British film producers periodically experience boom periods.
Although the British film industry attract a large global audience, in Britain we experience a large film diet of American films.
Due to the popularity of Hollywood films in the UK, the distribution of films into cinemas and DVDs into our shops in dominated by US companies, who are clearly going to put their money into their own products.
If you break it down and look at it as a business then the audience has the greatest power. It’s the audience who likes a particular superstar, then Hollywood is forced to use the superstar and that star then becomes extremely powerful.
In a world where money spent in the budget of a film often sees 50% going on promotion as opposed to what you actually see on the screen, the idea that we have a world where the consumer can exercise authority is absurd. This industry is like any other. Of course it has to see things but it doesn’t rely on waiting, listening , responding to an audiences want and then delivering that to them.
It relies on knowing which parts of the world and the media need its products and will pay for them.
Do millions of people go and see Pirates of the Caribbean 2 in the first week of release because, its expected to be as good if not better than the previous film, because it has had good marketing? or both?
Film distribution describes everything that happens in between production (making the film) and exhibition (people watching the film in cinema, DVD, television, via the internet, a plane or anywhere else!)
Distribution involves all the deals done to get the film shown including the promotion.
‘ Above the line’ advertising which will be funded as part of the project such as trailors, billboards and various other spin offs e.g. McDonalds happy meal toys and in house promotion of the film.
‘ Below the line’ publicity which is not paid for but generates mutual interest e.g. an interview with a magazine or newspaper or reviews (any positive reviews will obviously help the promotion of the film although any bad publicity will obviously have an impact on the film.
IN most cases these distributors have direct links to Hollywood production companies that make the films.
They deal with exhibitors who are no longer (they used to be) owned by the same Hollywood companies, but who do, for reasons of profit, prioritise Hollywood films over theirs.
Usually the blockbuster films we are familiar with are distributed via ‘blanket release’, so even if a small UK independent company manages to get its product into cinemas it is usually competing for attention with one or more films that take on the status of an ‘event’.
One of the outcomes of the distribution arrangement outlined above is that half of the films released in Britain do not reach the whole country.
What do you think the issues are for smaller distribution companies?
They have to compete with the larger distributors for the bigger films.
For a smaller distributor one of the major issues is the digital age.
Every film shown in a cinema is a separate ‘print’ of the film projected via a reel.
The major companies can afford to produce far more prints than the smaller companies, knowing the expensive outlay of funds at this safe will be will be worth it in relation to box office returns.
A small company producing a less commercial product can not afford to do that , so people who want to see more alternative films often have to wait until their local independent cinema has a print and often there is little choice of where and when you see it.