Sunday, July 31, 2016

AFRICA Wakaliwood joins Nollywood, YouTube distribution

The production values, and recording equipment, are far below what a typical Western student can access - but this trailer alone has nearly 3m hits
Bit of a wider perspective on how the film industry works in a neglected (in terms of media coverage or awareness) market, Africa.

Nigeria's Nollywood has earned a reputation as artistically and commercially significant, now comes Uganda's Wakaliwood...

Consider the incredible kit and resources you can access as you read about Isaac Nabwana, shoestring film producer. Sample paragraphs below. 

See Quartz Africa's full article.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gant Rule, British exceptions and the China factor

UK box office of $60m rivalled the US ('domestic') take

Cinema is at once BOTH a highly globalised industry utterly dominated by the big six US conglomerates AND a highly localised industry in which local stars, settings, even IP/cultural reference points, sell.

The Gant Rule is a useful means of explaining the US dominance, even as this is swiftly undermined by the surging scale and value of the Chinese market, pushing the typical US box office share of a typical global hit to well below the traditional 50%+ (closer now to 40% and falling). This has seen Hollywood squeeze in Chinese stars and settings, shoot alternative endings and extra scenes for different markets, buy up or partner with Chinese firms (with the complication of strict Chinese laws on exporting money), and generally be more sensitive about portraying Chinese as villains or simply the traditional crass stereotype of inscrutable, unemotional, indistinguishable masses (not that this has entirely disappeared).
Headline from  The Wrap
Universal spent millions altering the plot of World War Z (reshoots) so that the epidemic didn't start in China in a doomed attempt to get into the Chinese market. Censors there frown upon horror ('The country has strict laws outlawing any movies that deal with magic, horror or superstition.'). China limits the number of non-Chinese productions allowed in cinemas to just 34 a year - though this may rise in 2017 following negotiations with the WTO (World Trade Organisation). It is not making it easy for Hollywood to extend its global dominance: other cases studios don’t alter their movies until post-production. Chinese censors cut large chunks out of several movies released last year, including 40 minutes from “Cloud Atlas” and 12 minutes from “Men in Black 3,” excising all scenes in Chinatown.
They also cut parts of the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall,” including a scene that featured the assassination of a nameless Chinese security guard.
Marvel had initially planned “Iron Man 3” as a Chinese co-production, a tactic that has been taken with films like “Looper” and “The Karate Kid,” in part because co-productions are not subject to China’s quota for imported films. Chinese censors must still approve them. [The Wrap]
Just 20 years ago China banned all foreign cinema:
China only opened its market to the Hollywood studios in 1994, when its own film industry had reached its nadir. “It wasn’t out of admiration for Hollywood but to save the Chinese film industry,” Rosen said. “People weren’t going to the movies.”
At the time, China only permitted 10 foreign movies to screen, then increased it to 20 before the current total of 34. Those additional 14 slots are all reserved for IMAX or 3D films. [The Wrap]

There is no questioning the ongoing utter dominance of the UK market by Hollywood - for figures read the annual BFI reports. BUT ... localised content still often retains an edge.
The US star helped market the film globally, but the British setting did not help US box office: boxofficemojo.

Localised here is a very broad concept - as is the legal definition of 'British production' for tax purposes:
The UK box office has consistently punched above its weight with family films adapted from British-authored material, fromCharlie and the Chocolate Factory (£37.8m) and Alice in Wonderland (£42.5m) toThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (£44.4m) and, of course, Paddington (£38m).
These are mainly Hollywood productions, but with enough of a lingering element of Britishness to give them a home market boost, and so undermine the Gant rule. The Bridget Jones franchise is a more direct example, although it too is ultimately Hollywood fare (Brit producer WT being an NBC-U subsidiary, Polygram at the time of the original).

Gant's latest box office column highlights The BFG as the latest to benefit from this element of Britishness.

He also noted the latest example of event cinema, an annual classical concert now programmed in an incredible 534 screens, plus a stylized limited re-release earning more than the original run:
Also flying the flag for event cinema was Secret Cinema’s presentation of Dirty Dancing. ...  The run of just six dates delivered a final box office of £1.90m. That’s more than the combined runs of the original 1987 release (£1.62m) and the 20th-anniversary rerelease in 2007 (£224,000).
The BFG towers over UK box office while Star Trek Beyond fails to prosper.

A little bit more on the rising influence of the Chinese market, from an article which looks at directors outraged by remakes of their movies, in this case Red Dawn. The original 1980s flick saw Russians invade a US town, the recent remake swapped Chinese forces for this...until it dawned on the money men that they'd lose out on the Chinese this was belatedly switched to North Korean forces:

Milius was partially vindicated when MGMchanged the invading aggressors to North Koreans for the final cut, though that move was made to appease the lucrative Chinese market more than to cheer up the original film’s director.

How dare you remake my classic! When directors attack

Saturday, July 23, 2016

WOMEN Rotten UGC CRITIC RATINGS are male-dominated

In the past, films relied on good reviews plus word-of-mouth. Today RT and IMDB have digitally replaced word-of-mouth and become hugely influential consumer websites as a result. Take these early audience reviews on RT: “Non-funny, man hating” … “Jokes about men, wasn’t exactly funny” … “garbage third wave feminism”. No surprise, all these were written and posted on the site by men. Each gave the film half or one star. “Ton of fun” … “Incredibly enjoyable” … “seeing it for third time tomorrow”. All these four and five-star reviews were written and posted by women.... Search on IMDB and you find thedata breakdown for reviews. Ghostbusters scores an average 5.3 out of 10. But for women the average score was 8.1, compared with 4.6 for men. But men’s scores matter more, because 22,500 men wrote up reviews on IMDB, compared with 7,500 women.

For liking it, I was criticized for “pandering to politically correct, radical feminist rubbish” by one reader, a sentiment echoed by another who tweeted that I “played it safe to stay politically correct” for labelling Feig’s achievement a “blast”. Many libelously accused me of accepting money from Sony Pictures to solicit a warm response. And it wasn’t just one or two tweets targeting me, but a host. 
The film has since opened in the UK (it opens in the US on Friday), but over the weekend, when the Ghostbros (as they’re commonly referred to now) went on the attack, no one apart from a small pool of critics had watched the film – meaning they were trashing it sight unseen. It’s likely they’re to blame for the film’s drastically low rating on IMDb, where over 57% of users gave it the lowest possible score. On Reddit, some have banded together in a spiteful effort to keep the favorable reviews from appearing on the community-led website.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Global ticket prices compared

The average ticket now costs $8.73, up from $8.58 during the first quarter and a 1.4% year-on-year rise. The numbers represent an average across all venues, titles and times; this tends to rise as the family and blockbuster season begins.The year actually began down on the numbers for 2015, which hit $8.70 in the fourth quarter, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens screened.However, prices in North America continue to compare favourably with those in the UK, where the average price last year was £7.17 ($9.47) – a rise of 48.25% over the decade.In China, whose box office revenue is due to overtake that of the US later this year, the average price is $6.50. The cheapest tickets are to be found in India. Average prices for single-screen cinemas in 2013 were around $0.93, rising to around $3.95 for multiplex screenings.

US cinema ticket prices reach record high.

Friday, July 15, 2016

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION day-and-date challenges flop concept

The release window is proving resilient despite challenges from the digital upstarts Netflix et al, their disruptive force not yet shifting this fundamental feature of the film industry. Big six giant Disney soon backed down with its plans for a shortened cinema-DVD gap for Alice in Wonderland when cinema chains simply threatened not to show it.

Not all movies are produced with cinema box office as a priority or even realistic goal, however, and many of these breach the usual model - the key point being the SCALE of release. These are not wide releases, which means they're not seen to undermine the traditional arrangement that ensures cinema maximises its returns.

As I have blogged on the 48K Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee, though, a limited (or in its case, simply none!) cinema release means a much, much greater chance of newspaper, magazine and other mainstream media reviews that straight-to-DVD releases rarely get, explaining what seem to be shocking headlines about film releases taking under 100 at UK box office.

This strategy, of a very limited cinema release simultaneous with a DVD release, is termed day-and-date release.
“Day-and-date releases minimise costs for a distributor,” says Andreas Wiseman, Screen International’s head of news. “They only need to pay for a campaign once rather than at different stages throughout the windowing process. The growth in these kind of releases coincides with the proliferation of digital platforms. Distributor deals with platforms such as Netflix, LoveFilm, iTunes etc often require that a film is shown in a certain number of cinemas, so distributors will sometimes see the theatrical release as a box-ticking exercise.” 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

StudioCanal UK film biz risks Brexit sinking

This is a great overall look at the operations of StudioCanal, a key player for both Warp and Working Title, and also a producer itself now (notably Paddington and a forthcoming sequel)

StudioCanal UK are already seeing costs up by 15% as sterling (the UK currency) has nosedived in value since the referendum. Their CEO, Danny Perkins, explains that the UK will need a specific treaty (as Switzerland has negotiated) to gain continued open access to EU cinema markets - which could take years, if it ever happens. Euro-financing has also been made more difficult to access. If US studios fill that void, they are MUCH less likely to support ideas which reflect British culture instead of taking a more generic, commercial approach.

Consider the practicalities too of StudioCanal personnel trying to visit other Euro branches, or even just pre-production visits and research if UK citizens require visas to do so.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Silver screenings: Hwd leaves older to Indies n arthouse

Ignored by youth-obsessed Hollywood, older audiences flock to indie films

Video journals

[in]Transition: where action meets academia