Thursday, 9 December 2010

Avatar Case Study

Looking at a reference to Hollywood in order to compare to the British film company practices.


  •  Directed by James Cameron, known for phenomenon Titanic and for creating film masterpieces.
  • The films budget was $237 million, yet it took over $2.6 billion in the worldwide box office and won many oscars and golden globes.
  • It is filmed in 3D, however Cameron worked with cinematographer Vince Pace to  pioneer and patent a 'fusion digital 3D camera system'
  • Cameron had the concept for this film twenty years ago, but he had to wait for the technology to catch up with him.With filming starting in 2003, a 'virtual camera' was used. This is a hand-held monitor which allowed him to move through a 3D terrain.
  • 70% of the film is CGI, including the female lead. The cast wore motion-capture suits which are basically leotards with sensors on. They acted out their scenes on a 'performance capture' stage, six times bigger than anything used in Hollywood before. 
  • A 'skull cap' was used to capture the actor's facial expressions with close camera enhancement. 
  • Motion Capture- Makes 3D easier, allowing special effects and it also lets them position the camera to make it look like a computer game (it is actually a viewpoint from inside the virtual world). 
  • The virtual monitor was a big advance in technology, and it allowed Cameron to capture results in real time. Cameron developed new techniques for the live action parts and an innovative filming ring. This meant each lens could mimic a human eye. It captured the two images needed for 3D simultaneously, aligning with the illusion of depth.
  • The Distribution Company was 20th Century Fox
  • Because of the huge budget, the marketing for Avatar was a global campaign. 
  • Friday the 21st August was named 'Avatar day' with 15 minutes of teaser trailer footage released worldwide online at the same time.
  • For the DVD release, an interactive trailer was released to convince audiences that the experience would be just as good away from the cinema and 3D screens. It allows viewers to zoom in, pause, look at hot spots and showed extended clips from the film as well as in depth information about the world of Pandora. 
  • 20th Century Fox enlisted the help of international creative marketing agency, Thinkjam. They made it possible for the interactive adverts to be shown simultaneously across the world, and created to technology for the internet to cope with this. 
    • If you were to give the full 'Avatar' experience in your cinema, then you would need digitally equipped screens. As well as this, each person in the audience needs a pair of 3D glasses to watch the film, which is an additional cost to the cinema, meaning the price of tickets is increased, so the film has to be worth the extra costs. 
    • So for both distributors and cinemas, 3D costs more, and with the equipment required so expensive, small independent cinemas have little chance competing. Only around 320 of the 3,600 cinemas in the UK are fully digitally equipped for 3D. 

    Wednesday, 8 December 2010

    Examples of Distribution From Film4 and Working Title

    Lovely Bones and Love Actually Presentation

    Working Title Distributions

    Working Title is almost completely Distributed by Universal, as they own a 67% stake in the company and have the money to afford big releases and marketing campaigns. For this, Working Title depend on because there audience is usually a multiplex one, so they need to appeal and reach everyone with there film. 90% of the British cinema chains are American and with Universal being part of the biggest chain they have a lot of power in the screening of their films and can more easily allow more screenings in more places to make it available to more people.
    Working Title themselves promote and market their films largely online, although this is all below the line, particularly on their website where they keep us up to date with merchandise and competition on the films we liked and also the chance to buy it on DVD when its available.
    Working Title Website Fact Sheet:

    Film4 Distribution

    In 2002, Film4 underwent big changes. It needed to increase it's annual investment by using 3rd party partnerships, and decided they could not possibly distribute their own films. This is primarily because 90% of films are distributed by US companies and all big cinema chains are American owned and there was simply know way a British film company could compete.
    The newly appointed head of Film4 and Channel 4 Drama, Tessa Ross secured a budget increase from $8-10 million to £15million a year.
    Film for try to make around six to eight films a year. To achieve this they set up a low budget studio with the film council and distributors optimum. It is also partly funded by advertising, including adverts on their website and and in between films on the TV channel.
    Ross has created a wider creative community, working with other companies such as Working Title and BBC Films. A lot of Films also find distributors at film festivals.
    WarpX and Film4 Hub
    WarpX is a joint project from the UK film council and Film4 with Sheffield based Indie Warp, they can finance three low budget films a year.


    Distribution is the stage in between production and exhibition and involves all the deals done to promote the film.
    There are two types of film promotion; 'Above the line' and 'Below the line'. Above the line refers to all the promotional material and marketing that is financed within the films budget such as the official trailers, posters and billboards. Whereas below the line consists of all promotion that isn't paid for, but that still generates interest in the film, for example; interviews with the cast or director, reviews and fan pages or videos such as trailer re-makes on youtube.
    Films are loaned out to cinemas for a finite period and release deals are done that secures access to a certain number of screen at a time. But in the UK film market, an increase in the quantity of screens showing films has not led to an increase in the number of films shown.
    The five main Distributors in the UK film industry are:
    • United International Pictures (This includes Universal)
    • Warner Brothers
    • Buena Vista
    • Twentieth Century Fox
    • Sony
      These show around 90% of the film in the UK.
      In most cases these distributors are directly linked to the Hollywood production companies who make the films and exhibitors who prioritise Hollywood films over others for profit.
      Usually the blockbuster films we are familiar with are distributed via what is called a 'blanket release' so even if a small UK independent company manages to get it's product into cinemas, it is usually competing for attention with one or more films that take on the status of an 'event'. This generally means that a lot of the films released in Britain do not reach the whole of the country.
      The problems smaller companies face is that every film in each cinema has a reel to project it, so a reel is needed for each cinema. Bigger companies can produce more prints, whereas smaller companies producing a less commercial product can't afford to do that so people who do want to see then have to wait for DVD release.
      Looking at an example of how important marketing is and why it is always such a large part of the budget, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Took over $50million at the box office and had over 1.5 million DVD sales ten days after release. However the film had received poor reviews from most critics, so the marketing of the product and it's previous installment contributed to the films success rather than the quality of the film.
      A huge problem in film distribution is Piracy. Hollywood investigators claim that there is a 10% increase each year in the revenue lost to illegal distribution. It is also a big problem in the UK.The UK film council aim to produce a strategy for responding to internal distribution opportunities and for working to remind the public that small production companies are actually hurt more by piracy than conglomerate companies.
      A new wave of distribution is being introduced in the form of digital distribution. It promises to transform the film industry more than any other as once it becomes the normal thing to download films via broadband, the potential for a new form of blanket distribution is obvious; not only do you no longer need multiple prints you can also bypass the cinemas. However, there will still be a need for cine,as as many people still go to enjoy 'the experience' of seeing it on the big screen. Another strength of digital is that it offers identical quality to the original film. Much of piracy involves films not being available in other countries until much later, so people who want to see it close to release watch pirate copies online. With digital distribution planning simultaneous global distribution via the Internet, it will put an end to this time gap and exploitation by pirates.
      Viral marketing is also becoming more and more frequent in distribution. Videos, quizzes and downloads are available from the films website as well as the production and distribution compaines' websites.
      The time of release is crucial due to competition and appealing to your target audience at the right time. Making the film noticed and available to the right people is also vital. On planning the release you need to think about the target audience, research and past experience with a type of film, how often people go to the cinema or buy a DVD (eg, many people but DVDs around Christmas time). To compete with other films the marketing needs to stand out and be directed at the right time to the right people. So during October half term, many children have nothing to due to darker nights, so many films appealing to younger audiences are released.
      Word of mouth is possibly the best marketing for a film you can have, however it is hard to acquire. Advanced screenings are free to the public ti convince them to see it and then tell their friends about it, however his can backfire if the word of mouth is negative. We see adverts for these screenings in magazines which match the target audience. Research proves this by showing that people are most influenced by their friends' recommendations.
      Distribution is vital to a films success, which is why such a large part of any film budget goes towards the distribution of the film and the marketing surrounding it.

      Tuesday, 7 December 2010

      Film4 Productions

      • Film4 Is a British based film company owned by Channel 4.
      • The controller of Film4 and Channel 4 Drama is Tessa Ross. 
      • Established 1998 along with the Film4 Television Channel.
      • One of the biggest film institutes in Britain, primarily funded by Channel 4 and have recently under gone a 50% budget raise from eight to ten million a year to £15million. 
      • They are known for producing 'British' films that are gritty and centre around relationships, concentrating on 'social realism' . They quote what they do as 'We develop and co-finance smart and distinctive feature films.’
      •  Channel 4's philosophy has always been to experiment and innovate and cater for audiences not addressed by other channels. Film4 follows this philosophy by looking for distinctive films that will compete in the difficult cinema market. They often use first time feature screenwriters or directors and aim  to produce around twenty films a year 
      • Film4 films are often less available to the 'multiplex' audience as they aim more for their niche target audience, and crediting at film festivals. 
      • A particular big hit for Film4 was Slumdog Millionaire, which was originally planned to be released straight onto DVD, broke box office records and has gone on to gross around $243million worldwide, along with winning seven BAFTA's and eight Academy Awards. 
      • Originally a subscription-only service, the film4 channel was relaunched in 2002 to become the only subscription free film channel on terrestrial television; increasing its audience from 300,000 to 18million. 
      • The channel tends to show films around two years after the theatrical release, with films involved with film4 throughout production being shown on either channel 4 or film4 itself first before other channels (e.g- Slumdog Millionaire).
      • Similarly to Working Title, you can view video blogs and see behind the scenes of film4 films in production on the website at:
      • Film4 Productions also finance many films, often partnering with other British companies such as Warp films and working title, or the French company Studio Canal, as well as playing a part with the conglomerate companies in Hollywood. 
      •  A new venture recently launched by Film4 along with Sony and Disney is a new online video on demand service for film4. It will supply a selection of films to rent online, with many available the same day as DVD release from 50p to £3.99. There is already around 500 films available: 
      Notable Films:

      Slumdog Millionaire
      The Lovely Bones
      Wild Child
      Four Lions 
      Nowhere Boy
      This is England

      Film4 Productions Film - Film Fact Sheet - This is England:

      Working Title Productions

      • Working Title is a British film company based in London.
      • Co-Chairpersons: Tim Bevan, Erin Fellner
      • Established: 1984
      • They only employ 42 full time staff, split between Working Title and its subsidiary company.
      • Subsidiary company - Working Title 2, established in 1999 and run by Natasha Wharton. WT2 is a smaller low budget film brand that appeals to a more niche audience. They have more independence as they aren't contracted by Universal. 
      • Taken over by Polygram in 1999, which is now Universal. They have a 67% stake in the company. Remaining shares are owned by company founders, BBC films and private investors. On the take over by Universal Bevan said 'we spent much less time on finding the money and much more on developing decent scripts' . 
      • Working Title's Philosophy: 'to make films for a audience - by that I mean play in a multiplex. We totally believe this because we know it is the only hope we have of sustaining the UK film industry' 
      • 85 of working Title's films have grossed over a $4 billion profit worldwide. 
      • They pride themselves on producing a wide range of genres in their films, they have also recently branched out into theatre; producing Billy Elliot: The  Musical.
      • They pride themselves on keeping good relations with the people they work with, often re-using  people. They are well known to work with Directors Richard Curtis and the Coen Brothers, and Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson and Romantic comedy film star Hugh Grant. 
      • They have a good record for launching new talent, such as Director Shekkar Kapur.
      • On average, they make around 4 films a year 
      • Working Title often post live blogs on their website to keep fans up to date with the latest films in Production:

      Notable Films:
      Love, Actually
      About a Boy
      Bridget Jones' Diary
      Pride and Prejudice 
      Hot Fuzz 

        A Working Title Film Fact Sheet - Atonement: