Saturday, April 08, 2017
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Monday, March 06, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
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
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
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
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
Sunday, January 22, 2017
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
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
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
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
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
“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
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
IN THIS POST:
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.
A nuanced view of WT's strategy.
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).
TOO CULTURALLY ALIEN FOR THE US MARKET?
|Headline for the Saunders piece.|
Sunday, November 20, 2016
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
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 $60m
The basic: Premieres
This generates TV news and wider media stories (eg Mirror):
Thursday, November 10, 2016
IN THIS POST:
A definition of 'the Gant Rule'; testing it out with the summer 2016 UK/US box office; why is this so profoundly significant for understanding the British cinema market; how satirical cartoon Curtisland illustrates this; why does it not always work (including Bridget Jones example).
I was surprised just now to find that 'the Gant Rule' doesn't bring up many relevant hits ... until the phrase 'box office' is added to the search.
Lets have a fresh look at this...
A SHORT DEFINITION OF 'THE GANT RULE'*
Box office analyst Charles Gant (who has a weekly Guardian column, but whose writing appears in many other publications worldwide) has long argued that a typical transatlantic hit (a success in both the UK and US markets) will make ten times as much in the US ($ 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!
TESTING THE GANT RULE: SUMMER 2016 UK v US BOX OFFICE
BOX OFFICE: UK £m, US $m, World $m
PRODUCTION COMPANY CREDITS: Miramax*, StudioCanal, Universal Pictures, Working 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 in 2001, returned to direct the feature film from a script she co-wrote with David Nicholls ()
|BoxOfficeMojo BJD franchise page.|
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
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
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
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
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
Friday, October 21, 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016
Saturday, October 15, 2016
|Some featured films in the BFI guide to SR.|
Loach and Leigh are both iconoclastic, exceptional auteurs: both typically refuse to issue a script, preferring to workshop a scenario with their cast (often, mostly in Loach's case, untrained non-professional actors), and Loach even shoots his films in chronological order, breaking rule 1 of film production! This, and their focus on working-class protagonists and their struggles in an unsympathetic political culture, has seen both struggle to win funding in their homeland, with government agencies baulking at the notion of funding unscripted projects and studios/investors seeking star-led projects.
Both, especially Loach, have managed long careers by pre-selling distribution rights (BEFORE production commences) in European markets like France and Germany where both are widely acclaimed - a funding method threatened by EU proposals to force producers to sell EU-wide rights only, and barring territory by territory deals (great news for the studios with the clout and presence to achieve this, but a sure death-knell for Indies if its implemented in the name of neo-liberal, free market orthodoxy).
A sample quote:
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
|Catherine Shoard reports the landmark figure for the British production co|
Well hello, hooray! For their competition its welcome to my nightmare, but school's out for the unrivalled masters of the British cinema market...the first British billion dollar babies of the UK (though Rep. of Ireland figures are often combined) cinema audience.
If you're bewildered by the intertextual puns in the above, it may be that you're not old enough to remember Alice Cooper in his prime (the artist in the video below) - Working Title don't go back nearly 50 years in the biz like Cooper, but they do go back 31 years at the time of writing (2016), so their bold social realist (with a comic edge) debut feature My Beautiful Laundrette (they're associated with 1984's The Man Who Shot Christmas too).
THEORY TIP: Stuart Hall argued that semiotics, and much early media theory, had one major flaw: assuming that meaning was completely tied to the producers of a text and their intentions (what they attempted to encode). He argued that meaning is also generated by the audience, and that the meaning they take will be influenced by their age, gender, nationality, cultural tastes, education level etc. Adult readers may pick up on my Alice Cooper intertextual puns, but younger readers may not - though they may generate their own independent meaning too.
If you followed my meaning, thats a preferred reading (the textual author would prefer that); if you follow some but not a substantial part, a contested or negotiated reading; if you reject or interpret in a very different way, thats an oppositional reading.
Today's juggernaut company, with its latest ultra-commercial hit Bridget Jones's Baby yet another franchise release featuring major US stars to boost its international appeal, is barely recognisable from the radical young company that produced a gay, inter-racial romance tale at the height of 1980s Thatcherite homophobia and race riots in Britain, following it up with an edgy wartime drama making a star of its young (unknown, just like the MBL leads) female lead and her catchphrase, up yer bum!
Sunday, September 04, 2016
|Tangerine dream? This iPhone-shot movie had critics raving, making a big wave upon its Sundance Film Festival screening, and is cited below as an example of why we should celebrate the passing of 35mm and its replacement with digital. (NB: the trailer features strong language) Read more at theverge.com, BBC, Techradar, Guardian and nofilmschool.|
|From the Wiki. Also detailed in BoxOfficeMojo.|
Most articles about digitisation tend to bemoan the undermining of celluloid and the 35mm film, but this one celebrates the democratising improvements it has brought about, shaking up a conservative industry with high barriers to entry.
|This post focuses on the LA Times' box office coverage, which provides very specific audience breakdown and analysis.|
The headline above is from Gant's column on the UK box office, matching a more common downbeat view on the film's fortunes and prospects (its still on wide release), noting:
Star Trek Beyond may have suffered from director JJ Abrams’ exit into rival franchise Star Wars (he remains as producer). Or fans might have been more excited by Benedict Cumberbatch as the main villain last time around, with Beyond baddie Idris Elba less proven at the box office. And Paramount may have struggled to persuade broader audiences to see a third Star Trek film.
|Critics and audiences have been highly positive, but the film has failed to crossover to a wide US or UK audience (RT)|
|BoxOfficeMojo provide a comparison of all 13 movies in the franchise; the current release needs a major boost from China and elsewhere to ensure the franchise will continue to ... live long and prosper|
The various box office columns (global, US, UK) in the Guardian make for great reading and will teach you a lot about how the industry works, and provide very specific examples that might help you in exam and/or coursework efforts. Variety and many others also provide in-depth, highly informed analysis and commentary - you can keep an eye on these by adding RSS feeds to your own blogs.
This example is from the LA Times, which you'd expect to be highly versed in industry practice as Hollywood is in its turf. The fragment I picked out below comments on: