Year 12 Audience & InstitutionsCase Study:Working Title Films
Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan have achieved the near impossible They’ve created a wildly successful production company in a country where the film business is subject to repeated predictions of imminent doom. Eric Fellner Tim Bevan
1984 Working Title founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe Now the most successful British film production company
Film maths Films + American stars = Appeal to international market (& success for the British film industry) This approach has provoked criticism about the ‘mid-Atlantic’ nature of the films.
The British film industry dilemma: Do you: A) Make culturally specific films which appeal to a limited audience? OR B) Make broader, generic films with a wider appeal?
The British film industry dilemma: Working Title want to make European films for a worldwide audience. They want to imbue them with European ideas and influences and they couldn’t do these things without the backing of a major Hollywood studio.
History of WT: 1984 Working Title founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe 1985 First Working Title film My Beautiful Laundrette (The first of a series of collaborations with Channel Four Films) 15 Number of WT films produced in the 1980s
History of WT: 1988 Production deal with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment 1991 WT sets up Hollywood office
History of WT: 1992 PolyGram (a European music and media company) buys Working Title. Sarah Radclyffe leaves to set up her own production company She’s replaced by Eric Fellner
History of WT: 1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral A big box office success due to the access to the US market provided by Polygram
History of WT: 1998 Polygram bought by Universal, a Seagram company 2000 Seagram is bought by Vivendi, the French multimedia conglomerate WorkingTitle is now owned by Universal, which is in turn owned by Vivendi
$35m The amount of money WT can spend on a film before consulting with Universal WT2 Set up to encourage new British filmmakers. Billy Elliot (Dir. Stephen Daldry, 1999) WT2 did not need the approval of Universal
Safety Net: £13m Budget for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin £9.8m UK Box Office takings The protection of Universal means that Working Title was able to survive this disappointing performance
Unique: There is no other British Film Company like Working Title It is allowed freedom to make creative decisions but it is owned by a conglomerate
Some key Working Title films:
Some numbers: 4 or 5 The number of films Working Title produce each year 1 Number of ‘risk free films’ Working Title will invest in each year 2 Number of mainstream films WT will invest in each year 2 Will invest in projects they feel passionate about (which have risk factors involved)
Some numbers: 95 Number of films made (to date) by Working Title $4.5 billion Amount of money made by these films 6 Number of Academy Awards won 26 Number of BAFTA Awards won
Successful Relationships Working Title make films with 3rd parties e.g. the Coen Brothers and people they know well and have built up a good working relationship with e.g. Richard Curtis
Notable films The Soloist State of Play The Boat That Rocked Wild Child Burn After Reading, The Interpreter About a Boy Notting Hill
Elizabeth Fargo Dead Man Walking Bean High Fidelity Johnny English Billy Elliot Four Weddings and a Funeral
Bridget Jones's Diary Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason O Brother, Where Art Thou? Love Actually Shaun of the Dead Pride & Prejudice Nanny McPhee United 93
What does Eric Fellner have to say? Working Title focus on character and narrative (as opposed to action/ special effects etc.) They often create films of cross-genres Fellner feels the simple essence of a successful film is a really good screenplay and sense of humanity; that the most important thing is for the audience to identify and empathise with characters
What does Eric Fellner have to say? Working Title have aimed to create an industry that is exportable and global There is an active aggressive industry in Hollywood that we can never compete with What we should focus on is making films we believe in and exporting them
What does Eric Fellner have to say? We should dissipate the notion of the British Film Industry just being British Instead we should work with home grown material and work with others to distribute, market etc Characters should be fun and engaging; you should want to spend time with them (regardless of whether they’re simplistic or stereotypical) This is the focus for Working Title, rather than trying to package films/ characters for American audiences Fellner says that the British film industry is “thriving” and can ride out recessions
Homework due Tuesday 25th May Research a Working Title Film and prepare a presentation in groups (no more than 3) examining its patterns of production, distribution, exhibition and consumption by audiences. http://www.workingtitlefilms.co.uk/
Production Original idea? Book? Franchise? Casting? Producers? Directors? Composer – music tie ins? Screenwriters – other films? Studio – genres the do best? Blockbuster? Locations? Stars - A List or unknown?
Distribution How did the distributor market the film and who was the target audience? Posters Trailers Websites Release date and type of cinemas The number of prints and scale and pattern of release eg wide release Internet downloads, DVDs.
ExhibitionExchange and consumption In cinemas and at home Screen release DVD release Rating? Censorship? Restrictions? Film reviews A commercial success? Why? Audience figures Box office figures Personal response Sales figures for DVDs, CDs Rising stars?