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.