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The Film ndustry Today

nership and Production - The Ma]ors


Major Studios are vertically and horizontally integrated and are now part of massive
media conglomerates which has created an 'oligopoly' in form of the 'Big Six.'
A 'package unit' is put together by a producer and ideas 'pitched' to major studios
in the hope of accessing finance and distribution.
Big budget Blockbusters often follow the 'high concept' model in order to appeal to
a mass audience
Films are often sequels, prequels and remakes or based upon a successful book,
TV programme or even video game to minimise financial risk and to increase profit.
%$
n pairs prepare a pitch presentation for a new high concept film.
Make sure you consider cast, genre, plot and similarities to other
films. Click here for an example of the pitching process from the film
The Player Altman, 1992)
nership and Production - The
ndependents
ndependent i.e. not part of a conglomerate) distribution companies sell
low budget art house films.
Art house films that are often slower in pace, character rather than plot
driven and less dependant on special effects and stars.
These days successful companies that cater for the art house market are
being taken over by conglomerates, or majors are setting up their own 'art
house' divisions e.g. Fox Searchlight).
This phenomenon has made the term independent a problematic one as it
is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to remain truly
independent.
Successful companies are likely to be taken over by a conglomerate, whilst
unsuccessful companies may simply go out of business.
istribution - The Ma]ors
Distribution is now the most important sector of the industry.
The major studios have focused upon distribution since the end of the contract
system and the 'paramount decree'.
Studios have sought to create additional 'distribution windows' in addition to theatrical
exhibition to generate more revenue;
A successful film brand can be 'sold' in a number of different ways apart from
theatrical exhibition, for example:
DVD/Bluray
On Demand TV
Network TV
nternet Downloads
Soundtrack albums
Video games
Novelisations
Merchandising and Licensing deals.
First films to exploit distribution windows were aws Spielberg, 1975) and Star Wars
Lucas, 1977).
istribution {cont_ - The Ma]ors
Conglomerates will try to use synergy within sectors of the corporation to maximise profit. For
example a soundtrack album could be produced by the record company, a novel could be
produced by the publishing house, a video game could be produced within the computer software
division etc.
Synergy is where multiple products and services are created on the basis of a successful brand
within the same corporation. Every 'spin off' product or service helps create interest in the film,
hopefully improving box office receipts and DVD sales.
More money is spent upon marketing and advertising a major studio film than was previously the
case.
Press junkets are organised by distributors to generate press interest.
Viral marketing is where a distributor will create content that is designed to be shared by others,
through social networking sites and new technology e.g online game, facebook page, youtube
video, iphone app.
For a major blockbuster the marketing and advertising budget may will exceed production costs in
order to stimulate demand and get people into the cinemas/buy DVDs. This would have been
unthinkable during the studio era.
Develop a marketing and advertising strategy for a new Warner
Bros blockbuster. As well as poster, trailer tv spots etc. Think about
how you could develop synergy and possible viral marketing to
promote your film.
%$
istribution - The ndependents
ndependent films try to get exhibited at film festivals in the hope of being
picked up by distributors for wider release. n America one of the most
important of these festivals is the Sundance Film Festival organised by
Robert Redford.
This is because independent productions rarely gain access to the major
distribution networks they prioritise more marketable big budget
productions.
At festivals distributors are looking for potential indie successes, whilst
producers look to make deals to get their films shown to a wider audience.
t is very difficult for indie productions to get access to international
distribution, meaning they have to try and negotiate with a number of
different distribution companies in different countries to gain access to an
international audience.
hibition - The Ma]ors
Films are normally released across a large number of screens
simultaneously.
'High concept' films are usually given what is called a saturation or blanket
release, this is where a film is released across a huge number of cinemas
simultaneously in order to meet expected demand.
This is because 'high concept' films are expected to attract a 'mass'
audience.
Most Hollywood films are released widely as they try and cash in upon the
huge amount of investment put into producing and distributing them.
Most of the money made through theatrical exhibition comes through
multiplexes.
hibition {cont_ - The Ma]ors
Multiplexes are more profitable because
they house a large number of screens under one roof reducing staffing costs
and other overheads).
they are usually in close proximity to shopping malls, bowling alleys, bars and
restaurants - where they are more likely to attract the casual viewer.
they can respond to demand more flexibly by showing a popular film on several
screens.
they can provide a more modern and viewer friendly experience.
Although the amount of people paying to go to the cinema will never reach the levels
of the pre television era, box office receipts have increased steadily over the last
twenty years thanks to changes in production, distribution and exhibition strategies.
The major studies are now also heavily investing in 3D technology as way of
distinguishing the cinema experience from that of home viewing.
hibition - The ndependents
Low budget independent films are often given a very limited release initially,
usually in art house cinemas in major cities where there is an audience for
more specialist films. This is called platforming.
f a film proves popular then it may be put out on a wider release. Because
the advertising budget for art house films is usually very small; word of
mouth, favourable reviews and award nominations are very important in
order to create a 'buzz'.
Expectations for indie films are much lower than those financed and
distributed by the major studios, it is a niche market and exhibition
strategies reflect that.
Many indie films never even make it to the cinema, either going straight to
DVD or never reaching a wider audience at all.
lossary
Advertising
Paid for promotion such as poster campaigns, TV spots and trailers.
Art House
Small theatres usually in major cities or towns where independent, foreign and older films
are usually shown as well as or instead of mainstream Hollywood productions.
Big Six
The major media conglomerates click on each one see what they own) Sony, Disney,
News Corporation, Viacom, NBC/Universal and Time Warner.
Blanket release
A release strategy that involves booking a film into as many theatres as possible
simultaneously to cash in on the expected demand created through advertising.
Conglomerate
A large corporation that includes many smaller companies or divisions.
Distribution windows
Ways is which a film can be sold beyond theatrical exhibition.
lossary {cont_
Film festivals
Events were films are premiered to journalists, distributors and other interested
parties as well as the general public. For independent productions this often
provides an important opportunity to access distribution.
High concept
An approach to filmmaking which prioritises a films marketability, usually
emphasising spectacle, action and stars and using genre in 'loose' way.
Horizontal integration
Where direct competitors within the same industry merge. This reduces
competition and costs. or where a film studio diversifies into a different
industry or merges with a company in a different industry. Recently it is seen as
a way in which conglomerates can create synergy e.g AOL/Time Warner
merger in 2001
lossary {cont_
ndependent
An 'independent' traditionally refers to any company that operates outside of the major
studios. This term has become problematic in recent years as independent companies
have been taken over by conglomerates, or major studios have set up their own 'indie'
divisions. n this context the term 'independent' is often used to describe a film that is
different in its content compared with mainstream productions.
Licensing deals
Where the rights to produce a 'spin off product or service are agreed with another
company
Marketing
The overall strategy by which a studio attempts to 'sell' a film. This will include
advertising, but will also include audience research, viral marketing, test screenings,
previews, press junkets and interviews.
Multiplex
An exhibition centre that houses multiple screens under one roof. Usually part of a larger
'entertainment' complex.
lossary {cont_
Niche
A niche audience or market is one which is narrower than a mass audience.
ndependent films often target an audience bored by mainstream films and
more interested in character or mood driven films this audience is often
targeted by platforming a film in art house cinemas located in large cities).
Oligopoly
A state of limited competition that exists when a small number of companies
control an industry.
Package unit
A group of individuals who are assembled to produce a film.
Paramount decree
Where the major studios agreed to sell off their exhibition chains to end the
American Justice Department's 'anti trust' suit in the late 1940s.
lossary {cont_
Pitch
The process of 'selling' an idea for a film to a studio in return for investment and
distribution.
Platforming
A release strategy that involves exhibiting a film in a small number of cinemas usually in
large cities in the hope of building a wider release through word of mouth.
Press junket
An event organised by the distributor when the press are invited to interview cast and
crew to generate publicity.
Saturation release
See blanket release.
Synergy
Where spin off products and services are created on the back of a successful film from
within the same corporation.
lossary {cont_
3D
A 3-D film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception. 3-
D films became more and more successful throughout 200010, culminating in
the unprecedented success of ;atar.
Vertical integration
Where a company has a stake in production, distribution and exhibition.
Viral marketing
refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce
increases in sales
Word of mouth
Where demand for a film increases because of a positive audience response
and recommendation to others.