AS (G322) Exam Section B – January 2012 – Digital Distribution Essay

‘To what extent does digital distribution affect the marketing and consumption of media products in the media area you have studied?’

Introduction:

  • Digital distribution incorporates all of the many ways in which audiences can view the media product – DVD, Blu-Ray, VOD, Online Streaming etc.
  • Through technological convergence the media products are more accessible and can be more easily consumed by audiences.
  • ‘Big Six’ – Large market power and influence – Able to distribute their films across all mediums, digital and theatrical, for a much larger viewing audience – Overcome issues regarding technological disruption to use it to their advantage.

Paragraph 1: Tentpoles

  • Batman v Superman – distributed by the big 6 and was distributed amongst all forms of digital media – affected the marketing and consumption as it proved to be a highly successful film with large profit.
  • Hunger Games – Catching Fire – shown in 4,163 theatres which was a very large number for a film of its standard. Large theatrical release allowed the film to receive a box office gross of $158 million. Although not as large as the big six, Lionsgate is a large studio that owns various forms of media to benefit their distribution. The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”. – By distributing a film on such a large number of digital platforms it can be easily consumed by audiences.
  • Fox announced that Prometheus would be the launch title of its new digital distribution initiative “Digital HD”. The film was released on September 18, 2012, three weeks prior to its DVD, Blu-ray disc and VOD release, for downloading and streaming through platforms including Amazon, iTunes, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live in over 50 countries.

Paragraph 2: A Field In England

  • Released film on all forms of digital media through a day-and-date release strategy – The release strategy in itself affected marketing – the innovative nature of it ensured that it made its way onto newspapers, news broadcasts and news articles – Helped to market the film to a wider audience.
  • The film was the most watched on Film4OD on all three days of the opening weekend and represented 30% of the 4OD weekend sales.– The VOD rental figures were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast, with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD. Download-to-own figures on iTunes were 680, which was below the predicted 1,000. – More people watched the film through digital platforms than expected. On the opening weekend, the film took £21,399 in theatrical revenues from 17 venues. The opening weekend picked up 2,213 admissions with a screen average of £1,259 from 17 sites, finishing at number 20 in the UK chart. – A far larger number of people viewed the film digitally than through a theatrical exhibition.
  • The film averaged 367,000 viewers during the Film4 screening, representing a 3.13% share of the television audience. The total television reach of the film was 918,000 viewers, or 1.8% of the population.
  • Channel 4 had its own DVD label (4DVD) and so was able to distribute the film. In addition, Channel 4 was able to distribute to transactional VOD platforms such as iTunes. Channel 4 and Film 4’s promotional trailers helped to push viewers towards watching the film on one of the many available platforms.

Paragraph 3: A Late Quartet

  • Digital distribution not beneficial for consumption of media products if the core target audience isn’t a young – older audience are far less likely to consume the media products through mediums such as theatrical exhibition and DVD.
  • Late Quartet – The release aimed to create a ‘premium window’ of simultaneous release in theatres and on selected VOD platforms, contrasting with later standard windows of release on DVD, other VOD services and television. Wanted audiences will pay more in order to get an on-demand screening of a film simultaneous with its theatrical release, in contrast with later VOD releases in conventional windows – Still didn’t benefit the consumption of digital media – target audience wrong
  • The film was released in cinemas, Sky Box Office, Curzon’s VOD service, Curzon Home Cinema, and through FilmFlex services on 5th April 2013. It was released more conventionally on DVD and on other VOD services and on other VOD services on 29th July, 16 weeks after opening.
  • A Late Quartet – online sales figures were far below forecasts, adding to the view that this audience leaned heavily to the cinema as the primary experience if they could get to one. A Late Quartet took £520,375 at the UK box office, well ahead of its stated £400,000 targeted, although VOD revenues of £25,000 were half of the £50,000 forecast. Curzon Film World had predicted 10,000 sales on all non-theatrical platforms but ended with 3,000 rentals and 2,000 downloads from Sky, 300 views on Curzon Home Cinema and 705 from FilmFlex.

Paragraph 4: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

  • Marigold Hotel – The BFI Stats Yearbook showed that, for the first time ever, over-45s were the largest proportion of the UK cinema audience, up from 28% in 2011 – The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September of 2012 and was a popular option of buy-to-own for the audience as they are generally of around 50 years of age and so are less likely to use digital platforms such as VOD.
  • In the United Kingdom, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in second to The Woman In Black at the box office during its first week, earning £2.2 million. It eventually topped the UK box office, with £2.3 million, in its second weekend on release. By the end of its UK run, the film had grossed around $31 million. After three months of release, it was ranked the fourth-highest-grossing 2012 title in the UK.

Paragraph 5: Special Correspondents

  • Some films were distributed entirely digitally with no theatrical exhibition – Special Correspondents.
  • Special Correspondents will receive its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April 2016, followed by an audience discussion with Gervais, Bana and additional cast members. The film will be released worldwide on 29 April 2016.
  • By opting for Netflix over a conventional movie studio, “Special Correspondents” will skip movie theatres.

 

Essay – Version One

Digital distribution incorporates all of the many ways in which audiences can view media products, such as through DVD, Blu-Ray, VOD and other forms of online streaming. In recent years, as a result of technological convergence, digitally distributed media products can be more accessible and can be more easily consumed by audiences. Technological convergence is where different technological devices evolve in such a way that they perform similar tasks. For example, film, TV and music streaming can be done on tablets, phones, computers, games consoles and much more. The ‘Big Six’ are the six largest film studios in Hollywood and, through their large market power and influence, are able to utilise this technological convergence to benefit the consumption of their films by audiences. The ‘Big Six’ often do this by distributing their films across all mediums, digital and theatrical, for a much larger viewing audience

A good example of when this digital distribution model was successfully utilised by a large film studio may include ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ which was a large tentpole release that was distributed by Lionsgate. Although not as large as the ‘Big Six’, Lionsgate is a large, horizontally integrated media company that owns various forms of media, including film distribution subsidiaries, that are utilised to benefit their distribution. This digital distribution method by Lionsgate received a record digital performance on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Comcast Xfinity, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games” which proved that by distributing a film on such a large number of digital platforms it can be easily consumed by audiences and allow for a large profit. Furthermore, the consumption of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ by audiences was significantly increased through distributing the film to 4,163 theatres, far more than other films of its size. This large theatrical release allowed for the film to be viewed by a much larger audience and resulted in a huge box office gross of $158 million.

Another tentpole release that utilised digital distribution to increase the consumption of their film was ‘Prometheus’ which was distributed by 20th Century Fox, one of the ‘Big Six. ‘Prometheus’ was the launch title of Fox’s new digital distribution initiative “Digital HD” in which the film would be released for downloading and streaming, through platforms including Amazon, iTunes, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, three weeks prior to its DVD, Blu-ray disc and VOD release. This digital distribution method was appropriate for the film as the core target audience were typically young and so were more likely to digitally stream or download the film. This method affected the consumption of their media products positively as they still distributed the film through platforms such as DVD and Blu-Ray but catered more towards a younger audience who utilise digital platforms more often.

Digital distribution played a fundamental role in the distribution of ‘A Field In England’ as it adhered to a day-and-date release strategy in which the film was made readily available on all forms of media, theatrical and digital, on the same day. The distribution of the film through digital media benefited the consumption of the film as a far larger number of people viewed the film digitally than through a theatrical exhibition. For example, the VOD rental figures for the film were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast, with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD and so more people watched the film through digital platforms than expected. These digital figures were considerably larger and had more impact upon the consumption of the film than theatrical as, on the opening weekend, the film picked up 2,213 admissions with a screen average of £1,259 from 17 sites. The digital distribution method that was used for the release of ‘A Field In England’ affected the marketing of the film both positively and negatively. The innovative nature of the film’s day-and-date release ensured that it made its way onto newspapers, news broadcasts and news articles and contributed to the marketing of the film to a much wider audience. By releasing the film on all forms of media simultaneously, the film was able to receive a successful release on VOD as the film was the most watched on Film4OD on all three days of the opening weekend and represented 30% of the 4OD weekend sales.

Similarly, ‘A Late Quartet’ was a film of a similar budget to ‘A Field In England’ and utilised a very similar release strategy. The release aimed to create a ‘premium window’ of simultaneous release in theatres and on selected VOD platforms, contrasting with later standard windows of release on DVD, other VOD services and television sixteen weeks later. This distribution model was utilised as Curzon wanted audiences to pay more in order to get an on-demand screening of a film simultaneous with its theatrical release. However, this method affected the consumption of digital media negatively as the core target audience was of around 50 years old and therefore were not appropriate for a film that promoted viewing it through digital platforms such as VOD. This is because the older core audience would be far more likely to consume the media products through mediums such as theatrical exhibition and DVD and so, by creating a window that encouraged VOD and not DVD the film was not consumed as much by the audience. The digital distribution of this film affected the film negatively and meant that online sales figures were far below forecasts with VOD revenues only reaching half of the £50,000 forecast. Moreover, Curzon Film World had predicted 10,000 sales on all non-theatrical platforms but ended with 3,000 rentals and 2,000 downloads from Sky, 300 views on Curzon Home Cinema and 705 from FilmFlex.

‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ shared a similar target audience of people over fifty years old to ‘A Late Quartet’ but adhered to a far more conventional release strategy that accommodated that particular audience more. The film’s audience were far more likely to use a theatrical exhibition as the primary source of the film’s consumption than a younger audience that would lean more towards digital platforms. Therefore, by limiting the extent to which the film was distributed digitally they benefited the release. The BFI Stats Yearbook showed that, for the first time ever, over-45s were the largest proportion of the UK cinema audience and so the conventional release allowed for the film to be consumed successfully through theatrical exhibition. The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September of 2012 and was a popular option of buy-to-own for the audience as they are generally of around 50 years of age and so are less likely to use digital platforms such as VOD. This distribution method proved to be successful for the film as it earned £2.2 million at the UK box office during its first week.

In contrast, ‘Special Correspondents’ was distributed entirely digitally with no theatrical exhibition as it was distributed solely by Netflix onto its VOD service. By opting for Netflix over a conventional movie studio, the film was affected in a number of positive ways. As 46% of long-term Netflix users are currently between ages 18 and 34 and 43% of long-term users often use online streaming as a primary source of television, the digital medium was an effective means of distributing the film. The core audiences’ age for ‘Special Correspondents’ coincides with the average users’ age for Netflix and so the film was distributed mostly to the appropriate audience and allowed for more consumption of the film. In addition, the exclusively digital distribution of the film onto Netflix affected the consumption of the film because it is a subscription service and so they would feel less reluctant to watch the film in that way. By distributing the film exclusively to Netflix, it can be promoted to users through the ‘recommended’ section and so this helped to market the film to a larger audience and increased the consumption of the film.

The increased distribution of media products through digital mediums has impacted the consumption of media products positively, for the most part, as it has allowed for the film to be more accessible to consumers. Regardless of whether the release strategy is conventional, day-and-date or VOD exclusive, the film is almost always available through a digital platform. For many, digitally distributed media products are the most accessible and, as a result, the most consumable which ensures that, if the release strategy adopts that form of distribution then the film will be purchased or viewed by larger numbers of people.

AS (G322) Exam Section B – June 2014 – Media Ownership Essay

‘To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the successful distribution of media products in the media area that you have studied?’

“The Big Six” film companies are the six largest media conglomerates whose film production and distribution subsidiaries consistently earn a significant share of box office revenue. These media conglomerates are global businesses that own a large number of other companies within mass media and so can utilise their power and money to dominate the film industry. Currently, the six largest film studios are 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures.

When promoting ‘Prometheus’, 20th Century Fox were able to utilise their power within the film industry to form a synergy with TED. TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. The synergy between TED and Fox was highly successful for both ‘Prometheus’ and the TED organisation. Their partnership generated millions of visits to the TED website, raised awareness for the film, and introduced new audiences to both TED and ‘Prometheus’. To be able to form a synergy with an organisation as large and as well-known as TED, the media company needs to have enough money to get the promotional talk shown at one of the TED shows. Therefore, only a huge media conglomerate from the ‘Big Six’ would be able to do promote their film in this way.

Investors trusted Ridley Scott to make big budget films often on an epic scale with international stars and make a profit. For the film, 20th Century Fox gave Ridley Scott a budget of $130,000,000 and were responsible for the distribution and the marketing campaign for the film. He has a large fan base, as do the cast, and so the names of those involved created some anticipation for the film. In addition, the film is a prequel to the very well established ‘Alien’ franchise which is often regarded as a Science-Fiction classic and so the prestige attached to the franchise help to draw more attention to the film as avid fans of the franchise would be eager to see it. Large media conglomerates are able to hire established directors and cast members as they have significantly more money than these smaller companies. This means that the power of the ‘Big Six’ helps to market the film as popular cast members may draw in huge audiences.

The ‘Prometheus’ marketing team hooked up with Channel 4 to host the world premiere of a trailer with a difference. Not content with showing new footage from the film, the end of the trailer invited people to tweet what they thought of it, with the hashtag #areyouseeingthis attached. During the next ad break, Channel 4 then broadcast selected tweets in the next ad break to show off people’s thoughts and excitement over the new footage shown. The Twitter stunt certainly seems to have boosted hype surrounding the film to an even more intense level than before: the hashtag #areyouseeingthis was the number 2 trend in the UK at one point on Sunday night, and a similar campaign had been underway in the US. Buying advertisement slots that would reach such a substantial number of people would be very expensive for the company and so only the largest media conglomerates can promote their film in such an effective way. The advertisement campaign allowed for masses of people to become familiar with the film and so this marketing method proved successful for 20th Century Fox.

An estimated $165 million marketing effort helped promote ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, a similar tentpole release. Warner Bros. Consumer Products partnered-up with “a powerhouse slate of global licensees for a broad, multi-category licensing and merchandising program”, including Matt, Lego, Rubies, Funko, Thinkway Toys, Hot Toys, Junkfood, Bioworld, Pez, Seiko, Converse and among many other licensees to sell merchandise related to the film. In February 2016, Warner Bros. and Doritos formed a partnership, creating a website offering fans the opportunity to enter codes found on Doritos purchases branded with the film’s logo, and enter to win movie tickets, tech toys, and a trip the premiere in New York. Such a huge amount of money was spent by Warner Bros. to promote the film which involved forming synergies with other huge companies. For these large companies to also benefit from the synergy, the film company needed to be highly influential and powerful. Lego wouldn’t partner with a smaller film company as the film being promoted would not be popular enough or anticipated enough to benefit them. Therefore, this marketing model would only really be successful for large media conglomerates, such as the ‘Big Six’, that would be able to form these synergies.

Unlike with the huge Tentpole releases from the ‘Big Six’, ‘A Field In England’ was distributed with an entirely different distribution model. Because the film was produced and distributed by fairly small companies, executives believed that the film would not have performed particularly well through a conventional release and, as a result of this, Film4 and Picturehouse distributed ‘A Field In England’ through a simultaneous release strategy in which the film became available on all platforms on the same day. The film opened on 5th July on 17 cinema screens, on DVD and Blu-Ray, on VOD, and on free-to-air television through Film4. The release strategy was an innovative risk-sharing deal that ensured that every platform received an equal share of the profits and one platform doesn’t benefit significantly more than others. The film was fully financed by Film4 with a budget of £316,879, with a £112,000 promotion and advertising spend supported by £56,701 from the BFI. The film’s budget is considerably smaller than with typical Hollywood tentpole releases, such as Prometheus, which distinguishes them from each other in a vital way.

Although Film4 is a smaller company with a far smaller market share than the ‘Big Six’, it was such a major source of support for ‘A Field In England’ because it was a recognisable brand associated with quality  and innovation. This degree of brand loyalty meant that they offered an important means of marketing the film to a large audience which proved to play a considerably important role in the success of the distribution as the film averaged 367,000 viewers during the Film4 free screening, representing a 3.13% share of the television audience.

Due to the small size of Film4 and Picturehouse, these companies had to co-operate well when attempting to distribute ‘A Field In England’. Everyone involved with the film shared the risks and rewards across all of the exploitation area and so it encouraged all parties to throw their energy into all aspects of the release. This willingness of all parties to share ideas, expertise and risks is crucial to the success of the release strategy. Picturehouse made a vital contribution to the ideas and execution of the project, both as exhibitor (Picturehouse Cinemas) and distributor (Picturehouse Entertainment). The active involvement and co-operation between all of these companies allowed for them all to overcome many of the difficulties regarding their release strategy, which helped it to be a success. By having an established theatre group, Picturehouse Cinemas, participating with the release strategy it removed one of the key obstacles to the day-and-date strategy, cinema boycotts. The active involvement of an exhibitor helped to promote the film and closed off some of the negative media messages about boycotts and opposition that have tended to occur with simultaneous releases.

The support and co-operation of large companies such as Channel 4 was a significant factor in the success of the release strategy. For example, Channel 4 offered an important means of marketing the film to a large audience as it has its own television network and DVD label (4DVD), which also distributes to transactional VOD (TVOD) platforms such as iTunes. Channel 4 was involved directly in all areas of exploitation except theatrical. The marketing department of the Channel 4 group bought into the idea, improving profile and reach in the market place. One potential obstacle was that Channel 4 needed to operate within the guidelines set out by Ofcom regarding rules about cross-promoting content. They had to adhere to the rules and sell advertising slots to everyone for the same price.

Unlike with the tentpole releases, ‘A Field In England’ had to be promoted on Film4’s channel through promotional trailers as that pushed viewers towards their own television screening as well as other platforms. Without this factor, the film would have had to be promoted through paid advertising, something that would have clearly gone against their business model. As Film4 only had a £112,000 promotion and advertising budget, they could not afford to promote ‘A Field In England’ on other channels where the cost of advertisement slots would have cost a lot. This means that media ownership does play a role in the success of a film as a larger company with a higher P&A spend could have been able to promote the film to a larger number of people on more channels.

Moreover, by adhering to a more unique distribution model, ‘A Field In England’ managed to gain publicity, perhaps contributing towards the success of the distribution. Considerable attention was given by news organisations and broadcasters which, supported by the public relations campaign for the film, helped to promote the film and its innovative release.

Because of the film’s much lower P&A spend in relation to large tentpole releases, ‘A Field In England’ had to be promoted and marketed through social media. Wheatley and the whole cast supported the release plan and mobilised their active social media fan base. Luckily, Wheatley had established a reputation as a bold and innovative director and built a strong fan base through his films which helped the marketing of the film. 34% of the audience had seen Wheatley’s previous hit ‘Sightseers’ and so this was a successful means of marketing the film as his bold reputation was the primary source of awareness for 54% of under-35s and was the primary reason for attendance for 52% of the audience.

Due to the small market share of Film4, in contrast with the ‘Big Six’, it would have been difficult for ‘A Field In England’ to be shown in theatres for as long as a much larger tentpole release. However, because Picturehouse had local loyalty towards cinemas in the UK, the film was able to be shown at 17 sites with 2,213 admissions on the opening weekend, with a screen average of £1,259. Furthermore, Picturehouse’s input allowed for the film to be shown at special screenings, such as Curzon Soho and ICA, which generated £10,783.

‘A Late Quartet’, similar to ‘A Field In England’, was distributed by a relatively small company and so had to be released using a release strategy that differed from that of larger film studios, such as the ‘Big Six’. Curzon Film World utilised a windows strategy, releasing on VOD and DVD at the same time as theatrical release, as they thought that it would offer some advantages for the distribution, including the synergy of marketing and public relations. Curzon Film World had in recent years shown a commitment to these new release patterns believing that it is possible to increase the reach of individual films and of the core brand of the businesses. The film was supported with £100,000 from the BFI Distribution Fund which allowed for the reach and scope of the release on all platforms to widen. For example, the money from the BFI was used for outdoor marketing, the press campaign, online marketing, and promotion through VOD channels.

Because of the constant domination of cinemas with tentpole releases from huge media conglomerates, the cinemas that played ‘A Late Quartet’ were mostly in the art-house/independent sector. These cinemas have limited screen space, and therefore the film was unable to enjoy a long run. For example, at the Phoenix East Finchley, A Late Quartet’ was the number-one grossing cinema in the first week (13,700) but still got taken off before the second week.

In contrast to this, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ was a highly successful British film that was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, a sister company to 20th Century Fox. This proved beneficial to the film’s release because 20th Century Fox is one of the ‘Big Six’ film studios of Hollywood and so currently dominate the film industry. For example, the film was able to be first shown at the Glasgow Film Festival on 17th February 2012, before being released widely in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 24th February 2012. Glasgow Film Festival is committed to supporting emerging talent and providing audiences with the opportunity to see the best of Scottish and British features.

John Madden, the director of the film, had a large fan base through his previous successes in film, such as ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and so his established name as a director allowed for support and hype around the film. Furthermore, the cast comprised of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy, all of whom are huge stars that contributed to the anticipation and excitement for the film. In this instance, having such a popular cast and a respected director, the film could successfully market the film but with a smaller P&A budget than with larger films from the ‘Big Six’. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ was based on the 2004 novel, ‘These Foolish Things’, which was written by Deborah Moggach. The novel, from which the film was based, received great responses from an older age range and so a successful target audience was already established for the film to follow. In addition, the success of the novel may have contributed to the box office success of the film as the film needed little in terms of promotion in order to successfully market the film as the core audience was already familiar with what to expect with it. The impact of this can be seen in the BFI Stats Yearbook as it showed that, for the first time ever, over-45s were the largest proportion of the UK cinema audience.

The ability to utilise popular cast members and a respected director would be difficult t0 achieve with a much smaller, independent film, such as ‘Field In England’, and so media ownership did play a major role in the successful distribution. For example, in the United Kingdom, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ came in second to The Woman In Black’ at the box office during its first week, earning £2.2 million. It eventually topped the UK box office, with £2.3 million, in its second weekend on release. By the end of its UK run, the film had grossed around $31 million. After three months of release, it was ranked the fourth-highest-grossing 2012 title in the UK. The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September of 2012 and was a popular option of buy-to-own for the audience as they are generally of around 50 years of age and so are less likely to use digital platforms such as VOD. The distribution model for a company of this size was appropriate as the distribution company, Fox Searchlight Pictures, was a subsidiary of one of the ‘Big Six’ and so had more money to put into promotion, for example, than with smaller, independent films such as ‘A Late Quartet’.

Large Hollywood tentpole releases from the ‘Big Six’, in the majority of cases, tend to be successful and manage to make a profit. This is as a result of a number of reasons, many of which are linked to the size and power of the media conglomerates that they are associated with. Because of the size of the ‘Big Six’ film studios, they are able to pay large amounts of money for more widespread promotion, such as untargeted advertising on the sides of buses or on billboards. Furthermore, these conglomerates can afford to cast popular actors and actresses that would help to draw in audiences just by their involvement. However, it is not just the ‘Big Six’ that are able to distribute their film successfully. Smaller, independent companies, such as Picturehouse, just have to adhere to an alternative distribution model. It is possible for smaller companies to distribute and market their films successfully however, as evident by the size and success of the ‘Big Six’, it is clear that having large media ownership can help to dominate the film industry with ease.

AS (G322) Exam Section B – June 2013 – New Technologies Essay Plan

Evaluate the role of digital technologies in the marketing and consumption of products in the media area you have studied.

Social Media:

  • Prometheus – Channel 4 hosted the world premiere of the trailer and invited people to tweet #areyouseeingthis. This was the no.2 trend in the UK and, as a consequence, allowed for awareness and hype to be built around the film’s release.
  • A Late Quartet – The film’s Facebook page accumulated 10,500 likes which contributed to the spread of word-of-mouth to build anticipation for the film’s release.
  • Special Correspondents – Ricky Gervais debuted the first official trailer for the film on his Twitter account on 23rd March 2016. Followers of Ricky Gervais on Twitter would be a similar audience to that of his film and so, by promoting Special Correspondents on his account, the film is promoted predominately to the target audience.
  • Batman v Superman – Articles and videos regarding the film were tweeted, blogged and shared onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, and Wikipedia over 180 million times. This will be promoting the film to a vast number of people and, given how younger people use social media more frequently, the promotion was meeting the film’s core audience. Furthermore, the social media presence of some of the cast members played a crucial role in the aiding the successful marketing of the film. Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman, utilised her 8.8 million fan base to promote her involvement in the film. Ben Affleck, similarly, mobilised his 3.8 million fan base to promote and market the film.
  • A Field In England – Ben Wheatley used his 12,000 Twitter followers to raise awareness regarding the release of the film. His well established reputation as a director allowed for anticipation and excitement. Furthermore, Wheatley retweeted audience reviews and comments – this engagement helped to spread word-of-mouth promotion and raise awareness. For example, in doing so, A Field In England trended no. 1 on the Friday of the release and so many Twitter users would have been more exposed to this promotion. The interaction from the cast and crew also allowed some of the opposition to the release strategy to be reassured, which made it a more widely accepted approach to releasing the film. Some of the cast and crew had a large Twitter following and so their popularity was cited as being the primary reason for attendance at theatrical exhibition. The use of Twitter allowed for fans to be made aware of their involvement in the film and so, for some, was all it needed to consume the media product.

Online Marketing:

  • A Field In England – This film’s online campaign included an in-depth master class website which attracted a large, engaged audience. This also included interviews and free content, a way of building anticipation and offering bonus content to fans. This helped the marketing campaign as it attracted 15,000 visitors.
  • Prometheus – The box office success was largely due to its viral marketing campaign that immersed viewers in the world of the film. The viral marketing campaign allowed audiences to interact with the film and build momentum for its release. For example, a viral video was created in which one of the film’s characters, David 8, presented an infomercial to introduce audiences to the genre and basic plot of the film. People could interact with David 8 which created a sense of excitement for the release of the film. Furthermore, a website for Weyland Industries, a fictional company from the film, was launched for the public to visit. This provided an insight into what the audience may see in the actual film. The website included various statistics regarding the Prometheus Space Mission, news on David 8, and various other immersive and interactive features.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – To promote this film, Participant Media teamed up with TakePart to launch a Marigold Ideas For Good Contest, which attracted an older audience of around 50 years old, the core target audience for the film.

VOD Services:

  • A Field In England – This film was the most watched on Film4OD on all three days of its opening weekend and represented 30% of the 4OD weekend sales. The popularity of the film through VOD services shows that the core audience was appropriate for the release strategy in which audiences could view the film through VOD on the same day as in theatres or on Blu-Ray. The VOD rental figures were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD. However, the download-to-own figures on iTunes were 680 which was below the predicted 1,000.
  • Prometheus – It was released for downloading or streaming through platforms including Amazon, iTunes, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live in 50 countries on 18th September 2012. This was three weeks prior to its release on DVD and Blu-Ray.

YouTube:

  • A Late Quartet – The film was heavily promoted through trailers which were uploaded onto YouTube. The official trailer for the film accumulated 155,000 views which allowed for a build up of anticipation and a rise in awareness. However, this promotion wasn’t as successful as it perhaps could have been because the core target audience for the film are less likely to use sites such as YouTube very frequently.
  • Prometheus – YouTube was a hugely beneficial medium through which the viral videos could be viewed and shared by a vast number of people who otherwise would not have been aware of the film. For example, the TED talk with David 8 accumulated 400,000 views on YouTube and so successfully drew in viewers and raised both speculation and excitement.
  • Batman v Superman – There were 525 million YouTube views across all promotional videos and tie-in spots for Batman v Superman which definitely helped to create an awareness of the film across a very broad range of people.

Section B – Digital Distribution Case Studies

 Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)

The teaser trailer was released on 22nd December 2011 on iTunes to build anticipation for the release of the official trailer. The official trailer was shown simultaneously at the AMC Downtown Disney cinema during WonderCon and on Facebook, Twitter, and the AMC website.

In the United Kingdom, approximately £1 million of tickets were pre-sold. 18,827 tickets pre-sold for the London IMAX, the largest IMAX screen in the country, which broke the theatre records for the highest grossing week of pre-sales with £293,312, and the highest grossing first day of pre-sales with £137,000. It extended this record to 30,000 tickets sold and £470,977 earned, and become the most pre-booked film at that theatre, exceeding the performance of high-profile IMAX releases including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 and Avatar.

In North America, audience tracking showed high interest among males, but low among females. In the week before the film’s release, predictions were conflicted on whether Prometheus or Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (the first family-oriented film of the summer), which were released simultaneously, would reach number 1 for that weekend. On June 6, 2012, Fandango reported that with 42% of daily sales Prometheus was beating Madagascar 3. The online tracking for Prometheus surged with each additional promotional footage. Prometheus was predicted to earn approximately $30 million, and Madagascar 3 around $45 million. As the weekend approached, tracking suggested a $55 million debut for Madagascar 3 and $50–$55 million for Prometheus. Prometheus was disadvantaged by Madagascar opening in 264 more theatres and its adult rating.

In North America, Prometheus DVD and Blu-ray disc releases were listed for pre-order in partnership with Amazon on June 1, 2012, a week before the film was released in theatres. A limited number of cinema tickets for the film were offered as a pre-order incentive. In June 2012, the FX channel obtained the rights to the film’s network television premiere. On September 7, 2012, Fox announced that Prometheus would be the launch title of its new digital distribution initiative “Digital HD”. The film was released on September 18, 2012, three weeks prior to its DVD, Blu-ray disc and VOD release, for downloading and streaming through platforms including Amazon, iTunes, PlayStation Network and Xbox Live in over 50 countries. The film was made available for streaming on both Netflix and Redbox on 6th November 2012.

On October 9, 2012, the Blu-ray disc edition of the film was released in a 2-disc set and a 4-disc “Collector’s Edition”. Both versions contain the theatrical cut of Prometheus, commentary by Scott, Lindelof and Spaihts, a DVD and digital copy of the film, alternate and deleted scenes, and other features. Additionally, the Collector’s Edition contains the 3D version of the film and approximately 7 hours of supplemental features including a documentary on the film’s production. On October 8, 2012, it was reported that Fox had requested an extended version of the film for home media, but Scott refused to edit cut scenes back into the theatrical version of the film, which he considered his director’s cut. During its first week of sale in the United Kingdom, Prometheus was the number 1 selling film on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, outselling its nearest competitor by a factor of three.

A Late Quartet (Yaron Zilberman, 2012)

The film was released in cinemas, Sky Box Office, Curzon’s VOD service, Curzon Home Cinema, and through FilmFlex services on 5th April 2013. It was released more conventionally on DVD and on other VOD services and on other VOD services on 29th July, 16 weeks after opening.

The release aimed to create a ‘premium window’ of simultaneous release in theatres and on selected VOD platforms, contrasting with later standard windows of release on DVD, other VOD services and television.

A Late Quartet took £520,375 at the UK box office, well ahead of its stated £400,000 targeted, although VOD revenues of £25,000 were half of the £50,000 forecast. Curzon Film World had predicted 10,000 sales on all non-theatrical platforms but ended with 3,000 rentals and 2,000 downloads from Sky, 300 views on Curzon Home Cinema and 705 from FilmFlex. The DVD was released on 29th July and had sold 6,435 units (474 on Blu-Ray) by the end of September.

A Late Quartet had already been sold to free television and subscription VOD and there was no particular pressure to chase box office to unlock a minimum guarantee. With DVD revenues in a precarious position, it was felt that a contained day-and-date release was a strong option.

The aim for the release was to break even on theatrical revenues and to add 10,000 buys across all the non-theatrical platforms, generating £50,000 to the bottom line. In addition, they aimed to see if a new profitable window could be established in which audiences will pay more in order to get an on-demand screening of a film simultaneous with its theatrical release, in contrast with later VOD releases in conventional windows.

Online sales figures were far below forecasts, adding to the view that this audience leaned heavily to the cinema as the primary experience if they could get to one.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2011)

The film was first shown at the Glasgow Film Festival on 17th February 2012, before being released widely in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 24th February 2012. This was followed by release in a further 26 countries in March and April. From May to August, more and more nations saw the release of the film, before Japan’s February 2013 release capped off the film’s theatrical debut calendar.

In the United Kingdom, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in second to The Woman In Black at the box office during its first week, earning £2.2 million. It eventually topped the UK box office, with £2.3 million, in its second weekend on release. By the end of its UK run, the film had grossed around $31 million. After three months of release, it was ranked the fourth-highest-grossing 2012 title in the UK.

The BFI Stats Yearbook showed that, for the first time ever, over-45s were the largest proportion of the UK cinema audience, up from 28% in 2011 – a trend fuelled by an increasing number of films tailored for and marketed to older audiences, with three of the most popular films for the over-45s in 2012 being Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Anna Karenina. At the same time there appears to be a decline in younger audiences at the cinema, with the 15-24 age group decreasing from 31% in 2011 to 25% of the total in 2012, but more data and research is needed in this area to better understand shifting patterns of film consumption across all platforms.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September of 2012 and was a popular option of buy-to-own for the audience as they are generally of around 50 years of age and so are less likely to use digital platforms such as VOD.

A Field In England (Ben Wheatley, 2013)

Opening Weekend:

– On the opening weekend, the film took £21,399 in theatrical revenues from 17 venues. The opening weekend picked up 2,213 admissions with a screen average of £1,259 from 17 sites, finishing at number 20 in the UK chart.

– The film averaged 367,000 viewers during the Film4 screening, representing a 3.13% share of the television audience. The total television reach of the film was 918,000 viewers, or 1.8% of the population.

– Combined HMV and Amazon DVD and Blu-Ray sales on Friday and Saturday reached 1,462 with Blu-Ray outselling DVD.

– The film was the most watched on Film4OD on all three days of the opening weekend and represented 30% of the 4OD weekend sales.

– The VOD rental figures were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast, with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD. Download-to-own figures on iTunes were 680, which was below the predicted 1,000.

– The weekend of the release was not particularly helpful to the release as considerable attention was on the tennis at Wimbledon, where Andy Murray was preparing to become the first British men’s singles champion in 77 years. This was unpredictable and drew attention away from the film’s release.

Other Involvement:

– Picturehouse made a vital contribution to the ideas and execution of the project, both as exhibitor and distributor. Picturehouse had loyalty with local cinemas around the UK which benefited the release.

– Channel 4 had its own DVD label (4DVD) and so was able to distribute the film. In addition, Channel 4 was able to distribute to transactional VOD platforms such as iTunes. Channel 4 and Film 4’s promotional trailers helped to push viewers towards watching the film on one of the many available platforms.

– The heavy promotion of the film’s innovative release strategy ensured that the release strategy made its way onto newspapers and news broadcasts.

– Wheatley was a significant part of the marketing plan, beyond his established name. His active use of Twitter, including retweeting audience reviews and comments, contributed much to the final results. He also took part in special Q&A screenings which sold out participating cinemas.

Miscellaneous:

– For the theatrical business with its high investment in marketing and prints (promotion and advertising), there was an obvious fear of taking too much of the burden of a risk, exacerbated by the fear of cannibalisation of audiences when running alongside free TV.

– The strategy to deal with the concerns over ‘split rights’ was based on creating a ‘one pot’ derail, where everyone shared the risks and the rewards across all of the exploitation areas. The approach was valuable in encouraging all parties to throw their energy into all aspects of the release.

Batman v Superman (Zack Snyder, 2016)

 It was released in the United States on March 25, 2016, in 2D, 3D, IMAX 3D, 4DX, premium large formats and 70mm prints.

The film debuted simultaneously across 30,000 screens in nearly every major foreign territory across 61 markets, including China, with domestic open across roughly 4,242 locations of which 3,500 theatres (85%) were in 3D, 390 IMAX screens, 470 PLF locations, 150 D-Box theatres and ten 70 mm prints.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it benefited from the long Easter weekend holiday and despite a distinctly mixed bag of reviews in the U.K. press, it posted an opening £14.62 million or $20.7 million from 612 theaters, a record for 2016 so far and for a superhero title on straight Friday to Sunday, but fell short of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, when accounting for previews

Warner Bros.’ decision to release a summer tentpole over Easter weekend was genius. More kids are off from school now than during the first weekend of the B.O. summer (first weekend in May). Seventy-six percent K-12 schools were off on Good Friday, with 45% scheduled to be off the Monday after Easter. Rather than get crushed by the next four-quad release on the summer calendar, WB decided in August 2014 to move BvS to Easter 2016, a decision made well before Furious 7 set the Easter frame on fire last year with a $147.1M opening. At this point, BvS will have plenty of breathing room in the weeks to come with the only potential obstacles being Disney’s live action The Jungle Book and Universal’s Snow White prequel The Huntsman Winter’s War. 

The exclusive R-rated cut for the Blu-ray is going to include some of the more violent scenes that were cut for theatrical exhibition.an R-rated double dip might be Warner Bros.’ insurance policy to draw audiences to the film in its home release window. In the worst case scenario, the R-rated version might encourage folks who waited until Blu-ray to see the film; putting it in front of audiences that may not have watched the movie otherwise.

Special Correspondents (Ricky Gervais, 2016)

Special Correspondents will receive its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April 2016, followed by an audience discussion with Gervais, Bana and additional cast members. The film will be released worldwide on 29 April 2016.

By opting for Netflix over a conventional movie studio, “Special Correspondents” will skip movie theatres. “A lot of comedies now are gross-out, lowest common denominator because they want everyone to go to the cinema on the first day,” said Gervais. “It’s very homogenised, it’s very safe, people know what they’re getting and they don’t take chances any more. They’re made by committee and they’re focus grouped to death so it’s the same as the film you saw last month that you liked.

Section B – Media Ownership Case Studies

Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)

Investors trust Ridley Scott to make big budget films often on an epic scale with international stars and make a profit. He has a large fan base, as do the cast, and so the names of those involved created some anticipation for the film. The film is a prequel to the very well established Alien franchise which is often regarded as a Science-Fiction classic. The prestige attached to the franchise drew more attention to the film as avid fans of the franchise would be eager to see it.

20th Century Fox gave Ridley Scott a budget of $130,000,000 and were responsible for the distribution and the marketing campaign for the film.

 The Prometheus marketing team hooked up with Channel 4 to host the world premiere of a trailer with a difference. Not content with showing new footage from the film, the end of the trailer invited people to tweet what they thought of it, with the hashtag #areyouseeingthis attached. During the next ad break, Channel 4 then broadcast selected tweets in the next ad break to show off people’s thoughts and excitement over the new footage shown. The Twitter stunt certainly seems to have boosted hype surrounding the film to an even more intense level than before: the hashtag #areyouseeingthis was the No 2 trend in the UK at one point on Sunday night, and a similar campaign has been underway in the US.

TED is a non-profit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. The synergy between TED and Fox was highly successful for both Prometheus and the TED organisation. Their partnership generated millions of visits to the TED website, raised awareness for the film, and introduced new audiences to both TED and Prometheus.

A Late Quartet (Yaron Zilberman, 2012)

The film was supported with £100,000 from the BFI Distribution Fund which allowed for the reach and scope of the release on all platforms to widen. For example, the money from the BFI was used for outdoor marketing, the press campaign, online marketing, and promotion through VOD channels.

Curzon Film World had in recent years shown a commitment to these new release patterns believing that it is possible to increase the reach of individual films and of the core brand of the businesses.

The home entertainment division of Curzon Film World suggested that a windows strategy, releasing on VOD and DVD at the same time as theatrical release, offered some advantages, including the synergy of marketing and public relations.

The cinemas that played the film were mostly in the art-house/independent sector. These cinemas have limited screen space, and therefore the film was unlikely to enjoy a long run. For example, at the Phoenix East Finchley, A Late Quartet was the number-one grossing cinema in the first week (13,700) but still got taken off before the second week.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2011)

John Madden, the director of the film, had a large fan base through his previous successes in film, such as Shakespeare in Love (1998), and so his established name as a director allowed for support and hype around the film. Furthermore, the cast comprised of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy, all of whom are huge stars that contributed to the anticipation and excitement for the film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was based on the 2004 novel, ‘These Foolish Things’, which was written by Deborah Moggach. The novel, from which the film was based, received great responses from an older age range and so a successful target audience was already established for the film to follow. In addition, the success of the novel may have contributed to the box office success of the film.

The distribution company for the film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, is a sister company to 20th Century Fox which is one of the ‘Big Six’ film studios of Hollywood and so currently dominate the film industry.

A Field In England (Ben Wheatley, 2013)

Film4:

– The film opened on 5th July on 17 cinema screens, on DVD and Blu-Ray, on VOD, and on free-to-air television through Film4.

– The film was fully financed by Film4 with a budget of £316,879, with a £112,000 promotion and advertising spend supported by £56,701 from the BFI.

– The engaging website, which included a filmmaking masterclass, was commissioned by Film4.0.

– The film averaged 367,000 viewers during the Film4 free screening, representing a 3.13% share of the television audience.

– Film4 had been a major supporter Wheatley, and had been developing ideas with him when he proposed a low-budget film that neatly fitted Film4’s innovative Film4.0 model. This model was a new way of connecting talent and ideas to audiences.

– Film4 Channel’s promotional trailers pushed viewers towards their own television screening as well as other platforms. Without this factor, the film would have to be promoted through paid advertising, something that clearly goes against their business model.

– Anna Higgs, Commissioning Executive at Film4.0 was an energetic champion of a simultaneous cross-media release and was backed by the Film4 production team.

– Film4 was such a major source of support because it was a recognisable brand associated with quality innovation. This meant that they offered an important means of marketing to a large audience.

– Both Film4 Channel and Film4.0 felt the approach was a neat fit with their brand positioning – exciting, innovative, and centred on empowering the audience.

Picturehouse:

– Picturehouse made a vital contribution to the ideas and execution of the project, both as exhibitor (Picturehouse Cinemas) and distributor (Picturehouse Entertainment).

– The active involvement and support of an established theatre group, Picturehouse Cinemas, removed one of the key obstacles to the day-and-date strategy, cinema boycotts.

– Picturehouse helped to devise, refine, and execute the release strategy and it shared the risk with Film4 on all aspects of the film’s release.

– One major advantage to the release was Picturehouse’s local loyalty towards its cinemas around the UK.

– Picturehouse Cinemas was very open to new release patterns than most of the exhibition industry. Furthermore, Picturehouse had its own distribution arm, and strong relationships with Channel 4, Film4, and the filmmakers.

Channel 4:

– Channel 4 offered an important means of marketing the film to a large audience.

– Channel 4 was involved directly in all areas of exploitation except theatrical. As well as television, Channel 4 has its own DVD label (4DVD), which also distributes to transactional VOD (TVOD) platforms such as iTunes.

– The marketing department of the Channel 4 group bought into the idea, improving profile and reach in the market place.

– One potential obstacle was that Channel 4 needed to operate within the guidelines set out by Ofcom regarding rules about cross-promoting content. They had to adhere to the rules and sell advertising slots to everyone for the same price.

– Channel 4 had built up a degree of brand loyalty and an expectation that they will provide quality and innovation over the years.

Co-operation:

– The release plan was enthusiastically supported by Channel 4, Film4, Picturehouse Cinemas, the film-makers and cast.

– The release strategy was an innovative risk-sharing deal that ensured that every platform received an equal share of the profits and one platform doesn’t benefit significantly more than others.

– The enthusiasm and commitment of all the partners – film-maker, television, online and theatrical was a unique aspect of this release.

– The active involvement of an exhibitor helped to promote the film and closed off some of the negative media messages about boycotts and opposition that have tended to occur with simultaneous releases.

– Considerable attention was given by news organisations and broadcasters, supported by the public relations campaign for the film.

– The support and co-operation of large companies such as Channel 4 was a significant factor in the success  the release strategy.

– Fears of cannibalisation prompted the partners to work together thoroughly.

– The strategy to deal with the concerns over ‘split rights’ was based on creating a ‘one pot’ derail, where everyone shared the risks and rewards across all of the exploitation areas. This encouraged all parties to throw their energy into all aspects of the release.

– The willingness of all parties to share ideas, expertise and risks is crucial to the success of the release strategy.

Wheatley:

– Wheatley and the whole cast supported the release plan and mobilised their active social media fan base.

– Wheatley established a reputation as a bold and innovative director and built a strong fan base through his films. 34% of the audience had seen Wheatley’s previous hit ‘Sightseers’.

– Wheatley’s social media had a lot of influence as it was the primary source of awareness for 54% of under-35s.

– The biggest draw to the film was the appeal of Wheatley as 52% of the audience stated that he was the reason for them seeing the film.

Batman v Superman (Zack Snyder, 2016)

An estimated $165 million marketing effort helped promote Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con , Snyder introduced the film’s first footage intended to be exclusive to the event. A teaser trailer was scheduled to be screened in selected cinemas on April 20, 2015. However, on April 16, the trailer leaked online, and within a few hours Snyder officially released the trailer to Twitter. At the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International, Snyder and the cast attended to present an initial trailer of the film. The trailer was, unlike the teaser, which received mixed response, positively received by attendees, who gave the trailer a standing ovation. 

Warner Bros. Consumer Products partnered-up with “a powerhouse slate of global licensees for a broad, multi-category licensing and merchandising program”, including Matt, Lego, Rubies, Funko, Thinkway Toys, Hot Toys, Junkfood, Bioworld, Pez, Seiko, Converse and among many other licensees to sell merchandise related to the film. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was also a licensee for the film, offering a special edition Jeep Renegade in exchange for a near-exclusive product placement deal; aside from Bruce Wayne’s Aston Martin, all vehicles in the film were either from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, or Iveco. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Cross Fire, an original companion novel tied to the film, telling a tie-in story set before the events of the movie, was published by Scholastic Corporation .

A five-issue comic-book prelude exploring what happened in the weeks and months leading up to the events of the film was released as a tie-in with Dr Pepper’s character-branded bottles. Also, there are a series of four mini comics found in Batman v Superman-branded General Mills cereals. Additionally, those who purchased Batman v Superman-themed Doritos Family Fun Mix at Walmart received the comic book prequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Upstairs/Downstairs.

In February 2016, Warner Bros. and Doritos formed a partnership, creating a website offering fans the opportunity to enter codes found on Doritos purchases branded with the film’s logo, and enter to win movie tickets, tech toys, and a trip the premiere in New York. Warner Bros also partnered with Omaze to give fans who donated a chance to win “The Ultimate Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Experience”, while benefiting three nonprofit organisations nominated by Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Jesse Eisenberg. “The Ultimate Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Experience” offered a fan and their friend the chance to win tickets to the premiere of the film, as well as fly on a helicopter with Cavill or ride in the Batmobile with Affleck. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove cars based on Superman and Batman respectively, at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016.

Special Correspondents (Ricky Gervais, 2016)

On the same day as the film’s release date was announced, four stills from Special Correspondents were released, featuring the characters of Eric Bana, Ricky Gervais, Vera Farmiga, Kelly MacDonald, America Ferrera, and Raúl Castillo. These are all very popular cast members that, through their involvement in the film, would easily be able to create anticipation and hype for the film. 

In late October 2014, it was reported that Ricky Gervais would be directing a remake of the French comedy Envoyés très spéciaux, titled Special Correspondents (the French film’s English translation), from his own screenplay. It was also announced that Eric Bana and Gervais would star in the film as a struggling radio journalist and his sidekick, respectively. In early May, it was reported that Kevin Pollak would have a supporting role in the film. On 27 May, it was revealed that Benjamin Bratt had been cast in the role of Bana’s nemesis. On 30 May, Kelly MacDonald was reported to have joined the cast of the film. The following day, Vera Farmiga tweeted her involvement in the project; she was later confirmed to be portraying the role of Gervais’ ruthless wife. Raúl Castillo was reported to have joined the cast on 3 June. A picture of the complete cast was revealed by TheWrap on 5 June, confirming the casting of America Ferrera.

In November 2014, it was reported that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions had purchased the rights to the film for territories including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Latin America. In April 2015, it was announced that Netflix had pre-bought the U.S. domestic distribution rights to the film for roughly $12 million.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)

  • Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution, new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. This horizontally integrated conglomerate could therefore utilise its cross-media ownership to form a synergy between the production and distribution.
  • Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 15,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
  • Lionsgate Entertainment funded the film with a budget of $185 million, with which many popular cast members could be hired. This, in turn, would allow for them to draw in larger audiences to make a larger profit. Only very large conglomerates have enough money to be able to hire these cast members which is beneficial to these companies as, in many cases, it is the cast members that help to market the film to their fans.
  • The film was shown in 4,163 theatres, a very large number of theatres for a film of its standard. This widespread theatrical release, achieved through Lionsgate’s large influence and power within the industry, helped to get the film its large box office gross. Had Lionsgate been a smaller studio, it would not have been able to distribute the film to such a large number of cinemas. Therefore, the size and influence of the media conglomerate allowed for its own large box office gross.

Section B – New Technologies Case Studies

Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)

The entire film was shot in 3D, a novelty which would benefit its theatrical exhibition. The astounding visuals of the film lends itself to 3D as people would want to see the film in an as immersive way as possible.

Viral Marketing Campaign: 

Prometheus’ box office success was predated by an internationally acclaimed viral marketing campaign targeted at bringing viewers into the world of the film. The online marketing allowed audiences to interact with the film and build momentum for its release.

The ‘TED Talk’ – The team behind ‘Prometheus’ obviously knew that the core target market for their film would be people who have an interest in Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED). Many people who work in these industries have an appreciation for Sir Ridley Scott’s classic movie Alien and so they were an appropriate audience. TED talks have in the past been hosted by a ‘who’s who’ of global geniuses, from Al Gore to Bill Gates and Seth Godin and are archived online at TED.com, a site that has been viewed over 500 million times.

TED worked with the team behind promoting ‘Prometheus’ to produce a 3 minute talk (Directed by Luke Scott – Sir Ridley’s son) that was launched on the TED website and promoted to all their followers and discusses artificial life. As well as the video they also created an authentic TED landing page to try their best to add realism to the video. In a short space of time the video went viral with 20,000 people posting it on their Facebook pages, over 6,000 people tweeting and on one YouTube channel alone the video has been viewed over 400,000 times.

Happy Birthday David 8 – The next viral involves Michael Fassbender portraying David 8, an AI robot. David 8 is the second viral short from the film that has had the internet going crazy, mainly because of the unsettling nature of the performance of Michael Fassbender. The film is a kind of infomercial from the future and is lovingly written, directed and art-directed. Needless to say the internet (and traditional media) went crazy over this viral with it appearing on the BBC’s ‘Click’ technology programme, in various newspapers and blogs and ultimately has received hundreds of thousands of views across YouTube alone. In addition, a Twitter account was set up to allow users to interact with David 8 which raised awareness and built anticipation for the film.

Are you seeing this? – And if that wasn’t enough, the Prometheus marketing team hooked up with Channel 4 to host the world premiere of a trailer with a difference. Not content with showing new footage from the film, the end of the trailer invited people to tweet what they thought of it, with the hashtag #areyouseeingthis attached. During the next ad break, Channel 4 then broadcast selected tweets in the next ad break to show off people’s thoughts and excitement over the new footage shown. The Twitter stunt certainly seems to have boosted hype surrounding the film to an even more intense level than before: the hashtag #areyouseeingthis was the No 2 trend in the UK at one point on Sunday night, and a similar campaign has been underway in the US.

Quiet Eye – As the public became attuned to the cast of characters of Prometheus, it was time to introduce the world to Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw through an interactive effort that would allow participants to play Project Genesis on the Weyland site. The video, directed by Johnny Hardstaff, led viewers to the game in which they could assist in finding artefacts of ancient Earth cultures throughout outer space.

Weyland Industries Website – The Prometheus campaign wasn’t content with just launching an official website, they also launched a second site called weylandindustries.com, a fake corporate website from the fictional company that are funding the Prometheus space mission in the film.

The site is filled with information that tells you statistics on the company’s achievements and current standing in the world. There is news on current and upcoming projects including the creation of David 8 and, of course, the planned flight of the Prometheus spacecraft. Their services include everything from transport to ‘terraforming’, and each area is covered extensively with copy and supporting pictures and paints a fabulous picture of what kind of universe we can expect to see in the upcoming movie and what the motivations of the fictional company and its staff are. The beauty of the site lies though in its gamification aspect. Visitors are encouraged to sign-up to the site and then have to complete challenges to unlock exclusive content and find out more about the fictional world that has been created.

A Late Quartet (Yaron Zilberman, 2012)

The media spend was £148,000, of which £70,000 was allocated to outdoor sites (rail and underground) and £38,000 0n print and advertising. Curzon was aware of the need to target the potentially younger VOD audience and therefore spent £40,000 on online and VOD marketing.

The media campaign openly promoted availability on all platforms and the on-demand services pushed the film strongly as available the same day as theatrical release. Sky Box Office ran a series of advertisements and the multi-platform availability was also part of the print and poster campaign.

As the film was targeted for an audience of over 40, the social media campaign was less central than for many releases aimed at younger demographics but the UK Facebook site generated 549 likes. In addition, the YouTube trailers may have also played a part in raising awareness as the HD release accumulated 155,000 views.

Online advertising was reported as the main source of awareness among only 7.1% of the Curzon Home Cinema audience. This was surprisingly low given the eventual choice of home viewing for much of the audience.

The release of the film on new-media platforms under-performed compared to forecasts, and so a wider conventional release might have generated higher revenues. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with a 78% rating from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and attracted a still active Facebook page with 10,500. This may have led to the spread of word-of-mouth to generate anticipation for the film’s release.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2011)

New technologies, such as online promotion, were not utilised hugely for this release as the film is targeted towards an older audience that are less likely to use social media sites or multimedia platforms. However, an online promotional method was used for the film which involved a synergy between TakePart, a digital news and lifestyle magazine, and Participant Media, one of the companies that produced the film.  A survey by Participant Media and Encore.org found that adults over 50 overwhelmingly describe a strong desire to help make the world better for those younger than themselves. Starting in April 2012, TakePart.com launched the Marigold Ideas For Good Contest, looking for some of the most inspiring and innovative people over 50 in the United States. This served as a great source of promotion for both Participant Media and TakePart and, as the contest was also targeted towards an older audience, it may have contributed quite significantly towards the success of the film.

The soundtrack for the film, from Thomas Newman, was released for purchase in CD format in 2012.This acted as a promotion for the film and helped to raise awareness of it. The target audience of the film, aged around fifty, are more likely to purchase CDs rather than digitally download the soundtrack and so having it on CD format was beneficial.

A Field In England (Ben Wheatley, 2013)

Twitter:

– The release strategy for A Field In England had the significant advantage of a film-maker with a strong and active Twitter fan base (12,000 followers). He had established a reputation as a bold and innovative director and built a strong fan base through his previous films.

– Wheatley played a significant role in the marketing plan by retweeting audience reviews and comments and taking part in special Q&A screenings which sold out participating cinemas.

– Twitter accounted for the vast majority of mentions on social media sites with 94% of total traffic. The film received 12,000 mentions on social media sites and trended number one on Twitter on the Friday of the release.

– The use of social media ensured a great deal of interaction and the willingness to explain and discuss issues allowed customers to perceive the release strategy as more positive.

– Some of the cast themselves had themselves established a following, supported by social media: Shearsmith (20%), Barrat and Smiley (14-17%) were all cited in the cinema exit poll as a primary reason to attend a theatrical screening.

– The Online Conversation monitoring suggested that 10% of the online discussion, mostly from Twitter, was positive whilst only 3% was negative. Each mention on these different platforms acted as a piece of word-of-mouth promotion.

Online Masterclass:

– Among the marketing innovations was an in-depth masterclass website which attracted a large, engaged audience.

-The masterclass website was commissioned by Film4.0, in collaboration with Wheatley and Rook Films. It included a filmmaking masterclass with the director, in-depth interviews and downloadable and free content.

– The online masterclass was a success as it had attracted 80,000 page views and 54,000 visits. Furthermore, 34% of the visitors followed links to screenings or purchasing options.

– 15,000 of the visitors generated 23,000 video views. There were 100,000 embeds of video content in third-party sites and 48% of Masterclass users clicked on at least four sections.

VOD:

– The film was the most watched on Film4OD on all three days of the opening weekend and represented 30% of the 4OD weekend sales.

– The VOD rental figures were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast, with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD. Download-to-own figures on iTunes were 680 which was below the predicted 1,000.

Online Campaign:

– The online campaign was carefully targeted at a clear core audience and was rewarded with impressive results.

– Even among the cinema audience, the biggest single factor in raising awareness for the film was the online campaign (45%). However, age played an important role in this as 54% of under-35s said online advertising and social media was its primary source of awareness, compared with 35% in the older range.

– The film successfully mobilised the online campaign by pooling the range of the stakeholder companies to create a buzz, which was amplified by social media conversation.

– There was a gradual build up in the social media mentions in the lead up to the launch with increase in activity around trailer launches and festival appearances from individuals such as Karlovy Vary.

Batman v Superman (Zack Snyder, 2016)

Social Media – Fifty seven percent of the conversation on Twitter following the film’s debut has been positive, according to social media tracking service Fizziology. Less than 10 percent of the tweets about the film have been negative, with the rest falling under the neutral banner – spread of word of mouth

Throughout the year leading up its debut, “Batman v Superman” was tweeted, blogged, or shared about over 180 million times on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and Wikipedia, according to social media tracking service ListenFirst Media

“There are certain times where the overwhelming excitement and engagement from the average person can carry a film at the box office,” said Jason Klein, co-CEO of ListenFirst.

Gal Gadot is the social leader counting 8.8M fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, adding 7.5K fans a day on Facebook and 4.4K a day on Twitter. Ben Affleck is second with 3.8M, adding 1K-2K fans a day on Facebook and as many as 8K daily on Twitter.

The second most-viewed YouTube trailer is the April 17, 2015 teaser that counts 51.6M and still logs 20K-30K watches daily. The third-most popular BvS trailer on YouTube is the second official trailer at 25.7M, and averages 40K-60K views a day.

Part of the 525M YouTube views are the two Turkish Airlines tie-in spots, “Fly To Gotham” (20M) and “Fly To Metropolis” (19M), that aired during the Super Bowl. Both are clocking huge daily views at 39M combined. Meanwhile, one of the hot late-night show clips came from Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s post-Oscar show — a deleted BvS scene with Affleck, Cavill, Eisenberg and Kimmel. That drew 7.7M views.

Rocksteady Studios released a DLC for the video game Batman: Arkham Knight that featured the Batmobile and Batsuit from the film. In addition, they worked with Turkish Airlines to put together a pair of Batman v Superman-themed airline commercials. Jesse Eisenberg’s part as Lex Luthor in these commercials was praised which built anticipation for the film’s release.

The final trailer was released on February 11, 2016, which was described as “intense” by Kwame Opam of The Verge. Mendelson of Forbes felt that Warner Bros. “probably wouldn’t have even dropped this one had the prior trailer back in December been received better. So now we have this fourth and final sell, and at least they are going out on a high note.” Jonathon Dornbush of Entertainment Weekly said that the footage “works to establish Batman as his own independent crime fighting force, while also providing a deeper look at his existential struggle against Superman.”

Special Correspondents (Ricky Gervais, 2016)

Gervais debuted the first official trailer on his Twitter account on 23 March 2016. A second trailer was released on 12 April 2016.

Vera Farmiga tweeted her involvement in the project; she was later confirmed to be portraying the role of Gervais’ ruthless wife.

By opting for Netflix over a conventional movie studio, “Special Correspondents” will skip movie theatres. “A lot of comedies now are gross-out, lowest common denominator because they want everyone to go to the cinema on the first day,” said Gervais. “It’s very homogenised, it’s very safe, people know what they’re getting and they don’t take chances any more. They’re made by committee and they’re focus grouped to death so it’s the same as the film you saw last month that you liked.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, 2013)

Social Media:

  • A significant amount of time was invested into ‘The Hunger Games’ Facebook page which had nearly 12 million likes. The growth in popularity of the Facebook page was bolstered by the smart move to consolidate their local Facebook pages into one. The Twitter account had grown to 969,372 followers and also added to their social presence with a Google+ page with 2,271,856 encirclers and an Instagram profile with 31,464 followers. All of these forms of social media are utilised to push out film related content to create excitement and receive audience engagement.
  • In addition, the Tumblr’s focus on images, gifs and videos means any visual content can easily be viewed and shared and so was a beneficial medium through which the film could be promoted.
  • Social media was utilised well as they placed a significant emphasis on user generated content which allowed them to increasing the reach of their promotion.

Digital Media:

  • The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”.

Case Study: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ (2013)

New Technologies:

Social Media:

  • A significant amount of time was invested into ‘The Hunger Games’ Facebook page which had nearly 12 million likes. The growth in popularity of the Facebook page was bolstered by the smart move to consolidate their local Facebook pages into one. The Twitter account had grown to 969,372 followers and also added to their social presence with a Google+ page with 2,271,856 encirclers and an Instagram profile with 31,464 followers. All of these forms of social media are utilised to push out film related content to create excitement and receive audience engagement.
  • In addition, the Tumblr’s focus on images, gifs and videos means any visual content can easily be viewed and shared and so was a beneficial medium through which the film could be promoted.
  • Social media was utilised well as they placed a significant emphasis on user generated content which allowed them to increasing the reach of their promotion.

Digital Media:

  • The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”.

Media Ownership:

  • Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution, new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. This horizontally integrated conglomerate could therefore utilise its cross-media ownership to form a synergy between the production and distribution.
  • Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 15,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
  • Lionsgate Entertainment funded the film with a budget of $185 million, with which many popular cast members could be hired. This, in turn, would allow for them to draw in larger audiences to make a larger profit. Only very large conglomerates have enough money to be able to hire these cast members which is beneficial to these companies as, in many cases, it is the cast members that help to market the film to their fans.
  • The film was shown in 4,163 theatres, a very large number of theatres for a film of its standard. This widespread theatrical release, achieved through Lionsgate’s large influence and power within the industry, helped to get the film its large box office gross. Had Lionsgate been a smaller studio, it would not have been able to distribute the film to such a large number of cinemas. Therefore, the size and influence of the media conglomerate allowed for its own large box office gross.

Digital Distribution:

  • Lionsgate announced that the launch of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” on home video saw an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units sold in its first weekend of North American release.  Higher-margin Blu-Ray titles surged to 50% of all packaged media sales of Catching Fire in its opening weekend compared to 35% of packaged media sales of the first Hunger Games film. The film also scored 50% of all packaged media sales, up from the 35% of packaged media sales for the first film.
  • The Hunger Games franchise continued to gain momentum as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire sold an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units in its first weekend of North American release and had the biggest digital launch in the Company’s history with opening weekend digital sales increasing nearly 40% over the first Hunger Games film.
  • Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 15,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
  • The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”.
  • The film was shown in 4,163 theatres, a very large number of theatres for a film of its standard. This widespread theatrical release helped to get the film its large box office gross.