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

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

Sunday, June 03, 2018

MICROBUDGET DISTRIBUTION solo site takes no rights

NoBudge: a one-man passion project

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

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:

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

INDIES/WT Darkest Hour and mid-budget squeeze

Arthouse films battle squeeze from Netflix and blockbusters

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

Friday, December 01, 2017

WHITEWASHING Mulan may mark turning point

Liu Yifei gets starring role in Mulan, as tide turns against 'whitewashing'

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?

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

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

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

Another megamerger is cleared in June 2018 and boosts the hopes of NBCU owner to trump Disney's bid for Fox...
AT&T $85.4bn takeover of Time Warner approved by judge in blow to Trump

The story continues! Comcast are launching a new bid, all cash as Murdoch rejected it on the basis of complications with shares (and possible monopoly issues). Disney's inexorable rise not confirmed yet... Comcast prepares to top Disney’s $52bn bid for 21st Century Fox

Further update - the Comcast (NBCU owner, with Universal having a 9% share of the US market v a combined Fox/Disney 45% on latest figures) counterbid had been rejected by Lachlan Murdoch, but I'd suspect shareholders are likely to demand Disney improves it's bid, and try to spark a bidding war. The Murdochs can see a chance for continuing power through the 'merger' as they would become the single biggest Disney shareholders, so it could be quite a battle.
And Comcast is proceeding with its counterbid for Sky, which Murdoch(s!) has already bid for (the remaining 61% of shares).
Comcast are offering CASH NOT SHARES, so the Murdochs would be incredibly wealthy but stripped of most of their media empire...

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

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

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 worlds biggest media company as APPLE launches rival

2018 update: Netflix puts content above costs but is the policy sustainable?

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

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

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

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.