A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Ben Wheatley, UK, 2013)
About the film…
• A Field In England is a genre – busting film set in the English Civil War,
directed by Ben Wheatley, a cult director, who, at the time had
directed Down Terrace, Kill List, Sightseers and has since gone to
direct High Rise and Free Fire
• Shot entirely in black and white with a small cast in just 12 days
• Unconventional mixture of narrative / setting / themes / genre
• The film’s budget of £316,000 was financed by Film4’s Film4.0
division. Film4 had been a major supporter of Wheatley’s earlier
projects. The low budget nature of the film fitted Film4.0’s innovative
model. Film4.0 was created to find new ways of connecting talent
and ideas to audiences using digital technology. The low budget also
reduced the financial risk involved. P&A (Prints and Advertising)
spend of £112,000, including £57,000 from the BFI (British Film
• Picturehouse also made a vital contribution to
• the ideas and execution of the project, both as exhibitor
(Picturehouse Cinemas) and distributor (Picturehouse Entertainment)
• The film opened on July 5th 2013 on 17 cinema screens, DVD, Blu-
Ray, Transactional VOD (iTunes etc.), and free-to-air television
through Film4. Simultaneous multimedia release was suited to the
cult following of the director Ben Wheatley.
Film4.0 is a talent and idea driven hub within Film4 that works with established and
emerging talent, supporting them to tell unique stories and connect with audiences in new
In 2011 Film4 launched its groundbreaking new role in exploring innovation in filmmaking
with the appointment of Anna Higgs as Commissioning Executive for Film4.0. Film4's
reputation for nurturing new talent and building on its family of returning talent in the UK
is well-established, and it is now extending its vision to advance thinking and practice and
develop more direct relationships with audiences in a fast-changing environment.
As Commissioning Executive for Film4.0, Anna Higgs works across talent development,
production and audience engagement, commissioning film projects that have the potential
to explore the spaces and relationships between traditional media, digital platforms and
the real world.
• All of the contributing parties were convinced that such an
unconventional and daring film had little chance of fulfilling its
potential under traditional release models but deserved to find an
enthusiastic audience with a fresh approach to releasing.
• Channel 4 were involved in distribution to all platforms apart from
theatrical. Channel 4 has its own DVD label (4DVD) which also
distributes to transactional VOD (TVOD) platforms such as iTunes, as
well having their own TVOD platform in Film 4OD. Both the Film4
Channel and Film4.0 felt the multiplatform approach fit their brand
positioning – exciting, innovative, and audience-centred.
• The simultaneous multimedia release looked promising, given the
strong, even cult following the director had and the target audience
for the film was also expected to be open to the new release pattern
and to the online and social media-dominated marketing campaign
• Expectation that bulk of target audience were familiar with
Wheatley’s work – same demographic group as Shaun of the Dead
and Attack the Block
• The active involvement and support of an established theatre group,
Picturehouse Cinemas, removed, to an extent, one of the key
obstacles to same day release strategy i.e. a cinema boycott
• Marketing plan involved building interest across all platforms – Channel 4,
Film4, Film4OD, Picturehouse Cinemas, related websites, social media, and
• The director had a strong, active fanbase, including 12,000 Twitter followers
which contributed to the marketing of the film. His active use of Twitter,
including retweeting audience reviews and comments played a key part in
the marketing of the film. The director also took part in special Q & A
screenings which sold out the participating cinemas.
• The involvement of Film4 and Channel 4 offered another means of
marketing to a large audience, with 23 million people engaging with the
channel in some way. Promotional trailers on Channel 4 and the Film4
Channel pushed viewers to both the television screening of the film as well
as other platforms. Without this promotion for the film may have to include
paid advertising which would have affected the cost of the film’s release.
This is an example of synergy.
• The aim of the marketing campaign was to build a single momentum
around the film in all its forms that would make its opening weekend
a real event.
• One marketing innovation included a website masterclass which
attracted a large, engaged audience. This was commissioned by
Film4.0 as a way of using digital technology to engage with the
audience. It attracted 54,000 visits, with 34% of users following links
to screenings or purchasing options.
• The heavy promotion of the film’s innovative release ensured the film
was reviewed as a major release by the key national newspapers, and
generated publicity in news pages and broadcasters about the nature
of the film’s release including on a number of BBC programmes, and
• The online campaign was targeted at a clear core audience, and was
highly effective. Even among the cinema audience the online
campaign was the single biggest factor in spreading audience
• Twitter was a key platform for social media mentions of the film, with
12,000 mentions on the day of release, with the film trending.
Release strategies and response
• The film would not have been more successful if it had used a conventional release.
Results for the film’s theatrical, television, DVD, and VOD release were all close to or
above expectations, and showed no signs of fragmentation on any platform.
Opening weekend theatrical revenue was £21,000. VOD rental figures were well
above predictions for the opening weekend. The film was the most watched on
Film4OD on the opening weekend, and also boosted rentals for the director’s other
films. The Film4 television screening averaged 367,000 viewers, 3% of TV audience
and higher than average for timeslot and channel. Opening weekend DVD/Blu-Ray
sales of 1500.
• The publicity generated from the film’s release model would not be available to any
films using the same model in the future. The big argument against day-and-date
release is that it will take audiences away from traditional platforms, especially
cinemas. The Q & A was a major draw to theatrical screenings, with 51% of the
audience saying that was why they had chosen to watch the film at the cinema.
77% of the cinema audience were aware they could watch the film for free on
television but chose to watch it at the cinema anyway. This suggests frequent
cinemagoers will not be swayed by alternative platforms.
• Primary audience was ABC1 18-25 years olds, and frequent
cinemagoers in the 25-35+ bracket who may already be aware of the
director’s work. The audience was skewed towards men. The
audience profile was in line with predictions, with an average of 35,
skewing strongly male at cinema screenings, with around a 1/3 having
seen some of the director’s other films.
• Opening weekend box office took £21,399 in theatrical revenues from
• 77% of the audience said they knew it was available free on
• Film averaged 367,000 viewers during Film4 screening – up 8% for
that slot in the schedule
• Combined HMV and Amazon DVD and BluRay sales on Friday and
Saturday reached 1,462 with BluRay outselling DVD
• 70% of cinema viewers gave it a highly favourable score