76 – Distribution Case Study: A Field in England

A film called A field in England attempted to break this model. A field in England is a art house film directed by british director Ben Wheatley.

This film got funding from the likes of the BFI and Film 4 but it’s budget was nowhere near the millions of the bigger studios so it could never achieve the cinema releases and marketing of the tent pole films. So instead of a nationwide cinema release A Field in England was instead released simultaneously across every platform (TV, Picturehouse Cinema’s, Itunes, VOD and DVD and Blu ray). This is practically unheard of for a studio to do but proved successful for A field in England and allowed them to reach a wider audience than they would have been able to. However this method I believe, even though it may have made A field in England more money, if this method was applied to the next Star Wars movie it would actually made the studio less money. As I believe the cinema experience is becoming less and less valued by the general public and people (assuming they wanted the film legally) would prefer to buy the dvd or rent the film on a video on demand service.

A Field in England’s budget £316,879 with a 112,000 of that money devoted to marketing the movie. The film then went on to make £21,399 in theatrical revenue from 17 venues. Total DVD and Blu-Ray sales on Friday and Saturday was 1,462 units. The figure for ITunes and VOD services was over 1000. This means it is unlikely that they made back the initial investment or at least it will take a long time to pay it off. Especially as the marketing was geared up for the opening weekend so the peak of the sales would be expected to occur then. As they appear to have not broke even during that weekend it is unlikely that they will in the future as the sales will dramatically lower as time goes on. However some of the initial investment came from charitable sources such as the BFI (British Film Institution) who contributed £56,701. The BFI and other charitable organisations will not expect their money back. The majority of the rest of the money was financed by Film 4 who would be very interested in making their money back. As it seems very likely that did not and will not make their investment back I find it incredibly unlikely that Film 4 would attempt this strategy again as they will not make profit. Or if they were to attempt the same strategy it may work for a slightly less niche film. Perhaps a lower budgeted film that aims more towards a younger audience who will use internet services more than the demographic of 25-34 year olds that A Field in England appealed to.

The total sales as of 12th October are £51,409 in box office revenues, 7,577 DVD/Blu-Ray sales, 714 Film 4OD rentals, 3,133 iTunes rentals, 1,746 Virgin media rentals and 680 iTunes purchases. These figures suggest to me that the film has still made a loss overall. However it can be seen that a lot of the revenue was still made in the opening weekend.

Part of the marketing campaign involved building an online digital masterclass which gave visitors to the page an insight into the making of the film. This site attracted 80,000 page views and 54,000 visits by the middle of October. \

The director Ben Wheatley and members of the cast were tweeting about the film to their many followers. In the cinema exit polls it was revealed the online campaign made up for 45% of the awareness for the film. 54% of under-35s said online advertising and social media was it’s primary source of awareness, compared with 35% in the older age range.

The critical reaction to the film was strong and was given an 88% score of Rotten Tomatoes. In the cinema exit poll the film was rated 29% and 41% very good giving it a total score of 70%, 10% above the UK norm. However as the cinema release was fairly small so a lot of the people going would have already been fans of Ben Wheatley’s work. Also if the majority of awareness came from Twitter it could be implied that the cinemagoers must have followed Ben Wheatley on Twitter which makes it incredibly likely they were fans of his work.

To increase the value of cinema’s many additional services have been provided by cinema’s namely IMAX and 3D screenings. Both would be costly and almost impossible to replicate on a home cinema system and definitely impossible on the current generation of Ipods, pads and phones. This may then encourage more people to go the cinema for films instead. Also there is a growing number of pop up cinema’s which are basically simple projectors placed in unlikely settings across the country in order to seem quirky and out there. People then decorate the areas with relevant decorations and encourage costumes and the like. Also wacky and interesting food may be required. All of these efforts are to make the cinema more fun and appealing for a cinema goer. Personally I’d much rather just sit in a standard movie theatre but people like me are going to become a niche as we go into the future that is ruled by flimsy little tablet computers. For bonus blog satisfaction points from the last sentence guess how I feel about tablet computers. If you guessed that I hate them then you just won 10 blog satisfaction points. Good for you.

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