Tag: Netflix

Editorials

Time To Rethink The Box Office Film Charts?

August 8, 2018
Box Office - http://thetoweronline.com/

Last week news broke that the Andy Serkis directed Mowgli was acquired by Netflix and won’t see a large scale theatrical release and will be on the streaming platform in 2019 (not later this year as originally intended). This decision marks two important changes in the film industry: major film companies becoming more risk-averse with theatrical releases, and the ability for streaming services to now take on would-be “blockbuster” film releases.

Earlier this year Sci-Fi horror Annihilation suffered a similar fate, going directly to Netflix for its international release. And with 11 million viewers in its opening 3 days the Netflix original Bright, starring Will Smith, was a glimpse into what a big budget feature film can do while still being premiered on a streaming service. So, how does the rise in straight to Video-On-Demand platforms change how we should view the film charts? When can a VOD movie be considered a commercial success? And what does this mean for the film industry?

Where do they stand?

The basic cinema experience hasn’t changed in the last 100 years. Major film companies like Warner Bros & Paramount Pictures have primarily worked on the basis of a theatrical release of a film. This has meant we’ve had a fairly consistent measure of what the current popular films are as a measure of revenue generated at a cinema’s Box Office on any given week. For the UK cinema Box Office, this information has been collated by analytics company ComScore since 1991. Cinema admissions in the UK have remained fairly stagnant over the last 10 years, with most annual admissions in this timeframe being between 165 million – 170 million. Therefore the growth in domestic ticket revenue has been driven by higher ticket prices and premium cinematic formats such as IMAX & 3D cinema.

On the other hand, by the start of 2018 over 11 million households in the UK held a subscription to Netflix, Amazon or NOW TV, up 25% from the same period the year before. This represents just over 40% of UK households signing up for a Subscription Video-on-Demand service. More notably, streaming revenue is expected to overtake traditional Box Office revenue in the UK by 2020.

Gnarls Barkley (Danger Mouse & CeeLo Green)
Gnarls Barkley (Danger Mouse & Ceelo Green)

Although both industries have their differences, comparisons can be drawn from the music industry. A key watershed moment in the U.K music industry landscape was in 2004 when digital downloads were included in the charts, which saw Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” land the number 1 spot from digital downloads alone in 2006. 10 years after the introduction of digital downloads, the UK’s Official Charts Company incorporated streaming data into the charts for the first time in 2014. While the music industry has arguably had a tougher time monetizing its music and avoiding piracy, it has in recent years been more receptive in changing its measures of success to better reflect how people are consuming music. Although the Box Office remains the gold standard for measuring commercial success of a film, the growth of Netflix, Amazon Prime and others will surely begin to question how we measure success within the film industry.

A measure of success

As part of the eligibility criteria for feature-length films, both BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Awards) & Oscars require films to have a commercial theatrical release, with films that have had their first exhibition on streaming platforms ineligible for consideration. Smaller, more niche film awards like the Streamys & The Webbys have emerged in an attempt to fill this void. This resistance of the ‘old guard’ to acknowledge new media is nothing new in arts and entertainment. The recent banning of Netflix at the Cannes Film Festival is further proof of this. Despite opposition, The Venice Film Festival is bucking the trend and will screen 6 Netflix films this year. Whilst it’s a risky move for the festival, ultimately it is one that would see it on the right side of history in years to come.

In a world shifting towards Netflix & Amazon, great talents within the filmmaking industry are still not properly being acknowledged for their work on those platforms. A large part of this issue is what our measure of a successful film is in this day and age, an intermediate solution might a secondary industry-recognised film chart based on streaming. Or maybe we should look into adopting a version of the music industry model?

In the immediate future expect the Box Office chart based on cinematic ticket sales to remain. However, in an industry where money talks this discussion will continue, particularly as the revenue and influence of subscription streaming platforms continue to grow. If the music industry has successfully amalgamated digital, streaming and physical retail sales into a chart to accurately reflect the most commercially successful films of the moment, surely the movie industry can too?

Editorials

Will Virtual Reality (VR) Films Ever Takeoff?

March 23, 2018

Much has been said about how Video-On-Demand services like Netflix have changed the movie industry over the last years, with Netflix and Amazon Prime being key plays leading the charge. Cheaper technology has also allowed for a lower barrier entry for filmmakers – even Steven Soderbergh’s new film, Unsane, was shot on an iPhone! Although the technology is still maturing, tech companies are investing heavily in Virtual Reality (VR), will this be the next area the film industry can capitalise on?

VR in Games

VR currently has a 90% public awareness, according to YouGov. Further indicators of early mass adoption of VR can be seen in the gaming industry. VR Systems saw a 23.5% year-on-year rise in 2017, cracking the £100m barrier for the first time. Currently, 6% of the British population own virtual reality headwear; At the equivalent time after widespread release, wearables had 4% penetration and tablets had 3%. The gaming industry has led the charge in this area with PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift & HTC Vive making up the vast majority of sales and with more game developers working on games specifically for VR growth in VR games looks to be strong moving forward.

The major film studios have been a lot slower to adopt VR as a way to exhibit films. However, VR  is used as a medium to create immersive experiences based on a film title, rather than actually making a movie to be watched via VR. In this instance, particularly with horror films like The Conjuring 2, a VR based experience acts as a great promotional tool to complement a wider marketing roll-out.

Should We Expect a Breakout of VR Films?

A current problem is that currently there simply aren’t that many platforms designed for VR films – particularly feature-length ones. Currently Video-on-Demand powerhouses Netflix & Amazon Prime do not support VR, however tech giants Facebook & YouTube have enabled 360 VR videos to be uploaded onto their platforms. This makes the two social media platforms a key testing ground for wider adoption of films in VR.

Many more experimental independent filmmakers have begun to explore VR as a method of producing short films. The Invisible Man (shown below) is an example of how the medium can be utilised to produce a compelling film.

 Moving Forward

Since its inception over 100 years ago how we experience film has remained largely unchanged, however, what we have seen through television/VoD services, as well as 3D cinema is complementary user experiences running parallel to traditional cinema. At least in the immediate future what seems most probably is that VR will simply add another dimension to the ways we can experience the “moving picture”. With new technology, new ways to creatively exhibit films will surely soon follow.

Interviews

Goldfinch Entertainment’s Sarah Poole Discusses Private Film Funding

March 20, 2018
Goldfinch Studios

Funding is a continuous challenge for programme and filmmakers at any stage in their career. Emerging filmmakers within the U.K may apply for funding from Arts Council or BFI (or one of its subsidiary organisations), this source of funding is designed to help cultivate talent throughout the early stages of their career.

More established production companies will partner with a film studio to release their project, who will provide investment for the project and act as executive producers ensuring that the key business elements of the film’s delivery and distribution are taken care of. To help demystify this process we spoke with Sarah Poole, Producer & Investor Manager, at Goldfinch Studios to discuss how private film funding works and what you will need to have in place.

Big Picture Film Club: Can you briefly describe your role as a Producer & Investor Manager?

Sarah Poole: My current role is diverse and varies from day to day. On the producer side of my role, I liaise with prospective and current clients in regards to their projects. This takes many forms, from setting up SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) / EIS investment vehicles, creation of a bespoke Investment document, dealing with HMRC / Companies House on their behalf (the boring admin side of things *groan*), attending screenings & events and keeping in regular contact on the progress of their projects to report back to our investors.

On the investor side of the role, I liaise with our pool of high net worth investors and our Fund Managers in order to deploy SEIS / EIS funds to our producer clients. This involves a lot of paperwork and compliance work.

I also currently run the company’s social media accounts.

BPFC: At what stage in development do you begin to work with production companies?

SP: Our Goldfinch Studios brand encompasses a whole host of companies providing a “one-stop shop” for services at all stages of the lifespan of a film or TV project. At development stage, Goldfinch Entertainment can help set up an SEIS / EIS slate to provide monies for the development of projects. Recently we launched our Goldfinch First Flights initiative which works with emerging talent. We also have Goldfinch Media Labs (Brand placement) and Goldfinch Music (for all the music needs of the Film / TV / video game).

We also can help with sales and distribution of completed films / TV Shows and not forgetting we have our production facilities and VFX specialists in York! Our involvement with projects doesn’t end with the investment, we also act as executive producers and advise on distribution, playing a key role from script to screen and after.

BPFC: What criteria do you use to decide which films/Shows you will take on for investment?

SP: We focus on identifying the most commercially and financially viable projects in order to generate attractive returns for our investors. Our strict assessment process involves us analysing information provided about the project, such as reading the script and looking at the finance plan / budget to make sure that there is a high probability sufficient sales revenue will be achieved. We get around 30 submissions per week so we are kept extremely busy!

BPFC: Goldfinch Studios works closely with private investors to fund projects, how do you attract first-time investors and maintain good relationships with existing ones?

SP: We are very fortunate in that we have managed to maintain a loyal investor pool who continue to invest with us. These clients are mainly introduced to us through clients, contacts and word of mouth. With 18 years’ experience in a client facing businesses, I pride myself in making sure that clients on both sides of the fence are provided with a top-notch service 24/7 if necessary. Luckily I love my job!

BPFC: Both the increase in streaming services and the decrease in mid-level budget films making its way to the big screen have changed the movie industry in recent years – how have those changes in the industry and audience affected how Goldfinch Studios works with its projects?

SP: Our assessment process has remained the same, making sure we only take on the most commercial projects and due to the industry changes, we now have to establish that there is a market for the project and take into account the most suitable route to screen which is increasingly not spending big bucks on a theatrical release. As an avid user of Netflix, I find it very hard to criticise the massive impact they are having on the industry. The sheer amount of original content they are churning out is jaw-dropping and their offering is becoming broader & broader over so many genres of film / TV for the audience it can only be a good thing.

BPFC: Before a filmmaker or production company seeks private investment for their project what are the key things they should have in place?

SP: To be able to assess the commerciality of a project, we need as much information as possible in order to see the whole picture as it stands.

The minimum information we would need is a finance plan / budget, marketing pack / treatment overview, details of the team involved and a script.

BPFC: Can you tell us a bit about some of the upcoming projects from Goldfinch Studios this year?

SP: We have two projects entering principal photography in the next month which we are very excited about.

‘Waiting For Anya’ which is based on the book by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. The cast includes Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp, Hollywood legend Anjelica Huston and iconic French actor Jean Reno! The shoot starts in France very soon!

Production starts soon at our studio facilities in York for ‘Transience’, a sci-fi from writer / director Carl Strathie which follows a family who is terrorised by otherworldly beings! His most recent film ‘Solis’ starring Steven Ogg (Westworld, The Walking Dead) was also filmed at our Studios in York and is nearing completion so watch out for news of a release!

We have a lot going on behind the scenes at Goldfinch Studios so keep your eyes peeled for news of our exciting new productions and partnerships which are soon to be revealed!

To find out more about Goldfinch Studios visit their website www.goldfinchstudios.co.uk