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, February 24, 2018

WARP Yardie has big name and Universal OST


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Warp's '71 v Working Title's World End


This post will compare 2 movies to get a better insight into the different approaches taken and challenges facing a notable UK Indie producer and a prestigious UK big six studio-backed subsidiary. The film's are selected to be a mixture of typical for the companies but also contrasting in some key ways. Neither can be judged as a great commercial success - typical for one company, fairly unusual for the other...

The contenders:



Sunday, January 28, 2018

ANALOGUE film quietly thriving in quest for non-digital 'soul'

Reflecting a long established trend across other media industries, a seemingly defunct media technology has plateaued after a massive, seemingly terminal decline, and is now riding again even though it will never reach previous levels again.

Just as vinyl (and even cassettes) have seen big growth spikes, and the car underpinned radio's future as a mass medium, so too is there growth in the 35mm film market - the slow, expensive format that digitisation and the DSLR has all but wiped out. Kodak, the monopolist film supplier went bust ... but offshoots are back in business offering classic film reel formats for a growing, if niche, market.

Likewise the UK's Ilford, a brand most in the 35+ age bracket will recall as a B+W film specialist, is doing a roaring trade in photography stock.

A crowdfunded new 35mm camera has just hit the market, a big moment in underpinning this retro resurgence.

Back to the darkroom: young fans reject digital to revive classic film camera https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/28/does-reflex-slr-camera-herald-35mm-film-renaissance?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

INDIES/WT Darkest Hour and mid-budget squeeze

Arthouse films battle squeeze from Netflix and blockbusters https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/15/mid-budget-films-netflix-independent-movies-darkest-hour?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, January 13, 2018

WEB 2.0 Will vlogging boost two Smiths?

More widely seen through Facebook, but in 5 days 125k views (link)
Vlogging and other examples of web 2.0 application are more readily associated with the music industry: from Lily Allen's (quietly corporate-funded) bedroom recordings and MySpace, to Gaga's self-contained Little Monsters site and Biebers army of lunatic Beliebers on Twitter and anywhere else anyone dares to question their deity, while he pours out seemingly unfiltered nuggets on those same platforms.

Will Smith has just gone viral with one of a recent series of seemingly off-the-cuff, unfiltered videos, or vlogs (vodcasts). I've seen it through my own Facebook feed, switching it off after a few seconds of what struck me as American hokum (though I'm sympathetic to the general point of the potential power of learning from failure).

The article on this struck a particular chord (i'm even writing this post a 2nd time after a finger slip lost me an hour's worth of phone tapping on the blogger app) as 2 of his tracks popped up on a shuffle play of one of my more eclectic playlists during an hour or so at a local hostelry yesterday - deeply buried amidst 1,293 tracks with Slayer and Celtic Frost among other delights - and the clear retro-fuelled buzz (yup: namecheck for Simon Reynolds' book Retromania but also the ol' uses and gratifications theory...) it sparked.

Smith's stellar career has dulled, with the Netflix-distributed Bright not exactly setting the world alight. Haven't seen it yet, so I'll reserve my own judgement, but the LOTR-Lethal Weapon mash-up it suggests at least sounds faintly intriguing.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

RELEASE STRATEGY Last Jedi forces rivals to delay tentpoles

Size matters not: the plucky films going up against The Last Jedi https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/dec/07/star-wars-last-jed-plucky-films-going-up-against?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, December 01, 2017

WHITEWASHING Mulan may mark turning point

Liu Yifei gets starring role in Mulan, as tide turns against 'whitewashing' https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/nov/30/mulan-tide-turns-against-whitewash-as-liu-yifei-gets-starring-role?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Thursday, November 30, 2017

CONVERGENCE Indies routinely using CGI, now realistic low budget option

Superman’s tache and Armie Hammer’s crotch - is movie CGI getting out of hand? https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/nov/30/supermans-tache-and-armie-hammers-crotch-is-movie-cgi-getting-out-of-hand?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, November 26, 2017

AMAZON IP FRANCHISE LoTR $1bn series $250m just for rights

Right at the end of this article there's speculation that Harry Potter could dwarf even this, the first $1bn TV series with a $1bn deal just for the rights alone, not the production cost!

The role of IP and franchises couldn't be any clearer - it remains absolutely the dominant model, with TV spin-offs now clearly a key part of this high stakes media game, as exemplified by the Marvel Cinematic Universe being closely tied to multiple TV series, which even get their own Avengers/Justice League type variants.

Amazon's $1bn bet on Lord of the Rings shows scale of its TV ambition https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/nov/21/amazon-lord-of-the-rings-tv-netflix-disney-apple?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, November 19, 2017

HOME CINEMA Half UK homes with 4K TV by 2021

3D TV has been and gone, an expensive fad that revealed simply that people don't feel comfortable sat with 3D glasses at home.

4K TV is the latest home cinema leap (VR being the other big trend), and it seems the UK is a trailblazer in 4K penetration, expected to reach 50%+ of UK households by just 2021.

Convergence is a key factor - it's as much games consoles, the updated current PS4 and Xbox One consoles both offer 4K output and incorporate new Blu-ray models for movies too:

The home cinema market is in the midst of a revolution: according to analysis firm IHS Markit, by the end of 2017, 3.7m UK households will own a 4K TV, rising to 12m by 2021. This would account for almost half of all TV-owning households in the UK, yet the first Xbox One was designed only for full high definition – screens with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

Xbox One X review: a perfect pitch to a demanding demographic https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/19/xbox-one-x-upgrade-console-video-games-gadget?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

BIG FIVE Fox selling to Disney have 40pc of 11bn US market

An update from my earlier blog... The Disney deal had been announced, subject to FCC (US government media regulator) agreeing, so it is now the big 5 with Disney's new dominance almost certain to spark off another merger to compete.

The business or economics term for this is consolidation. Media academics don't view this process as benign, neutral, not an issue. Chomsky and Herrman's propoganda model includes 'concentration of ownership' in its 'five filters', ways in which radical or counter-hegemonic content are removed from mainstream mass media.

This Disney giant isn't going to be producing politically driven fare like This is England (or even '71 ... or how's about She's a Chinese?!).

Economist Anita Elberse's book Blockbusters is looking more and more like the industry bible.

Rupert Murdoch set to sell off 21st Century Fox assets to Disney


I'd read last week about rumours of ole Rupe (Murdoch, the 'Dirty Digger' and inspiration for the Bind villain in Tomorrow Never Dies) selling up his Fox film and TV studios to Disney.

Now I see fresh reports are exciting stock markets over Comcast getting involved - the owner of NBC-Universal.

Is an already narrow range of dominant companies about to shrink further?

Comcast reportedly targeting 21st Century Fox for acquisition https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/nov/16/comcast-reportedly-courting-21st-century-fox?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Remarkable - just a day or so later I stumbled on news of Warner being involved in a mega-merger, the focus this time on TV, with AT&T bringing it's dominant DirecTV satellite provider to the home of HBO, CNN and more. If eventually allowed after legal appeal, I wonder if Warners will follow Disney in removing their content from the likes of Netflix in favour of their own subscription channel (which they could offer in a bundle to existing subscribers)?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

DISTRIBUTION STARS Indie straight-to-DVD until actor hits big

Tricky one to put into a short post title...
Useful examples here of how Indie movies lacking the star power to gain theatrical distribution, so restricted to straight-to-DVD (or just VOD in some cases) release ... until a then unknown cast member becomes a star. Then these cinematic horrors (as far as the newly shiny star and their agents/lawyers are concerned) find themselves plastered all over posters and trailers for (sometimes) a much belated cinema run or at least the DVD cover or VOD artwork.

There are several big names listed in this article, but there are many who aren't keen to recall their cinematic debut. For a certain Johnny Depp it was getting eviscerated in the original Elm Street. A certain rom-com flop veteran and star of 1000s of gossip mag covers, whose hair seems to be her greatest talent, made her bow in the fantastically silly slasher Leprechaun... (name revealed in tags when I get round to it!)

Brie Larson’s Basmati Blues and other lost movies A-listers wish had stayed buried https://www.theguardian.com/film/shortcuts/2017/nov/15/brie-larsons-basmati-blues-and-other-lost-movies-a-listers-wish-had-stayed-buried?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, November 03, 2017

DISTRIBUTION Jedi Disney demands 65% box office

Incredible greed and arrogance from the big six behemoth, which probably means most non-multiplex cinemas simply can't show The Last Jedi. Disney are demanding 65% of ticket revenue AND the movie must play in the biggest hall for five weeks ... or they'll demand 70%!

It's not the first time Disney have messed cinemas around - they had to back down from a reduced cinema release window for Alice in Wonderland.

This is what happens with concentration of ownership (one of Chomsky and Herrman's five filters in their propaganda model by the way), which is why anti-trust laws once forced Hollywood to split up its vertically integrated studios (before deregulation commenced under Reagan in 1980).


Disney ends blackout of LA Times after boycott from media outlets


Monday, October 23, 2017

NETFLIX niche rivals and APPLE

I've written a few times that Apple's entry into the subscription TV streaming market is inevitable ... and here it comes, with an annual $1bn budget for 10+ new series and some incredibly high profile industry names signed up
Apple has Netflix and Amazon in sight as it hires British TV executive


More niche than Netflix: nine specialist streaming services you should try https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/shortcuts/2017/oct/23/more-niche-than-netflix-nine-specialist-streaming-services-you-should-try?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

NETFLIX ARE DISRUPTERS challenging stale Hollywood hegemony?

To paraphrase Tony the Tiger, purveyor of dodgily sugary breakfast fare, they're GGGGRRRREEAT! Netflix that is, according to an Oscar-tipped director who couldn't get her movie picked up by any of the studios for distribution but found Netflix willing to overpay (her words!) $12.5m for the rights.

This is a great quote which gets to the heart of the notion of the disruption (a business term denoting the impact on traditional business practices of the ongoing processes of digitisation):

“Netflix are representative of what Hollywood used to be,” she continues. “[Hollywood] used to take risks, it used to be about discovery and now it’s about profit, it’s about foreign sales value, so I think Netflix are disrupters and maybe they will shake up the system and get the studios back to making original interesting things. Back to discovering new actors and not just hiring the same three actors over and over again.”

Meet the new hotshots of American film-making https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/22/meet-the-new-hotshots-of-american-film-making-director-dee-rees-mudbound-eliza-hittman?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, October 22, 2017

BOX OFFICE just half of actual film revenue?

From an interesting read on the vultures flying over the bloated corpse of toxic brand The Weinstein Company, a worthless brand with a highly valuable back catalogue (including remake/franchise rights) and upcoming slate of likely hits such as Paddington 2, comes this observation on the breakdown of film revenues;

Analysts estimate that the lifetime value of a film can be as much as double what it makes at the box office. For example, The King’s Speech made just over $400m globally in cinemas but has probably amassed about $1bn once its post-multiplex takings are included. About 25% of the $1bn is from the ever-shrinking DVD market, maybe 15% to 20% from pay-TV broadcasters for premiere rights and 10% (and growing) from services such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple, according to Ampere Analysis.

Rich pickings: how Hollywood rivals will profit from Weinstein's downfall https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/20/hollywood-rivals-circle-weinstein-film-studios-cinema-gems?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DIGITISATION Apocalypse Now cinematographer goes digital

Of his experience with Allen, Storaro said, “We decided to enter the digital world together, and I have to say that from the beginning we found ourselves very comfortable.”

In fact, digital had added benefits for the director, in that he could monitor the film in a way previously not possible. (Storaro quipped, “In Apocalypse Now we were waiting for two weeks to see dailies. They were were weeklies, not dailies.”) Today, he shoots with a high dynamic range monitor on set and uses ACES color techto make sure that his directors are seeing an accurate picture.

Storaro insists that he didn’t change his approach or his lighting setup for digital work. “Of course,” he notes, “I selected a camera that was close to my personality, with the level of performance in quality and color shade and close to the one that I loved for almost 20 years,” which was the Arriflex 535B.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WARP Ghost Stories a star + big 7 distribution

Haunted by its synonymous shadow: spookily TWO ghost stories out (URL)
October 29th and still no box office hits for Ghost Stories - I wonder if the release of A Ghost Story, with a couple of US stars (UK release August 11th: Deadline), but a miserable flop (under $2m worldwide: The-Numbers; BoM), is undermining release plans? The-Numbers; BoxofficeMojo. Its extraordinary how often similarly themed/named movies emerge at the same time, something that helped undermine The World's End (WT) too. Ghost Stories has been screened at the London Film Festival, but its looking doubtful for a theatrical release.

IFC Midnight is acquiring North American distribution rights to supernatural thriller Ghost Stories from Altitude Film Sales.
The film stars Andy Nyman, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse. Its based on the Olivier-nominated stage production and is co-written and directed by Nyman and Jeremy Dyson.
The deal was negotiated by Altitude’s Mike Runagall on behalf of the filmmakers with Arianna Bocco of IFC Films.  
The film is produced for Warp Films by Claire Jones (Sightseers, Kill List), and Robin Gutch (’71, Kill List) and is backed by Ultimate Pictures and Screen Yorkshire.
Catalyst Global Media and Screen Yorkshire serve as executive producers. Altitude Film Sales is handling worldwide sales. Lionsgate will distribute the film in the UK/Ireland in Spring 2018. 
Ghost Stories has its World Premiere today (Thursday 5 October) at the BFI London Film Festival. [Screen Daily 5th October 2017 report, spotted by Richard]

Claire Jones (Sightseers [+]), and Robin Gutch ('71 [+]) are producing for the UK’s Warp Films with the backing of the UK’s Catalyst Global Media and Screen YorkshireAltitude Film Sales is handling international sales and is currently representing the film at the American Film MarketDyson and Nyman said of the project, “Over half a million people have seen the play and now we are beyond excited to be bringing the film version of Ghost Stories to life." [CinEuropa.org article Nov 2016]
  • Warp announced a new film in Feb 2016, already picked up by 'big 7' Lionsgate for UK distribution, with Altitude handling international sales
  • Pre-selling rights at the pre-production stage is common for Indies (legendary social realist auteurs Ken Loach + Mike Leigh have done this throughout their careers). German rights were also pre-sold to Tele München/Concorde after a pitch at the Berlin European Film Market in feb 2016
  • This is an adaptation of an internationally successful play, bringing some comparisons with Woman in Black (but note the IP is limited compared to Les Mis)
  • Warp's reputation for allowing creatives to retain control, not the accountants, saw Nyman reject interest from Hollywood studios (who immediately suggested star-based changes!)
  • Martin Freeman's casting led most reports; star of the $3bn Hobbit franchise this suggests a more ambitious/commercial approach from Warp ...
  • ...BUT he's no A-lister (the IP and CGI sold the Hobbit, not a UK TV star!), and its no coincidence that as of May 2017 the UK remains the only territory with a distributor
  • Warp's online efforts at building interest and an audience through the pre-/production/post- stages has been typically lax ...
  • ... BUT co-director/writer Andy Nyman has exemplified the ability of cast and crew to use social media to promote a production (eg the 5 crew badges Twitter draw)
  • ... AND Altitude have been very active
  • Lionsgate UK, however, have yet to properly launch; their website contains only a coming soon message!
(TBC: October updates)
Thanks to Richard for highlighting news on the movie.
Guardian review; Variety announce IFC as US distributor; Hollywood Reporter on star in cast; Screen Daily on world premiere;

Okay, so its not the 80,000 packed into the Dallas Cowboys football stadium just to see a teaser trailer (1 strand of the epic Avatar campaign, arranged through ComicCon, the world's leading fan forum for such announcements), but Ghost Stories is following a smart path of pre-/production promotion, launching a 'concept teaser trailer' at FrightFest:
Horror blog FlickeringMyth reports the announcement, complete with 'concept teaser trailer'

ScreenDaily (US) announce the production, Feb 2016
So much for the auteur theory! Empire (UK) also led on Freeman's involvement

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).

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

SELF-DISTRIBUTION Blomkamp's mini-studio output on YouTube

Sigourney Weaver and sci-fi shorts: inside Neill Blomkamp’s secret film studio https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/02/oats-studios-secret-film-lab-sidestepping-hollywood?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, September 22, 2017

FRANCHISE Universal rev up £25m Fast Furious live show

Guardian feature
Disney are the kings of brand extension, with Disneyland a big business in its right and the Pirates of... franchise a neat reversal in being a movie spin-off from a Disneyland feature.

Universal are staking a claim as the barons of franchise extension though, with their own theme parks, multiple TV adaptations of movies (eg About a Boy by WTTV), theatrical adaptations (notably Billy Elliot, a big hit, and Bridget Jones, both spun off from Working Title productions).

Saturday, August 26, 2017

WOMEN IN INDUSTRY 'only 7% of film directors are' ...

The figure is around 6-15% in the UK...
...the % of film directors who are female!

This is 1 of 2 lengthy posts on the huge topic of the clearly differential treatment of women at all levels of the film industry - there are relatively few senior executives, producers, scriptwriters, directors, actors given lengthy dialogue, even women in crowd scenes are a minority ... This post (a short video and an overview of female directors, including the campaigning company Birds Eye Views) and its companion post - are a start ... look for much more using the female fimmakers tag.

Its a story that just won't go away, and the BFI are playing their part to publicise the issues.

I'll add the full article below (and see the longer post on fem dirs.), but first, an extract and then a video containing a rather useful but also intriguing bit of theory (v. useful for hoovering up a few marks...):
Birds Eye View started out as a positive response to the fact that women make up only 7% of film directors (a statistic that remains accurate for Hollywood, and that has fluctuated between 6-15% in the UK over the last few years), and around 10-18% of screenwriters (depending on which year, and which side of the Atlantic). That's 6-18% of the creative vision in the world's most powerful medium. We live in a visual culture, and what we see on screen profoundly affects the way we see ourselves and each other. Film offers us an incredible thing – an immersive trip into someone else's universe, someone else's vision of the world. But if that vision is dominated by men then we are missing out on so much complexity, richness, diversity and creativity.
Here's the theory, wrapped up in a short but entertaining vid for you...

A Woman's Place is in...the Director's Chair?

IN BRIEF: A collection of articles on the growing controversy over women's secondary role across every aspect of the film industry. Use the tags to see more on this

Useful article at http://www.netribution.co.uk/people/106/1402-warped-imaginations-darklights-female-horror-directors to look at. The case of Sharon Maguire (look at the long gaps in her IMDB entry) suggests the film industry is still rather sexist? What do you think?
You'll find this is a much-discussed topic, with many references in books written by film insiders (and of course in Film Guardian articles)
Have a look at http://www.birds-eye-view.co.uk/ too.

http://www.womenandhollywood.blogspot.com/  is rather useful too!

Some additional articles: 

Jane Campion: 'I make films so I can have fun with the characters'

Portrait of the artist: Mira Nair, film director - 'Why are there so few women directors? Oh my God, I want to shake everyone and ask them that question'

Jennifer's Body: a feminist slasher film? Really? - It's written and directed by women, and stars a man-eating schoolgirl – but is Jennifer's Body as feminist as it thinks it is?

It's a scream! - As Halloween draws near, Wendy Roby explores a new wave of films, websites and festivals feeding women's growing hunger for horror

An intriguing addition from Sigourney Weaver, famed for taking the final girl into space/establishing the possibility of making money with a female action hero with Alien and its sequels:
This article contains a caustic rebuttal, though many of the comments that follow the article are supportive of Weaver.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

VOD DISTRIBUTION Amazon attracts TIFF Indies with 200k offer and 30c per hour streamed

NoFilmSchool report.

continues to expand its disruption of the traditional film market and industry practices, especially distribution (though it, like Netflix, is also expanding its production arm).

TIFF, an especially notable (Toronto International) film festival (very important for Warp over the years) has begun including TV, a strong sign of the convergence between the two industries (again, consider Warp Film's recent output - mostly TV!).
An event at TIFF sponsored by Amazon.

The 2017 TIFF has also seen Amazon build on its 2016 Sundance offer of $100k plus royalties for distribution rights, now a $200k package - a hugely tempting proposition for young or Indie filmmakers to instantly gain large scale international distribution.

Would you accept a $200,000 bonus to upload your official festival selection to Amazon Video Direct? That offer is now on the table for directors with films playing at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. 
In May 2016, Amazon launched the Film Festival Stars program, which aimed to lure festival fare to its streaming platform by offering $100,000 upfront and royalties to rights holders. At Sundance this year, we spoke with the head of Amazon Video Direct, Eric Orme, who told us that he hoped the program would help filmmakers capitalize on self-distribution. "We recognized that a lot of films at Sundance don't get full-service distribution deals," Orme said. "We want to provide a new distribution pathway for those films. Expanding distribution options means more great films have the opportunity to reach wider audiences."
Is this having any impact? Quite simply - yes:
The Film Festival Stars deal requires filmmakers to make Amazon Video Direct the exclusive SVOD home for this film, although directors can wait up to 18 months to upload their movies to the platform. In the interim, their films can play at other festivals and theaters. In addition to the initial bonus, filmmakers will receive a royalty rate of $0.30 per every hour their film is streamed on the platform—more than double the rate Amazon offers other Video Direct users.So far, the program has proven a hefty incentive. At SXSW 2017 alone, Film Festival Stars signed deals for 40 movies. 
See NoFilmSchool article.

Variety report.
Another report.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Popcorn is cinemas sweet spot not movies

This is a companion post to the analysis of the $10 MoviePass announcement, and what that (and other schemes I also discuss) means for the distribution and exhibition industries.

From a business point of view, cinemas are only partly about films. "When we bought [Odeon]," Guy Hands of private equity group Terra Firma famously said, "the management team really believed they were part of the film business. I had the difficult job of explaining to them that they were in the popcorn-selling business." (Oliver Thring, Guardian 2012)

With the emergence of NATIONAL movie passes, not just schemes within individual chains (Curzon and Kineopolis being being two examples), the revenue model of the film industry faces a huge shake-up with a disruption of the traditional models of renting 'prints' and passing some share of ticket revenues back to distributors (depending on the movie).

That hideous diabetes/clot-encouraging popcorn is set to become the main revenue stream for cinemas - movies could become a loss-leader, just as budget airlines seek to make money from flight 'extras' and in-flight sales more than the actual seat purchase - very bad news for distributors.

That process is arguably already here though...

The pic above is from a Guardian article on an American cinema-goer launching a doomed lawsuit against the US cinema chain for charging $8 for a coke. From the same article:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cinema $10 unlimited month pass brings Netflix style to theatres

NoFilmSchool brought my attention to a HUGE landmark moment in the US - a Netflix-style $10/month pass for 'unlimited' cinema screenings.
NoFilmSchool article.

The MoviePass homepage.

That brings the disruption of digitisation to the a new level, and undermines (though it may take time yet for its impact through user numbers to grow) the traditional cinema exhibition business model: movie 'prints' (just as likely to be streams, Blu-Rays or HDDs now) are rented by cinemas from distributors and a further share of ticket revenue passed back to distributors. There is variation in this basic model depending mostly on the power of the distributor and whether its a tentpole big six production they're touting, but thats a rough outline of how the production (sell all rights to or agree a revenue share with a distributor) to distribution to exhibition film cycle ends up (before further distribution and exhibition through TV, and distribution through physical media, downloads and streams - rental and purchase.

If the audience figures are no longer a simple guide to box office, that suggests a steep medium to long term decline in revenues. Unless its the cinema-avoiding public (non-noisy nuisances, ie kids/teens!) that mostly takes up these passes. The 15-24 age range is the key cinema market as you can see from this BFI chart (page 4):

You can find a great analysis of the older audience in 2017 here, by Stephen Follows. This US analysis by Nielsen also shows roughly 30% of the cinema audience as 12-24, or nearly 50% for 12-34.

There is dispute over how big a revenue driver concessions (popcorn etc) really are, but this certainly will (in the style of bucket airlines like easyJet) shift the profit-making onus onto food and drinks - which distributors are locked out of. See this post for details on how vital the huge mark-ups cinemas make on concessions (typically 85% profit on every dollar spent) are.

The unlimited is limited: one viewing a day, no IMAX or 3D (maybe a supplement charge for longer movies?), but that still means a possible 30c viewing!

This isn't actually completely new ... many moons ago I bought Virgin Cinema monthly passes - £15 if I remember right, back in 1999. That enabled me to be amongst the shellshocked hordes stumbling out of the Phantom Menace midnight premiere wondering what the hell we'd just seen, and what kind of evil madman could invent JarJar Binks - but get over it by going to see plenty more decent movies in the days and weeks that followed.

I figured Curzon, with its membership scheme, would likely do something similar, and sure enough they also offer an unlimited annual pass for its cinemas.

Here in Luxembourg

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

STREAMING Disney quit Netflix for own service. Fragmentation?

Disney now offering streaming TV.

Apple will have to join this suddenly crowded market, with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and more facing increasing competition.

If more of the big six follow suit, surely that will actually undermine the paid-for streaming industry and encourage a resurgence in piracy?
Not in Lux. yet, but a fullscale streaming option is being rolled out.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Joe Queenan movie biz based on recycling ideas

Joe Queenan is a highly entertaining writer on film, author of a number of books and many columns like this one where he overviews a large number of flicks in considering a theme, actor, genre or director.

In short, along with the likes of legendary producer Art Linson, his writing is a great tool for expanding your knowledge of film.

I've picked out a single quote from a lengthy feature reflecting on the career of 87 year-old Clint Eastwood, The Man With No Name apart from Dirty Harry and so forth. A 40 DVD Eastwood boxset has been released - I estimate I've seen about 30 of those flicks - and Queenan's take is fair on this huge collection and those that were excluded from the set (though Any Which But Loose is fun as well as dumb!).

In terms of learning cinematic technique, it's the excluded Spaghetti Western dollar trilogy I'd recommend - the boxset of those has great extras showing how director Sergio Leone worked - and he in turn borrowed liberally from the great Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa, whose Yojimbo and Seven Samurai remain masterpieces more than a half century later.

Here he sums up the nature of the industry in one pithy statement:
Movie-making is not so much a process of making new films as of remaking old ones. 
He goes on to add:
Stories work today because they worked yesterday. People never get tired of seeing good triumph over evil, because the only place they ever get to see this happen is in the cinema.

Friday, July 21, 2017

FUNDING Baby Driver part of £415m tax relief benefit bill

For Indies such as Warp government finance through the BFI (previously the UK Film Council) and the still-operating regional arms of the old UKFC such as EM Media and Screen Yorkshire (significant distributors of EU finance which will soon disappear thanks to Brexit) are absolutely central to their ability to produce feature films. Without money in the form of non-repayable grants there would be no '71, This is England, Tyrannosaur and so forth.

The BBC and Film4, terrestrial public service broadcasters (with Sky, and its Sky Atlantic channel key to Warp's high-budget TV series The Last Panthers) are also crucial at this level of budget, very rarely exceeding £5m ('71 did, at £8m).

For the big six, and their subsidiary production arms, such as Working Title, just as crucial is tax relief, which will typically far exceed the entire budget of Indie films. 20 years after the Tory free market PM Thatcher scrapped the quota system that ensured cinemas screened a minimum proportion of British films (most European countries, notably france, still have such laws in place), the Labour government recognised the struggles of the industry with a range of tax relief measures, that the current Tory government has (reluctantly) kept in place.

The extent of this varies across the UK, with additional relief available in Northern Ireland (though even more is available in the Republic of Ireland), and indeed there is fierce international competition to attract film productions through tax deductions, including several US states offering high levels of relief.

The scale of this tax relief is clear from the report on 2016 payments, hitting £600m in 2016, including WT's Baby Driver. The tests for determining the 'Britishness' of productions are controversial, with minimal cultural consideration, more raw economic factors determining eligibility. If you read the BFI's annual reports (you should - an amazing source of learning) you'll find many clearly American films accordingly categorised as British.

Big-budget films receive increase in tax relief to almost £600m.
The government paid out almost £600m in tax relief last year to the makers of blockbusters including Baby Driver, Star Wars and T2: Trainspotting, as well as big-budget TV dramas including The Crown. 
The payouts were part of £751m that the Treasury awarded in tax relief to films, high-end dramas, video games, animations, children’s TV shows and theatre productions that passed a “cultural test” that qualified them as British. 
The government’s figures showed that the total awarded in tax relief in the creative sector rose by a third year-on-year from £564m in 2015. The test includes criteria such as the cultural content of a production, how much of it is shot in the UK and the proportion of stars and crew who are from Britain or Europe. 
The government’s tax credit system has proved hugely successful in stopping big-budget film and TV productions, as well as talent such as games makers and special effects workers, going to cheaper locations such as eastern Europe or to other countries offering bigger incentives.
It has also helped attract investment from the deep-pocketed newer arrivals on the film and TV scene, such as Netflix and Amazon, which have backed productions in the UK including The Crown, which had a total budget of £100m, and fashion drama series The Collection. 
Last year there were 175 films completed in the UK that claimed tax relief, with the Treasury paying out £415m, up from £339m the previous year. Relief payouts for high-end TV – dramas that cost £1m or more per episode – rose from £104m to £163m. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CONVERGENCE MICRO-BUDGET Soderbergh iPhone movie to be self-distributed

From a great site for students of film comes news of a true iconoclast further blurring the pro/am line with his own smartphone movie.

Soderbergh is an awkward so and so but an unquestioned auteur and 80s Indie pioneer, like Alex Cox bringing something of a punk attitude to 80s film a decade after the upstart Indie outsiders had become Hollywood insiders (Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola).

Soderbergh is a name you'll see frequently in Peter Biskind's fantastic sequel to Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, his Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film which features on the 80s and 90s rise and fall of the Indies.
According to the Hollywood trade publication Tracking Board, Soderbergh shot his latest film, titled Unsane and starring The Crown's Claire Foy and Juno Temple, in secret with an iPhone. Little else is known about the film except that Soderbergh plans to self-distribute it domestically through his Fingerprint Releasing banner, which the director founded in order to test out distribution models for his most recent film, Logan Lucky. Before that, Soderbergh pushed boundaries by shooting Starz' The Girlfriend Experience on high-definition video with mostly non-actors. Since kicking off his career with 1989's seminal indie film sex, lies, and videotape, Soderbergh has consistently been at the vanguard of risk-taking in low-budget filmmaking.  
Recently, Soderbergh encouraged aspiring filmmakers to "get a script and start shooting on an iPhone" in a Reddit AMA. We're glad to see he took his own advice. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

BUDGET Cost of IP rights and screenplay

I'll add to this in time; first up a $5m novel rights example with Scorsese and DiCaprio attached - screenplay adaptation could cost the same again depending on how many writers are contracted to draft it:
Rights to Flower Moon – as it’s known to industry insiders – were snapped up by Imperative last year for a reported $5 million, and a script has reportedly been drafted by veteran Oscar-winning scribe Eric Roth of Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button fame.