Monthly Archives: August 2014

I’m ready for the industry, where should I move?

Graduating college is always a time of mixed emotions. People are excited to get out in the world and put there years of training and learning experiences to work. But where is one to go to start that journey? For film grads that list may have gotten a little bigger when it comes to where one should post up. This has a lot to do with the fact that there is a new trend in the film industry, the trend of film incentives. It seems to be the cool thing to do if you’re a state that wants to get Hollywood status and attract big name productions to shoot in their back doors. But what exactly is a film incentive program and why are they causing such a buzz in the industry?

film-money

Film incentive program are exactly what they sound like. They provide benefits to filmmakers, studios that they would not get if they shot somewhere else. Every states policy is different and some are better then others. Not everyone is eligible either. There are certain parameters that your production must follow to qualify. But if you do you’re looking at saving a game-changing amount of money. This also brings many jobs into the state as well as boosting tourism. The incentive programs seem like a great idea. But how is one to choose which state is right for them with their incentive programs?

In 2005, the state of Georgia passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment act. Soon after the passing of the new film incentives, hundreds of production companies started to flock to Georgia. Some of the most famous production companies include Pinewood Studio’s, Screen Gems, Turner Broadcasting Studios and many more.

Georgia

According to a recent press release by the state of Georgia, over 158 feature films and television productions have been shot in Georgia in the last few years. This has created a economic impact of $5.1 billion just in 2014. Also in this press release Governor Nathan Deal expressed his excitement and satisfaction with the Georgia film incentives by saying, “Not only has this industry created jobs and investment opportunities for Georgians, it also has revitalized communities, established new educational programs, tourism product and more.” Since the film incentive program was initiated, over 77,900 jobs have been created in Georgia. So what makes Georgia film incentive program different from its neighboring states?

Georgia’s success in the film industry is thanks to a well thought out incentive program. According to the state of Georgia website, Georgia production incentives provide up to 30% of all Georgia productions expenses in transferable credits. Most importantly, in order to even qualify for these film incentives your production must spend over $500,000. In closing, Georgia is a very diverse state when it comes to landscape and people. Many Georgian filmmakers and lawmakers have worked hard for years to bring a booming film industry to Georgia. Now that Georgia is booming, the state continues to fund and support the film industry as best as they can.

Louisiana

For upcoming film graduates there are many different states with job opportunities around the US. In particular, Louisiana is one of them and has a major impact on the film world. In 2012 Film and TV producers spent $717 million in the state, which is an 85% increase since 2010 according to Forbes. In order to film in the state there is a $300,000 minimum spend requirement, there will be a 30% tax credit on qualified direct productions. An additional 5% tax credit for payroll expenditures , with no annual cap. Also tax credits can be used to offset income tax liablities , sold back to the state for 85% face value, or brokered on the open market according to filmneworleans.org. Companies like Beverly Boy Productions, and Digital FX Inc which has the largest post-production facility in the region. Are producing and hiring for many different upcoming projects. Industry proffesionals and student graduates are flocking to the state for jobs. Only time will tell how well Lousianna’s Film incentives hold up, but for now it’s looking like one of the top places to go to find film work.

New York

There is no other city like New York. The city cannot truly be duplicated in a soundstage or on a backlot. Because of the uniqueness of the city it will always be a destination for film production. The New York Sate Film Tax Credit Program has been set up with the intent to make filmmaking affordable in New York. Many major television shows and films are produced in the state and the tax incentive has set aside $420 million per year for those productions. The tax credit program has a separate credits; one for a production budget and one for post-production. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently extended the incentive until 2019 as well as increasing the scope of the program. With this extension, New York looks to continue to be one of the industry leaders in tax incentives  With this, it is safe to say that there will always be some type of major industry work to be found in New York; there is a concerted effort to keep productions in the state as well as to draw more in. 

California

California is probably the place on most graduating film student’s radar. Hollywood is where you would think production would be booming and finding work would not be an issue. California’s program was actually lacking and many of the work their was on its way out. They had a lottery system in place that made it difficult to take advantage of the tax and cap was less then most other film incentive programs. But now California passed a new bill quadrupling its tax incentives to $400 million dollars as well as eliminating the lottery pick system. The decision process will be based on a scoring system in association with the Sate government’s office. The bill orders the CFC to create a scoring system in collaboration with GoBiz, the governor’s office that promotes business and job growth in the state. New productions can qualify for tax credits from 15 % to 20 % of what will be spent in the state. With productions coming from outside of California, they can get up to 25 %. There is also a 5 % bonus in some cases for productions done outside the Los Angeles 30-mile zone. 

“The bill is the spirit of me, Kevin De Leon. I thought the bill needed more accountability and more transparency. The end goal is maximum economic output to make sure the taxpayers are getting the most bang for the buck.”

Kevin De Leon, President pro tempore of the Senate 

This program will surely move California back to its former glory and the opportunities will once again flourish the golden streets of tinsel town.

Michigan

Michigan has announced to set aside $50 million for film incentives in 2015, making it one of the best states to work on movies in. The original incentive was set to be $25 million in 2015, but the spending was re-classified as ongoing rather than one-time. Governor Rick Snyder fights for a cutback to $25 million, but Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville argues that Michigan needs larger incentives, because they need more jobs and that filmmaking is not just a one-year project, it will keep going over the years. One of the most anticipated films, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently Michigan’s biggest production with a $131 million budget. “The movie will pour around $131 million into the state, hire 406 Michigan workers, use 500 Michigan vendors, spend $5.1 million on hotels and pay $3.5 million to cast and crew in per diem payments” Morgan states in his article.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers a 25% tax credit to anything shoot in the state. A project is eligible if at least 60% of the project’s Total Production Budget is used for Qualified Pennsylvania Production Expenses. The credits will not exceed a total of 20% of the states available budget. Whether it’s a feature film, television series, game show or talk show. A benefit to filming in this state is they allow you to apply for the credit up to 90 days prior to filming. You must fill out and submit an application to the film commission and they will process the tax credits in one of several 90-day periods. Depending on when you’re shooting. They review them during July 1st through September 30th; October 1st through December 31st; January 1st through March 31st; and April 1st through June 30th.

Texas

The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program (TMIIIP) made a huge step last year with the approval of another extra $63 million after being cut down to $32 million in 2009. The “single star” state has become an attractive place for producers and other filmmakers, since the approval of the film incentive program mentioned above in 2007. When the program first began the initial amount of incentives corresponded to $32 million dollars designated only to film productions. But with the new changes made last year the program has reached the massive amount of $95 million which might seem insignificant compared to other competitors like New York and California with it’s upcoming new tax incentive program, although, this renewal is a great step for the State of Texas in general due to the massive amount of film and other related entertainment productions that have taken place there. All the way from small independent features to big and successful Hollywood projects such as: “There will Be Blood”, “Cast Away”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Spy Kids” , “No Country For Old Men” , “Apollo 13” or “True Grit” and other big television series like “Barney and Friends” , “The Bridge”, and recently “Dallas” and “The Night Shift” etc. It’s pretty clear that Texas has become an important option for several filmmakers looking for opportunities In the film and television industry, and it’s also thanks to local talent and crew members that the construction of several facilities has increased around the area. The creation of the TMIIIP has rewarded the State of Texas with $744 million spent on productions within it’s territory, and it promises a brighter future as more television networks look for opportunities to adapt and shoot their productions over there. Just recently, TNT announced that J.J. Abrams-produced drama “Revolution” will be shooting its third season in Austin, this can be obviously related to the new offered state’s incentives.    

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 2.42.59 PMThe choices seem to be stacking up for where on should start their journey for a star on the walk of fame. These film incentive program’s are not a common thing in all states. Many states do not have them. States like Florida, Washington, or Arizona have all dropped their incentive programs due to a number of issues. When it all comes down to it these incentive programs give the underdogs a chance at getting into the game. But nothing lasts forever so the time is now. Hopefully this list gives enough information about the so called powerhouse incentive states. The phrase strike whil the iols hot has never been more fittimng then it is for the film grads reading this article. Hopefully they make a choice before the credits roll.

 

 

“Film Incentive$”, The Filmmaker’s Best Friend’$

TAX INCENTIVES

Tax incentives sometimes also known as “Movie Production Incentives” are tax benefits offered by one or several states or countries in order to attract production companies to their territories and have them shoot any type of Film or TV related content. Filmmakers usually try to take as much advantage of these benefits in order to not just achieve their vision, but most importantly to reduce in the cost of their projects in a big dimension. Tax incentives have been existing for quite a while, although the alarming runaway of productions from the United States has increased the number of measures taken by the government in order to secure more local productions and also to promote the creation of new jobs and other types of opportunities. In 2009 the number of states that were offering tax incentives for entertainment productions raised to 44. The following cities and states are some of the most influential places on this topic in the modern day industry.

NEW YORK

New York is one of the most appealing cities in the world for many reasons. People fly out to New York from all over the world for its many attractions. One of the reasons film makers may want to consider visiting New York, aside from the amazing food, great attractions and amazing locations to shoot, huge talent pools, one of-a-kind landmarks and great culture, are the film incentives.

New York Loves Film offers the following “at-a-glance” summary of the state’s incentives:

Production:

-$420 million/year New York State film incentive program extended through 2019

-30% fully refundable credit on most below the line expenses

-Increases credit to 40% on qualified labor for certain Upstate counties beginning in 2015

-Eliminates 75% qualifying threshold on all eligible New York State post production costs

-Relocated talk and variety television shows now eligible (with certain qualifications)

Post Production:

30% fully refundable credit on all post for films that don’t shoot in New York State

That credit increases to 35% if post is done outside the metro region

-That credit increases AGAIN to 45% on labor for certain Upstate counties beginning in 2015

VFX and Animation qualifying threshold now lowered to 20% of total VFX or Animation budget OR a minimum spend of $3 million (whichever is lower)

-Maintains qualifying threshold for rest of post at 75%

-Increases funding from $7 million to $25 million per year beginning in 2015

Click here for a full description of the New York incentive program.

How could you pass up these great incentives? Here are some studios taking advantage of this. Disney and Marvel execs committed to film some 60 episodes of Marvel’s four Netflix series and a mini series in New York. The Tonight Show is no longer in Los Angeles, it is now in New York.

Some other shows being made in New York:

  1. Forever
  2. Richard Lagravenese
  3. Madam Secretary
  4. Wall Street
  5. Tin Man
  6. Gotham
  7. How I Met Your Dad
  8. Irreversible
  9. Dead Boss
  10. State of Affairs

LOUISIANA

Shooting films in Louisinana has not been common in the film world, up until 2002 when the state released a unique tax incentive package. Since it’s creation, crew productons greatly increased more than 400% through the years. In order to be eliglble for incentives your production company must be located in Louisianna. A $300,000 minimum spend is required, and only work perforemed by residents and non-residents in the state of Louissianna. As far as the incentives, there will be a 30% tax credit on qualified direct production. An additional 5% tax credit for payroll expenditures , with no annual cap. Also tax credits can be used to offset income tax liablities , sold back to the state for 85% face value, or brokered on the open market according to filmneworleans.org. Many big named shows and films have been filmed in Lousianna such as: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, True Blood, Duck Dynasty, Treme and many more. The future of filming in Lousianna is looking pretty bright, more then 7 major productions are going on as we speak according to filmneworleans.org.

GEORGIA

Since the state of Georgia passed film tax incentives in 2008, the film industry has been booming in over there. Some of the famous projects that have been shot in Georgia are Walking Dead, The Blind Side, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Hall Pass. So you may be wondering, how do the Georgia Film Incentives work? The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides 20% tax credits for every company that spends at least $500,000 on a film production. The state of Georgia also gives an additional 10% tax credit if the film features a state of Georgia promotional logo. For many film companies this is a great deal. Thanks to these film incentives, Georgia has brought in hundreds of productions. These incentives have also sparked the increase in film studios in Atlanta such as, Pinewood Studios, Screen Gem Studios and many more. Georgia for now at least, is welcoming all filmmakers and film companies with open arms.

Lawsuits Are Getting Ridiculous

 

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Taken from the film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Lawsuits are as much a part of filmmaking as cameras and lights. Filmmakers are always looking for ways to avoid getting sued during the process of making a film as the ways to get wrapped up in a lawsuit are numerous. It is the right of the filmmaker to create worlds without having to worry about getting sued and it is important to the integrity of the craft. Warner Bros. recently found themselves on the winning side of a lawsuit over trademark infringement that hopefully set a precedent for all subsequent cases of this nature. In the lawsuit, the software company Fortres Grand argues that fictional technology mentioned in the film The Dark Knight Rises could cause brand confusion with some of its software. The fictional tech in question is known as a “clean slate” that would theoretically erase a persons criminal past. The real software is a program that erases the history of one’s computer. A judge stated that “[The] fatal flaw in Fortres Grand’s case has to do with correctly identifying the exact product that Warner Bros. has introduced to the market — a film, not a piece of software.” The affirmation that Warner Bros. did not infringe on any trademarks will hopefully cause those looking to file far-fetched lawsuits against filmmakers to think twice. Filmmakers need the freedom to create without fear of legal ramifications and this court case decision is a step in the right direction.

Trailers are one of the best parts about movies. They get the audience excited and intrigued at new titles. Sometimes, for marketing purposes of course, films are not always 100% like there trailers. This can aggravate some viewers not going into the film with an open mind. Apparently Sarah Deming doesn’t appreciate this practice at all. She filed a lawsuit against the theater and distribution company for the film ”Drive” starring Ryan Gosling. She claims the trailer had portrayed the film to be like Fast and furious. She was quoted in saying,

The film bore very little similarity to a chase or race action… having little driving in the motion picture.” – Sarah Demmings

Deming included the movie theater where she saw the film because it violated Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, claiming that the film was anti-Semitic for depicting certain Jewish based characters in a negative light. Drive was definitely not a movie for everybody, but it sounds like Ms. Demmings just wasn’t a fan and took it to far. In October 2013 the case was dropped.

hangover-tattoos

Photo taken from Google Images; Hangover 2 Tattoo Lawsuit

A lawsuit that went on for quite awhile was for the film, “The Hangover Part 2.” In the film the actor Ed Helms plays a character named Stu who wakes up after a rough night with a tattoo on his face. This tattoo is very similar to the one Mike Tyson has. (see image below) For most this was an hilarious moment in the film but for the tattoo artist (S. Victor Whitmill) behind the original design it was something more, to him it seemed like copyright infringement. The studio behind the movie; Warner Brothers thought differently and believe it was fare use. During the trail they mentioned that if needed they would be willing to digitally alter the tattoo when it was released on DVD and Bluray if a settlement was not made. Fortunately they were able to reach an agreement but the details of their agreement are confidential and have yet to be released.

At the end of the day everyone wishes they were famous. Everybody wants their 15 seconds of fame and they will go about it any way they deem possible. A lot of these lawsuits seem less about justice and more about craving attention. Where does it end? Will people get to the pint where they sue over a bad film, that their time and money was wasted and the trauma of such an atrocity requires compensation and damages, with years of paid for therapy to follow? Or will people realize that if you want in the show you got to pay the entry fee. No one gets in for free.

 

Monster Films and Social Media Impact

Snickers campaign for the movie Godzilla this year.

Snickers campaign for the movie Godzilla this year.

During the last few years Social Media has developed in such a way that we see it everywhere no matter what. Any type of business requires to have some form of social media impact in today’s society in order to be successful. In the film industry, the marketing and promotional strategies have been changing ever since this new channel of targeting audiences became involved with the development of promotional campaigns for several films. No matter how big or small your film may be, it has became almost a rule of thumb to always assure some way of social media presence in order to assure a percentage of success with the project. Short films, independent films and blockbusters have several ways of promoting their projects and the best part of all of this is that there aren’t really any standards on how to do it, besides being smart and creative about it. Big monster films have learned that developing their concepts in the right way and combining them with extreme precision can help to secure a big revenue from the box office. In this blog we will present certain statistics and facts that show other relevant blockbusters with creatures or monsters on them and how successful they were thanks to the involvement and creative use of social media.  

 

KING KONG (2005)

king-kong-poster

King Kong 2005. Coppyright Universal Studios.

 The marketing strategies for films that were shot between ten or five years ago has nothing to do with the most recent ones. The reason is pretty simple, social media wasn’t as big as it is today. Several blockbusters from the early 2000’s had to utilize what we could sarcastically call the “old school” ways of distributing and promoting films. Actors, directors and Producers would be part of an entire show which would basically consist of doing hundreds of interviews, traveling around the world, signing posters and cards at several events, attending promotional events where the trailers would be premiered or even releasing behind the scenes photos or videos every once in a while. Most of the success was also based on the amount of fans and people that would follow up the stars of the film through out newspaper articles, magazines, or tv shows where they were being interviewed. Nine years ago, Peter Jackson had a huge task to remake the original King Kong (1933). In 2005 he set out to release the highly anticipated film, which received over 50 million in the opening week. Could it be because of Peter Jacksons’ huge fan base, or the people who just love and follow the King Kong franchise? Universal had a tough task marketing the film because social media wasn’t as big at the time. But they thought of a plan and it paid off pretty well by strategy and good thinking. King Kong released a triple patty burger at Burger King with a chocolate banana milkshake for a limited time. They gave away free T-shirts in every Kellogg’s box of cereal. Whenever there was a TV ad for Toshiba they played the trailer on the screens. Also ever since the 1933 film release King Kong has had a deal for commercials and endorsements with Coca-Cola. Whatever Universal did was a great idea because the film grossed over 500 million in the box office and counting up to this day.

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 PACIFIC RIM (2013)

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Pacific Rim Copyright Warner Bros.

With over a $200 million dollar budget, Pacific Rim proved to be a box office hit. One of the many key reasons for this film’s massive success in the box office, was thanks to it’s marketing campaign on social media. With over one million fans on Facebook and with over 32,000 followers on Twitter had one of the largest social media presence at the time of it’s release. One of the many reasons why Pacific Rim got such a huge fan response, was because of their constant updates on the film’s progress through out the various social media sites. From photo’s taken from the set to interviews with Director Guillermo del Toro. The Pacific Rim marketing team also re-tweeted and shared fans comments and other reviews on their social media sites. At the end of the day, Director Guillermo del Toro saw this film as a success, and most importantly so did Warner Brothers. Although some people believe the film could of done better if the film was marketed earlier on. 

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GODZILLA (2014)  

Godzilla-Poster

Godzilla. Copyright Legendary Pictures.

The newest and most anticipated monster film of 2014 was without a doubt a pure proof of success in a lot of fields. If there is a good reason why the new Godzilla film did amazingly well it was thanks to not just the filmmakers that took care of shooting the entire film and creating an entertaining story, but also to the marketing team working behind the entire project. From beginning to end, the marketing strategies involved in this production were always simple and very effective. All the way from having a Facebook page where a lot of news about the film would be posted, to the creation of a viral website called godzillaencounter.com

In fact two more movies about the giant monster are already in the works since the box office proved how successful the film was, and the potential of a more modern and adequate approach to such a world wide known character. In the site, pictures and other promotional videos were posted with the intention of creating expectations but not only that, each “Article” that was published on the site was just one piece of a bigger puzzle that the team designed. Several links and other stories posted on the site continuously mentioned “San Diego”, “Encounter”, “MUTO” and other key words on their headlines in order to have the fans solve a riddle that would eventually give clues of what the film could be about.

With a total of almost $507 million worldwide at the box office, the 2014 version of the most famous giant monster in history has once again proved that blockbusters can still represent a huge pipe of economical revenue for the big Hollywood Studios. It’s been known that Legendary and Warner Brothers agreed that this film would represent their last collaboration together as companies. But after realizing the fantastic reception that the movie had, would they think about it twice?     

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Dawn_of_the_Planet_of_the_Apes

Dawn of The Planet of the Apes. Copyright 20th Century Fox.

Studios are now using social media to market their films and track the awareness of the film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes used Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google+ to track the awareness and effectiveness of their social media marketing campaign. This allows studios to predict how well a film will do on opening week before its actual release.

Twitter was used to amplify positive reviews. Reviews about the film were tweeted and re-tweeted. Their question and answers added thousands of tweets to the weekly total. On Youtube, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had over 55 million views, generating a .33% Buzz.

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Movies with a larger amount of tweets seem to have done better than movies with not as many. Movies that opened up with over $90 million this year (X-Men:Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and Transformers: Age of Extinction) had over 700,000 tweets combined, vs movies like How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Maleficent’s that totaled up at 115,000 and 257,000 tweets only raising $50 million and $67 million.

 

 

 

Prankvertising

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Advertisement has always been the vessel for the entertainment industry to get the public’s attention for the newest horror or Sci-Fi flick is through advertising. Back in the day, billboards, commercials, and magazine ads were the weapons of choice by marketers. Inevitably, as we move from analog to digital, so will the advertisement world. Viral marketing seems to be king now and where we have such a full market of videos, how does one get noticed. It’s simple really; scare the crap out of your audience until they go see your film.

What is prankvertising? Prankvertising is exactly what it sounds like, advertising through pranks. The internet is full of content of people pranking each other, so why not use that to help your movie? Studios are taking a more creative route when it comes to reaching their targeted audiences. If you want to create an awareness of your movie or television series this would be a great avenue to venture down. Whether it’s sharing the amount of drama your television network offers or scaring innocent bystanders by rigging up some sort of scare tactic in public there’s a lot of creativity and planning that goes into prankvertising.

Pranvertisement is really nothing new; it’s just been set as one advertiser so eloquently puts it. “pranks on steroids.” That was a comment from the people seeming to be at the forefront of this new marketing movement. The guys from Thinkmodo have been behind some of the best pranvertisements to date. These guys were behind such successful campaigns as the one for The Devil’s Due in New York, a headline-grabbing stunt for the film Dead Man down, and have also utilized these scare tactics for use with brands for beer and other consumer goods. With such a crowded market for advertising, the industry is desperate for new ways to gain the attention of the consumer market. But do these stunts always pay off. How do we tell if these viral videos really make a difference or if it is just something to talk about? Thomas Moradpour, VP, global marketing at Carlsberg had this to say about the matter;

“From our perspective … it will more than pay for itself in earned media and ‘share of conversation.’ That, in turn, translates into brand worth, which in turn drives sales, we won’t be able to track a direct bump—too many variables—but we’ll measure the impact on brand health and equity through our brand trackers in all of our key international markets.”

10617477_825791984646_1120746697_nWhen it’s all said and done, its all about building awareness. Is Prankertisement the answer to the decline of the old marketing ways… maybe not the only answer? Prankvertisement is not something that can be utilized on any project. But with that being said, it is just not limited to horror movies. Action films, comedies, even some Disney flicks could benefit form this style. The issue here is where does it end? These pranks will need to continue to get bigger to satisfy the publics lust for stupidity. One day you could wake up to CNN talking about an Alien invasion, and then you find out it was just an ad for Independence Day sequel. Welcome to the digital age of prankvertisement.

Prankvertisement is built for the internet age. With a heavy emphasis on the viral aspect of marketing, these part prank, part advertisement campaigns have the ability to both entertain and promote. One of the best known prankvertisment campaigns is that for the 2013 film Carrie. The ad featured a woman wreaking havoc in a coffee shop with Carrie’s telekinetic powers. The video has since received 48.5 million views on YouTube. Unfortunately, the success of the video did not translate to success for the film as it only grossed $35 million domestically. The cable network TNT launched its own prankvertisements with it’s “Push to Add Drama” campaign. It featured an ambulance, a gun battle and a football team all “adding drama” to an otherwise quiet town square. The video became the second most-shared ad ever  As stated earlier, advertising campaigns are about increasing brand awareness. However, it is difficult to put the success of these campaigns in numbers and ticket sales: 

“Measuring a specific ROI from a high-profile stunt campaign is not a simple thing in our business,” notes Matt Gilhooley  vp, interactive of CBS Films, which produced The Last Exorcism Part II. “Box office is the result of a wide variety of well-aligned tactics and circumstances, and the goal of a stunt, such as our beauty shop scare, is often to earn attention versus buying attention with an audience. When it’s successful, the attention you earn greatly exceeds the cost of buying an equal amount of exposure with that audience.”

 It does not seem that prankvertisement is going anywhere; the popularity of these campaigns will only ensure that we will see pranks integrated into more aspects of entertainment advertising.


 

 

The Blockbuster No Longer Belongs to Summer

Summer time is a time of beach trips, sleeping late, and big name blockbuster films. Whether it was Jason Bourne, Batman, or an Alien invasion, summer is the time for the epic popcorn flicks. But what if the average filmgoer didn’t have to wait for summer? What if we could watch Iron Man take down Mandarin in December? Why is it so difficult to imagine Spider Man fighting Doc Octopus on Easter Sunday? Is it too crazy to think we can warm up our winter with a Scarlett Johansen Black Widow flick?

 

Big franchise films seem to be the bread and butter for the box office these days. And this is very apparent in the newfound rivalry between Marvel and DC comics. Superhero films were once a summer game. It was relatively unheard of to see a release earlier then May. Up until 2010 Paramount was distributing all of Marvel’s films, until they no longer needed the nosiness because of other emerging titles (Transformers, Mission Impossible, etc.). Now Disney is the distributor of its properties. And they look to not only capitalize this new trend in super hero franchise success, but they are also looking to change it up.

                   

It has long been accepted that the blockbuster belonged to summer. But studios such as Marvel and Universal have recently found success releasing certain films outside of the traditional May-July window. In the last year, Marvel Studios has seen two of their properties break box office records in what would typically be considered off months for theaters. Captain America: The Winter Soldier  and Guardians of the Galaxy both broke the opening record for their respective release months. Captain America opened to the tune of $95 million and Guardians brought in $94 million  The previous record holder for an August release was 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum at $69.3 million. 

The success of films of this caliber at seemingly any time of year could mark a new strategy for all of the major studios, not just Marvel. Universal raked in healthy box office receipts with the April 2013 release of Fast Five and Warner Bros. has had their own success with Gravity in October of 2013 and The Lego Movie in February of this year. Fox has caught on to the change and has their next big superhero tentpole, an untitled Wolverine movie, set to release on March 3rd, 2017. In fact, Despite this on going change in box office strategy, it is safe to say that most big ticket studio blockbusters will still land in the May-July release dates. Marvel and DC have found themselves in a release date war over 2016 and this trend is most likely to continue as long as comic book films are the big box office draw.

“Every instance of a film with a massive debut outside of the traditionally accepted ‘big’ release periods will embolden studios to take more risks,” Rentrak box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said in commenting on Guardian of the Galaxy‘s debut. “As long as the movies define the month and not the other way around, the taboos will fade away and the notion of the 52-week-a-year business will become a reality and not a myth.” (The Hollywood Reporter – August 2014)

 

 

            Summer is known to be the best time of the year for movies. The months of May, June and July are seen as the prime months for major motion pictures to be released. Some studios are steering away from those months and releasing their major blockbusters at different times of the year. November seems to be a very popular and successful month for movies. Below is a list of movies that did well outside of the summer prime months on their opening week.

  • Frozen – November 2013 – $67 million
  • Skyfall – November 2012 – $88 million
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 2013 – $9.5 million
  • The Hunger Games – March 2012 – $152 Million
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: November 2012 – $141 million
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 – November 2010 -$125 million
  • Alice in Wonderland – March 2010 – $116 million
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 2014 – $95 million
  • Guardians of The Galaxy – August 2014 – $94 million

 

At one point inime, most of these titles were thought impossible to make. There have been failed attempts such as the awful Fantastic Four film by Roger Corman, which never saw the light of day. There’s also the 1990 Captain America we’d all like to forget. So these titles weren’t even marketable. Now Captain America is clearing $700 million at the box office and Guardians of the Galaxy, a relatively unknown property, similar to the dynamic of Fantastic Four, coming out in August with unexpected success. It’s interesting to see how films like Fantastic Four & Cap have done so well and that a film with a talking raccoon could work out in a once considered dead month of August. It all boils down to if the idea is big enough, it does not matter where it will end up. Here’s hoping the Justice League survive their battle with March, which will be a much easier fight then taking on Captain America backed by the mouse.

Digital and Theatrical Releases Working Together

 

Theatrical distribution has always been considered an extremely important stage in the film industry. Many big theater companies compete against each other year after year in order to be able to bring as many people to their screens. The big Hollywood studios have always worked towards a common goal, which is to pack the theaters with audiences that will assure them a great economical revenue. It would be foolish to think that this is the magic formula that will always work no matter what. In fact, from the independent perspective of the industry and thanks to the continuous progress of technology things have started to change a lot. The increased use of the Internet has allowed independent filmmakers and other smaller studios to get their foot in the door for the Video On Demand (VOD) market.

The digital markets in the film industry have evolved at an incredibly fast rate not just because the big studios from Hollywood have tried to explore all the different paths that could possibly exist in order to collect more stacks of money, but also, because the independent filmmakers have learned that their audiences can be found further away than just sitting at the theaters. It can be at a house, hotel, restaurant, private event, and VOD will always make its way to all those consumers out there who besides enjoying the cinematic experience at a theater, they will sometimes prefer to watch the same piece of material from the comfort of their place or wherever it is that they might have the desire to watch a movie, TV show, short film, etc.

Digital

 

“We need to recognize not every film has the opportunity to be available across the entire country in theaters. If we’re in Iceland, where six prints [of a film] is what it takes to own the country, maybe this isn’t necessary,” -Tom Quinn, co-president of Radius-TWC, a unit of film distributor The Weinstein Co. (Speaking to the Wall Street Journal)

Utilizing the advantages of both theatrical and digital releases is giving newer films an upper hand on the entertainment industry. It’s also helping the studio’s or the producer’s pocketbook as well. Say you have a new idea for a movie but the world hasn’t really seen anything like it, it could worry you a bit. Especially if theatrical releases are all you have to go with, but nowadays you can use theatrical releases along side with digital releases to not only help you save money but also help in spreading the popularity throughout the fan base or market that it creates. You can decided on a few select theaters in largely populated areas to release your movie to get a decent turn out and also make a good amount in ticket sales. Since the movie is limited people may travel to see it but not all the time. That’s where digital distribution comes into play. It will allow you to reach a wider audience. In a study done by the United Nations and posted by the LA Times nearly 40% of the world will have internet access by the end of 2014. That’s a grand total of about 3 million people. That includes both mobile devices and computers. This will allow a larger amount of revenue for these companies to receive by releasing their film in theaters and digitally.

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We all know that VOD has been a go to for most independent films and their release. That’s not so much the same for studio hits because they are all mostly being released on the big screen in theaters. What about all of our talented actors and actresses, does VOD have an affect on them? Tim Roth who is a main actor for Broken said this to No Film School:

“Our chance of getting into a theatre, especially if you’re a tiny budget film, is near impossible. The idea that you slide into a theater nowadays, past “Iron Man” or “Despicable Me” or past these big budget movies, is a joke. It’s the hardest thing to do. You have to go the VOD route and with a limited theatrical release, if you’re lucky.” – Tim Roth

Most of the Hollywood’s top hits are with well known and highly established actors/actresses. With VOD is it giving a chance for the new upcoming class of actors to emerge. It’s a lot cheaper, accessible and comfortable to a viewer from home. As oppose to having to go to a theater, pay for multiple tickets, and only see one film. With VOD the average cost is between $7 and $15 from my experience. Yeah you can say it’s nothing like watching it in theaters because of sound systems and the overall atmosphere. The simple fact is that most actors feel their performance stands out on both platforms. The only downfall is the fact that some television releases won’t be qualified for different awards. However, the way this film world is changing everyday, I’m sure there will be a change in some rules to accommodate.