Tuesday, December 04, 2018



Friday, November 30, 2018

GENRE EGX Grimsby (Working Title, 2016)

This is NOT a social realist film! We are, however, using this comedy (spy/action satire) to help us clarify the characteristics of social realist films: we'll contrast the media language of this with what we've observed is conventional for the social realist genre...

PRODUCTION: Working Title, Big Talk, Village Roadshow [US partner] +2 
DISTRIBUTION: Sony (US), Colombia (UK); [no China] 36 territories
BUDGET: $35m
BOX OFFICE: UK $7.5m, US $7m; World $25m

SOME CONTEXT: An example of the impact of the changed, reduced status of WT within its parent big six conglomerate, NBC-Universal. WT had been receiving $600m funding every 7 years, with clearance to greenlight any project up to a $25m budget - but that has been reduced to a 'first look' deal, meaning Universal can decide whether they want to 'pick up' a WT project or not. In this case they didn't, Sony (and its subsidiary Colombia) did ... and maybe Universal were wise, as it failed to even recoup its budget, never mind the 2-3 times budget generally accepted as needed to move into profit.

The Gant rule obviously doesn't apply: its a very British film - so much so that the title had to be changed for US and international markets as the place name Grimsby has no recognition and is essentially meaningless and confusing outside the UK (unlike London). 

Idents: Sony - sooooo unlikely to see a big 6 name on a social realist flick!!
Village Roadshow - US production partner, again essentially unheard of for a UK social realist film (unlike comedy)!!
No ident for WT!
Non-diegetic, well known commercial track (R Kelly) as an audio bridge over 2 idents + opening shots. The OST features Ed Sheeran!!!! Its unusual to have any lyrical music in SR films, incidental music is more typical (eg Tyrannosaur, but TisEng does feature some). 
Black screen before shot (after ident 4); no fade in. Unusual choice of (M)CU, no ES. Cuts to another (M)CU showing co-protagonist's huge England football back tatoo, sweat, and England football top + beer can visible. 

The tightly framed shots for the opening sex scene are made comic by use of a master shot revealing the location, a bed showroom. Poverty signified through the large signs highlighting the sale, lowest prices in Grimsby, and actual (real life rock bottom) prices: just $$89.99 for a double bed.

The stereotyping starts immediately: the overgrown hair, huge sideburns, ridiculous tattoo, football top, beer can ... and then the reveal of moronic, antisocial behaviour (the realism of SR can lead to showing antisocial behaviour: the violent lead in TYR, even Shaun in the newsagents). 

Its a very short opening scene - contrasts with TisEng, TYR etc. Just 30 secs then into titles sequence - soundtracked by a huge hit from Blur! 

Shot 1 of titles sequence IS typical for SR tho! A grim looking terraced street, heavily graffitied, many boarded up; shot even worse, litter, broken chainlink barrier, metal sheets boarding up every house. A pernicious stereotype - think of how TisEng features SOME grim mise-en-scene (the subway; the terraced street the film title is over) but counterpoints this with smart detail like Shaun's bike left unchained + safe in his garden with its low wall (no litter or overgrown messes there either). There is graffiti, though this is used for verisimilitude and political points from Meadows: Maggie is a Twat; Screwdriver [referring to an 'oi' skinhead, neo-Nazi band, Skrewdriver]

BFI REPRESENTATION Villains scarred for strife

BFI to refuse funding for films with facially-scarred villains https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/nov/29/bfi-to-refuse-funding-for-films-with-facially-scarred-villains?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, November 17, 2018

NETFLIX Working Title dumped by Coens

Great quote on the biz not supporting mid-budget, non-franchise productions like theirs. Most of their prior movies have been produced by Working Title - mid-budget is very much their niche, though arthouse (as Coens flicks would be termed despite their level of mainstream success) is less associated with WT!


Friday, November 16, 2018

DISTRIBUTION INDIE FINANCING Apple signs up Indie producer

The deal they've inked is for film productions from A24, a company with separate deals with Amazon and DirecTV.

This is part of Apple's long expected gearing up for an Amazon rivalling subscription service, rumoured to include film, music, TV, magazines, possibly more.

It shows the increased possibilities for Indies beyond theatrical distribution, with Amazon Prime likewise an important outlet for many low budget productions.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

CINEMA Netflix force 4 walling exclusive for theatrical release


Monday, November 05, 2018

AUDIENCE Twilight of the forgotten gender

“The part that shocked Hollywood was that the film’s stunning success was fuelled by ‘girl power,’” says Melissa Silverstein of Women and Hollywood. “The general consensus in Hollywood is that films and books made for men and boys are seen as ‘universal’, and things that are made for women and girls are somehow seen as ‘other.’ Women are seen as a ‘niche’ audience. This ‘nichification’ of women has been one of the most enduring problems facing the much-maligned chick flick.”

The sensation of Twilight in 2008 caused Hollywood studios to perk up and pay attention to a new ticket-buying demographic – young women (and, let’s be honest, their vampire-struck mums). For years, the superhero and adventure franchises had faithfully served the 12- to 25-year-old male audience, without taking the economic power of the handbag into account.

Ten years of Twilight: the extraordinary feminist legacy of the panned vampire saga https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/nov/02/ten-years-of-twilight-the-extraordinary-feminist-legacy-of-the-panned-vampire-saga?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Monday, October 22, 2018

NETFLIX MARKETING black art of thumbnails


Monday, September 24, 2018

FRANCHISE FATIGUE as Han Solo makes loss

The empire strikes whack
The franchise model remains king - just look at the top 10 box office on a typical week, or the annual top 10s, and you'll see this domination (existing audience + brand recognition makes them easier to market, and for CGI epics costs can be spread over multiple movies - especially when planned out like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar sequels or Star Wars movies).

Great new alliterative term to be aware of though - franchise fatigue.
The legendary, nostalgia-fuelled status of the Star Wars franchise is clearly sinking under the weight of annual releases, with the poorly received Han Solo spin-off not quite a franchise killer but the 1st in the series to make a loss!

Just like the star system (Richard Dyer) that Star Wars itself is undermining, nothing is set in stone in the film industry - which is why we talk of conventions not rules!

See 'Too much, too fast': Disney to scale back production of Star Wars movies (Film Guardian - which you can read regularly via the free Guardian app; you will learn a lot more than we can cover in lessons by doing so!)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Amazon Netflix IMAX releases?

They may still buy or launch their own cinemas to showcase and monetise their original output, but discussions on IMAX screenings seem closer...

Once again, we see convergence - in this case between traditional media (cinemas, though IMAX and IMAX 3D are more recent as a relatively mass market feature) and the digital streaming upstarts. The traditional film industry, especially the distributors and exhibitors who are usually cut out by online-only distribution, have been openly hostile, with annual rows at the Cannes Film Festival the most high profile example of this (there have been protests over allowing Netflix films to screen - quickly blocked by rules which require a long gap between cinema and online release).

Here's a snippet from the article:
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gelfond, who has led IMAX for the past decade, was a speaker at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference earlier this week – the same conference where the new owner of HBO called Netflix the Walmart of streaming services. Gelfond, however, had nothing bad to say about Netflix or any other company. 
Instead, he said that his company is “in active discussions with all of the streaming [services] about an IMAX release”, so we may be looking at more than just a Netflix IMAX partnership, but a team-up between the large-screen exhibitor and every streaming service out there – assuming these talks lead to deals. Gelfond called out the fact that many of the streaming services’ original films are lacking an “opening day,” and implied that IMAX was the best way to cut through the clutter of the entertainment marketplace, saying “the number one way to event-size the size [of a movie] is in IMAX.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

BIFS 2018 Indie film fest

You have a great example of an Indie festival on your doorstep. Co-sponsored by the British and Irish embassies, but featuring many films which are co-productions with various EU nations (including Luxembourg, eg Eaten By Lions), the festival also gives you an opportunity to hear from ... and directly speak to a range of film directors (and actors, producers...).
That's quite a line-up!!! See the site for screening dates
Here's the list with Wiki link, or other as available + a trailer playlist
NB: some of these contain swearing. Any BBFC age rating is listed, but many are pre-release (use trailers and descriptions as a guide). Do bear in mind that UK ratings are routinely much higher then in BeNeLux. Synopses from BIFS.

Any guest speaker/s in red.

Black 47 (IE / LU / US) [officialLance Daly (director) BBFC: 15 Fri 21st 830 Cinematheque
Genre : Drama - Duration: 96 mins
Synopsis : Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite experiencing the horrors of war, he is shocked by the famine's destruction of his homeland and the brutalization of his people and his family.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

EU to enforce quotas on Netflix, Amazon


Thursday, August 16, 2018

CINEMA 3 screen gimmick as 3D fades


Sunday, July 15, 2018

FANMADE HALLOWEEN remake UGC gets serious

This is just a perfect story - as students you'll toil over 2mins of material for a clear beneficial purpose. The guys (? haven't gender checked) behind a short which remakes bits of the original Carpenter slasher archetype would expect less benefit than a student - and almost certainly incurred greater expense.

Check out their story (and maybe cogitate on the weird Gus Van Sant Psycho shot-by-shot remake...)


Friday, June 22, 2018

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 you can also get a monthly pass from the monopoly chain.

MoviePass are selling this as working with the industry to help push passholders to their quieter midweek slots: charging a $2 premium for some new releases, though often specifically for weekend screenings; they're also adding 3D/IMAX to their offering.
MacRumors reported:
Surge pricing is a dynamic, time-based strategy that apps like Uber use when a large amount of customers are requesting rides in the app but there aren't enough drivers to taxi them around. 
Now this will extend to MoviePass, so on opening weekends or at particularly busy late-night showings of popular movies, monthly subscribers should expect to pay a bit more above their locked-in $9.95/month subscription price. 
For IMAX and 3D movies, users will be given the option to pay an added fee for the premium screenings, ranging from $2-$6 according to Lowe.
The MoviePass news comes after AMC just yesterday revealed its own movie subscription service, which will let customers watch three movies per week for $19.95 a month -- including IMAX and RealD 3D showings. 

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:

Sunday, June 17, 2018

FANDOM UGC Warners go Harry potty over fan fests

I'm struggling to see the logic behind this, there's no obvious loss of revenue and no apparent request for a licensing fee, just a blanket cease and desist legal order to fan fests that are huge promos for the Potter franchise.

Harry rotters: Warner Bros cracks down on Potter fan festivals in US https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/16/harry-potter-warner-bros-wizard-fan-festivals?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Sunday, June 03, 2018

MICROBUDGET DISTRIBUTION solo site takes no rights

NoBudge: a one-man passion project https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jun/03/kentucker-audley-nobudge-film-streaming-micro-budget?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Friday, May 25, 2018

WT About time for Richard Curtis Danny Boyle comedy

What a waste of a decent director...
It's been confirmed today that Danny Boyle is directing the next Bond, to be distributed outside the US (MGM) by Universal (a change from Sony), but it's thought he'll wrap the Curtis-penned comedy first.

As High Grant has declared he'll never consider another rom-com role, wanting only serious parts, it won't be a new entry in the $billion Grant/Curtis partnership (and surely the involvement of those 2 would have seen BJBaby do much better). Still not seeing any detail on this, but Boyle and Curtis are already prime marketing factors before cast or any possible IP are considered.


James Bond: Danny Boyle and Daniel Craig confirmed for 007's 25th outing


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

WT Baby Driver American movie British production

I'd done a couple of short posts on Baby Driver, and I'll try to keep this reasonably short too as an overview of useful points. As a very recent WT movie, and one that's essentially American, its a useful example. Lets start with the usual basics:

DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright [see his BoMojo record]
BUDGET: $34m
BOX OFFICE: UK $17m, US $108m, China $17m, World $227m [BoM]

DISTRIBUTION: Sony, UIP 72 countries Sony in most markets, UIP in some, also WBros in Turkey + some local distributors like ItaFilm in Italy

AGE RATINGS: BBFC 15, MPAA R, France 'Tous publics with warning'.


Friday, April 06, 2018

HISTORY Which is cinema's great decade?

My early childhood was spent in the era of spectrum scarcity; in the UK the broadcast signal could only fit 3 TV channels until 1984 when C4 came along, with its legal duty to provide alternative content to BBC1, BBC2, and ITV.

As a result, my generation grew up with exposure to cinema spanning the form's history - from 1910s Laurel and Hardy to 1950s Akira Kurosawa, all in B+W of course. Video rental stores started springing up around the same time as C4 launched, and the swift decline of TV as a source of film education kicked in. Satellite and cable would bring multi-channel TV, often of dire tabloidised quality, such as Topless Darts On Ice and the News Bunny, both on L!ve TV, launched by the Mirror tabloid newspaper group. There's a great book on that...

It also brought Sky Movies and the focus on the current, modern hits.

Chances are you have had limited exposure to movies outwith a fairly narrow time frame, excepting a few ongoing blockbuster franchises like Star Wars.

So this Guardian series, in which different writers argue for a decade as being THE best in cinema, is a rather handy way of finding a few gems to look up on Netflix or equivalent on some quiet evening...

From Seven to The Matrix – why the 1990s is my favourite film decade https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/apr/06/my-favourite-film-decade-1990s-seven-being-john-malkovich?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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

(tbc) Peggy + Wright will combine again, B Driver sequel: https://www.slashfilm.com/edgar-wright-and-simon-pegg/

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