Digital Distribution Essay

  To what extent does digital distribution affect the marketing and consumption of media products?

Throughout the history of film, the way we consume and distribute a media product has changed drastically. Not only do companies have to focus on theatrical exhibition but, they have different online and VOD platforms – non-theatrical exhibition. Companies have to take into account the increase in technological disruption and convergence which can majorly change the way a film is marketed and consumed.

Films which belong to the infamous ‘Big Six’ have a huge advantage over independent films in terms of actually distributing the product and the consumption of the film. For example, the 2015 action film: Furious 7, successfully grossed £1,174,579,500 worldwide due to the amount of money they could spend on marketing and distributing the film. The DVD release was incredibly popular due to the bonus features the DVD had to offer. It was released on the 7th of September in 2015 in the UK and just within its first week it sold roughly 2.5 million units on Blu-ray and DVD. This made Furious 7 the biggest selling franchise of the year (shortly taken by Jurassic World) and by the end of the year, it was the third highest grossing film of the year. Since then, the film has been released on Netflix where it has become incredibly popular. Even though the popularity of the film is a huge advantage for the company, there is the risk of illegal downloading which will have an impact on the consumption of the media product. This turned out to be true as Furious 7 became the second most pirated film of 2015 with 44.7 million downloads. This affected the way people view the film at home but, it also affected the marketing. If people at home could find a way to watch the film for free instead of paying the extortionate prices at the cinema then they would perhaps download it for home viewing.

Wheatley’s 2013 independent drama: A Field in England, had a different distribution method as opposed to a typical film. The film could be described as a form of guerilla film-making and because of the extremely low budget, the film needed to earn profit. Wheatley believed that the best way to do this was a unique multi-media release and there was a huge investment into P+A and marketing. This seems like a perfect way to make profit all at once but, there was some speculation which perhaps affected the marketing scheme. There is still the stigma of the “direct to DVD jibe” regarding the film’s quality and even though this was planned out, there was a problem with the consumption of the media product: brick-and-mortar stores did not carry any new stock until the Monday where the DVDs are delivered. This would have affected the day where all the releases are on different multi-media platforms since the DVDs would not have been available for purchasing. In it’s lifetime, there were 15,000 full presales of the 4DVD film and 20,000 at a reduced price. By October 12th, sales had reached 7,172. Even though the DVD did quite well, there were issues with iTunes and other platforms. Premium pricing was not possible and there was not an exclusive VOD window because, it was released on the same date as the DVD; which is impossible under iTunes policy – this obviously was a downfall in the digital distribution method of the film. The digital masterclass, however, was a huge part of the marketing scheme which led to advantages in the consumption of the film. By mid October, 34% of the visitors followed links to screening and purchasing options for the film which obviously had a huge impact on the consumption of media. It could be argued that Wheatley’s unique method of digitally distributing A Field in England has advantages and disadvantages in terms of how it affected the marketing and the consumption of the media product.

Like A Field in England, Lars Von Trier’s 2013 erotic drama: Nymphomaniac, also had a day-and-date release model funded by the the BFI (British Film Institution) with a total of £50,000. The film’s marketing concentrated on  a “unique experience: with a clear distinction from the normal film campaign. Synergy can be seen with the single marketing push from Curzon with £204,028 going into promotion for day-and-date releases. Nymphomaniac had a original ‘One Night Stand’ event which allowed people to watch the two-part film in one sitting at any of the theatres associated with Curzon Cinemas. This form of symbiosis proved to be successful as it was the highest opening gross of any Von Trier film with a total of £143,300. The film also proved to be a success in the home viewing region where a total of 17,184 DVDs were sold in the first two months after it was released as a conventional DVD window on April the 28th. People at home could also view the film on a wide variety of devices as it was available on: CHC (Curzon Home Cinema); SkyStore; FilmFlex; BFI Player and Samsung TV as well as BT TV. 38% of viewers agreed that they would download the film with 18% strongly agreeing to the same statement. Curzon FilmWorld were actually correct with the statement that there would be a strong performance on VOD platforms and this may be because of the marketing scheme (‘One Night Stand’ event) and the availability of actually watching the media product and consuming it.

Another “independent” film which also had a unique way of distributing the film digitally is Ricky Gervais’ 2016 British-Canadian-American comedy: Special Correspondents. In the recent years of Netflix’s popularity, like the “straight-to-DVD jibe” there is also the “straight-to-Netflix jibe” which is what Special Correspondents was a part of. In 2014, it was announced 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 the following year, it was announced that Netflix had pre-bought the global distribution rights to the film for roughly $12 Million. Since Netflix had bought the rights, the company were keen to show that the film was only available on Netflix and non subscribers had to become a member on the platform. This modern form of digital distribution meant that Netflix had an increase in new subscribers to the streaming service.

It is clear to see that digital distribution affects the marketing and consumption of a film and whatever the film; independent or huge blockbusters – companies have to take in the change in technology and the way we watch a film in the twenty first century.

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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 are supposed to have studied

The film industry is essentially a market place in which huge, media conglomerates control the industry. Oligopoly is thriving; where ‘the big six’ dominate 90% of the market. However, smaller firms and companies make up a small percentage of this competitive industry. Evidently, it is much more difficult to distribute an independent film with low budgets and independent directors compared to the huge budget pictures from world renowned directors.

Ben Wheatley’s 2014 independent drama: A Field in England had a budget of £316,879. Compared to much larger films, Wheatley’s drama needed to have a successful distribution method to ensure that he made profit. Ben Wheatley himself was a huge reason as to why the film had a successful distribution. The appeal of the new, up and coming director attracted audiences across the world. Wheatley and the producers: Andy Stark and Claire Jones, were incredibly passionate about the film and their enthusiasm allowed the film to have room for freedom and invention. This became an advantage for the film’s successful distribution as, their enthusiasm not only reduced their creative risk but, their financial risk also. Wheatley’s enthusiasm was apparent due to his active use of twitter which arguably, was also used as a marketing strategy. Channel 4 had a strong interest in Wheatley to the point where they funded and owned the film. Channel 4 played a huge advantage in the successful distribution of the film as it was able to tap Wheatley’s film into the 23 million people who visit the channel. This is a form of symbiosis as Wheatley was getting the audience for his feature film and Channel 4 were getting an increase in visits to the channel. Film4 is a property of Channel 4 and are described as a recognisable brand for “quality innovation’. Film4 regularly broadcast independent films and they are major supporters of Wheatley. Additionally, Film4 developed ideas with the director and proposed a low budget film which fitted the criteria of the Film4.0 model – this was a perfect place for Wheatley to get successful distribution of the film. Film4 also enticed audiences with regularly advertising trailers of the film as a key and important marketing strategy. The final company which had a big impact on the film’s distribution was PictureHouse. PictureHouse has existing relationships with Film4 and Channel 4. PictureHouse also play the role of an exhibitor (PictureHouse Cinemas) and distributor (PictureHouse Entertainment). PictureHouse helped Wheatley’s progression into film distribution as they removed one of the key obstacles to any day-and-date strategy – a cinema boycott – they helped refine and execute the strategy. Even though the enthusiasm of the crew and the synergy and symbiosis between the companies created an excellent marketing plan, A Field in England only grossed £49800 across the world. This wasn’t incredibly successful but, this isn’t the case for all independent films.

Lars Von Trier’s two part 2013 erotic drama Nymphomaniac had a unique marketing scheme including many companies. It can be argued that this led to successful distribution of the film. The film’s 2013 release was supported by the New Models – a strand of the BFI Distribution Fund. They contributed £50,000 to the film’s distribution and marketing scheme. Similarly, Curzon Film World’s single marketing push did, in fact, push the film into the eyes of the public and attract more of the audience. The company spent £204,028 with promotion for day-and-date releases with a mix of: trailers, conventional media, PR and social media. Nymphomaniac‘s marketing concentrated on a unique experience with a clear distinction from the normal film campaign. This was supported with a one night event screening with the playful tagline: ‘One Night Stand’. The event was broadcasted live to participating cinemas from Curzon Cinema (a form of cross media ownership from Curzon Film World). This one time event was the only chance to see both parts of the film at a single screening. It was then followed by an interactive Q&A hosted by Edith Bowman. The ‘One Night Stand’ was a successful marketing strategy for the film since it was the highest grossing opening for any Lars Von Trier film; earning £143,306 but, it was an advantage for Curzon Film World as well. 46% of the audience who attended the screening attended at least one other event screening afterwards. It was also stated that 17% of the audience attended four or more screenings afterwards. The ‘One Night Stand’ event screening was arguably a successful form of symbiosis but, it was difficult to judge whether it was worth it or not. People who attended the screening were Von Trier enthusiasts and adamant cinephiles. Whether the screenings attracted a wider or different audience is debatable. The film did reasonably well for an independent film: grossing £9,697,500 at the box office and 78% of the audience rated the film “excellent or “very good”. Therefore, the media ownership within Nymphomaniac contributed to the film’s successful distribution.

A much more high budget blockbuster is the recently released: The Fate of the Furious, the eight film in The Fast & Furious franchise. The film was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year and when the trailer was released on the film’s Twitter account which has grossed 1.16 million followers, the trailer received 22,000 retweets. The trailer was also released on YouTube where it gained over 5 million views. Due to the scale of Universal Pictures, the film had a TV spot during the Superbowl commercial break. The Superbowl advert break is watched by an average 114.4 million viewers just in the United States so, unlike an independent film, there was a huge amount of money which went into the un-targeted advertising which helped the film’s distribution. Like the two independent films, there was a successful example of symbiosis. Due to the seventh film in the franchise’s (Furious 7) success with the soundtrack, the aim was to create another song which not only marketed the film but, created another form of successful distribution due to the popularity. Universal Pictures partnered up with Atlantic Records to create a motion picture soundtrack which had advantages for both companies – an obvious form of symbiosis. The film soundtrack was in the top forty charts in 14 countries so, it did distribute incredibly well and created more of a buzz for the film. The Fate and the Furious has grossed £902,319,818 as of today and it is clear to see that a bigger budget has allowed the film to create a much more successful distribution strategy than the two independent films.

The media ownership within different films is a huge reason as to why the film is successful in its distribution. Without enthusiasm from the crew and synergy and symbiosis between certain companies, the film would not be as successful during its distribution.

New Technologies Essay

To what extent has the internet played a significant role in marketing and exchange of media products in the area you have studied?

Introduction: the internet was available to the public in the late 1980’s and since then it has had a big impact on today’s culture as well as everyone’s way of life. Not only has the internet had a big impact on today’s society, it has also had an impact in the world of film whether that would be: distribution or marketing.

Social Media and Marketing

  • Big part of today’s culture which people of all ages are a part of
  • Social media: Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube
  • Field in England: Twitter accounted for the vast majority of mentions on social media with 94% of total traffic (according to the online conversation monitoring by Brilliant Noise)
  • Field in England: Friday of the release, which represented the vast majority of the 12,000 mentions on social media sites
  • Field in England: Film trended number one on twitter on the day of its release
  • Field in England: 54% of the under-35’s audience said that social media was a primary source of the awareness compared with 35% of the over-35’s
  • Nymphomaniac: The film’s twitter account picked up more than 1,400 followers
  • La La Land: La La Land was huge during its release but, due to the Oscar’s mishap which was trending internationally for a while, it also helped with its publicity and advertising for the film if people were unaware of the film before hand
  • Snapchat: Snapchat puts on sponsored filters – ie Batman v Superman filter
  • Youtube: Almost 5 billion videos are watched everyday so, perfect place to advertise a film. Trailers are uploaded as well as Youtube personalities with a large following interviewing actors of a certain film as well as praising the film — thus persuading the subscriber to go see the film
  • Red State: ‘Smodcast’ was created by Kevin Smith to attract an audience

Distribution 

  • David Brent Life on the Road: Netflix later acquired distribution rights to the film in all territories excluding the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand
  • Special Correspondents: Netflix had pre-bought the global distribution rights to the film for roughly $12 Million
  • Nymphomaniac: Curzon Film World predicted that the theatrical gross would be close to $300K with a strong performance on VOD platforms
  • Nymphomaniac: The various on demand platforms added further net revenues of $71,050
  • A Field in England: Film 4OD – 714, iTunes – 3,133, Virgin Media – 1,746
  • A Field in England: 100,000 embeds of video content in third-party websites
  • Films being distributed online to cinemas internationally instead of being distributed on film – less damaging and can sell tickets more due to wide release

Piracy

  • Since technology, films are pirated more and more with an increase in the knowledge of pirating films
  • Films like ‘La La Land’ and ‘Nymphomaniac’ have been pirated for online usage
  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Most pirated film in 2014 with over 30 million downloads
  • The Guardian states that “almost 30% of Britons are now watching movies illegally online or buying counterfeit DVDs” this is costing the movie industry £500m a year

To what extent has the internet played a significant role in marketing and exchange of media products in the area you have studied?

The internet was available to the public in the early 1980’s and since then, it has had a big impact on today’s culture as well as everyone’s way of life. Not only has the internet had a big impact on society, it has also had an impact in the world of film whether that would be in: distribution or marketing.

The main aspect of the internet which is accessible to people of all ages is: social media. Companies like Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube all have a big part in advertising and marketing certain films. An example of this can be seen for A Field in England where Twitter accounted for the vast majority of mentions on social media with 94% of total traffic (according to the online conversation monitoring by Brilliant Noise). Social media gives publicity to certain stories and events so people who had no idea of Wheatley’s film were now aware of it. The social media side to Wheatley’s marketing strategy obviously helped as 54% of the under-35’s audience said that social media was a primary source of film’s awareness. Lars Von Trier’s 2013 film Nymphomaniac also used Twitter to make people aware of the film; the film’s twitter account picked up more than 1400 followers. Another independent film which arguably benefited from Twitter was La La LandLa La Land was huge during its release but, due to the Oscar’s mishap which was trending internationally for a while. Many people who were oblivious to Damien Chazelle’s musical were now familiar so, this unfortunate occurrence perhaps helped with its publicity and advertising. Other forms of social media like Snapchat have sponsored Snapchat filters; this is where the film will pay for a specially designed filter to feature on the app for 24 hours. This symbiosis between films and Snapchat has been used a lot in the past year or so because. there are more than 300 million active users a month – this a great place to market a film. YouTube is another form of social media which has become one of the most competitive websites in the world. With over 5 billion videos watched everyday, film companies have used YouTube to broadcast and market their film. YouTube personalities who are of a specific genre are paid to interview the cast members of certain films or to just generally talk about the chosen film. This form of targeted advertising has become very common over the course of YouTube’s population growth. A type of media which usually involves the internet are podcasts. Podcasts are incredibly popular with the Apple having an app dedicated to them. Kevin Smith attracted an audience for his independent film Red State – named ‘Smodcast’. Evidently, the popularity and extreme use of social media has guided film companies to create a more accessible and easier way for people across the world to become aware of their film.

Distributing films has changed throughout the years with introducing the internet. Ricky Gervais created his iconic character: David Brent. He later brought Brent into the film industry. Netflix has become a big way in which people watch and stream films in video on demand with a small subscription fee. Due to its large audience, Gervais used this to reach out to Netflix’s large following. After the film’s release, Netflix later acquired distribution rights to David Brent: Life on the Road in all territories excluding the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Gervais’ next film Special Correspondents, had the global distribution rights pre-bought by Netflix for roughly $12 million. This film was straight to Netflix but, it is a fact that the majority of people stream and use subscription VOD to watch films. Nymphomaniac also used VOD to distribute the film. Facts and figures show that the theatrical gross would be close to $300k due to the strong performance on VOD platforms. Furthermore, the various on demand platforms added further net revenues of $71,050 for the erotic film. The independent film genre benefits from VOD greatly. Another example can be shown in A Field in England, not only was there 100,000 embeds of video content in third party websites but, there were 3,133 downloads on iTunes; 714 views on Film 4OD and 1,746 downloads through Virgin Media. VOD services such as Netflix and iTunes have led film companies to broadcast their films to the world not only through cinemas but, through the internet. Because of the growth of media ownership, theatrical exhibition isn’t as important because the film studio is getting their money back through VOD platforms.

The internet has changed the way films are distributed through and between cinemas. For many years, films were distributed into cinema on a reel of film. Since then, technological disruption has allowed cinemas to distribute films through protected files and services internationally. It is clear to see that this is a much more convenient way to show the same film in multiple screens across the country as well as, across the world. Because of this, the film industry has benefited immensely. This service is not only convenient but, safe. When films were transported and distributed in big reels, it was incredibly easy to damage and destroy the film. The internet has allowed the film to be distributed on protected files. Even though this is arguably safe, the internet has opened up many opportunities for the one of the most common crimes to date: pirating. ‘The Guardian’ states that “almost 30% of Britons are now watching movies illegally online or buying counterfeit DVDs”. Pirating is incredibly cheap for people at home to do and since cinemas are becoming notorious for the extortionate rates they are charging, the amounting of people pirating films illegally is continuously growing. In 2014, The Wolf of Wall Street was the most pirated film with over 30 million downloads and since then, films like Nymphomaniac and La La Land have all been shared on illegal streaming sites. This has become a huge disadvantage to the film industry with a massive loss of £500 million a year. Even though the internet has changed the way we watch films, there are obviously some bad effects which occur because of this phenomenon.

Whether its a Hollywood blockbuster or an independent film from a first time director, the internet has helped the film industry a substantial amount. Social media has allowed a film to be marketed to a huge following at once and the internet has allowed distribution between cinemas easier and more efficient. Even though there are many advantages of the internet integrating with the film industry, there are some weaknesses such as: pirating and illegal streaming.

Case Study : David Brent: Life on the Road

‘David Brent: Life on the Road’ is a 2016 British mockumentary comedy film. The film stars Ricky Gervais who also wrote and directed the feature film. The film follows one of Gervais’ most recognisable characters: David Brent from the UK TV series ‘The Office’. Brent has a film crew who follow him up and down the country as he lives his dream of becoming a rock star.

Entertainment One and BBC Films co-financed the film and Entertainment One also distributed the film in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Whereas in the US, Open Road Films distributed the film. Netflix later acquired distribution rights to the film in all territories excluding the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

During March 2016, Gervais revealed and released the first posters of the film. The film recieved its first official release on 19th of August 2016 in the United Kingdom. On 7th of April 2016, the first teaser trailer was released.

As well as the film’s release, the film also got its own soundtrack. It includes all of David Brent’s songs which also gained a lot of attention. Since the film was based on a highly successful TV series, the film was highly anticipated which added to the marketing strategy.

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Case Study: Special Correspondents

‘Special Correspondents’ is a 2016 British-Canadian-American satirical comedy film. Its director, Ricky Gervais, also wrote and starred in the film. The film is a remake of a 2009 French comedy (‘Envoyés très spéciaux’). The plot circles around a radio journalist and his technician who get into a difficult situation when they hatch a scheme to fake their own kidnapping during a rebel uprising in South America and hide out in New York instead.

Marketing

During pre-production of the film, it was reported that Kevin Pollack would have a supporting role in the film. Later on in the month, it was revealed that Benjamin Bratt had been cast. A few days later, Kelly McDonald was reported to have joined the cast and the following day, Vera Farmiga confirmed her involvement in the project. At the beginning of June, a picture of the complete cast was revealed by TheWrap. Since the film could be put into the independent film genre, this film marketing strategy where cast members were announced gradually gives the audience an idea of who is in the film. This not only allows the film to recieve attention but, it becomes incredibly anticipated due to the attention it recieved during the early stage of the film’s production.

Distribution and New Technologies

In 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. The next year, it was announced that Netflix had pre-bought the global distribution rights to the film for roughly $12 Million (also links to new technologies). The film recieved its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 22nd of April 2016. The screening was followed by an audience discussion with Ricky Gervais and additional cast members. Later on in April, the film was released worldwide on 29th of April 2016.

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