The Film Industry

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The Film Industry

  1. 1. The Film Industry Today
  2. 2. Ownership and Production – The Majors <ul><ul><li>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.’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A ‘package unit’ is put together by a producer and ideas ‘pitched’ to major studios in the hope of accessing finance and distribution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big budget Blockbusters often follow the ‘high concept’ model in order to appeal to a mass audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>TASK </li></ul>In 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)
  3. 3. Ownership and Production – The Independents <ul><ul><li>Independent (i.e. not part of a conglomerate ) distribution companies sell low budget art house films. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Art house films that are often slower in pace, character rather than plot driven and less dependant on special effects and stars. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This phenomenon has made the term independent a problematic one as it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to remain truly independent. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Successful companies are likely to be taken over by a conglomerate , whilst unsuccessful companies may simply go out of business. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Distribution – The Majors <ul><ul><li>Distribution is now the most important sector of the industry. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The major studios have focused upon distribution since the end of the contract system and the ‘paramount decree’. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Studios have sought to create additional ‘distribution windows’ in addition to theatrical exhibition to generate more revenue; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A successful film brand can be ‘sold’ in a number of different ways apart from theatrical exhibition, for example: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DVD/Bluray </li></ul><ul><li>On Demand TV </li></ul><ul><li>Network TV </li></ul><ul><li>Internet Downloads </li></ul><ul><li>Soundtrack albums </li></ul><ul><li>Video games </li></ul><ul><li>Novelisations </li></ul><ul><li>Merchandising and Licensing deals . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First films to exploit distribution windows were Jaws (Spielberg, 1975) and Star Wars (Lucas, 1977). </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Distribution (cont) – The Majors <ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More money is spent upon marketing and advertising a major studio film than was previously the case. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Press junkets are organised by distributors to generate press interest. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Distribution – The Independents <ul><ul><li>Independent films try to get exhibited at film festivals in the hope of being picked up by distributors for wider release. In America one of the most important of these festivals is the Sundance Film Festival organised by Robert Redford. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is because independent productions rarely gain access to the major distribution networks they prioritise more marketable big budget productions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At festivals distributors are looking for potential indie successes, whilst producers look to make deals to get their films shown to a wider audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It 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. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Exhibition – The Majors <ul><ul><li>Films are normally released across a large number of screens simultaneously. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ 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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is because ‘high concept’ films are expected to attract a ‘mass’ audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most Hollywood films are released widely as they try and cash in upon the huge amount of investment put into producing and distributing them. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of the money made through theatrical exhibition comes through multiplexes . </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Exhibition (cont) – The Majors <ul><ul><li>Multiplexes are more profitable because </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they house a large number of screens under one roof (reducing staffing costs and other overheads). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they are usually in close proximity to shopping malls, bowling alleys, bars and restaurants - where they are more likely to attract the casual viewer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they can respond to demand more flexibly by showing a popular film on several screens. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they can provide a more modern and viewer friendly experience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Exhibition – The Independents <ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If 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’. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many indie films never even make it to the cinema, either going straight to DVD or never reaching a wider audience at all. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Glossary 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.
  11. 11. Glossary (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
  12. 12. Glossary (cont) Independent 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. In 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.
  13. 13. Glossary (cont) Niche A niche audience or market is one which is narrower than a mass audience. Independent 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.
  14. 14. Glossary (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.
  15. 15. Glossary (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 2000–10, culminating in the unprecedented success of Avatar . 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.

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