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.


One thought on “Media Ownership Essay

  1. Emily

    June, 2015 – “To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the successful distribution of media products in the media area you have studied?”

    You can find the exam paper and mark scheme here:

    Explanation/analysis/argument (16-20 marks)
    * Shows excellent understanding of the task
    * Excellent knowledge and understanding of institutional/audience practices – factual knowledge is relevant and accurate
    * A clear and developed argument, substantiated by detailed reference to case study material
    * Clearly relevant to set question

    Use of examples (16-20 marks)
    * Offers frequent evidence from case study material – award marks to reflect the range and appropriateness of examples
    * Offers a full range of examples from case study and own experience
    * Offers examples which are clearly relevant to the set question

    Use of terminology (8-10 marks)
    * Use of terminology is relevant and accurate

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 4, possibly 16/18/8.

    – This is very good, Emily, with lots of carefully researched information.
    – I think you should consider changing the structure, though. It seems more logical to offer an example of how the Big 6 release films first, then go on to say how smaller production companies try to compete.

    Liked by 1 person

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