct it and was working on the script. In 2012 that was changed to someone else, however. I can’t help but think that will hurt things.
Hey, it is the 30th anniversary of the original film, after all, so it could be good. The main thing is, just like a film franchise, your site can reboot, or you can.
It’s never too late to start over, and if you had a great franchise or series of blog articles, maybe it’s time to rewrite them for a new generation or a new audience.
Lesson 9 – Impress Your Fans, Not Your Critics
So that means they had disastrous box office performances as well, right?
Actually, every single Police Academy movie debuted at #1 at the Box Office, all but Police Academy 6. (Police Academy 7 was released direct to video).
So the critics hate the films, but the people loved them. Funny huh? Hey, the critics didn’t like Led Zeppelin either, right?
We saw the names of those films that the Police Academy movies beat out at the Box Office. These were movies that won big time awards, sometimes even Best Picture, Best Screenplay, or Best Actor or Actress. Those films won awards, but they didn’t have the fan appeal or the financial drawing power as these cheesy comedy movies did.
You can win awards from critics but not one will pay your rent. Or am I wrong about that? Even if they love your work, do you think they’re going to support you?
Fucking-A right they’re not! You have to support yourself, and that’s exactly what those Police Academy folks did, by making movies that were wildly popular with fans, or as I like to call them, those who pay my rent.
I loved the Police Academy movies when I was growing up in the 80s. I know there’s a lot of people that feel the same. Take those lessons and apply them to your website.