Successful media products depend as much on marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
1. Film distribution = everything that happens between the film being made and it being exhibited, whether in a cinema, on DVD, TV, the internet or anywhere else. Distribution is the most important part of the film industry, where completed films are brought to life and connected with an audience
2. Distribution is about releasing and sustaining films in the market place. In the practice of Hollywood and other forms of industrial cinema, the phases of production, distribution and exhibition operate most effectively when 'vertically integrated', where the three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company. In the UK, distribution is very much focused on marketing and sustaining a global product in local markets.
3. In the independent film sector, vertical integration does not operate so commonly. Producers tend not to have long-term economic links with distributors, who likewise have no formal connections with exhibitors. Here, as the pig-in-the-middle, distribution is necessarily a collaborative process, requiring the materials and rights of the producer and the cooperation of the exhibitor to promote and show the film in the best way possible.
4. 50% of money spent on a film often goes on promotion Film is a business like any other; it doesn’t rely on waiting and listening to audience response before delivering the product; it relies on knowing which part of the world and the media need its products and will pay for them. Does market forces competition give the consumer more power and choice and, therefore, influence, what’s made OR does it convince us that what we want is being made for us? Do millions go to see The Dark Knight when it opens because it’s a great film or because it’s been well-marketed? Or both?
5. Promotion involves above the line advertising, such as posters, trailers, billboards and spin-offs and promotional partners. It also involves related merchandising and below the line publicity which is not paid for but generates mutual interest. For example, an interview with a star in a newspaper or reviews in a magazine. Not all films are treated equally.
6. Bigger companies (i.e. those Hollywood majors like Sony-Columbia) have more financial muscle to promote their product and the big companies who control much of the industry, control not only the distribution of their own products, but that of others (Fox, for example, distributed Slumdog Millionaire in the USA and Canada).
7. However, the product itself can be ‘shaped’ or ‘tailored’ to certain audiences. Slumdog was devised in a way that it would appeal to a global audience – explain how – talk about the significance of the deal with Celador, of hiring the particular writer and director; the significance of the Indian nationality of most of the crew; the language; the cast; the storyline and the way it was changed from the already successful source material; the style of filming.
8. Beyond that, though, the film had to carefully marketed and distributed – look at the deals made to ensure distribution around the world, because Celador/Film 4 isn’t a vertically integrated company with its own distribution companies in other countries.
9. Look at the way it shown in film festivals – especially in Toronto, a city with a large Asian population.
10. Look at the effect of its platform release
11. What about the marketing/promotional tactics – backed by Fox, the director amd stars had access to Fox TV shows and Fox websites to promote Slumdog; the film had its own website – what was on it? How was the film promoted using the website? Use of social networking and below the line adbertising by fans of the film on their social networking sites? Viral marketing?
12. Note the long tail effect of the way the film’s release and its website serve to promote the DVD and BluRay releases long after the film has been shown in cinemas