Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NBC-U owner Comcast to buy ITV?

They've issued a blunt denial today, but if a rival, say Viacom, bids for ITV (as seems rather likely) then I'd be surprised if the home of Downton Abbey didn't get snapped up by a US giant.

UK media ownership laws are much looser than the USA's (where Murdoch had to become a US citizen before he could further expand his US media empire).

Keep an eye on the economics and business sections of papers for this one...

ITV shares fall as investors cool on bid after Comcast denies holding talks

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Paramount's toy story is a GI Joke

If ever there was a flicker of doubt about Hollywood's aversion to originality and determination to tap into existing IP, then this announcement surely pours a bucket of water (or cinema syrup-hydrated carbonated artery miller) over this.

There will be another Transformers! Yay, and alert the Oscar committee now!

There will be a THIRD GI Joe (seriously, there's been TWO?!).

And now there will be more brain-rot productions seeking to cash in Hasbro toys brand recognition and taking up the notion of the Marvel universe (a tremendously intricate, complex and highly converged narrative world, regardless of your view of the quality of TV or film instalments).

Hurrah for Hasbro!

Paramount and Hasbro uniting GI Joe and other toys in new movie universe

The sound of family audience music to TV ears

So, UK TV channel ITV is to live broadcast The Sound of Music ... following in the footsteps of NBC in the US. The UK version takes the edgier setting of the Nazi backdrop, US network TV not exactly being known for its risk taking!

Why post this on a cinema blog?


We have the Universal link with NBC.

I've recently sat and listened to Warp's Barry Ryan flag up Warp Films' relative focus on TV.

More evidence of franchising and the reliance on pre-existing IP with likely built in audiences, or at least easier marketing challenges.

We're also seeing a surge of live cinema, led by opera and theatre, but also event cinema using back-catalogue movies.

As ITV prepares for The Sound of Music Live, are we watching TV's future?

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The 'UK' box office: FOUR national audiences?

I'll add a Mickybo and Me trailer/link when at a computer, but spotted this gem in the ALWAYS useful Guardian box office column...

The headline story was the flop of the needless Frankenstein retelling, a good sign that a 'built-in' audience isn't guaranteed by widely known source material (a Fox off message for the Murdoch empire distributor).

Much further down, however, came this ... and I'm mindful of the stereotyped nonsense we get in such fare as Working Title's Wild Child (Scottish matron... the joke is...her voice... It's funny see if you don't talk with a southern English accent) as an explanation for the following:

Sunset Song lights up Scotland

Landing outside the top 10 with £114,000 from 80 cinemas, including £28,000 in previews, Terence Davies’ period romance Sunset Song is hardly a box office powerhouse. In Scotland, however, where it did 69% of its business – and especially at independent cinemas in cities such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Dundee – it’s a different story. Distributor Metrodome is billing Sunset Song as Davies’ biggest opening, because the previews push the tally past his previous best, The Deep Blue Sea (£109,000) in 2011.

This is one of the reasons I tend to put quote marks round 'British' cinema.

Victor Frankenstein dead on arrival at UK box office

CHINA's monstrous box office mythical, actually

This post is a simulacrum of itself - Google, why can't you sort out the damned Android app??? TWICE I've written (tapped ) this and twice its disappeared by switching apps or trying to navigate in the blogger app*. Not good.

Anyway... I've mentioned before the issues around the fantastical claims of China's explosive box office growth. Taking their cue from the Hollywood hegemons, who make 'biggest ever' standard marketing fare, we've seen the same approach to box office figures as to the Chinese stock market: only good, upbeat news is allowed. Make that was.

A recent US-China trade deal means that China now has an increased legal duty to ensure box office figures are accurate, and clamp down on piracy. The Chinese government finally permitted the huge 'correction' (econospeak for massive fall) in the value of the Chinese stock market recently, and with the state media reporting on suspicions that the home-grown CGI-fest Monster was exaggerating the box office returns, we're seeing the start of a similar process.

India will undoubtedly become a hype story soon enough, with equal issues over its figures, given how 'cinema' runs in the still huge rural market; listen to Chuck D and don't believe the hyp when that becomes the next meme.

The Western markets have inspired this behaviour - cinema crowds do operate on a herd/heard (word-of-mouth ...) basis, and we flock to a hit. As a recent, typically insightful Guardian box office column pointed out, the studios have been engaged in unattributed flame wars seeking to brand each other's tentpole releases as flops through social media, hoping to convince people to avoid them.

China takes box office manipulation to the twilight zone - as this article reports, the figures for Monster were inflated not just by benefitting from the period when US films are blocked each year, but also 40m 'public welfare' tickets given out to families. This often results in empty cinemas screening in the early hours, a phantom operation indeed (just how many horror intertextualities can I squeeze in from dusk 'til dawn...).

I guess the moral of the story is, don't get too wrapped up in box office this yuletide...

*The blogger app is handy but its way too easy to lose something you've worked on - don't try to switch windows to ... ironically, given the ownership ... Google something for example! A longer, wittier version of this post had appeared on the wrong blog, was shown as an earlier link-only post when I tried to navigate back to the right blog to re-post it ... and deleted entirely along the way. VERY annoying. Brings to mind Battlestar Galactica's haunting version of All Along the Watchtower: "all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again" [and thats the second time I've typed/tapped that ... this time on a Macbook now on 4% battery!]

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Mock exam

As promised, here's the details for your AS mock exam, taking the form of a controlled test.

The timings and style of this combines elements from both exam questions (1: semiotic analysis of media language + representations in a TV drama clip, 2: British Cinema essay, centred on Warp/WT comparative case studies).

This is available as a Slideshare document, but also below the line as plain text.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

UGC #IvorIsComing to Shaun of the Dead

'The text' extends far beyond the 'product' officially released...
[Hoping to finally find some time in a few weeks to work through months of mainly smartphone-sourced posts and properly format/illustrate these ... and here's another for that growing catalogue...]

Great example of the UGC concept which provides a rather funny demonstration of why Gauntlett, Gillmor and more are right to write of "the former audience" in the web 2.0 era (OK, so the shift to social media online dominance gives some sway to the web 3.0 label, but that's yet to gain the same currency).

Scroll to the bottom of the Unilad article linked below [NB: comments, fairly typically, contain strong language, and the article itself contains some - I've linked a Love, Actually alternative at the bottom] and you'll see a doctored SotDead still, one of many filmic responses to the viral mocking of an Irish hipster. I'll share a screenshot in due course.

Working Title, never mind their conglomerate parent NBCU or SotD's distributor, have no control over this - though surely smarter film firms will be keen to share, encourage and maybe even (albeit with risks of backlash) create such UGC?

There's convergence here too: a website accessed through a social media platform reporting on and sharing Twitter and Instagram trending content which features many film references, and which I, like most, accessed and viewed on my smartphone before further sharing on Blogger!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CONVERGENCE, DISTRIBUTION Scissorhands Weinstein cuts film, signals TV boost

Rather buried at the end of this article, on Harvey 'Scissorhands' Weinstein backing Tarantino for his outspoken attack on US police murders (prompting a police boycott of his $62m, 3hr+ latest, The Hateful Eight, which has a 12min interval - risky!!!), comes a shift from the Miramax cofounder.

Film output will shrink by 50% to about 10 films a year while The Weinstein Company will refocus on TV. We've recently heard the same, first hand, from Warp's Barry Ryan in a York ASFF masterclass lecture, and we can see WT's TV output growing fast too ... not to mention the supreme franchising back and forth across cinema and TV with the 'Marvel universe'.

If anyone doubted convergence was real, here's your proof.

What a shame then that some grossly ignorant civil servant, a legacy of Michael Gove's time as UK Education Secretary, thinks it makes sense to excise film from Media Studies. That consultation, on the contents of the reformed Media A-level, continues, but this is one of the headline proposals, along with a prescribed list of theorists which will be out of date the minute its published.

Harvey Weinstein says he respects Quentin Tarantino's police brutality remarks

Sunday, November 22, 2015

EXHIBITION Vue, Odeon, Cineworld leave CofE without a prayer

However you view the rights and wrongs of banning religious ads (how would you judge what's acceptable? Scientology? Jedism?), what this exposes is the monopolization of British cinema screens by just these chains. Together they account for 80% of UK cinema attendance.

Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord's Prayer

Sunday, November 15, 2015

TENTPOLE Disney shows fewer releases the Universal strategy

Just check the numbers; Disney and Universal releasing fewer films than big 6 rivals but bringing in more revenue, while the highest grossing films are mainly franchise flicks exploiting existing brands. Zero big breakthrough Indie releases - Hollywood hegemony, for all the hype of the disruptive, democratising power of digitisation, the status quo is entrenching.

Sequels and franchises make 2015 the year of the mega-movie

SOCIAL MEDIA PR Zombieland star left Reddit-faced as users detect fakery

Woody Harrelson, the bartender from Cheers, psycho from Natural Born Killers, or guy from Zombieland and True Detectives depending on age/taste (they're ALL great!), showed that social media cannot be seen as a simple means of cheap self-publicising with a truly epic fail...

He arranged an AMA session on Reddit, short for Ask Me Anything, when he clearly had no idea of what this entailed.

He tried to base every answer around his latest film, looking equally cynical and ridiculous in the process, and clearly didn't know that AMA is far removed from the traditional media PR work, based on days of interviews in hotels and chat show appearances.

The first question, using a very specific example (so, a note of caution with the article linked below), accused him of exploiting his fame with female fans ... His responses would have done the Cheers barman (Woody!) proud such was their moronic tone.

When writing on the apparent wonders of web 2.0/social media I frequently caution that the supposed levelling of the playing field for Indies is largely illusory, but this is a potent example of the studios misjudging the democratic nature of some social media platforms!

OWNERSHIP Red Ken on why press barons find Jez taxing

Meant for Media Reg blog, will move when on computer, not phone...

Long before the beyond-satire labeling of right-winger Ed Milliband as Red Ed by a hysterically hostile right-wing red top press we had Red Ken, the idea being that linkage with Soviet Russia would ensure their readers' hostility towards him and his ideas.

Standard stuff of course that Gramsci would have recognised as combatting counter-hegemonic views, seeking to squash any democratic representation for views that would undermine the wealthy elites.

Chomsky likewise predicted this through his propaganda model, with anti-communism (essentially opposing any left-wing views in post-Cold War terms) one of his five filters, along with concentration of ownership.

Well, now the original 'Loony Left' figurehead (a highly effective alliterative assault that continues to echo, as anything or anyone leftist can be casually dubbed loony) has spoken up on the shock and awe bombardment of flak (another Chomskian filter) that Corbyn faces.

Presumably a fresh alliterative association,  Commie Corbyn, has not been applied because the successful re-writing and re-wiring of reality from Murdoch's Thatcherism love-in has made Communism a scarcely recognisable concept. I'd look out for Comrade Corbyn nonetheless as a flak tool if he threatens to survive to the 2020 general election.

Back to Red Ken, kicked out by Labour for his errant leftie ways and re-admitted when it was clear he'd dominate the London mayoral race.

He makes the blunt assertion that the main right-wing titles are so assiduous in their vitriolic assault on Corbyn (what angle did he bow at...) because he threatens to bring in much tighter tax policies that will heavily impact the variously non-dom or non-British billionaire press barons. Their personal/corporate interests are threatened by any Corbyn surge.

Just what Curran and Seaton observed was the case during the 19th century stamp duty reforms and eventual abolition ... the great founding myth (as these Marxist academics see it) of the free, liberal press.

Press barons will do anything to halt Jeremy Corbyn, says Ken Livingstone

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WOMEN, DISTRIBUTION Female led film needed male star for funding

There have been a slew of stories over the past year about the unequal status of women in the film industry. I've highlighted and commented on a few, but really that's just spotlighting the tip of the iceberg.

This latest account of ingrained sexism highlights how deeply ingrained the attitudes and desires of distributors are. Seeking financing for a film, a female star finds blanket rejection until a male star is added to the package.

There we can see the primacy of the star as the continuing primary initial concern of a distributor (paying upfront, in advance of production, is often the funding device for Indies), with this added gender twist. Barring a few exceptions, race is likely to remain a factor too.

Will this change? The impact of the websites, social media and high profile media interventions by a growing number of stars, and that of the Sony hack revelations, are creating pressure for a fairer system - and in a numbers business it certainly won't pay to alienate half of your audience.

I wouldn't like to put a timescale on that though - and think it will take an organised boycott of a tentpole to make serious leeway, something that is hard to conceive of in 2015. The Hunger Games could have been that film - its a disgrace that the female star who drives the entire marketing effort is somehow not given the financially superior package to male co-stars, supporting players all in what has become a Jennifer Lawrence vehicle.

In recent months, a number of Hollywood actors have come forward to speak out about misogyny in the entertainment industry. Jennifer Lawrence recently publicly attacked the gender pay gap in the industry in an essay that went viral. And over the weekend, Sharon Stone recalled weeping over unequal salaries more than 20 years ago, following the release of Basic Instinct.On Sunday in Los Angeles, during a panel discussion dedicated to independent film at AFI festival, actor Olivia Wilde joined the chorus, recounting the hurdles she went through to get a female-led production financed independently.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

GLOBALISATION Fox coup Theme Park of Aliens, Apes

Seems a theme park is now the must-have big six accessory ... indeed, Lions gate also joining this party can be seen as a strong argument for accepting the revised big seven label.

Yes, Eurodisney, Disneyland, the Universal theme park and the rest are to be joined by a Fox venture in Dubai, a clear expression of the global reach and hegemony of the Hollywood, American Giants.

I look forward to the Warp Theme Park, with its killer boat rides (Donkey Punch), domestic abuse deli (Tyrannosaur), explosive jihadi jinks (Four Lions), rap karaoke (Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee), Union Jack dumping game (This is England), Belfast maze ('71), and, as every blockbuster today has to reflect China's importance as a market with a token character or setting, an illegal immigrant merrygoround (She, A Chinese).

For a somewhat cruder comparison, you can also read this colourful column (not suitable for younger readers): A Hunger Games theme park? Why not The Human Centipede, too?

Titanic ride set for launch as Fox clinch Dubai deal

Lionsgate's plans, using Hunger Games, Divergent, Now You See Me, Twilight and more, including a China-based attraction and possibly further licenced attractions elsewhere, are detailed here: Hunger Games ride brings District 12 to Dubai theme park

NBC-Universal have made use of theme parks as a marketing tool in the past for new releases, notably Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UK EXHIBITION Spectre widest release ever in 647 cinemas

This is quite something... Outdoing even Avatar, which set the bar worldwide for wide releasing, the latest Bond franchise flick, Spectre (apparently a $300m budget - the tentpole level keeps rising), has hit an incredible 647 cinemas in its debut week in UK cinemas. Many of those will be running multiple prints (or digital copies), meaning Spectre is sucking up a near majority of UK screen space.

I wonder if the hugely hyped Star Wars movie will surpass even this high watermark? Perhaps not in the UK, where Skyfall was the first and only £100m movie.

Here's a key quote from the latest box office analysis:

 Spectre is playing this week in 647 cinemas – the widest ever release for a film in the UK and Ireland. Of course, the screen count will be far, far higher than that, with multiplexes offering audiences an enormous choice of start times (43 shows per day at a Vue in Birmingham, for example) by programming the film in multiple screens.

Hotel Transylvania 2 keeps its fangs in UK box office – but Spectre is looming

Relatively weak reviews have lead to doubts that it can match Skyfall's US performance, though the global outlook may be rosier:
Spectre tipped to fall short of Skyfall on debut at US box office

Bond is best of British – and Spectre still has a view to a killing overseas
This article notes that Spectre is up on Skyfall's openings in all but one of its initial European release territories, and that whilst the UK, Germany and France have been the top 3 Bond markets after the US, the Mexico set-piece is revealing, reflecting a determined assault on developing markets (leading to the confident conclusion that it will beat $1.1bn).

The scale of the Spectre release is indicated by the fact that the further 45 countries its released in next week still don't represent the end of its global rollout.

It's little wonder a fierce battle is likely to break out for distribution rights to the franchise as Sony's deal with production studio MGM (and British partner Eon) ends.

Rival studios 'eye James Bond distribution rights' as Sony's deal expires

The standout figure from this article is that Sony made only $57m from the $1.1bn smash Skyfall, and will make only $38m if Spectre repeats that spectacular box office.

Skyfall benefitted from the global boost of a tie-in with the 2012 London Olympics  opening ceremony, roping in the Queen as a star for a glitzy Games/Skyfall ad that racked up huge online viewing figures as well as the global live audience. A good example of Baudrillard's simulacrum concept, with the fictional Bond used as a core signifier of Britishness in the British Olympics.

2015 saw a rather more sinister simulacrum, with Spectre's release coinciding with spectacularly fawning, olageanous exclusives in the Murdoch Times and 'neutral' BBC with MI5 as MPs and the wider media debated the jaw-dropping demands of the police and security forces, through the fiercely pliant Home Secretary, for legal powers to hack every UK citizen's entire digital existence. Orwell would conceivably have rejected this as unrealistic, unconvincing fiction, but such is the reality beyond the distraction factory.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DISTRIBUTION $80m Le Petit Prince shows Hollywood's lock on distribution

Great example of why any student (or anyone interested in) studying film should routinely read box office analysis columns like these.

We get a very clear example and blunt analysis of why European productions struggle without the global clout of a single big six distributor, having to restart the marketing effort, an expensive and impractical proposition, on a territory by territory basis as the limited number of prints slowly tour around.

Ghastly start for Crimson Peak leaves old-style horror in the red

Saturday, October 17, 2015

RELEASE WINDOW is Paramount as Paranormal Activity boycotted

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension scares off cinema owners

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Netflix Beasts challenge release window, cinema release as marketing

Netflix had to work with an Indie distributor after the major chains all boycotted their new feature, Idris Elba-starring Oscar hopeful Beasts of no Nation. Netflix are ignoring the standard 90 day window between cinema and TV release, yet more evidence of the disruption digitised upstarts like the streaming giant are bringing.

By the way, to be clear, disruption is the term economists use to describe the changes and challenges digitisation brings to any given industry's business practices.

The major American distributors wouldn't touch the film as to do so would damage their relationship with cinema chains (often the same company with the extent of vertical integration!).

As well as using the small scale US release to qualify for Oscar consideration (shades of Mirimax?!), the UK release is effectively a branding campaign - a cinema release brings a level of gravitas or status that streaming alone does not.

Think about Warp for an interesting point of comparison - '71 was highly reliant on broadsheet newspaper reviews while Le Donk... had a cinema trailer and release date ... but no theatrical release, a smart ploy to generate newspaper reviews!

Netflix drama Beasts of No Nation to hit UK cinemas before reaching subscribers

Friday, September 25, 2015

WORKING TITLE v WARP Getting started

Underpinning this blog is a comparison between two companies that, to some extent, exemplify different positions within and approaches to the film industry: the 'powerhouse' WT, a subsidiary of NBC-U with one eye always on the international market, and Indie Warp, with a clearer focus on domestic (UK) box office. WT is seen as compromising the Britishness and artistic quality of its output in order to maximise box office potential, though its recent slate may challenge that perception. Multiple award-winning Warp is seen as producing auteur films with a strong British identity (very widely defined: She, A Chinese...) generally with limited mainstream appeal - or, at least, opportunity to win major distribution and marketing backing/spending.

In time you might well view, or critically re-watch, several of their films, but we can make a start without that...

Investigate each of the following to gain an initial insight into the two companies. Sum up your findings for each:

  1. The history of Working Title (put very briefly; the Wiki is ok in this case): its first movie, new offices, ownership changes, major breakthrough films, its subsidiaries, major talent relationships (directors, actors)

Warp Films + Working Title trailers playlist compilation

I've assembled a comprehensive YouTube playlist of Warp Films' trailers, and started one on Working Title films too (I'll also add some other useful features from time to time):

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WORKING TITLE new strategy with top two in UK box office

As I've frequently said, you can learn a lot by following box office analyses such as The Guardian's regular series.

The headline story today* is the incredible achievement of Working Title in having the top two films in the UK this week - US studios may easily manage marketing multiple movies at a time, but its rare to see this from a British company (albeit a studio subsidiary).

The benefits of their vertically integrated relationship with NBC-U are apparent, with distribution either directly through Universal or another of its subsidiaries, StudioCanal - described here as an Indie, which it has long ceased to be.

*Charles Gant's weekly, must-read, column: Peak performance: Everest climbs to the top of UK box office. Below: quotes from this, followed by bullet points on what you can learn from this.

[EXCERPT1] UK production company Working Title occupies the top two slots in the chart, with Everest and Legend. There may have been some disquiet at the company over distributors Universal and StudioCanal dating the films for release just one week apart, but both are successfully coexisting in the market. Despite a diverse portfolio of titles, Working Title was for many years defined by its Richard Curtis-scripted comedy smashes, but the success of Everest and Legend – following on from The Theory of Everything in January and Rush in 2013 – should finally redefine perceptions.
  • its extremely unusual for a BRITISH company to have the top two box office films
  • each with a different distributor (though SC is owned by NBC-U)
  • WT's reputation has been based on rom-com hits, but a more serious, drama-centred approach is emerging (making it more like Warp, a point not made in the article). Here's a screenshot of their movies since 2012 - About Time is the only Richard Curtis rom-com:

[EXCERPT2] First place: Everest
Everest had been in development for more than a decade before cameras rolled in 2014 with Icelandic director Baltasar Korm├íkur at the helm; in 2004, Stephen Daldry had gone to Everest to film background shots. The true story of a notorious climbing disaster in May 1996 – the subject of Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air and other published accounts – the 12A-certificate film is targeted broadly, with significant presentation in 3D and Imax. A handy £658,000 in previews boosted the opening total to £3.16m. Comparisons are tricky, since climbing disaster films are rare. Fictional feature Vertical Limit (2001) kicked off with £1.9m, or about £3m when adjusted for ticket-price inflation. Cliffhanger (1993) began with £1.35m.
  • Everest is another in a recent line of WT serious dramas
  • its not a 'tentpole' but is taking the four quadrant approach, seeking male, female, young and older audiences - the 12A is key to this strategy
  • releasing on IMAX and 3D formats is also driving this four quadrant strategy - these push up production costs considerably, but are also key to the wider cinema industry's fightback against the rise of high quality home cinema
  • there have been comparable movies, but Everest is taking in much higher box office
[EXCERPT3] Everest is the eighth No 1 hit for Universal this year, following The Theory of Everything, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fast & Furious 7, Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World, Minions and Straight Outta Compton. Universal, together with Fox (six chart toppers) and Disney (five) have dominated the box office this year. Warners, Paramount and Sony have had four No 1s between them; indie StudioCanal scored last week with Legend.
  • after mixed fortunes in recent years, Universal is 2015's leading distributor (the dominance of American, specifically 'big six', vertically integrated distributors continues in the British market and globally)
  • StudioCanal is misleadingly labelled an Indie here: its a subsidiary of NBC-U, and you'll see it listed on many Warp and WT films (previously named Optimum Releasing)
Above + below: Screenshots from Amazon Prime's 'Hidden Gems' list: StudioCanal is seen as a distributor of alternative, not so mainstream films: 21/36 films on this list are distributed by SC. Several of these 'hidden gems' are Warp Films productions, a fair description as they tend to get very limited marketing and so pass under the radar. Until now, YOU probably haven't heard of most of their films! Note the typically high (for Warp) BBFC certs from this small sample: 18 (Tyr, Kill List) and 15 (Sub); a similar sample of WT films would more likely be 12/15.
[EXCERPT4] Second place: Legend
Despite pretty decent weather at the weekend, Legend fell by a relatively gentle 34% in its second frame, delivering a 12-day tally just short of £10m. Legend’s total is just ahead of Tom Hardy’s other big 2015 hit, Mad Max: Fury Road, at the same stage of its run, after two weekends of play. The success of Fury Road rested on an appetite for a high-profile franchise revival, whereas Hardy’s dual performance as Ronnie and Reggie Kray is Legend’s chief selling point.
Until a year ago, StudioCanal had scored only two £10m-plus hits – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and Rush. In the past 12 months, that tally has risen to six, with the release of The Imitation Game, Paddington, Shaun the Sheep Movie and now Legend, which crossed £10m on Monday. As for Hardy, his biggest hits have been in supporting roles in blockbusters such as The Dark Knight Rises and Inception. Fury Road was his first lead role to pass £10m in the UK, and Legend is his second, making 2015 a significant turning point for the actor. Legend will soon be nudging the top 20 18-certificate films of all time in the UK, a list led by Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl and The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • no matter how good the marketing campaign, factors such as weather can determine a film's fortunes. Also:
  • Distributors look carefully at what competition they might face in any given release window (not unlike TV schedulers)
  • most major movies make the highest amount of box office in the opening weekend and 1st week of release, with the take usually sharply falling from there; the marketing spend is focussed on that opening (there are exceptions: Warp's Four Lions had its number of prints doubled (from 115 to 230) after a surprisingly successful opening week)
  • typical WT production strategy: including an A-list star to help sell the movie in the US and the wider world; they don't rely on UK box office (Warp largely do)
  • StudioCanal typically distribute lower budget, often Indie (eg Warp) films, but since summer 2014 have had FIVE films grossing over £10m in the UK (a figure few films hit), having had only ONE before then (WT's TTSSpy in 2011)
  • 18-rated films rarely make as much as 12/15-rated films as 1 of the 4 quadrants (youth) are ruled out; Legend is a fairly rare example of a WT 18-rated film (most Warp are 15 or 18 by contrast) but will be at least one of the top 20 highest grossing 18s in UK history
[EXCERPT5] Top 10 films, 18-20 September
1. Everest, £3,160,154 from 567 sites (new)
2. Legend, £2,446,860 from 544 sites. Total: £9,972,511
  • a British production company having the top two is unheard of; US production dominates the UK market 
  • a UK hit will be on 300-550 screens; a US hit 3,000-5,000 screens


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This is England research task

In Media Studies we don't simply consider the final product; 'the' text is just part of what we consider. To fully appreciate how and why the media language of a film takes the form and direction it does, we need to be aware of wider, contextual factors - marketing and distribution, production company/ies profiles, director record, box office, editionalising (eg director's cut on DVD), etc.

This short task, followed by a series of screenshots you can save and blog on, will get you started on this investigative path.

I have frequently blogged on this film and the wider franchise; you can find more posts using the tag, though I'm still working my way through 100s of posts across multiple blogs retro-tagging (as I only started tagging relatively recently).

IMDB This is England entry.
BoxOfficeMojo This is England entry.


Sunday, September 06, 2015

FESTIVAL Aesthetica Warp masterclasses and more York November 2015

The ASFF has attracted important industry figures. ASFF tag.
One of the 2015 masterclasses is focussed on convergence

I've led trips twice to the ASFF, a film festival that screens short films + music videos in unusual venues around York, linked to the magazine Aesthetica (focussed on photography and other media arts), and its been a great experience for students - here's an account by one student.
Another 2015 masterclass

The masterclasses have been superb, and simply ideal - we've heard directly from the likes of Barry Ryan (senior producer at Warp Films), Danny Cohen (cinematographer on several Warp and Working Title movies, including Dead Man's Shoes and Les Miserables if memory serves me right?!), and Craig McNeil and James Harman (respectively, music video producer and director for the world's largest music Indie, Beggars Group and his long-term editor).
A topic I've blogged on a few times...

BELOW: Details, links, prices

Thursday, September 03, 2015


His book, which gives his first hand accounts of each of his low budget Indie productions, including cult classic Repo Man, is superb. This article is a rather shorter affair that very shrewdly reflects on the realities of crowd funding.

Amongst his list is the paramount need to interact with the audience: keep feeding them with digital goodies throughout the process - behind the scenes, blog diaries, teaser clips...

Alex Cox: seven things I learned about crowdfunding movies

DISTRIBUTION Netflix debut at Venice promotes simultaneous distribution

Netflix threatens, along with Amazon Prime, to disrupt the traditional distribution model of film, especially cinematic exhibition. Despite issues explored below, having just released its first feature film production, its already green lit two more - and they're confident (hubris?!) that their user data removes much of the traditional uncertainty, the high stakes gamble, around film...

is already backing two alternative satirical features: Brad Pitt’s forthcoming military parody War Machine and a mockumentary, Mascots, made by Christopher Guest, of Spinal Tap and Best in Show.

Netflix’s Sarandos recently told BBC Radio 4 that the great advantage of home streaming films is that it allows the menu of films to be tailored. “We use a lot of algorithms to put things in front of people that we know they are going to like. This brings a lot of efficiency to distribution.”

We've seen this in the UK with A Field in England released in cinema at the same time as its premiere on C4, the principle producers, but here's a useful term to note, tacked to a bang up to date example...

Here's a key paragraph from the article below, featuring quiffed critic Kermode's take on this phenomenon:

When it is commercially released in October,Beasts of No Nation will be immediately available to see not only in selected cinemas but also to subscribers to the Netflix home entertainment service – which now boasts more than 50 million international subscribers. “Simultaneous distribution”, as it is known, is a development that Mark Kermode, chief film critic for the Observer, has identified as the fast-approaching reality. “Traditional distribution models are beginning to unravel,” Kermode has said. “The future will allow audiences to choose when and where they see movies.”

There's another side to this seemingly inevitable march of digitisation and the convergence it brings: the traditional distributors and exhibitors (ie, cinema chains) are strongly opposed to the loss of the traditional cinema release window.

Disney was forced to back off plans to merely shorten the window with Alice in Wonderland, but Netflix has faced protests from French cinemas arguing its actively seeking to undermine the Francophone cinema culture.

Back in the States, the major cinema chains have refused to carry the film, worried that it, and the simultaneous distribution model it represents, presents a real threat. Here's more from the article:

As well as facing down an angry French lobby, Netflix has to contend with the response of the huge cinema chains in America – Cinemark, Regal and AMC – which are retaliating by not showing Beasts of No Nation. They have argued that video-on-demand releases violate their policies and intentionally undermine their fragile business model. Over the past decade, the time between the theatrical release of a film and its availability to see at home has been shrinking. While studios may welcome the fact they have to pay out only once on an advertising campaign, it is not good for the large multiplexes that rely on attracting crowds for as long as possible. In Britain, Odeon, Vue and Cineworld are holding out to retain a 17-week theatrical window in a battle of nerves. As it is, even big box-office receipts at an opening weekend are no guarantee that a film will make money. It depends on the financial cut between the studios and the distributors. Multiplexes make their money from soft drinks and popcorn.

Digital disruption is probably unstoppable, but it won't transform the cinema landscape without a fierce fight from powerful cinema chains in particular.

There's yet more to consider here, a point I've made many times...

Festivals remain a key element in the marketing of unusual studio films, which could get stuck in the relatively small arthouse circuit, and Indies.

Both Birdman and Gravity got a major boost through critical acclaim at Venice (Birdman) and an extravagant, widely reported launch at Venice (Gravity), which can raise otherwise no-hoper Indies to Oscar contender, a lucrative mantle and great for the brand of their distributors (the Weinsteins built Miramax through their legendarily ruthless and incisive Oscar campaigns). Here's a further quote:

Independent film-makers have little chance of competing unless they can make a fuss at a high-profile festival. Hayman cites the example of British director Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, which won rave reviews at the Telluride film festival in Colorado five months before its release and a subsequent blaze of awards. Such films are valuable to production studios because they often light the path to Oscar victory, something that is not going to happen with a comic-book franchise.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to quote box office guru Charles Gant, coiner of The Gant Rule. Noting that DreamWorks chief Katzenberg's recent speech, appraising the release window as getting in the way of audience or consumer choice - even if that ultimately makes cinema a niche experience - was difficult to argue with, he discussed 'collapsed windows':

“The cinema is the best place to see a film, but if that’s the case it ought to be able to compete with widescreen TVs and tablets and phones and every other platform. If its USP is actually its exclusive window to show films, I think that’s a bit sad for cinemas.”

Gant also points out that “collapsed windows”, which offer a legal way to see a film at home at the time of maximum excitement, when it has just been released, may be the only way to combat piracy. “People will no longer have the excuse that they couldn’t get a babysitter, so that’s why they watched the movie via pirated content.”

Netflix takes on Hollywood with its first film premiere at Venice festival

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

NBC-U Universal living the DreamWorks?

NBC-U - or perhaps more accurately corporate parent Comcast - looks set to pick up DreamWorks next summer.

It's distribution deal with Disney, which had been spectacularly successful overall although there have been tensions more recently, runs out in July 2016.

Universal are thought to be set to pick up Spielberg's mini-studio.

Without wanting to be like the Dundee Courier with its infamous Titanic headline, I can't help but wonder if this is going to push Working Title, already demoted to a first-look deal, even further down the pecking order?

Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks leaving Disney for Universal – reports

Monday, August 24, 2015

NBC-Universal updates: Guardian RSS feed added

This blog has a lot of gadgets and links lists ... and I've just added another (to appear under the 'Followers' gadget in the right margin for now): a constantly updated (that's what an RSS feed is/does) list of the latest 5 articles from the Guardian on NBC-Universal, majority stakeholder of Working Title alongside many other subsidiaries, notably StudioCanal (who are involved in the financing of most WT productions).
Many newspapers/magazines offer 'micro-sites', gathering stories on one topic

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NBC UNIVERSAL expands social media with BuzzFeed $200m deal

Working Title's conglomerate owner NBC-U has announced another new media deal, putting $200m into a tie-in with BuzzFeed

NBC-U are clearly comfortable with taking risky punts and developing new distribution outlets - just look at their rather ingenious Prima venture, seeking to extract considerable revenue from high-end home cinema.
NBC Universal said it was attracted to the opportunity to tap into BuzzFeed’s 200 million unique users and the 1.5bn video views they rack up each month.
“They reach a massive, loyal audience and have proven to be among the most creative, popular and influential new media players,” said Steve Burke, chief executive of NBC Universal. “BuzzFeed has built an exceptional global company that harmonises technology, data and superior editorial abilities to create and share content in innovative ways.”
For NBC Universal it is two deals in two weeks following an equivalent $200m investment in Vox Media, which owns eight brands including technology site The Verge and news site
In May, Vox expanded its portfolio with the takeover of Re/code, the well-regarded tech news site founded by former Wall Street Journal staffers.

Monday, August 17, 2015

VIRAL MARKETING Straight Outta Compton meme

The marketing for a film about 80s/90s old school gangsta rappers has been exemplary, creating a much stronger than usual excitement around a biopic.

At the heart of this has been a shareable font/logo that has taken Facebook and other social media by storm, and pushing the film's marketing to audiences it might otherwise have struggled to reach.

So, when considering digipak and magazine ad designs, don't underestimate the power of a downloadable and editable font/logo... and the very real power of audience interaction.

WEB CENSORSHIP Cracks in great firewall of China

Couple of articles highlighting the limitations of online censorship in even the world's most OTT censorship regime, useful for illustrating the wider point of the difficulty in enforcing film censorship in the web 2.0 era, and the convergence of film/video and social media. Gauntlett's point on the blurring of audience and producer is also evident from these examples.

First up, a 1 min sex clip, shot in a clothing store changing room, has caused government apoplexy but been viewed millions of times, sparked a selfie craze outside the store, and highlighted the limits of government/censor power.
China’s young people have spoken. And what they want is sex

Uniqlo sex video: film shot in Beijing store goes viral and angers government

Secondly, China has backed high end, tentpole level film production, producing films to take on US hegemony domestically and internationally which propagandise Communist Party rule and Chinese nationalism to some extent.

The latest example, Cairo, looks at a 1943 Allied conference in Cairo which saw China proclaimed as one of four global powers (with Russia, UK and USA). Chairman Mao features prominently. There's just one problem...

He wasn't there - his nationalist opponent was, and it would be years before the Communists seized power.

This has sparked what Stuart Hall would recognise as widespread 'oppositional reading', with this counter-hegemonic response even extending to some of the state media, and creating a mocking meme reflected in satirical tee-shirts and online Weibo (Chinese Facebook/Twitter equivalent) posts placing Gollum and suchlike at the conference.

'The text' becomes an absurd notion when audience interaction created such a multi-layered meta-text, warping and contesting the encoded ideology of the original.

Both these examples also showcase the increasing social and cultural power flexed by a large youth generation much more tech-savvy than the older generation who dominate state power and policy.

Bloggers ridicule Chinese film placing Mao Zedong at key wartime conference

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Comcast to challenge YouTube through NBCU subsidiary

Thursday, August 06, 2015

CGI Great when we DON'T see it...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

WARP, CONVERGENCE This is England 90 on C4, Guardian exclusive trailer

Despite the down at heel, working class focus of the franchise, interesting to see Warp linking up not with a tabloid but rather the broadsheet Guardian, with its ABC1 readership.
Click on 'read more' for article link and to see the trailer

Friday, July 24, 2015

Russia $500m studio fund seeks to challenge Hollywood

British and American media are largely hostile to or dismissive of Russia, keeping the Cold War antagonism very much alive. We don't hear so much about the film-making from a country that has provided major elements of the media language of film.

Challenging the Hollywood hegemony is a colossal task, and I doubt $500m will go far ... perhaps of equal significance is the talk of setting limits on the amount of non-Russian film in Russian cinemas. America has invaded small nations in the past for such quota systems, seeing Hollywood as key to soft power globally.

In Russia's pseudo democracy (you can judge whether the UK or US polities are much healthier), its not surprising that the interests of the state are so explicitly linked to this new lush, which came about after Putin asked for private finance to build up Russia's film industry:

The Russian state has become increasingly interested in the film industry in recent years. In 2014, the culture minister called for a cap on foreign movies, and in March his ministry released a list of movie themes which it would support. These included family values, military glory and “Crimea and Ukraine in the 1,000 year history of the Russian state”. It’s also a big business – Stalingrad, a war film, earned over $50m worldwide last year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ASA, MARKETING Fox's Poltergeist clown poster cleared

We naturally focus on the BBFC or equivalents such as the MPAA when considering regulation of film. Here's a good reminder that the film business is part regulated by the likes of the ASA too.

This is also an intriguing case as it marks an exception to the prevailing regulatory presumption that media content considered, generally without evidence, harmful to children, should face restrictions on distribution and exhibition.

A Scary clown in a film poster attracted multiple complaints, but the distress caused to some with a fear of clowns (coulrophobia) was not enough to justify banning the poster from public sites.

Poltergeist posters cleared despite more than 70 complaints over clown image

UK BOX OFFICE Universal breaking records in 2015

After a torrid 2014 in which it failed to have any of the year's top ten hits (managing only the 11th biggest take), Universal is breaking several records in 2015.

The article also contains useful analysis about which parts of the week are most couple oriented and which are key for female-targeted movies...

Universal claims UK box-office record as Amy Winehouse doc stuns in week two

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


A placeholder post for now, added to a growing list of I'll come back to this... Until Avatar 2 hits, a more up to date case study of a tentpole to supplement the Working Title/Warp Films focus would be useful, and the Star Wars juggernut is perfect for this, an ongoing narrative of globalised hegemony, marketing muscle and dense distribution, with note perfect audience 'interaction'. NB: The linked article quotes Kevin Smith, so naturally enough features strong language!

Sith happens: Kevin Smith makes light of Comic-Con's space issues

Saturday, July 11, 2015

FRANCHISE Star Wars another Disney universe of extended narrative

I've blogged in some detail on the highly converged 'Marvel universe', with characters criss-crossing cinema, TV, games and an even wider world of UGC.

Another Disney acquisition demonstrating the importance of good production practices as much as distribution might and marketing nous is the Star Wars franchise that creator George Lucas threatened to run aground with the weak prequels and CGI messing with the original trilogy.

I don't think there's ANY franchise to rival the excitement this one generates, and its a near certainty that the box office charts will be headed by not just the new trilogy but the additional spin-offs, such as the story of Hans Solo, and the raid that got the Death Star plans before that climactic Skywalker shot.

Even the awful prequel trilogy racked up $2.5bn. It would be little  surprise for the first new movie to equal that alone - this is a movie many fans will pay to see repeatedly.

Star Wars: the marketing force awakens

Friday, July 10, 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

GENRE Is the rom-com love affair over?

The article covers many points
- the lack of a genuine Brit star to succeed Grant, with possible contenders shunning the genre
- the UK industry once more operating as a mini-Hollywood, churning out multiple genres and franchises
- the rise of alternatives to the all-powerful Working Title, including a specific mention of Warp

And more...

What especially caught my eye: having noted that even the rom-com king's return to the fray saw Richard Curtis post fairly modest box office ... put into further context by the extraordinary killer stat that the last $100m+ rom-com was in 2011!!!!

That was a Jennifer Aniston vehicle, an actress ironically central to the narrative of the genre's box office decline!

Not love actually: why Britons ended their affair with the romcom

Saturday, June 27, 2015

CONVERGENCE Scream franchise moves to MTV

UPDATE: Another iconic horror franchise has moved to TV after years of speculation about a movie reboot. Bruce Campbell's counter-culture icon Ash is strapping on the chainsaw and chopping out cheesy one-liners once more ... on the 'small screen' (there's a term that feels a little odd these days!).

NB: the trailer embedded in the following is VERY gory. Nice to see alcohol brands sidestepping regulations prohibiting the targeting of youths by placement with online trails for a 15-24 (substantial older secondary audience notwithstanding) show, Jack Daniel's king bed ad in this case.

UPDATE2: Horror TV series (NB: 18-rated) Hannibal has been cancelled after 3 seasons by its US network ... and may continue as a feature film.

An immensely successful franchise that launched a new wave of ironic, parodic, postmodern 90s slashers (Scary Movie used Scream's original working title and directly parodied the entire plot - legal as both were Dimension Films productions), Bob Weinstein claims that it has permanently exited the big screen.

Note his explanation, a bit of a bombshell coming from a key player in Indie cinema globally - TV is where the teen audience are.

That's a great, short quote to wield in an essay!

I agree with the writer that it's highly unlikely that Scream won't return to the cinema as a remake or sequel, but that's a hell of a sign of the uncertainty facing the industry. Lets not forget either that TV also faces a crisis from digital disruption!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

CONVERGENCE Smartphone and DSLR converging?

It seems so...
This is fairly new technology; Sony has been an early adopter, but a new rival has eschewed Wi-Fi connection for a physical, cabled link to the iPhone, removing the lag and unreliability of Wi-Fi, bringing the immense processing power of contemporary smartphones to play as a controller for a separate lens that's far beyond any integrated cameras at this time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

F for Feminist rating?

Not recent news, but just encountering this now by clicking through a few times from an article in today's paper' ... on about the 5th article in, spotted this...
Bath Film Festival had added an additional F rating to 17 of the 42 films it was screening, denoting a strong female influence as lead actor, director or writer (primarily, other times were considered too).
Many of these would easily fail the Bechdel Test!
Given just how bad the industry is overall in representing femalekind, or giving influential behind the camera roles to women, I have to wonder what impact this might have if the BBFC took it up. You could ask yourselves which of the films we study would rate this.
Ideas can rarely be viewed in simple black or white, good or bad terms though ... Bridget Jones' Diary, with its female director, original writer (of the novel) and lead would certainly get this rating ... but its at best questionable whether this is a positive representation of women.
Bath film festival goes Wild with F rating for feminist films
Here's another intriguing one - a female only audience stipulation refused by a cinema -
Centre cancels 'illegal' women-only screening of film by Jewish director.

Monday, June 08, 2015

DISTRIBUTION Will Netflix kill the theatrical window?

Monday, June 01, 2015

BBFC: YouTube resources

Rather than add yet another links list, I'll embed various vids I've been looking at here.
Naturally, as censorship is the subtext of many, you need to be aware that some will contain strong language and/or explicit imagery, so consider where you're viewing any of these, being mindful of younger students in particular.

I did a simple 'BBFC' search on YouTube; I've only looked at the first few results pages (so far) - if you come across any useful additions, please pass on the link as a comment.

Interview with a BBFC 'Examiner'/Censor
The BBFC's use of language is questionable, and Foucault/Fairclough would certainly recognise their attempts to control and define the discourse through changing the 'C' to classification from censorship, and re-naming censors 'examiners'.
Anyway, this is an interview with A BBFC 'examiner', Emily Fussell.

History of the BBFC Part 1
There doesn't appear to be a part 2; a fellow busy Media teacher created this.

'Ramblaholic' on Tesco withdrawing a DVD (Hospital) after complaints
A talking head vodcaster, he's not as libertarian as the MelonFarmers site, but still largely critical of censorship.

You can also find him here having his say on a 2014 BBFC report which suggested a tougher regime for horror.

VSC's BBFC and PEGI Training Video for Retailers
Another great example of the impact of digitisation! The BBFC have been increasingly open and made much more publicly accessible ever since James Ferman eventually stepped down, but I don't recall seeing this on their site!

Die Hard With a Vengeance (2009): The cuts to receive a 15
**clearly an example of 18-rated material**
This is useful as an example of the impact of digitisation; it wouldn't take much effort/wit to get round the BBFC's cuts (to be fair, the cuts the distributor made to get a more commercially favourable rating!) with videos such as this available.

Cheshire Cats Studio: BBFC/MPAA/Bechdel Ratings are ... bad
Some strong language used.
I've only skimmed this so far; a panel discussion largely presented as a Flash animation, and clearly not in favour of the ratings systems! With 21k views, another useful example of the impact of digitisation?

GoAnimate Video on the classifications
Haven't viewed yet...

Video Nasties 1hour doc
**features strong, explicit material**
This is very useful, but is clearly intended for a mature audience, so caution!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

4D breezes in with San Andreas

As inevitable as razor blade manufacturers adding another blade to hype a new product, news of 4D on the horizon.

As with 3D, its not a new idea; there were experiments with this in the 1950s!

I've seen '5D' cinema vans/trailers at a seaside resort in Latvia too (3 years ago).

Will this take off? Eventually, I'm sure it will, but not until costs drop significantly...

Monday, May 25, 2015

CONVERGENCE WEB 2.0 IGSMediaStudies + student YouTube channels

The syllabus asks you to reflect on your own experiences, and the A2 exam requires analysis of all alspects of production work, including its reception. Well, lets take a moment to consider YouTube as part of this. The IGSMediaStudies alone has had over 50,000 views since I set it up 5 years ago, and thats a TINY fraction of the overall views student work has had when you consider that ONE film piece on ONE of several student channels had over a quarter of a million views...

IGSMediaStudies uploads have been viewed worldwide...

This blog itself seems to have picked up an international readership...
Top 10 countries by views as of 25th May 2015

These have been viewed on gadgets as much as on computers...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CONVERGENCE 4K TV, 4K Blu-Ray, 5K Macs

I'll add further links to the one below when not on my converged smartphone! Hollywood has to keep on its toes as TV tech keeps rising, even if 3D TV has essentially failed, with smartphone and gadget camera specs also continuing to rise, and Macbook/iMac screen resolution hitting 5k, boosting the potential of prosumer tech such as Final Cut Pro X!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DISTRIBUTION FOUR-WALLING Getting newspaper review still vital?

That's a new term to me: four-walling, the practice of Indie producers renting a cinema primarily in the hopes that their screening will attract a newspaper review.

In the US its not uncommon to do this for a full week's run, though the practice in the UK seems to be for a single screening - kind of a Gant Rule effect I suppose!

Coz Greenop used this approach to great effect with Wandering Rose, the screening leading to a deal with Curzon Cinemas. I think Harry MacQueen did likewise with Hinterland [needs checking]. Remember too Warp using cinema ads trumpeting the cinema release date of Le Donk, which was really a DVD release - that helped get those vital newspaper reviews, much harder for a straight-to-DVD release to achieve.

In this web 2.0 (3.0?) age, can the dinosaur print media really be that important?

Yes ... and no. One of my favourite phrases! As with so much, there are two sides to this...

Look at '71. The National Media Museum box office told me, when I raised with them the very sparse crowd for the opening night screening, on a Friday, that it would pick up dramatically once the Guardian review had been digested.

The no part flows from the same example. The ABC1 Guardian readership may be more likely to pay attention to the paper's film coverage than, say, a tabloid's C2DE readership - that's speculation on my part.

What isn't is the indisputable fact that newspaper readerships are older than the core cinema audience, a trend which is accelerating.

Haven't covered yes and no, there is another angle to this - its not just about any immediate pick up in audience, its the possibility of featuring 'pull-out' phrases from reviews (and thus the publication names) on posters, DVD sleeves, in pitches to distributors, and on CVs when looking to finance and cast future productions.

Its easy to simplify digitisation as a killer of old media, but that's never been the case; the disruptive power of digitisation more often leads to a symbiotic relationship. So, the Guardian's '71 review was arguably secondary in impact to its leading the paper's weekly film vodcast, an example of convergence.

Who knows, someday YOU might be four-walling ... just don't forget to send me a ticket!

'Four-walling': how film-makers pay to see their work on screen

Thursday, May 21, 2015

VERTICAL, HORIZONTAL INTEGRATION an illustration: Warp, Working Title, Marvel, Avatar

Some of NBC-Universal's film subsidiaries

Working Title is part of a vertically integrated conglomerate, NBC-Universal, itself part of a much larger parent company, Comcast. NBC-U turns over an incredible $25bn a year and combines production through such subsidiaries as Working Title, distribution through Focus Features, StudioCanal and Universal International Pictures, as well as exhibition arms ranging from the US TV network NBC to the subscription streaming site Hulu. Horizontal integration and the synergies from this are part of their strategy, with the films fuelling interest in the Universal theme parks for example. Working Title have been part of horizontal integration strategies ever since they expanded into the American market and sold off 67% of their shares to PolyGram (later bought by NBC-U). One of their earliest global hits, 1994’s £3m Four Weddings and a Funeral which grossed an incredible global £150m, had an OST (soundtrack) on Island Records … a subsidiary of PolyGram!

Working Title and Warp - selected box office stats

As I've written on/discussed these elsewhere, I'll simply add the screenshots. You would never try to remember all, but rather pick out a few, looking for one or more of:
  • the total UK box office
  • the total US box office
  • the rough % of world box office the US (or UK) represents
  • the length of run [how many weeks it was in cinemas for] - especially useful looking at Indie films that basically tour the arthouse circuit with a limited number of prints
  • the number of screens
  • if the Gant Rule can be seen with the figures
  • the number of countries it got theatrical distribution in (many WT films get 40+; World's End was notably quite disappointing)
You can find some tallies and notes on this in both the Warp pack and the list of WT films

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


IN THIS POST: This links into several posts on convergence and ownership issues, and explores just how converged a company WT really is ... and the influence of ownership on this. I briefly raise points discussed in detail in previous posts.

Screenshot of the Wiki.

Great academic research, eh?!
This tells us three key things before we consider more recent developments:

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 exam materials

I'll add all updates here between now and Friday
Starting with an overview of whats expected

More coming below, plus anything new on TV Drama/Representation

PAUL AVATAR CORNETTO TRILOGY audience, marketing, distribution, digitisation

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CONVERGENCE A list of resources

I'm working on a fresh guide on convergence (and the wider issue of digitisation). Instead of putting all the sources I'll use into one over-long post, or adding yet another links list, you can find here, with summaries and some notes, a list of further resources. Convergence is also dealt with in many journal articles and book chapters!!!

When I put together guides I'm inevitably summarising, reducing, a wide range of material; if you want to look deeper, this (and the Library/classroom resources!) is a good starting point.

Rob Carlton (senior OCR examiner) Medi@CHS blog
Rob is a useful source, as someone involved in the syllabus design for OCR, and his school blog has lots of useful links.

Hendry, Steph (2015) "Two Key Concepts: The Relationship Between Audience and Institution", in Media Magazine, April 2015.

The link above requires a login (ask myself or Librarian). Much of the analysis below is my own, but linked to Hendry's points.

Nice example of how large conglomerates integrate seemingly contrasting brands:
According to one definition, brand = product + personality. Knowing the brand means that the audience can feel reassured when they access a product produced by a familiar, wellloved brand. Consider the ‘personalities’ constructed by two very different institutions: Disney and Marvel. Both are associated with blockbuster film, but our expectations of their products may be quite different.