Sian Lynes How does Hollywood produce, market and exhibit its films to ensure success? Refer closely to example throughoutHollywood is set up as a large studio system which enables them to control every aspect of theirown filmmaking including producing, marketing and exhibiting their films for their target audience.Hollywood is ultimately comprised of 6 major conglomerates these are: Warner Bros., 20th CenturyFox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia, Universal, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney. Every year,Hollywood releases approximately 120 films in comparison to the British film industry’s measlyhandful of films; without taking into account its success. This is because Hollywood film productionconsists of having high production values which means that their budget for each film is asubstantially high amount resulting in a better quality outcome of a film. This large budget allowsthem to invest in special effects such as CGI, more professional and well known actors, better script,exotic locations and more advanced technology especially in camera equipment. High-concept filmscan then be produced which have unique plot lines and allow more extravagant production; thisappeals to a mass audience which a majority of Blockbusters consist of.The way Hollywood produce their films gives them a huge advantage against minority British filmproducers and other national producers. The majority of large Hollywood companies are able toproduce almost every aspect of production from filming to special effects because they own othersubsidiary companies that specify in that field. When producing films Hollywood think specificallyabout their target audience and where their budget should be spent to appeal to that audience.Having this direct appeal to their target audience the film becomes more specific and thusgenerating a large profit. For example, Inception targeted its audience at the intellectuallychallenging and sceptical audience so it was important that they would not question the realism ofthe film. Director of Inception, Christopher Nolan, wanted the amount of CGI to the minimum so therealism of the dreams in the film were believable; this ended up with only 5% of total scenes in thefilm using green screen and other percent being full constructed sets. In contrast, Toy Story 3 isclearly bases its production on the use of computer generating imaging for the entire film as thecharacters are brought to life. Pixar, the creators of Toy Story 3 had to think specifically to appealnot only to its old audience that expected the same level of creativity and nostalgia from previousfilms but to a new audience that had not experienced its franchise before. Their target audience isrespectively a larger one than other films of its sort, appealing to children but also attaining anappeal to adults with its humour and plot. Toy Story 3 had an extraordinary budget of $200million,the highest of Pixar film history, which was spent not only on above-the-line costs such as the voicesof previous actors of key characters such as Tom Hanks playing Woody but the below-the-line costsof the development of new characters such as Lots-O. New development in technology allowed theanimators to create more in-depths detail such as the fur on Lots-O and more intricate movementwhich was not possible for previous films which had previously consisted mainly of basic plastictextures on old characters. This new level of production for CGI ensured that the quality of the filmappealed to its old and new audiences; this new in-depth dimension was not only enhanced in 2Dbut in 3D. Rise of The Planet of the Apes was another film which delved into benefits on newtechnology; and also had the trouble of appeal to past and present audiences to create a totally newway of creating the apes. The Planet of the Apes before was a film franchise that would rely onmake-up and professionalism of actors to perform like apes themselves. However by using screenperformance capture technology they were able to capture the movements of human actors who
Sian Lynesspecialised in the behaviour of apes. This was this digitally enhanced by Weta Digital who createdthe detail and realistic features of the apes; this appealed specifically to their target audience whichwas past fans of the franchise who expected the ape-like quality but to a new and younger audiencewhich were so familiar with digitalisation of animals in films. Unlike Avatar’s use of performancecapture, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the first to use this technology outside of constrictedspace of ‘the volume’ where scenery would be adapted around the source but instead the sourcecould be placed into the scenery to avoid complex construction of CGI locations and also add to therealistic context of the film. This integration of technology and real locations which were used, suchlocations used were Vancouver to San Francisco in California allowed a more believable plot andtherefore a more successful film. So it is no doubt that Hollywood films have a great stake in the CGImarket as many Blockbusters contain some element of computer generated technology to providescenes and objects that are just not physically possible. Throughout the past years 3D has also beena dominant force in film viewing. However, recent debates suggest that 3D is again on its way into itsown demise; the price of tickets in 3D is of course a majority higher than its 2D version which mainlyis the stimulus to which version an audience may chose to see. No doubt that recent surge in theeconomy is contributing to these considerably differentiated prices but it may be the experiencethat is also the cause of this fall in popularity. Wearing the 3D glasses may also alienate some peopleand that a 2D experience is more comfortable and enjoyable. The quality of the 3D films is alsowidely debated as many people argue it does not offer a substantial standard of quality incomparison to its 2D competitor. These result in a recent downfall of 3D, but this may be perhapsthe majority of 3D films that have been released are family based films and simply is an unaffordableprice in comparison to normal 2D which offers the same cinema experience. Either way, 3D isbecoming a less appetising form of viewing and until the prices of 3D can become reasonable ormatch the 2D price in the means of value and experience, Hollywood will continue to focus on the2D experience as before.To issue all this hard-work, Hollywood depend massively on the distribution of their films for it toearn money and become successful. Without marketing, a film can sit literally untouched until wordand mouth spreads about its presence which lures their audience into buying tickets to see it thusensuring a profit for the film. Although today’s Hollywood industry also relies heavily on ‘distributionwindows’ where they take the branding of a film and insert it into different media such as:merchandise, video games, internet downloads, DVD/Blueray formats etc. This allows Hollywood togo beyond the publicity of the theatrical aspect of marketing but to extend the brand of the film andcreate more revenue from a certified fan base. Hollywood can choose from a wide variety ofmarketing strategies to aim directly at a specific target audience. Distributors of Cloverfield,Paramount Pictures, aimed directly at the generation consumed with technology to create interestabout their film. The film produced an enigmatic teaser trailer, being filmed as if it was a realperson’s hand-held camera showing shocking scenes of New York City in destruction, to create buzzon the internet and word of mouth about what it could be. Photos were then slowly released on anwebsite that used its url as its release date, these photos had dates and times of the destruction; thisencouraged discussion on online blogs and social networks so word and mouth was spread quickerthan ever before. Back stories were also created for characters in the films on blogs and socialnetworks so people could track their activity and build key narrative features that would later beexplained in the film. This maintained mystery behind these characters urged people to see the filmto construct this puzzle. This was majorly profitable as creating these online profiles and online buzz
Sian Lyneswas relatively cheap and did not require any major stunts to create media attention. Traditionalposters and the trailers were shown in TV adverts to reinforce the film’s mystery without givingaway too much detail so there was still a reason for the audience to see it. This specific targeting ofaudiences was a major success because the budget for the film was $25million but in box office itgenerated $170million. This was an astonishing profit and shows that a well defined marketing tacticcan ensure success of a film even if reviews might say otherwise because audiences are always inneed of fulfilling their curiosity. Inception is another example of specific targeting of their audience,which was an audience who liked being challenged intellectually challenged. The complex plot ofInception had to tie in with its audience; so the distributors, Warner Bros. did this by constructingthe “Mind Crime Game”. This allowed the audience to participate in playing games to constructdreams/mazes to then unlock special movie posters. A site was set up called the “PasiDevice” whichwas a key prop in the film was made available but its use was unknown at the time; a ‘user manual’was sent to WIRED Magazine who published it online to ask readers to decipher its clues andinstructions it contained to use it. This created an online buzz as this challenging way of including theaudience into the film’s own plot and allowed an insight into the secretive plot. This was extended toa larger audience into a downloadable app called “SCVNGR” [scavenger] where users could log intolocations all over the globe to unlock movie content and special badges. A certain amount of secrecywas left behind the distribution of Inception to draw the audience to the cinemas; the teaser trailerand theatrical trailer still did not reveal a definite plot line so this was important in encouraging theiraudience to complete the puzzle of what their marketing subjected them to. The only insight intoplot was a 15-page preview comic with premiered exclusively on Yahoo! Movies which created anonline buzz and left many people speculating possible plot lines. This level of secrecy allowedInception to have edge over its summer film competitors that at the time relied mainly on previousmovies. Inception also took a typical route by holding a ‘press junket’ where the press where invitedby distributors to interview the director and stars of the film, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, about thefilm; this is a good method of marketing as it is definite that the press attending will report theirfindings and publish information from the press conference as well as show clips on TV or onlinemedia. However, Hollywood can always rely on traditional marketing methods such as trailers andposters in advertisement and interviews with cast members. In this case, Rise of the Planet of theApes took a more traditional route but took a twist onto its method to tie into the theme of the film.A well-done teaser trailer was released of apes taking over their human counter parts which grabbedthe attention of a mass audience, as well as the fans from previous films and new ones. Typicalonline methods were used, such as Twitter and Facebook to increase the film’s profile and generatean audience as well as a fan base. However, six videos were also released which showed fakefootage of apes in research or acting like humans, one in particular showed an ape using a gun,which creating a viral world wind. These not only gave a reinforced plot line but created a buzz andinsight into the film as the quality of these real-life but animated creatures gave the film already areputation for good CGI and special effects. These was successful as it appealed to their targetaudience, as previously discussed, were old fans but also encouraged a new base of fans to see thefilm. An iPhone app was also released which allowed users to test their knowledge against an apes,of course with the apes almost certainly to win over the user, to encourage them to see the film asto how the apes could be as intelligent as them. The poster for the film made sure it tied in withthese marketing strategies as well as the film, and had a dramatic poster with the slogan “Evolutionbecomes Revolution” which created a lot of interest. Hollywood conglomerates also rely on synergyto expand their film’s interest by using other sectors of their corporation such as a music company to
Sian Lynesproduce a soundtrack album to the film. By creating new products and services within the samecorporation costs can be cut than if another individual corporation charged them for their services.For example, Columbia Pictures uses its lateral integration where the film studio differs into separatecompanies to produce another product. Columbia Pictures is a part of the larger conglomerate SonyCorporation of America who also own Sony Music Entertainment; so it would be easy to use thiscompany to produce a sound track album for example. Synergy will also create more interest in thefilm and increase box office sales as well as other media sales such as DVD sales.Hollywood also makes sure the exhibition of their films is done to make it as successful as possible.The first thing to point out is that the main cinema chains of the UK, Vue, Cineworld UK, Odeon andothers total an around about total of 3,310 screens. Although these exhibitors are European orBritish companies they still mainly show a majority of Hollywood films to appeal to the mass marketwhich now lies there. Although Showcase is the main American-owned exhibitor which anapproximate 250 screens all exhibitors are committed to showcasing the latest Hollywood films.Most money earned comes through the theatrical exhibition via these multiplexes as they house alarge amount of screens in one building and can respond to demand more flexibly. These multiplexesare more profitable because of this reason and can show a popular blockbuster film on severalscreens more often. Typically, Hollywood blockbusters are given a wide release where a film isrelease simultaneously across lots of cinema screens to meet its demand which has been producedfrom its distribution. Mainly this is done with films that follow the ‘high concept’ guidelines and havea larger, mass audience. But by using this wide release to book into as many cinema screens aspossible at the same time it increases revenue from the demand created by their distribution tactics.Exhibition is also important as it relies on the wide release and first weekend takings to ensure a fastand large amount of profit to outweigh investment put into producing and distributing the film.After theatrical exhibition of the film, production of DVD and online format of the film are alsoreleased this allows the audience to watch the film on demand in their own home. This technologicalconvergence of different formats from physical DVD to download allows Hollywood to earn moreprofit as well as a reputation for their film. This constant need for seeing a film more than onceincreases the success of a blockbuster. Most specifically, with the evolution of online viewingHollywood can expand even more on the brand of a film and the audience can access the film easilywithout having to go to a store. This expansion of viewing shows that the viewing habits ofaudiences have gone beyond the television, audiences can watch films from the palm of their handwhenever they like, wherever they like; for Hollywood this is majorly beneficial as it increaserevenue beyond the physical DVD.For me, viewing still remains at the forefront of the Cinema experience. That experience isundeniably better for me than remaining at home. It also allows me to see the film before waitingseveral months before I could watch it in the comfort of my own home. However, I do only by DVD’sif the film is exceptionally good and most admittedly are Hollywood production. But I do not thinkwith the UK market of film industry can compete with the massive Hollywood conglomerates. Themass audience now appeal more to lavish and big budget films that are produced by Hollywood.Where UK films do not have this kind of budget and rely much more on realistic films mainly setwithin the UK to appeal specifically to the UK market where the films are much more relatable. Thisrestricted audience for UK independent film makers does not usually allow them to exhibit thembeyond European borders at the least. Whereas Hollywood films have a less realistic scene which
Sian Lynesappeals to a worldwide market and can also translate them and have a bigger total profit. It is here,where the mass market has its edge over a more specific market. Thus, why I think that althoughBritish Film makers can always continue to produce films specifically for the British market butHollywood’s big budget will always allow them to appeal to a vaster and more profitable audience.