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A Field in England (Ben Wheatley)


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Case Study

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A Field in England (Ben Wheatley)

  1. 1. A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Ben Wheatley, UK, 2013) CASE STUDY
  2. 2. 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
  3. 3. Funding • 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 Institute).
  4. 4. • Picturehouse also made a vital contribution to • the ideas and execution of the project, both as exhibitor (Picturehouse Cinemas) and distributor (Picturehouse Entertainment) • 􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅 • 􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅􀁅
  5. 5. The release • 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.
  6. 6. 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 ways 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.
  7. 7. Distribution I • 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.
  8. 8. • 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
  9. 9. Distribution II
  10. 10. • 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
  11. 11. Marketing I • Marketing plan involved building interest across all platforms – Channel 4, Film4, Film4OD, Picturehouse Cinemas, related websites, social media, and VOD platforms. • 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.
  12. 12. Marketing II • 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.
  13. 13. Marketing III • 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 news channels. • 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 awareness (45%). • 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.
  14. 14. 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.
  15. 15. Audience • 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.
  16. 16. The numbers…
  17. 17. The numbers • Opening weekend box office took £21,399 in theatrical revenues from 17 venues. • 77% of the audience said they knew it was available free on television. • 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