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Tag: UK cinema

Editorials

Disney Shifts Its Focus Away From Cinemas To Its Streaming Platform

October 28, 2020
Disney Hulu ESPN [Source: Whats on Disney Plus]

Recently Disney announced its future plans regarding its content and distribution. And today we’ll analyse how Disney’s decisions could affect the cinema industry as it still tries to weather the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

Disney’s Restructuring

Last week Disney announced a huge restructure with its Content creation and distribution being separated. Content creation will now focus on creating big franchise content for theatrical and streaming distribution, as well as general entertainment and sports content for Disney’s streaming platforms and TV networks. Meanwhile the “Media and Entertainment Distribution group” will handle monetisation and distribution of all the company’s projects. And with Disney reporting over 60 million Disney+ subscribers worldwide their efforts have shifted towards creating content for and distributing content on their streaming platforms.

How Will This Affect Cinemas?

Disney movies attract incredibly large cinema audiences. And with Cineworld’s recent closure due to the lack of big releases needed to sustain themselves during the pandemic, this move could be rather damaging. Especially since studios like WarnerMedia and Comcast are seemingly following Disney’s lead. Recently they reorganised to focus on streaming service’s HBO Max and Peacock.

However, despite Disney shifting focus to streaming, analyst Rich Greenfield said, “nothing can achieve the per picture economics that Disney…generate through a global theatrical release”. Showing that Disney still needs cinema distribution to ensure their projects make their money back. This move may be meant to recoup losses further down the line. With projects aimed at attracting new customers to Disney’s subscription services and keeping people subscribed; paying for content, as they proved they could do with Mulan (2020). And as Disney has access to a huge amount of resources, and bankable studios, it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Not every studio has the resources needed to shift towards streaming over cinema. Cinemas still matter but can they remain open without the support of many big tentpole releases?

How Can Cinemas Survive?

There are no concrete answers, but cinemas currently have a lot of avenues available. For example, the largest audience for UK cinema releases is consistently 15-24-year-olds. Other statistics show that BAME and LGBTQ filmgoers, as well as adults with children under 18, make up a high percentage of cinema audiences. Cinemas could target these audiences by providing discounts or exclusive screenings to encourage certain demographics to keep returning (similar to how The Light and Odeon cinemas currently offer discounts for former Cineworld customers). Rewards can also be offered to make customers feel valued. And classic and recent content could be offered to draw in BAME and LGBTQ audiences.

Also, recently smaller movies like After we collided and Unhinged have done relatively well at the UK box office. Showing that smaller films can do well with a bigger platform. And with many smaller releases still on the horizon, cinemas have an opportunity to encourage audiences to try something new. They can do this by increasing social media awareness. Offering discounts/rewards. Or perhaps even organising local cinema clubs, as many of the previously mentioned groups are more likely to respond to the idea of a film club. Plus the localised nature of film clubs could be a great comfort to regions in higher lockdown tiers.

Of course, if cases spike cinemas will have to close. But other options are available. For example, during the lockdown, Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema partnered with various streaming and VoD sites. Offering free trials for their members, and virtual screenings that split the money evenly with the Showroom if you used their site. These options allowed people to watch films safely from home. And helped keep the Showroom on its feet.

Conclusion

Despite Disney’s shift to focus more on streaming, many studios don’t have Disney’s money and resources. So it’s hard to see this becoming an industry trend. Cinema distribution will still be needed to cover big-budget production costs.

But cinemas must adapt to survive without huge tentpole releases. There are many independent productions out there to entice audiences. And offers and rewards, targeted marketing, film clubs, virtual screenings; profit-sharing with VoD, and streaming services are certainly options that can help cinemas to make money. But will they succeed? Only time will tell.

Also Read: What’s Next For Disney?

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Editorials

Parasite and Foreign Language Films in the UK

February 26, 2020
Parasite Movie

Since Parasite became the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture (at the Oscars), many have asked if this marks the beginning of more prominence for international films in English-speaking territories?

Well, today we’re going to look at the performance of international films in the UK. Looking at the number of non-English language films that get released in the UK, their box office takings, the factors that affect this and how Parasite’s recent triumph could impact the industry in the future.

2018 Foreign Language Release Numbers

Recent BFI statistics show that 331 films released in 2018 were entirely in a foreign language. This marked a decrease from the 349 entirely foreign language releases in 2017. But international releases still accounted for 43% of UK releases overall. And the number of different languages represented in UK cinemas increased. From 38 languages other than English in 2017 to 44 in 2018.

The Box Office Numbers

Foreign-language releases in 2018 made £30 million at the box office. The joint highest taking (2016 taking the same amount) since 2010.

Many high grossing international films have a dedicated audience in the UK. E.g. The UK has a big Bollywood audience with the highest-grossing foreign-language film of 2018 was Padmaava. A Hindi film which, according to the BFI, grossed £2.2 million (across 137 cinemas). The UK also has a big Polish community (it is the most common non-native language in England and Wales). So films like Clergy made £1.3 million (shown at 237 cinemas), and Cold War made £1.1 million (shown in 79 cinemas).

However, many of the other best-performing films had a great amount of exposure from film festivals and awards ceremonies. Which helped gain more interest from broader English speaking audiences. For example, Shoplifters won the Palme d’Or and earned £0.7 million across 43 cinemas. Making it the second-highest-grossing foreign-language film not in Polish or Hindi. And A Fantastic Woman won Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2018 Oscars helping it to earn £0.4 million across 38 cinemas.

The Success of Parasite

Parasite received several accolades prior to its UK release. These included the Palme d’Or, the BAFTA for best screenplay and best foreign-language film and many more. But since its Oscar win Parasite has become the third highest-grossing non-English language film at the UK box office. Earning a total of £5.1 million. Only beaten out by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (£9.4 million) and Passion of the Christ (£11.1 million). And it increased its cinema presence, from 137 screens to 428. Showing that the prestige of the award helped to further advertise the film to English speaking audiences. And convinced more theatres to show it.

This historic victory also coincides with a recent growing demand for international content. According to Curzon CEO Philip Knatchbull, the rise of non-English content on TV and streaming services like Netflix has helped to change attitudes towards foreign language products. Showing that there are audiences craving foreign language content and that there is a possibility for a new generation of English speakers to emerge who become accustomed to and more appreciative of world cinema.

What does this mean?

Parasite has proven that something has changed in the zeitgeist. Foreign language films usually struggle at the UK box office. Largely due to a perceived lack of interest from larger audiences. However, Parasite‘s Oscar win proves that foreign-language films are more accessible than ever. And are capable of captivating and performing well with English speaking cinema audiences when given the chance and the marketing.

Hopefully, Parasite‘s success coupled with the emergence of modern audiences more appreciative of foreign content, and the big awards ceremonies providing publicity for non-English language films means that bigger British audiences will soon be watching the wide variety of international films available at the cinema. And that more marketing; showcasing opportunities will be available for these films to reach larger audiences. Which is important.

More box office earnings mean more languages and cultures will be represented at the cinema. And exposure to foreign cinema helps us to discover great stories, new methods of storytelling and it allows us to learn more about and empathize with other cultures, traditions and ways of life. And that’s always a good thing.

Also Read: Parasite Director Once Described The Oscars As “Very Local” – Does He Have a Point?

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Interviews

First Look: “Anti Matter” by Keir Burrows

October 11, 2016

 

At Big Picture Film Club’s First Look we take a sneak peak at a film’s premier screening, or trailer, and give you a glimpse of what to expect and what to look out for! This week’s First Look is Worm by Keir Burrows.

Anti Matter is a sci-fi noir take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. The film centres around, Ana, an Oxford Physics PhD student, who makes a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough – creating a ‘wormhole’. Things take a dramatic turn for the worst after her first experiment. Writer and director, Keir Burrows, excels in creating a tense environment where anything is possible, and everything is subject to question. As we follow Ana in her journey of understanding, the film aims to explore the questions – what makes us who we are?

Following the screening at Raindance, we had a brief chat with Keir, to find out more abut this intriguing film…

Big Picture Film Club: What was the inspiration behind Anti Matter?

Keir Burrows: Anti Matter started off as a short film script – what is now much of the opening act – wherein I wanted to see if I could bring an audience on a real-time journey of scientific discovery, trying to evoke the same responses in them that the scientists might be feeling as they slowly realised they were inventing a wormhole generator. After writing the short I realised I had the foundation for something bigger: I’d created a world and a means where I might explore some really interesting, I guess philosophical questions, about what makes us human, is there more to us than matter, this sort of thing. Ahh, I can’t say too much as it gives away the plot!

BPFC: In the spirit of science-fiction, the film creates a wonderful story based on pushing the limits of science as we know it. However, stylistically the film doesn’t feel like a fantasy / sci-fi film – was this a conscious decision?

KB: I guess it was a conscious decision in so far as we were working within the limits of our budget. The story, the ideas in Anti Matter, are quite big – this isn’t some single-location, chamber piece of science fiction. It has some scale. With a much bigger budget we might have set it in space, or the future, I don’t know, given it more traditional sci-fi flair. But we couldn’t, so instead we tried to go the other way, use the ancient architecture of Oxford, the simple garrett laboratory, conversations in dark pubs and so on, to tell the story.

Once the science is set up, we then make the film about people, and relationships, and the failing human mind. If you think of a movie like Inception – which is pure science fiction – Inception, that story could have been made on a micro-budget, with no-name actors, without the train in the middle of the city and everything scaled down, and it still would have been absolutely amazing. It was great not because of its budget or its wonderful cast, but because of the stunning concept and the smart storytelling. I’m hoping (ha!) that people enjoy Anti Matter in the same manner.

BPFC: The film deals heavily with quantum mechanics and particle physics – did you have to consult anyone for this?

KB: Did a crap-ton of research. Genuinely, I have a dozen fat books on these subjects – quantum mechanics and the like – weighing down my shelf. My wife is like, your movie is done can they go now? Hell no they make me look smart! So no, it was mostly self-navigated. I did both Chemistry and Physics at A-Level, so I had some basic grounding, it wasn’t a completely foreign language. Then with the writing it was a process of knowing where I needed to end up, using the internet to understand the questions I needed to ask, then delving into the journals to make sure I was being coherent. The sole aim being that every step of the journey my scientists take, everything they do, is logical and scientifically comprehensible, even if by necessity it’s all pure fiction.

BPFC: How has the feedback of the film been?

KB: Amazing. Ah, we’re glowing. Raindance was great, audiences really seemed to enjoy it – it’s nerve-wracking as all hell watching with a roomful of strangers, but it was very well received. Unexpectedly we’ve had a whole lot of really good reviews. I wasn’t expecting reviews, not from a film festival, and not as positive as this. Kudos to the whole team!

BPFC: What are your plans for the film moving forward?

KB: So we’ve had distribution offers, which we’re firming up, the hope is 2nd quarter next year, but I’ll let you know more when things are more concrete. And we’ll keep submitting to festivals of course – they’re always so much fun, getting to see Worm on a big screen. It’s what I started making movies for – that moment the lights go down, the score kicks in, the audience engages. It makes it all worthwhile.

BPFC: Who are your filmmaking inspirations?

KB: So Anti Matter is inspired in a big way by Chris Nolan’s work, definitely. The sort of stories I aspire to tell are big, complex tales, entertaining but with a human core, which is what he does. Visually Nolan as well, and David Fincher, whose mastery of every aspect of the entire form just blows me away. So aye, stylistically those two inspire me the most. John Carpenter for the way he stokes and manages suspense, Tarantino for his flair and wicked sense of humour, Danny Boyle for the glorious eclecticism of his career, Terence Malick for the poetry, Cuarón for the adventure, Innaritu for the soul, Kurosawa, Leone… Ah, there’s too many!

You can follow “Anti Matter” on Facebook, or visit Keir & Dédé Burrows’ film production website: http://www.castironpictures.co.uk