Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BFI looks beyond cinema

As well as announcing a large scale digitisation of British TV, the BFI also announced a change in its funding programme to include films not intended for theatrical release.
“The BFI’s job is to champion the future success of film in the UK and this plan is designed to do that – we want to back the brave, the new and the experimental.
“Our aim is to find, educate and support the very best talent, give them the skills, tools and creative freedom needed to tell their stories, and make sure as many people as possible can enjoy and be inspired by those stories on the big screen, the small screen and even the screen in their pocket.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

DISTRIBUTION STREAMING Shudder shakes up horror subscription

A US genre specialist subscription service recently also launched in the UK

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

BJBABY too British? Japan, Greece, US etc considered

A nuanced view of WT's strategy.
Starting with Saunders' excellent Telegraph article I'll look at arguments that BJB is too British for the US market; non-English markets experience a radically different Bridget through culturally-weighted translations (eg Spain) - and even censorship (Japan). Japanese subtitles reposition Jones as closer to a traditional stereotypical female through certain formalities of grammar. Greeks were among many non-UK/US (Australia/NZ/Canada?) audiences to be left none the wiser when Aretha's Respect kicked in at a key point in the original movie - iconic tunes that 'everyone knows' don't necessarily cross Western, English-language borders.
Saunders cites a number of academic studies in doing so - this is a much-studied franchise and cultural phenomenon, so challenge yourself and look out for more in-depth reading!
One such example that I will re-read in due course, not least as it presents intriguing arguments on the tensions between WT and Richard Curtis' script between appealing to the domestic and US markets: Jones is at once Americanised and critical of American culture ... is the book Falling in Love Again: Romantic Comedy in Contemporary Cinema (Abbott, Jermyn eds. (2008)). 
I'll get to view the film in due course - but your own (or second hand) observations from this would be welcomed (post a comment).

Headline for the Saunders piece.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

FRANCE 36 month law flix off streaming giant

Good example of the tensions between globalisation (read: American hegemony) and local regulation designed to protect local production and its cultural voice.

Usually this means referencing the big six, but in this case it's Netflix, an American global giant about as welcome in France as Mickey D's burger emporiums (not even Samuel L Jackson's le big mac skatz could make that culinary imperialism cool).

They and Amazon, with Apple hovering as well, perhaps should be considered part of a big six+2.

Like China and many other major movie markets (the gung ho free market UK an exception since laissez-faire zealot Thatcher swept away protectionist regulations in the early 80s, leading to a summer 2016 in which all of the top 20 earners were Hollywood output), France imposes several restrictions on foreign movies to protect domestic producers and culture against American dominance.

I wasn't aware of the 36 month after release wait time there, presumably designed as a block on Amazon prime, Netflix, Google Movies, Apple and other American giants establishing a stranglehold on the market - chiefly through imported American movies, getting round cinema restrictions.

With Indies like Warp occasionally turning to self-distribution (All Tomorrow's Parties, etc), that policy perhaps should be tweaked to be less cinema-centric and give Indies a rare advantage, but does show that the big six+2 are not quite the Borg... resistance is not (yet) futile...

French resistance: can Netflix win over its harshest critics?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bridget Jones Baby marketing

I'll add to this - your own photos etc would be very welcome

This post builds on an earlier post, which itself is long and detailed, looking at the international nature of the campaign and the trailers especially, but also looking back at the scale of this franchise - so lets start there.

The latest movie is at $180m worldwide - a good return, but well down on past entries. There should be a 4th based on those numbers. See my post on the Gant Rule (with BJB as an exception) for more details - such as this, the only territories with 8-figure returns:
  • Australia $13m
  • France $14m
  • US $24m
  • UK $60m

The basic: Premieres
This generates TV news and wider media stories (eg Mirror):

Thursday, November 10, 2016

BOX OFFICE: Gant Rule in 2016

A definition of 'the Gant Rule'; testing it out with the summer 2016 UK/US box office; why is this so profoundly significant for understanding the British cinema market; how satirical cartoon Curtisland illustrates this; why does it not always work (including Bridget Jones example).

I was surprised just now to find that 'the Gant Rule' doesn't bring up many relevant hits ... until the phrase 'box office' is added to the search.

Lets have a fresh look at this...

Box office analyst Charles Gant (who has a weekly Guardian column, but whose writing appears in many other publications worldwide) has long argued that a typical transatlantic hit (a success in both the UK and US markets) will make ten times as much in the US ($ figures) as in the UK (unadjusted £ figures).

In short, for a UK/US hit, UK £box office x10 roughly = US $box office
*it is highly advisable to put such terms in '' to help denote them as technical terms; the media world is so vast and complex, no single examiner will be familiar with every conceivable term

Is he right? Usually, yes!

I have blogged on this a few times...
Use the Gant Rule tag to find previous posts - or simply make your own comparisons with films' UK/US box office!

 Captain America: Civil War + The Secret Life of Pets examples
Using figures from his ScreenDaily column, Gant looked at the 2016 summer box office on both sides of the Atlantic. Jump straight to the number one hit and you'll see a prime example of the Gant Rule in effect: Captain America: Civil War took £37m in the UK and $407m in the US. That's precisely x11 the UK figure - pretty accurate forecasting there!

Bridget Jones's Baby boom? Smart marketing, modernised values

DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire
BUDGET: $35m
BOX OFFICE: UK $60m, US $24m, World $212m
PRODUCTION COMPANY CREDITS: Miramax*, StudioCanalUniversal PicturesWorking Title Films *presumably they retain rights as original film co-producer with WT
DISTRIBUTION: Universal, UIP 62 countries 'Universal is releasing in most territories with Studiocanal handling France, Germany and Austria' [Deadline]

Much more to come on one of the most significant Working Title productions for years. They have multiple highly successful franchises (Nanny McPhee, Bean, Johnny English...) but none are as iconic and central to their identity as BJD, the franchise based on Helen Fielding's hit novel.

Working Title page.
Daily Mail. #1 in 24 countries; biggest UK September opening ever

I've blogged on this for a few years now (here; here on novel + musical; here in a wider post on WT franchising): BJD3 was announced in July 2009! It was then formally greenlit by Universal + WT in October 2011 ... but would take another 4 years for shooting to commence, with Hugh Grant dropping out and a change of director (Paul Zeig was originally attached, but with the film seeming dead in the water Sharon Maguire wasn't attached until negotiations with the principal cast resumed again in June 2015). [details from Wiki]

Sharon Maguire was overlooked for the first sequel...
Sharon Maguire, who directed the original Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001, returned to direct the feature film from a script she co-wrote with David Nicholls (One Day) [source]

BoxOfficeMojo BJD franchise page.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

CRITICS, DYER and the Brad Pitt affair

Allied is the latest in a long line of films whose publicity campaigns have been overcome by wider gossip and press discourse - a scenario Richard Dyer addresses within his theory of the star system. He argued that we consume the wider image and media discourse of the star, not just any specific fictional character.

The scale of gossip centred on Brad Pitt's marital break-up and the link widely made with his co-star Cotillard has created a dominant narrative that seems set to undermine the marketing of this as a serious, intricate drama. Never mind the direct, specific denial by Cotillard, the twitterati have set the tone.

Allied: what happens when a film gets eclipsed by gossip

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

CHINA's complex rise to global power

I'll review past posts and in time combine in an overview post here.

China has risen dramatically as a box office force, to the point of usurping the US as the world's leading cinema market by overall box office take, fuelled by huge successive annual rises.

This smooth narrative has suddenly had a twist added, however, with 2016 figures far short of expectations.

The response has been an unofficial relaxing of the strict quota imposed on non-Chinese movies.

Up to 2012 a mere 20 were permitted to screen in Chinese cinema a year, but a 5 year deal boosted this to 34, and the expectation is of a large rise in this number when a replacement deal is negotiated in 2017.

There is a dual system in place. The distributors of the (currently 34) quota films are permitted to take 25% of box office take. Non-quota films can be released, but only receive a flat fee from Chinese operators, typically a small fraction of a potential box office share.

Despite the rigid protectionist rules, 38 Hollywood movies have been released under the 25% box office share system, the extra 4 being officially explained away as cultural exchanges, but generally seen as an attempt by the government to maintain the linear narrative of a mushrooming and therefore highly powerful Chinese cinema.

Free market enthusiasts or just Western readers may decry the authoritarian regime's protectionist stance, and will be cheered by the growing pressure China faces to conform to WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules or risk retaliatory import restrictions by the US and other key export markets.

However, the ruinous impact of Hollywood hegemony on domestic film production (and thus consumption) across the world should not be overlooked. The routinely big budget big six star-laden output crushes local competition in most markets.

France is among the major Western markets to impose its own restrictions to ensure that local language, domestic productions gain a share of exhibition space. Prior to the 80s free market fundamentalism of Thatcher, Britain had its own quota.

Without it we have a British film as the biggest hit of the year...only Bridget Jones's Baby has an American lead and distributor, and Working Title is a subsidiary of the big six giant NBC-Universal. Compare its box office take with what looks like the biggest British Indie hit of 2016, I, Daniel Blake, which may manage £1-2m. (BFI figures count WT as Indie, rather stretching the term)

China's limit on imported films relaxed amid box office downturn

China passes law to ensure films 'serve the people and socialism'

Open door: who benefits most from Hollywood's courting of China?