Tuesday, February 02, 2016

DISTRIBUTION What is a 'wide' release?

Up against the continuing might of animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3, as well as fellow debutants including romantic drama The Choice and horror-comedy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 50s-set tale of a major film star gone missing scored just $11.4m (£7.9m) to open in second place. The Coen brothers’ previous lowest bow for a film in wide release – usually estimated at around 2,000 cinemas – was the $12.5m taken by 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty in North America. [Ben Child's US box office column]
The UK equivalent would be around 150-200.

A big risk/investment in short!

Whilst digital copies reduce the distribution cost to near zero, physical prints (costing around $10k apiece) remain the norm for now, with the cost of prints AND marketing generally matching the production as a rough rule of thumb. The $250m Avatar (estimates vary as to the actual budget) was well over $500m in costs once distribution (a simultaneous worldwide release meant an exceptional number of prints) and marketing costs are considered.

Wide release means the majority of cinemas in a territory will be showing your film on at least one screen. In the US that means around 2,000-4000+, in the UK around 300-600+ (the Gant Rule applies here to an extent: as well as the box office the theatre count is likely to be around x10 for the US).

You can see this from various Working Title films - although, being British, they often enjoy high popularity in the UK.

Does it work with these charts?

Gant argues that most UK hits make 1/10 (ignoring currency values) of a US hit (roughly!)...

THE REVENANT: UK £12m, US $140m ... so, roughly, yes!
STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS: UK £120m, US $900m ... roughly, yes!

See 'Gant rule' tag on this blog for more...

The BoxOfficeMojo chart.

From Gant's weekly column.


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