Difference Between Film vs Movie

Difference Between Film vs Movie

Today we’re going to consider the difference between film and movie, or that is to say, we’re going to look very closely at the meaning of the two words. This might seem like a slightly confusing subject at first, especially when you’re likely to hear both of these words getting used as part of very similar sentences. But there are definitely some key areas that set the two apart.

We’ll give you a detailed rundown of the exact definition of each word and provide you with a quick reference table so that you can come back here at any point for a fast “refresh” on the main differences to focus on. Let’s dive further into the film vs movie debate and try to make a little more sense of it all!

Definition of Film

Film is a format used to produce moving images.

So, when we watch something on our television or at the cinema, what we’re seeing is a series of pictures that have been combined together at high speed and placed onto a physical piece of film. This gives the illusion of “motion” (hence the description “motion picture”).

Film is the name of the material that the moving images are placed onto. Before we look further into the word itself, first consider its exact definition: “A flexible piece of plastic, or other material, specially coated for exposure in a camera. Used to produce photographs or motion pictures.”

As you can see, when we say “film,” we’re actually describing a tool (plastic film) that gets used to create something that we see on our screen. A “film” isn’t a “movie,” though many believe it is.

When we consider the technical definition of the word film, it relates to something very specific. As we’ll soon cover, the word movie is a very “open-ended” word that can have several meanings. Film, on the other hand, is a very factual and precise word that only has one direct meaning.

Those working in the film industry or those who write about the film industry typically prefer to use the word “film” when they talk about a motion picture. This is because it is considered to have a more “professional” sound and meaning than the word movie.

Given that the definition and use of the word film is intended to be both professional and precise, it probably comes as no surprise that it is often closely linked with motion pictures that are designed to be factual in nature (like a biography) or that carry an educational or “deep” message (think of a high calibre drama like the film “Good Will Hunting”).

Before we take a look at the word movie, you might want to sum up the difference between movie and film at this stage with the simple phrase that one word (film) is “serious” and one (movie) is “fun.”

Definition of Movie

Movie is a word used to describe a popular type of film that is often of a commercial or “fun” nature.

Though it’s very easy to understand why people use the two words as though they are exactly the same, after reading the last section, you already know that the word film is typically used to describe certain motion picture types, and it’s usually used mainly by industry professionals.

So, if that’s the case, what’s the word “movie” all about? We’ll first look at its exact definition: “Motion pictures as a genre of art or entertainment.”

And it’s this second definition that gives us our primary difference when we compare it to the word film. A film produced mainly for the cinema for entertainment purposes is typically referred to as a movie. In a way, a film is a format used to create something. A little like a canvas is used to paint a picture. However, a movie is something that has been created using that canvas. In this instance, the canvas is a film.

Whereas those working in the film industry typically use the word to help establish the serious nature of a motion picture, the word movie is often used by those outside of the industry (movie goers and cinema fans) to describe films that have been created purely for entertainment.

The difference is very subtle, but professionals like to use the word film to make people aware that what they’re watching is supposed to be taken seriously. However, the general population, and even some film directors themselves, use “movie” to make you aware that their film has been made purely “for fun.”

Movies are associated with being produced as a means of making money by entertaining millions of people either in the cinema or at home. Films, on the other hand, are usually designed to educate you or make you think. That’s typically their primary objective.

One is an artistic statement and one is a piece of entertainment. Or at least, that’s probably how professional actors and film directors would like you to view their work if they use either of the two words!

In reality, a film can be entertaining and a movie can be educational. But it’s the way you think about a motion picture before watching it depending on which word is used that’s supposed to help you to understand more about its nature.

Main Differences Between Film vs Movie

We’ve created a quick reference table to make it easier for you to understand the difference between film and movie without having to read the entire article every time you come back for help.

Basis of Comparison Film Movie
How they often get used For “serious” motion picturesFor “entertaining” or “light-hearted” motion pictures
Often used by Film industry professionals or those writing about the industryFilm fans or the general population
Usual intended purpose To educate and inform people or provoke serious thoughtTo entertain people and generate money
Genre examples Independent films, biographical films, documentaries, historical films Scream fests, superhero movies, sci-fi, chick flicks
Location-specific differences Used more in non-English speaking European countries Used more by Americans and non-native English speakers
Popular title examples Saving Private Ryan, The Pianist, Rain Man Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, Airplane

Though the two can certainly cross over from time to time, the above differences typically remain fairly consistent.

Difference Between Film and Movie: Conclusion

For those who came here today pondering over the question, “What is the difference between movie and film?” you should now be equipped with everything you need to set the two apart. Though the two words absolutely can and do get used as part of very similar sentences, their intended use and how their intended use is supposed to change your outlook on a motion picture are very, very different.

Don’t forget, any time you find yourself at a loss, take a quick look at the table in the last section and remember: “A film usually requires a lot of thought to understand, whereas a movie often requires very little to enjoy.” And with that, it’s time for you to go and enjoy your next blockbuster!