When's the 201 AS (UK) exam? Exams start on the 16th - the G322 exam: Thursday 19th May, 9am. Yr12 Study Leave begins after ? May (Yr13 from the ?)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

DIGITISATION 4K restorations for re-releases

The music industry is dominated by the old, with back catalogue sales underpinning revenues, though with a similar tentpole strategy in place for a handful of global stars, as Elberse details in her book Blockbusters, analysing the distribution muscle thrown behind Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and other titan acts.

David Bowie has dominated vinyl sales this year, and accounts for a good proportion of other revenues too - the music industry is fuelled by monetising nostalgia.

The Secret Cinema organisation in Britain, putting on screenings of past hits in locations with a thematic link to that film, have squeezed millions in extra box office from many back catalogue flicks, while a black and white Mad Max Fury Road release, or Lord of the Rings re-read with a few extra minutes of tedium added, or just re-release to pop a multi-billion barrier (Avatar) ... the re-release has a place in the film industry's playbook.

There's always the film club and arthouse circuit, with CinemaTheque in Luxembourg an example, Woody Allen re-runs rarely being off the agenda in a typical month, or the summer outdoor screenings of everything from The Force Awakens to Rebel Without a Cause (picks for the 2016 Luxembourg season, the free event paid for through Orange sponsorship).

Retrofitting 3D is a long established practice, a software process of making a film not shot in 3D into this format at a cost of around $10m. Restoration has been a considerable element of arthouse and film festival fare - I've enjoyed watching a newly restored cut of a 50s Poe adaptation at the Bradford National Media Museum (1 strand of the BFI's work), and a new extended cut of Metropolis, weaving in newly discovered and repaired footage, at the Ilkley Film Festival.

The 4K restorations that Maurice, a Merchant and Ivory drama about a gay male love affair starring a young Hugh Grant, is an early example of could become a significant element of the multiplex mix, not just the arthouse circuit, a useful strand of counter-programming or even a means of building hype for a new franchise release by a limited release of an older, pre-reboot, franchise entry (picking up lots of cheap publicity along the way).

Both the 3D retrofits and 4K restorations are notable examples of the impact of digitisation.

Maurice at 30: the gay period drama the world wasn't ready for https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/19/maurice-film-period-drama-merchant-ivory?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ghost Stories

Casting Martin Freeman seems a real coup for Warp - after all, he was the lead in the tentpole Hobbit franchise (combined budgets $675m, box office $2.9bn). However, IP was the key marketing factor there, and he cannot be considered an A-List star any more than Lord of the Rings star Andy Serkis can 'open a film' by himself. Freeman's presence does help with marketing though, and gaining distribution, but the lack of progress there is significant. Hollywood conglomerate Lionsgate picking the film up for distribution is a coup, as one of what many now argue should be called the big seven to reflect their considerable global success in recent years (expanding the traditional big six of Disney, Warner Bros, Fox, Universal, Sony, Paramount).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Is film piracy sunk?

Message to Pirates of the Caribbean hackers – piracy no longer pays https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/shortcuts/2017/may/17/message-to-pirates-of-the-caribbean-hackers-piracy-no-longer-pays?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Why films fail: Arthur legendary flop

Epic fail: why has King Arthur flopped so badly? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/16/epic-fail-why-has-king-arthur-flopped-so-badly?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cannes adds TV but bans Netflix over release window

As Cannes turns 70, must cinema adapt to survive in new digital era? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/may/13/cannes-film-festival-takes-on-tv-digital-upstarts-netflix?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, May 13, 2017

CONVERGENCE Terminator remade inside GTAV



Saturday, April 08, 2017

Blockbuster model threatened as release window slashed to 3 weeks?

Blockbusters assemble: can the mega movie survive the digital era? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/apr/07/blockbusters-assemble-can-the-mega-movie-survive-the-digital-era?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Thursday, March 09, 2017

CINEMA gimmicks including playpens

A theater chain wants to add jungle gyms to movie screens. It's a bad idea https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2017/mar/08/movie-theater-play-area-jungle-gym-cinepolis-junior?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Monday, March 06, 2017

REPRESENTATION Emma Watson post-feminist pose?

Emma Watson 'stunned' by criticism that Vanity Fair cover is not feminist https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/05/emma-watson-vanity-fair-cover-feminism?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Thursday, February 16, 2017

CONVERGENCE Love Actually mini-sequel for TV

What joy - a sequel to the wonderful Love Actually, the profound Richard Curtis classic that puts would-be auteurs like Welles, Hitchcock, Scorsese et al to shame.

Tragically, there will be only ten minutes of this cinematic feast, delivered through TV, as part of the Comic Relief telethon that Curtis helped create. One can only hope for a fourth Bridget Jones movie to ease the pain.

Thanks to Richard for alerting me to this televisual splendour, a nice example of convergence, with the TV/film divide fading - About a Boy being another Working Title example.

LA itself has become a meme since its release; as this article notes, comparisons have been made between the Grant character and Canadian PM Trudeau this week.
A notoriously polarising film, Love Actually’s cultural currency has grown in the 14 years since it was released. The film has been repeatedly unpicked, spoofed and deconstructed; four foreign language films – in Japanese, Hindi, Polish and Dutch – have also been inspired by the movie.
The showdown between Hugh Grant’s upstanding UK prime minister and the boorish, lecherous US president – reportedly based on a Bill Clinton/George W Bush hybrid – has been a touchstone of political discourse ever since. Even this week, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau found himself compared to Grant, following his meeting with US President Donald Trump. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

LIONSGATE thrive without tentpoles

An overview of Lionsgate's evolving strategy, although I don't share the author's confidence that a reversion to lower budget (current hit and Oscar favourite La La Land cost $30m), arthouse Oscar bait is an intentional shift, rather the ending of two huge YA franchises based on book series that came to firm endings.

Their 2017 slate includes a new book adaptation, My Little Pony and Power Rangers, not to mention a Saw reboot, so they're clearly not done with what Elberse describes as the blockbuster strategy yet, let alone the all-prevailing franchise model.

La La Land's success heralds return to Lionsgate's small-scale roots https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/11/la-la-land-lionsgate-film-studio?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, February 04, 2017

INDUSTRY TV soars while film DVD slumps

Falling DVD sales put boot into profits at Sony Pictures https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/03/sony-pictures-dvd-sales-profits-streaming?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

BBFC Trainspotting joins small band of 18-rated hits

And it’s rare that an 18-certificate film opens north of £5m. Ignoring previews, only three such titles have done so: Fifty Shades of GreyBrunoand Hannibal.

The success is also noteworthy for the 2 decade gap between franchise entries, something only Star Wars (19 years after Jedi) can claim.

Return trip: T2 Trainspotting shoots up UK box-office chart https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/31/uk-box-office-film-t2-trainspotting-sing-la-la-land-split-hacksaw-ridge?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, January 27, 2017

INDUSTRY Tax break makes UK major production base

Star Wars and Trainspotting sequels help UK film production break records https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/26/star-wars-trainspotting-t2-uk-film-production-rise-bfi?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, January 22, 2017

INDIE ARTHOUSE CINEMAS flourish with weddings and events

New figures show a big increase in the UK market share of Indie cinemas, up from 17% in 2015 to 23% in 2016, and nearer 34% if Indies bought up by chains like Picturehouse are added.

I've blogged on the rise of boutique, small-scale arthouse cinemas such as that launched last year in Ilkley (and the longer established CinemaTheque here, in a country where the Utopolis chain dominates), but also the rise and rise of event cinema, from live screencasts of opera, theatre and orchestra to director Q+A's.

Now we're seeing weddings in cinemas, films paused so the audience can taste the same wine or chocolates as the characters on screen ... a lot of innovation in the fightback against home cinema and the emergent streaming giants.

Wine, weddings and ballet: new role for indie cinemas at heart of high streets https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/22/indie-cinema-at-high-streets-heart-brighton-blackpool?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SAUDIA ARABIA Sod that, cinema banned!

Saudi Arabia to continue ban on 'immoral, atheistic' cinema https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jan/18/saudi-arabia-ban-immoral-public-cinema-grand-mufti-sheikh-abdulaziz?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

FRANCE CHINA $180m Eng lang tentpole Valerian

A Chinese production company invested $50m of the staggering $180m budget - standard fare for Big Six Hollywood fantasy, sci-fi and action franchise flicks but more than twice the previous highest budget French production, the $78m Asterix.

To put that into perspective, the UK's consistently most successful production company, WT, have never since exceeded the $100m of war action movie Green Zone, a Matt Damon vehicle.

Having watched the trailer, it strikes me as Blade Runner meets Avatar - though director Lux Besson's 20 year-old Hollywood sci-fi hit The Fifth Dimension is another apt comparison. Where that movie starred Bruce Willis in his global box office pomp, it's much less certain that lead Cara Delevingne can carry the marketing. Her presence didn't help Suicide Squad's relatively disappointing box office.


Sci-fi and superheroes in 2017: can Luke Skywalker save us from Hollywood's bleak year ahead?


Friday, December 09, 2016

REPRESENTATION only posh Brits get leads in Hollywood

For the star to truly shine, the character actor must be standing somewhere nearby. Occasionally the two categories overlap, though it almost never happens with British actors in Hollywood; only the silver-spooners, such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne and Hugh Grant, graduate to above-the-title billing. The likes of Tom Hardy, Fassbender and Daniel Day-Lewis (memorably described by the comedian Adam Riches as “the greatest actor never to have appeared in anyone’s favourite films”) are character actors who just happen to have achieved stardom.

Michael Sheen, Passengers and why Hollywood's hottest leads need a quirky Brit https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/07/passengers-michael-sheen-chris-pratt-hollywood-british-actors?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, December 04, 2016

VOD + BOUTIQUE CINEMA history + UK services overview

An excellent overview of the radical shifts in the cinema industry, responding to digital disruption by diversifying, not least going upmarket...
On a recent visit to a Curzon cinema in London I sat (lay, really) on a steeply pitched chair that had been upholstered in red fur. Outside in the lobby, the snacks for sale included prosecco-laced ice lollies and popcorn flavoured with specific French cheeses; I chose a wedge of iced sponge cake that was on display under a cloche. Inside the screening room, I wasn’t the only one clacking tableware while we waited for the feature – Woody Allen’s Café Society – to start.
A pre-film advert played, promoting the Curzon’s app. Audiences were advised that, next time, they could simply stay at home and use their phones to stream selected newly released films direct to their TVs. Café Society had a 1930s setting, a jazz soundtrack, Allen’s usual Windsor font in the credits. But the preamble to it had been powerfully, pungently modern, illustrating the lavishing-up of many cinemas and the spread of home-streaming services, developments that have come to characterise movie‑watching in 2016.
As Allen’s film played I lay on the near-horizontal, watching it down my nose and trying not to fall asleep during the slow bits like an old man in front of the snooker – asking myself how we’d got here. To cinema seats resembling pool loungers. To phones that with the right software could call up hundreds of thousands of feature films. Just under a third of the UK population now streams films and this year sales of digitally streamed or downloaded movies outstripped sales of DVDs for the first time.

Full stream ahead? The brave new world of cinemagoing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BFI looks beyond cinema

As well as announcing a large scale digitisation of British TV, the BFI also announced a change in its funding programme to include films not intended for theatrical release.
“The BFI’s job is to champion the future success of film in the UK and this plan is designed to do that – we want to back the brave, the new and the experimental.
“Our aim is to find, educate and support the very best talent, give them the skills, tools and creative freedom needed to tell their stories, and make sure as many people as possible can enjoy and be inspired by those stories on the big screen, the small screen and even the screen in their pocket.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

DISTRIBUTION STREAMING Shudder shakes up horror subscription


A US genre specialist subscription service recently also launched in the UK

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

BJBABY too British? Japan, Greece, US etc considered

A nuanced view of WT's strategy.
Starting with Saunders' excellent Telegraph article I'll look at arguments that BJB is too British for the US market; non-English markets experience a radically different Bridget through culturally-weighted translations (eg Spain) - and even censorship (Japan). Japanese subtitles reposition Jones as closer to a traditional stereotypical female through certain formalities of grammar. Greeks were among many non-UK/US (Australia/NZ/Canada?) audiences to be left none the wiser when Aretha's Respect kicked in at a key point in the original movie - iconic tunes that 'everyone knows' don't necessarily cross Western, English-language borders.
Saunders cites a number of academic studies in doing so - this is a much-studied franchise and cultural phenomenon, so challenge yourself and look out for more in-depth reading!
One such example that I will re-read in due course, not least as it presents intriguing arguments on the tensions between WT and Richard Curtis' script between appealing to the domestic and US markets: Jones is at once Americanised and critical of American culture ... is the book Falling in Love Again: Romantic Comedy in Contemporary Cinema (Abbott, Jermyn eds. (2008)). 
I'll get to view the film in due course - but your own (or second hand) observations from this would be welcomed (post a comment).

Headline for the Saunders piece.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

FRANCE 36 month law flix off streaming giant

Good example of the tensions between globalisation (read: American hegemony) and local regulation designed to protect local production and its cultural voice.

Usually this means referencing the big six, but in this case it's Netflix, an American global giant about as welcome in France as Mickey D's burger emporiums (not even Samuel L Jackson's le big mac skatz could make that culinary imperialism cool).

They and Amazon, with Apple hovering as well, perhaps should be considered part of a big six+2.

Like China and many other major movie markets (the gung ho free market UK an exception since laissez-faire zealot Thatcher swept away protectionist regulations in the early 80s, leading to a summer 2016 in which all of the top 20 earners were Hollywood output), France imposes several restrictions on foreign movies to protect domestic producers and culture against American dominance.

I wasn't aware of the 36 month after release wait time there, presumably designed as a block on Amazon prime, Netflix, Google Movies, Apple and other American giants establishing a stranglehold on the market - chiefly through imported American movies, getting round cinema restrictions.

With Indies like Warp occasionally turning to self-distribution (All Tomorrow's Parties, etc), that policy perhaps should be tweaked to be less cinema-centric and give Indies a rare advantage, but does show that the big six+2 are not quite the Borg... resistance is not (yet) futile...

French resistance: can Netflix win over its harshest critics? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/19/divines-netflix-france?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bridget Jones Baby marketing

I'll add to this - your own photos etc would be very welcome

This post builds on an earlier post, which itself is long and detailed, looking at the international nature of the campaign and the trailers especially, but also looking back at the scale of this franchise - so lets start there.

The latest movie is at $180m worldwide - a good return, but well down on past entries. There should be a 4th based on those numbers. See my post on the Gant Rule (with BJB as an exception) for more details - such as this, the only territories with 8-figure returns:
  • Australia $13m
  • France $14m
  • US $24m
  • UK $60m

The basic: Premieres
This generates TV news and wider media stories (eg Mirror):

Thursday, November 10, 2016

BOX OFFICE: Gant Rule in 2016

A definition of 'the Gant Rule'; testing it out with the summer 2016 UK/US box office; why is this so profoundly significant for understanding the British cinema market; how satirical cartoon Curtisland illustrates this; why does it not always work (including Bridget Jones example).

I was surprised just now to find that 'the Gant Rule' doesn't bring up many relevant hits ... until the phrase 'box office' is added to the search.

Lets have a fresh look at this...

Box office analyst Charles Gant (who has a weekly Guardian column, but whose writing appears in many other publications worldwide) has long argued that a typical transatlantic hit (a success in both the UK and US markets) will make ten times as much in the US ($ figures) as in the UK (unadjusted £ figures).

In short, for a UK/US hit, UK £box office x10 roughly = US $box office
*it is highly advisable to put such terms in '' to help denote them as technical terms; the media world is so vast and complex, no single examiner will be familiar with every conceivable term

Is he right? Usually, yes!

I have blogged on this a few times...
Use the Gant Rule tag to find previous posts - or simply make your own comparisons with films' UK/US box office!

 Captain America: Civil War + The Secret Life of Pets examples
Using figures from his ScreenDaily column, Gant looked at the 2016 summer box office on both sides of the Atlantic. Jump straight to the number one hit and you'll see a prime example of the Gant Rule in effect: Captain America: Civil War took £37m in the UK and $407m in the US. That's precisely x11 the UK figure - pretty accurate forecasting there!

Bridget Jones's Baby boom? Smart marketing, modernised values

DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire
BOX OFFICE: UK £m, US $m, World $m
PRODUCTION COMPANY CREDITS: Miramax*, StudioCanalUniversal PicturesWorking Title Films *presumably they retain rights as original film co-producer with WT
DISTRIBUTION: Universal, UIP x countries 
AGE RATINGS: [likely] BBFC 15, MPAA R, Lux EA.

Much more to come on one of the most significant Working Title productions for years. They have multiple highly successful franchises (Nanny McPhee, Bean, Johnny English...) but none are as iconic and central to their identity as BJD, the franchise based on Helen Fielding's hit novel.

Working Title page.

I've blogged on this for a few years now (here; here on novel + musical; here in a wider post on WT franchising): BJD3 was announced in July 2009! It was then formally greenlit by Universal + WT in October 2011 ... but would take another 4 years for shooting to commence, with Hugh Grant dropping out and a change of director (Paul Zeig was originally attached, but with the film seeming dead in the water Sharon Maguire wasn't attached until negotiations with the principal cast resumed again in June 2015). [details from Wiki]

Sharon Maguire was overlooked for the first sequel...
Sharon Maguire, who directed the original Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001, returned to direct the feature film from a script she co-wrote with David Nicholls (One Day) [source]

BoxOfficeMojo BJD franchise page.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

CRITICS, DYER and the Brad Pitt affair

Allied is the latest in a long line of films whose publicity campaigns have been overcome by wider gossip and press discourse - a scenario Richard Dyer addresses within his theory of the star system. He argued that we consume the wider image and media discourse of the star, not just any specific fictional character.

The scale of gossip centred on Brad Pitt's marital break-up and the link widely made with his co-star Cotillard has created a dominant narrative that seems set to undermine the marketing of this as a serious, intricate drama. Never mind the direct, specific denial by Cotillard, the twitterati have set the tone.

Allied: what happens when a film gets eclipsed by gossip http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/07/allied-eclipsed-by-gossip-brad-pitt-marion-cotillard-hollywood?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

CHINA's complex rise to global power

I'll review past posts and in time combine in an overview post here.

China has risen dramatically as a box office force, to the point of usurping the US as the world's leading cinema market by overall box office take, fuelled by huge successive annual rises.

This smooth narrative has suddenly had a twist added, however, with 2016 figures far short of expectations.

The response has been an unofficial relaxing of the strict quota imposed on non-Chinese movies.

Up to 2012 a mere 20 were permitted to screen in Chinese cinema a year, but a 5 year deal boosted this to 34, and the expectation is of a large rise in this number when a replacement deal is negotiated in 2017.

There is a dual system in place. The distributors of the (currently 34) quota films are permitted to take 25% of box office take. Non-quota films can be released, but only receive a flat fee from Chinese operators, typically a small fraction of a potential box office share.

Despite the rigid protectionist rules, 38 Hollywood movies have been released under the 25% box office share system, the extra 4 being officially explained away as cultural exchanges, but generally seen as an attempt by the government to maintain the linear narrative of a mushrooming and therefore highly powerful Chinese cinema.

Free market enthusiasts or just Western readers may decry the authoritarian regime's protectionist stance, and will be cheered by the growing pressure China faces to conform to WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules or risk retaliatory import restrictions by the US and other key export markets.

However, the ruinous impact of Hollywood hegemony on domestic film production (and thus consumption) across the world should not be overlooked. The routinely big budget big six star-laden output crushes local competition in most markets.

France is among the major Western markets to impose its own restrictions to ensure that local language, domestic productions gain a share of exhibition space. Prior to the 80s free market fundamentalism of Thatcher, Britain had its own quota.

Without it we have a British film as the biggest hit of the year...only Bridget Jones's Baby has an American lead and distributor, and Working Title is a subsidiary of the big six giant NBC-Universal. Compare its box office take with what looks like the biggest British Indie hit of 2016, I, Daniel Blake, which may manage £1-2m. (BFI figures count WT as Indie, rather stretching the term)

China's limit on imported films relaxed amid box office downturn http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/01/china-limit-on-imported-films-relaxed-amid-box-office-downturn?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

China passes law to ensure films 'serve the people and socialism'


Open door: who benefits most from Hollywood's courting of China?


Sunday, October 30, 2016

STAR POWER Elba gets debut script worldwide Sony distribution

But he was drawn to the novice scriptwriter’s work, helping to shape it, advising on the musical score and producing videos expressing his enthusiasm for the project, to entice investors. His involvement immediately opened doors. He introduced Butler to sales agents, distributors and other key players.

Butler said: “It’s a very difficult world out there for independent drama. Without Idris, [the film] would be nowhere … with Idris, of course that’s how we got Sony to buy worldwide distribution. I owe him everything.”

How a writer’s first film script inspired Idris Elba to become its star http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/29/film-script-idris-elba-premiere?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, October 28, 2016

Number-crunching: producers not stars money-makers?

Well well, shake your moneymakers, it appears its a producer who most reliably adds value to a film release, not a star - though actors do dominate the fascinating list by the-numbers.com

Also notable is the utter male dominance, with only Angelina Jolie, at #20, breaking up this testosterone hegemony.


A Guardian analysis highlights that just 2 80s stars remain as reliable draws, 'The Tom Tom Club' of Cruise and Hanks, though its Spielberg, 80s box office king, who tops the list, now as producer rather than director, and Samuel L. Jackson who leads the thesps.

Adam Sandler, king of trash and oppobrium magnet, is third. Bordwell and Thompson may declare Film Art, but Sandler's impact is a clear triumph for the film biz.

Cruise and Hanks: from golden boys to wasted talents