Monday, February 01, 2016

'71 Distribution and Marketing

This overlaps with other posts, but as there are a lot of images, a new post makes sense.

This is a film with wider ambitions, and arguably a more commercial approach, than most of Warp's productions - as it should, with its ambitious £5m budget*, twice that of Four Lions. UPDATE, 2016: BUT...It flopped, despite the awards, critical acclaim, and gaining distribution in the US and 10 more territories (12 total including the UK) for a worldwide total of $3m: $1.6m UK,, $1.3m US and just $355k from 10 other territories. *According to this Screen article (cited in Wiki) it was £8.1m

According to IMDB, it is getting theatrical releases in France, Spain, Greece, Germany, Canada, USA, Australia, Middle East (eg UAE, see section below). However, we have seen past Warp films such as Tyrannosaur getting distribution in multiple territories, but not getting any marketing spend to give it a real chance (its specialist LGBT distributor didn't issue a trailer, and it limped to a mere $22k). The absence of any information on its US distributor does not augur well.
IMDB company list.
Boxofficemojo: Not every distributor took up the option for a theatrical release.
OPENING WEEKEND: This has become a key figure - if it is lower than expected a film is likely to be labelled a flop and the odds are high that the public will be deterred from seeing a 'flop', while distributors may hold back on further prints and marketing investment. What is significant about the table above is that almost all of '71's national releases saw most of the entire box office raised in the opening weekend - it failed to get a wider, longer release beyond then. The UK figure, in contrast, is just 21% - in this case it built well by word-of-mouth, as I saw first-hand at Bradfor's National Media Museum, where a low opening night (Friday) turnout would be hugely boosted by a review in that day's Guardian (UK broadsheet/quality) newspaper.

The 'commercial' element lies in pushing the action/thriller genre over the setting or any real exploration of the issues raised.

Nonetheless, this fits in with Warp's past productions by focussing on an underprivileged working-class protagonist. There are specific links with Dead Man's Shoes, the first Warp Films production (Meadows, 2004), and This is England (Meadows, 2006). All three apply a social realist aesthetic, and focus on working-class protagonists; all three have characteristics of the anti-hero, engaging in some unpleasant behaviour. Considine in DMS plays a squaddie suffering from PTSD or some other mental illness, reflecting a critique of the authorities for not providing for soldiers' welfare. TisEng's Shaun is reduced to poverty in a single parent family with his father, seen in a picture frame above a radio that plays the strident voice of Mrs Thatcher as he wakes up in the opening scene, killed in the Falklands. He owns only one pair of trousers other than his school pair, and is bullied.  

FURTHER NARRATIVE LINKS WITH PAST WARP FILMS [SPOILER ALERT - THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY] In DMS Considine ('Richard') returns to protect his brother; in '71 O'Connell ('Gary Hook') returns at the film's end to try and protect his younger brother who, like he did, is growing up in a care home. In TisEng Shaun flings a union jack into the sea, rejecting the racism he has flirted with; in '71 'Gary' similarly throws a medal overboard, rejecting the military. Consider the contrast with the representations we get from Working Title, the likes of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Atonement; Johnny English.

The target audience is indicated by the three sources highlighted in the trailer and on the main poster: Guardian, Telegraph and Empire: leaning towards the ABC1, arthouse crowd but also hoping for more mainstream, crossover success. It's notable that the BBFC rating is just 15, despite the violence and often grim, disturbing tone.

The film has been a hit at multiple festivals, as prominently displayed on several posters and trailers, and was given a short initial US run to qualify for Oscar nominations, a sign of the ambition!

Whilst failing to get any Oscar nods, always a long shot for an Indie, never mind a British Indie (in contrast to WT's high profile success with Theory Of..., as a big 6 subsidiary), '71 has done well: it topped the nominations count at both the Baftas [+ Gdn article] and BIFAs, with O'Connell getting the EE Rising Star award at the Baftas. See IMDB list, and O'Connell's IMDB.

FinalReel make an interesting point on the US release strategy:
After an award-winning debut out in Berlin at the start of the year, Yann Demange’s ’71 has quickly established itself as a strong contender in the coming awards season, continuing its run on the festival circuit in recent months and heading for TIFF and NYFF in the coming weeks. 
’71 will be released in the UK on October 10th. No word yet on when Roadside is looking to release the film, but it will have its official US premiere at the NYFF (having played at Telluride) at the end of next month, and is all but guaranteed to be given at least a limited Oscar-qualifying run before the year is out.
It is, as with so many Warp productions, a supremely well-crafted film; might it get an Oscar nod in one of the technical categories? [update: nope]

UPDATE 11.3.15: US BOX OFFICE...4 screens but rising?
As of March 11th 2015, it remained in American cinemas, but with figures seemingly depressingly similar to TisEng, Tyrannosaur and other excellent Warp productions: its been a limited release, on just 4 screens, with global box office a mere $2m as of now, $1.6m of this from the UK (the UK take isn't bad at all).

However, this could be a slow burn, word-of-mouth campaign - following the first week the screen count went up to 16, considerably better than Tyr or TisEng managed in the USA. I'll check again in a week or so.

Screenshots below are from the boxofficemojo entry; these are a bit confused, as the global total is shown as a much smaller figure than that for the UK alone! It seems the site recognises the UK as the production country, but retains the US as 'domestic'.

BoxOfficeMojo US Figures at March 19th; it would eventually reach $1.3m BUT took TEN weeks to do so, with the final 3 weeks bringing in just $17k.
The US theatre count peaked in late March at 121, and box office/theatre count nosedived sharply then, half way through its 10-week run, bringing global box office to a disappointing (rough) $3m, just $1.2m from US. It ran in between 62-121 cinemas for a 3 week spell, then quickly reduced.

US DISTRIBUTOR: ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS [comparison to Strand: Tyrannosaur]
Part-owned by Lionsgate, this is an Indie specialist of rather higher standing than the LGBT specialist who distributed (but largely failed to market) Tyrannosaur in the US. Unlike them, they have pushed a film to 8-figure ($10m+) US box office 5 times so far after 93 releases (as of 1st Feb 2016). I also note that they have partnered with both Amazon and Lionsgate for the distribution of Chi-Raq, Spike Lee's latest. See Wiki; boxofficemojo.
'71 is 33rd on their all-time list.
Above: boxofficemojo all-time US box office records for Roadside ('71) and Strand (Tyrannosaur)

Two versions of the quad poster, mainly differentiated by having 2 or 3 quotes. The sources: Guardian, Telegraph, Empire - two ABC1 broadsheets and a BC1C2 specialist magazine. This reflects well the point made by NMM staff, who said that the small turnout for the initial Friday screening on its release day would grow the following day once The Guardian's review had been digested by their customer base!

The quotes focus on the narrative, genre and acting performance; I find it notable that there's no focus on the issues, period or place - this may be about the Northern Ireland 'Troubles' but that isn't a commercially attractive selling point! The thriller label is. It is an accurate description; the ideological issues are, to some degree, flattened by the narrative drive of the thriller, and many of the reviews centred on this point. 

The OST, by globally-reknowned DJ David Holmes (a Belfast native), was released on vinyl as well as download, a strong indication that it held solid niche appeal - small runs of vinyl are expensive. LilyWhites noted: 'David Holmes' atmospheric score is available to pre-order via iTunes and Amazon on vinyl, and to buy on CD and digital download from Friday 10 October [2014].'.

The festival buzz, long preceding the Bafta O'Connell picked up, helped ensure '71 gained a wider release than many Warp films. Source.

The emphasis is on the military, action element - there is no mention specifically of Northern Ireland! The multiple film festival awards are prominent - and this poster pre-dates O'Connell's Bafta award. The US release is set for Feb 27th.

Not a poster, but another indication that this is a film that may not make it as a mainstream hit but is getting released far and wide. This website ran a competition for tickets to the UAE premiere!

It got a 15 rating there.

The description it gives is interesting:
’71 is a 2014 British historical action film set in Northern Ireland. Written by Gregory Burke and directed by Yann Demange. It stars Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, David Wilmot, Richard Dormer, Paul Anderson, and Charlie Murphy.’71 received positive notices from critics at its premiere at the 64th Berlin Film Festival. On Rotten Tomatoes, based on 31 reviews, the film holds an 97% ‘fresh’ rating, with an average score of 7/10. On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film currently holds an average score of 85, based on 5 reviews, indicating ‘Universal Acclaim’.
'a 2014 British historical action film set in Northern Ireland'!!!
The film's rave reviews online, not just the festival accolades, are clearly a selling point.
The poster itself is basically the same as the UK version, except for the range of company logos/URLs along the bottom, which are highlighting the Middle eastern distributor, Front Row.
Front Row's Instagram.
Their website didn't seem to load properly for me, and returned no results for '71.

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