FDA Guide 2008

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FDA Guide to UK Film Distribution 2008

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FDA Guide 2008

  1. 1. FDA Guide to UK Film Distribution 2008
  2. 2. Contents FDA Guide to UK film distribution 2008 Foreword by Tim Bevan CBE 2 Film distributors deliver the audience 4 Acquisition and source 6 Planning a release 10 Film marketing 16 Licensing films to exhibitors 25 The wider picture 28 Summary 30 Working in film distribution 31 Film Distributors’ Association 34
  3. 3. Distinguishing features: 2 3 Foreword by Tim Bevan CBE “The creative process of making a film, from developing the script, through casting and pre-production, then shooting, editing and all the stages of post-production, often lasts for years. But when a completed film is brought to market, it’s usually just one of eight or nine titles opening that week alone. It has barely three days – its first weekend – to make a strong impression and hold its place in cinemas. We filmmakers rely greatly on our invites you to explore the essential life effective campaigns that inspire people As an industry, we succeed only when of a film after its production phase.” professional distribution colleagues to see a particular new release. the stories we tell reach and move to navigate the most advantageous the audiences for whom they were path for our products into and through Tim Bevan CBE This business is becoming ever more intended. I believe that dedicated, the brutally competitive market place. Co-Chair, Working Title Films complex. As the internet plays an passionate, innovative distribution Having worked with many distribution www.workingtitlefilms.com increasingly central role in many daily and marketing, connecting films with teams, I’ve long admired the brilliant lives, traditional mass media channels their audiences both in the UK and designers who can condense a continue to fragment. And as our worldwide, are absolutely vital to the feature film into a single poster image, society grows more diverse, the vast film industry. distinguishing it memorably from the array of ‘content’ on offer is likely to pack. Likewise the skilled media and expand further – even though few of I’m delighted to introduce the 2008 publicity planners, who can devise us have more spare time to consume it. edition of this FDA guide, which
  4. 4. 4 Film distributors deliver the audience 5 reaps dividends throughout the release Exhibitors (cinema operators), who The media n n cycle, influencing the audiences and present the finished films on screen Marketing partners n commercial value a film subsequently The public n A host of external suppliers such commands. In an age when we’re all n You may have read or heard a great deal about film actors and This generic guide, spanning the arc as publicists, designers and bombarded with media choices, the advertising agencies of UK theatrical distribution, explores cinema presents films with a vital shop filmmakers. You may be familiar with local cinemas, DVD stores what distributors do and how they do it. window. and many movie websites. You may appreciate that some films Distributors also present and ‘sell’ the films they are launching to: Following the big screen run, films are influence our culture, shaping the way we see the world. released in flexible timescales on a plethora of other formats, so audiences Disney may choose how, when and where to watch them: Home entertainment release – But did you know that, right at the heart or delete. So how do people get to forms of entertainment are increasingly n films packaged on digital media of the film industry, there’s a dynamic know about the range of films on offer available ‘on demand’, and as social such as DVD and made available and come to feel they really want to see sector working to connect every new media supplant traditional channels, for download film with the largest possible audience? one or more of them in particular? consumer choice proliferates. Yet the cinema remains special and resilient. Then shown on various forms of pay/ This is the distribution sector and it’s Films don’t become well known, or It is the place where filmmakers still n subscription television vital to the health of the whole film find their place in the world, by aspire to have their creative work industry. Distribution is the highly accident. The distributor’s task is to showcased as it comes across to its Finally, broadcast on free-to-air competitive business of launching and bring each one to market, starting best effect. n television. Films may be scheduled sustaining films in the market place. from scratch (except for a sequel) and repeatedly on TV channels year The skills involved are very different realising its potential. The audience seated in a darkened The secret’s out: This after year from those needed for making films. stadium-style auditorium before a sequel to the huge hit, National Treasure (2004), “As a filmmaker, I know only too super-size screen enveloped by digital romped into UK cinemas Team effort well that films do not exist for Like other forms of entertainment, sound… The cinema, where movies are for February half-term 2008. Distributors share and discuss their their own sakes… they only exist the film business is product-driven: made to be seen, provides a uniquely From powerhouse producer Jerry Bruckheimer and release plans with: when they are experienced by the films themselves are the main immersive out-of-home experience. director Jon Turteltaub, the an audience.” reason why we buy tickets. There’s action-adventure starring Filmmakers and producers, who are Nicolas Cage as treasure Sir Alan Parker CBE an insatiable public appetite for great Theatrical distribution has long been n hunter Ben Gates was shot likely to have nurtured their projects stories on the screen as well as in print. – and still is – the most effective way partly on the streets of for years through the development The film value chain But today more than ever, consumers to bestow stature on a film and create London. The cast includes Dame Helen Mirren who will and production stages call the shots, deciding what Usually feature films open first demand to see it. The profile built up also appear in the fantasy information to receive or reject, access theatrically (in cinemas). As many on a theatrical launch endures and film, Inkheart.
  5. 5. 6 Acquisition and source 7 deal to be in place before principal Momentum photography begins. This may be viable on the basis of a hot script and anticipated cast. In practice, producers As films are creative works – intellectual property rather than tend to seek finance from multiple sources, including: physical goods – their copyright is owned by the people or organisations that produced or financed them. Distributors act pre-sales to various territories via a n specialist sales agent throughout under license on their behalf. bank loans n institutional or private investors n beneficial tax schemes n Where and how do UK distributors not necessarily the same thing. Who public subsidies whatever ownership, may compete to n obtain the films they release? From one pick up a film with available rights so does the film ‘speak to’? Do the Comic vision: Writer/director Jake Paltrow cast his sister, Gwyneth, and Penélope or more of various sources: story, characters and situation grip In the UK, most of the latter are co- competition to sign a hot property can Cruz opposite Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg in his comedy, The Good Night. Pegg the intended audience? Does the film ordinated by the UK Film Council, the be fierce. will also be seen in 2008 in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and, at the end of the year, as Scotty in JJ Abrams’ new Star Trek. Meanwhile, popular movies such A continuous flow of new content from ‘deliver’ and justify the expense and government’s strategic agency for film. n as Ghostbusters and Robocop are “remade” when all the tapes in a video store are a parent studio risk of a theatrical release? When considering acquiring a new accidentally wiped by a junkyard worker (Jack Black) with a magnetised brain. Be Kind Read about the UK Film Council’s film, distributors usually look Rewind is the latest comedy written and directed by Michel Gondry. Although a film’s entertainment support for the film industry at A studio or production company for something fresh, original or n value is not directly linked www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk with whom the distributor has outstanding. Is there an imaginative to its production budget, today’s negotiated an output deal covering ingredient or special idea which could event movies, often containing a slate of titles No fixed formulae apply to film financing appeal to a significant audience and many computer-generated effects or advances. Each case is affected by in due course form the basis of a shots, can cost $150–200m to A third-party sales agent, acting on variables such as the film property itself, marketing or publicity campaign? n produce. A further $100m is often behalf of a producer the script, cast and market conditions. spent on releasing and marketing Distributors recognise the importance such films worldwide, so the stakes A single title acquired at any stage Sometimes a distributor becomes a of local product – British audiences n are extremely high. before, during or after production partner in a project, contributing in naturally warm to good quality British advance to its development/production films, Irish audiences to Irish stories, The earlier a distributor is involved, As in other countries, the UK has a costs and later bringing it to market. and so on. the better number of major distributors (directly Over the coming years, the greater affiliated to the Hollywood studios) and A film’s marketability (who is the use of digital media throughout A distributor’s opinion on a film’s independent (unaffiliated) distributors the theatrical sector is likely to marketability may, and ideally should, be audience, how it can be promoted to who tend to handle films made outside them) and playability (how it actually have a bearing on film financing sought before it goes into production. Pathé the studios. Any local distributor, of as it changes established models. It’s generally preferable for a distribution performs in the market place) are
  6. 6. 8 9 Acquisition and source (cont’d) all rights in their particular territory, Generally, however, the larger the In some cases, the distributor may Sony Twentieth Century Fox production budget, the more likely a spreading the risk and opportunity need to pay an advance/minimum film is to have a distributor attached across multiple platforms. Most guarantee against future earnings to the before all its financing is confirmed. theatrical distributors do not physically producer or sales agent. The advance handle distribution in other media or commitment is for the distribution The distribution contract tie-in merchandising, but in both cases license rights plus the costs of Distributors sign a formal agreement they have sister companies or business theatrical prints and advertising (P&A). with the producer, sales agent or partners that do so. studio, specifying the rights they hold in Distributors prepare reports for the The UK has a thriving home respect of the title, such as: producer or rights owner, detailing the entertainment sector, while marketing spend, together with forecast increasing numbers of homes to release it in UK cinemas and actual theatrical revenues. These n have large plasma screens reports are submitted at least quarterly delivering HD-TV. Worth £3 billion to promote it in all media before and in the first year following launch and n – more than treble the value of during its release usually twice yearly after that. cinema ticket sales – the DVD market remains vital to the whether or not a local edit may Individual distributors may release any n on-going prosperity of the film be made to secure a particular number of films, sometimes as many industry. In addition, the UK classification as 25 every year. A typical week sees computer and video games nine or ten new films opening in UK Monster hit: This sci-fi action adventure, which industry clocks up annual how the income from the release will cinemas. Inevitably, with 500 or more n scored a UK film chart software sales of around £2 billion be apportioned and accounted for new releases a year, all competing for topping first weekend For further information, go to gross of £1.9m in January screen time, media space and audience 2008, has its origins in www. bva.org.uk and the date on which the distribution interest, the theatrical market place is n two successful franchises. www.elspa.com license expires highly competitive, churning, chopping Ridley Scott’s original Alien burst on to screens and changing all too quickly. back in 1979, while John Importantly, in addition to the theatrical If a broadcaster has contributed to the Weapon reloaded: The hero of three movies in the McTiernan’s Predator 1980s, veteran John Rambo here leads a mission to window, the license usually extends financing of a feature film, it is likely to was unleashed eight rescue relief workers in Burma. Writer/director Sylvester years later. The extra- to the ancillary markets such as home have pre-secured TV rights as part of Stallone also successfully revived his iconic character terrestrial creatures have entertainment and the further right to the deal, so the rights available to an Rocky Balboa in 2007. Other proven action figures endured through several rejoining the big screen fray include Detective John sequels, while in this latest license the film to UK broadcasters. incoming film distributor would extend McClane in last year’s Die Hard 4.0 and the adventurous incarnation a hybrid monster Distributors normally seek to acquire only to theatrical, DVD and downloads. archaeologist, Indiana Jones. wreaks havoc.
  7. 7. 10 Planning a release 11 The UK cinema audience is broadening distributor’s challenge is always to or family groups – perhaps an older, slightly as the population ages and attract as wide a demographic spread more discerning segment who may not diversifies. In 2007, there were 162.4m as possible – ideally to help a film ‘break frequent cinemas as much – the more admissions, an average of 3.1m per out’ or ‘cross over’. outstanding it has to be to sustain a Every film has its own tailor-made distribution plan, which the week. This equates to an average of 2.7 theatrical life. visits per person in the year, up from If you look at how a film performs in distributor develops in consultation with the producers and/ barely one a year in the 1980s, but still the market place, the greater its box- Although much information can be or parent studio. The most important strategic decisions a fewer than in countries such as Ireland, office takings, the more likely it is to gleaned from discussions with the Australia and the US. be attracting infrequent cinemagoers filmmakers or by reading the script, distributor makes are when and how to release a film – how to and repeat visits. It’s a function of the every project is a one-off. Release plans position it in order to optimise its chances. It’s important never to lose sight of a market that the more a film is designed can often be confirmed only when the film’s core target audience. But the for an audience beyond 15–24 year-olds finished product is available to view. In his mind’s eye (left): Mathieu Amalric played a journalist Focus on the audience Through a combination of market for young people – but overall, just paralysed by a stroke who knowledge, commercial experience, a quarter of the population goes Naturally the intended audience can communicated his memoirs by blinking his left eye. Julian statistical research and professional that often. vary considerably film by film, for Schnabel’s acclaimed film, based judgement, distributors gauge the example from families with young on a remarkable true story, had a screenplay by award-winning Most UK homes and businesses audience for each film. children to teenage males or females writer, Ronald Harwood, and a have internet access and to older adults, or sometimes a cast including Max von Sydow broadband penetration continues Who can be convinced to spend combination. UK cinemagoers tend and Emmanuelle Seigner. Amalric went on to play the villain in to rise rapidly. Over 20m people in money on a cinema ticket for this to be upmarket, especially for more Quantum of Solace. the UK now shop online, spending film? Why should they do so? specialised fare, while cinemagoing is a shared experience with an average of more than £30 billion a year. The What sort of audiences have similar most popular social networking films attracted recently? three people per party. websites attract more than 50 The most frequent cinemagoers tend to billion page views per month! Relying solely on conventional wisdom Checking film/cinema information is never an option – each release be aged 15–24 – teenagers, students, and booking tickets are among the must be individually planned given young adults. They are the most voracious media consumers of any age most popular online activities, and current circumstances. A detailed group, and although television remains growing. Up-to-the-minute special understanding of who the target A nose for true love (right): offers can also be sent by email or audience is (age range, sex, lifestyles, popular, the internet usually plays a This modern day fairy tale, starring central role in their lives. More than half text to registered customers opting media consumption, social networks) Christina Ricci as Penelope, to receive them. informs all subsequent decisions on of 15–24 year-olds in the UK visit the alongside James McAvoy and Reese Witherspoon, was shot in how and where a film is promoted. cinema at least once a month – it’s a London and features a supporting favourite out-of-home leisure activity cast full of British talent. Pathé Momentum
  8. 8. 12 13 Planning a release (cont’d) Is it a film with hopes for award and other media, can contribute to simultaneously on 800–1,000 screens n nominations? The Academy Award®, positive word of mouth in the UK – UK-wide, playing at two or more Golden Globe and Orange British although this can work both ways, as screens per multiplex. Sometimes, a Academy Film Award contenders a disappointing US performance may 35mm print can service more than one Rolling the distribution dice Competition is always a primary often open in the UK between adversely affect perceptions here. screen if it is ‘interlocked’ between such release will do likewise: it depends n Like all companies, film distributors aim consideration. Which films are other December–February, when the adjacent projectors. on the individual film and market to recoup their costs and turn a profit at distributors likely to release at the What certificate will the film have? annual awards publicity reaches conditions. It’s well nigh impossible to n the end of the year. But launching films same time and during the following The certificate awarded by the British its peak, although this can cause a This strategy, usually deployed for entice people to a film in which they is expensive and risky – audiences have weeks – especially those targeted at Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is bottleneck in an already congested ‘tentpole’ titles such as large-scale have no interest. many other leisure choices in and out of a similar audience? Is there space in important as it can affect the potential release schedule. sequels or star-led holiday releases, the home. Most releases do not make a the market for something different – audience. Distributors submit a helps to accommodate mass As it’s such an unpredictable, product- For more about the British Academy profit from their theatrical runs alone. some ‘counter-programming’? Are copy of each film to the BBFC for audiences eager to see a film at the driven business, each distributor’s of Film and Television Arts, visit the most appropriate screens for this classification as soon as possible, earliest opportunity. earnings, market share and profitability www.bafta.org Audience tastes are notoriously film available and likely to be offered? paying a fee according to the film’s fluctuate year by year. Inevitably this unpredictable and traditional Projected release dates often change length. Consumer advice about the By contrast, the specialised release of, reflects the success or otherwise of preferences may not count for a lot in Are any cast members available for as competing distributors jockey for content is included in a panel on the say, a foreign language film or revived individual titles. n practice. Nobody can be absolutely UK/international publicity or to attend position week by week. film’s advertising. classic may comprise 25 prints or fewer. certain what makes a hit, or when and a premiere? Initially, the film may be booked into Market research in the form of Is it an event film, a prospective mass where it might happen. Notwithstanding selected screens in London and some pre-release test screenings may n market blockbuster, or a specialised Will the film lead the media reviews of the best made plans, cinemagoers university towns, where local audiences be conducted to probe audience n film for a more discrete audience? that week’s new releases? discover particular films they like or are known to favour such films, before reactions or to evaluate alternative dislike when they open. touring more widely during the following marketing campaigns – fundamental Is there any star power among the Is there already a buzz about the film, weeks. Very occasionally, a film might considerations for every release. n n “It is clear to me that films only cast? What were the lead star’s last due to its stars or makers, a book on be ‘platformed’ in just one location These screenings, after which the achieve their extraordinary potential couple of films and how were they which it is based, or perhaps some before rolling out UK-wide. London, with viewers complete questionnaires, when they are able to reach global received commercially and critically? controversial subject matter? What is an increasingly diverse population of can help the distributor to be more audiences, week in, week out.” Is the film made by a ‘name’ director posted about the film online? 7.5m people, accounts for around 25% confident of the expected audience Lord (Richard) Attenborough CBE For UK classification guidelines or producer? of UK cinema admissions. or box-office prospects. In the US, and consumer advice on current If it is a sequel or franchise entry, research screenings are held for most n releases, visit www.bbfc.co.uk The UK has approximately 650 Is it a film for a holiday period? If what elements distinguish it or give One or two films every year become productions. n cinemas with 3,400 screens. A so, which season? School holiday contemporary resonance over and ‘sleeper’ hits, playing for longer Satisfying anticipated demand majority of films released go out on The competitive jungle dates may vary around the UK, and above its predecessor(s)? and generating greater returns than fewer than 200 prints, whether 35mm with those in other countries. What expected. But just because one Different releases are naturally As well as the target audience and or digital. Every year, across all films, Has the film already opened in the US kinds of films have been released romantic comedy or action adventure managed in completely different ways. commercial risk, what factors do n UK distributors procure and supply or elsewhere? Substantial success successfully in particular slots in plays successfully to a particular For example, a saturation release distributors take into account when around 100,000 new prints. in the US, reported via websites previous years? audience is no guarantee that the next at cinemas everywhere may open developing their release plans?
  9. 9. 14 15 Planning a release (cont’d) £ £ Cost Category Cost Category (cont’d) Publicity 35mm prints (for conventional projection) No. 35mm prints Press screenings Cost of 35mm prints Talker screenings Digital dimensions Cost of 3D / IMAX® prints (if any) Premiere, if any Cinema’s migration to digital Paramount/DreamWorks Trailer print costs Visiting talent hospitality The recent expansion of digital transmission is set to continue. Print transport to cinemas Festival screenings/travel cinema in the UK presents new Whatever the means of transmission, Other print related costs PR agency fees & expenses releasing and programming however, the fundamental principles Press kits (online and/or printed matter) opportunities for film distributors and of motivating audiences film by film Digital copies (for digital projection) Other publicity costs cinema operators respectively. remain the same. Digital Master cost Campaign production Encoding/encryption applications Budgeting the release As well as utilising 35mm celluloid No. digital copies Film poster design prints (with digital soundtracks), films As early as possible, the distributor Disk duplication cost Poster printing can be distributed today on specially screens the finished film privately and Despatch to cinemas Print advertising production encoded media disks. They are confirms how it will be positioned. Other digital costs TV ad production ingested into a server in the cinema Radio ad production and played out through a state-of- In the UK, where distributors pay all Film certification charge (BBFC) Film trailer production the-art digital projector. The disks are the release costs including marketing Subtitles/audio description tracks significantly less expensive to duplicate and the duplication of prints, the Media (launch and sustain) Official UK film website content than 35mm copies (around 10% of the distributor draws up and works to Press/print advertising Foyer POS display items origination & print cost), while digital encryption can also a comprehensive budget, covering TV advertising Promotional leaflets/flyers, if any Radio advertising Other production costs render the disks highly secure. the launch and the sustaining of the Outdoor advertising film post-release. Importantly, the Disney/Pixar Other Online advertising Digital images appear on screen in investment and projected return can Other media costs Research screening/exit polling, if any pristine quality and do not deteriorate be reassessed subject to commercial Additional materials (specify) over time. Digital remastering enables performance week by week. A mighty draw: Animated films accounted for more Promotions Couriers, copying, other incidental expenses classic films to return to the big than 1 in every 7 tickets to UK cinemas in 2007. Two On-air media promotion(s) screen looking as good as new. Digital A distribution budget may be itemised examples from 2008, both with impeccable pedigrees: Contribution to any retail partner/other promotion(s) Kung Fu Panda sports a voice cast including Jack projection equipment also enables as shown opposite. It covers all Black, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Ian McShane, while Total cinemas to present films in state-of- the print costs associated with the WALL-E comes from the makers of Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life, both of which appear in the UK’s top 50 the-art 3D, and more and more big physical release and all the ‘ad pub’ cinema hits of all time. films – live-action and animation – are (advertising/publicity) costs associated Total UK distribution expenditure can vary from a few tens formidable project management skills. It’s possible for a being released with 3D versions. with media and marketing activities: of thousands of pounds up to £4m–5m per film. fine film to get lost in the mêlée without careful handling and distinct promotion, but beware! Even inspired In co-ordinating all these elements, often for several marketing can’t save a film for which the public has different releases at a time, distributors must exercise no appetite.
  10. 10. 16 Film marketing 17 distributors have to work hard to make each one stand out. Film posters may be originated by the Complementing the distribution plan, every film has studio or sales agent (as applicable) and rolled out internationally or a detailed marketing plan. adapted for use locally. Alternatively, they may be devised in the UK from scratch, depending on what approved materials are available to the distributor The marketing objective is to create and how the film is best presented to aspire to have positive ‘word of When constructing a campaign, visibility, raise awareness and engage local audiences. A poster is designed mouth’ circulating on all their releases. distributors aim to reach as much interest, cutting through the blizzard of for every release, in quad format Pre-requisites for this include high of their target audience as possible, competing messages. (the traditional UK size of 30” x 40”, awareness and strong interest. Word of as frequently but cost-effectively as landscape orientation) or one-sheet mouth can make or break your release: possible. They must bear in mind that Distributors must compete for a format (the US equivalent with similar negative word of mouth is extremely different audiences react to advertising, significant share of voice not only dimensions, portrait orientation). difficult to overcome. and reach a decision to see a new against other distributors but also film, in different ways. Older audiences other leisure activities in and out of Many months before release, an Post-release, hopefully, a combination may respond best having seen a film the home. They all aim to entice the initial teaser poster may be created to of favourable word of mouth and advertised on television and in the same public, who have never had announce that a film is coming and further advertising will give the film press, while for younger audiences it is as much choice as there is today. to whet the audience’s appetite. ‘legs’. Nowadays, theatrical runs rarely more appropriate to promote the film However large or small the marketing exceed eight weeks, even for the online, on radio stations or bus Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment Trailers budget, audiences must be reached in Love triangle: Katherine Heigl, hot from Knocked Up Hot fuzz: This teaser poster for the comedy Semi-Pro, biggest hits, and all too often last much shelter panels. (2007) stars with James Marsden and Malin Akerman featuring a single image and tagline, appeared months appropriate, contemporary, compelling Probably the single most cost-effective less than this. in the new romantic comedy, 27 Dresses, directed by before the film’s release. In 2008, Will Ferrell also stars in ways and persuaded that this is an marketing technique, playing to a In each case, a variety of another comedy, Step Brothers, alongside John C Reilly. Anne Fletcher who also appears in the film. especially entertaining, must see film. captive audience of active cinemagoers. As with any product, film distributors complementary media and Their interest should peak as it opens must have a thorough knowledge of promotional options is considered: in cinemas. Full trailers, screened shortly before a the market and innovative ideas about Poster film opens, may be preceded by early engaging consumers. Distributors’ Word of mouth teasers (30–90 seconds). Exhibitors, campaigns are generally highly The main image distilling the appeal of Social recommendation is key. A who programme their own screens, productive as most cinemagoers the film – its stars, theme/genre, credits personal recommendation from a select trailers appropriate to the feature consider in advance which film they and often a tagline to whet audiences’ friend, colleague or relative can be film before which they’re played. want to see before setting off for appetites. With sometimes a dozen the most powerful trigger for a trip to Distributors fund the duplication, and the cinema. or more different posters on display the cinema, so distributors naturally sometimes the production, of trailers; in a cinema foyer at any one time,

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