Monday, 12 October 2015

Ex Machina

Why Did Ex Machina Succeed at the Box Office?

Ex Machina is a British film produced by DNA films and Film 4 producers. Ex Machina tells the story of a computer coder, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), who wins the chance to spend a week at the house in the mountains belonging to Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the CEO of the company he works for. The film was successful at the box office which could be argued as unexpected as the film doesn't obtain many features which are known in very successful movies. Due to the small budget ex machina had it held risk as to whether it would succeed, hollywood blockbusters do not face this risk. Mark Kermode explains in his video 'Kermode Uncut: Transformers 3 and the Truth About Blockbusters' that due to the amount of money spent on producing and advertising the film to turn it into an event that people want to become part of and the media buzz encourages people tow atch the movie. Ex Machina had a small budget of $15 million and made $36.9 million, making a healthy profit of $6.9 million.

The movie was directed by Alex Garland he is a respected writer and producer, now known for Ex Machina(2015) and 28 Days Later(2002) and Dredd(2012). The success of Ex Machina is suprising as it lacks the conventions of Hollywood block busters which are always successful. The movie lacks thrilling action scenes, it doesn't have any explosions or car chases which could make the film seem boring to many. However, Ex Machina is a cult film aimed at 'flim buffs' therefore effectively appeals to its target market. Unlike other movies, this film includes full frontal nudity. Most films would aim to avoid this to appeal to a bigger audience and obtain a low age certificate whereas Ex Machina has a more specific target audience. Ex Machina has an age certificate of 15, this removed the film from being a quadrant. Alongside the element of nudity, there is also a scene that involves a stabbing which contributes to the film being less appropriate for younnger viewers.. Another convention the film lacks is a 'happy ending' there is no closure, it leaves the audience able to create their own ideas of what goes on beyond the movies ending. A movie that conforms to the traditional conventions of a hollywood blockbuster is 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' that took $459,005,868 at the box office. This movie was very successful as people had confidence that the movie would be an enjoyable watch shown through different advertising methods. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is packed with well known actors and actresses, exciting fight scenes and explosions therefore very different to Ex Machina. Also, many movies like 'Avengers' use a lot of special effects and CGI to create a more visually impressive movie but Ex Machina succeeded without using a great deal of special effects.

The way Ex Machina differs from other successful Hollywood movies is an attraction for its target audience. The lack of explosions and fight scenes reflects realism yet cleverly contrasts with the unordinary sci-fi plot of the machine Ava. Throughout the movie, it is unknown about what is going to happen and this makes the movie more intriguing for audiences as there is no giveaway. The pace of the movie is slow, it uses long takes and slow editing. Due to it being an independent British Film it is outside the Hollywood scene and lacks the budget. This forces a reliance on the script as it doesn't use computer generated imagery, this appeals to audiences as they feel trusting that the script will be powerful, this could have played a part in the films success at the box office. The film stared Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb and Oscar Isaac as Nathan who are both going on to feature in the new Star wars film later in 2015. Ex machina also stared Alicia Vikander as Ava.

Although Ex Machina was marketed using minimum costs (it relied hugely on viral marketing)it still impacted the films success.The audience the film attracted and targeted was mainly film buffs. They attracted this audience by creating a Tinder account for Ava it allowed members to talk to Ava online and when they agreed to meet her, they would direct the person to the Instagram account for Ex Machina. They mainly targeted SXSW attendees on the weekend of its festivals release. This mathod of marketing was small but effective as it linked to the target market of the movie. Also, a website called was created. Fans could access the website and have their portrait drawn by Ava and feel closely connected with the movie, the people interested in this would be likely to enjoy a movie like ex machina and therefore the film was able to attract its precise target market through simple but beneficial marketing. People that rarely attended the cinema would not have heard of Ex machina due to its little marketing and advertisement.

The main genre is Science Fiction, this is appealing to certain audiences as they look for meaning and futuristic elements in films. However, this genre does not easily associate with other genres that are considered more popular therefore limiting the target audience. This could reduce the success or increase it because it is so clearly a sci-fi movie that the genres fans would like a movie that is purely sci-fi. The film was shot twice to create the look of Ava’s robotic form, one shot was taken with the actress and the other without. This extra time taken would have been appreciated by true film buffs and likely to be a contribution to the films success at the box office. Sci-fi films have been increasingly popular, they tend to do well as they always contain generic conventions like futuristic elements, robots or other technologies. This makes the genre reliable and predictable yet very diverse and the extraordinary plot allows room for unexpected and new ideas within different movies.

There were few filming locations used, the main one being a real house in Norway. The images of Norway are very intense and beautiful, the pictures filmed of the mountains could have attracted people to see the movie and it looks visually appealing. Pinewood studios and Buckinghamshire in England were used to film. The movie was released into cinemas at the same time as 'Avengers: Age of Ultron', Ex Machina began on only around 5 screens but then that number increased as the Avengers movie slowed down. It eventually got to 500 screens, this large amount of screenings would have played a part in the success of the film. The movies worldwide box office figure was $83,128,313. In the US in May 2015 they made $16,705,000.  Then in the Netherlands they made €89,727 on 6 May 2015. In Portugal they made €29,501. Looking at these figures it is clear that the USA took the most money for the film which could reflect the impact the marketing had on the film, the marketing helped the success of the film.

I think that Ex Machina was successful at the box office because of its intense plot, minimalistic conventions and difference to other films. Its lack of computer generated imagery would have attracted audiences as they would be hopeful of a strong script. Minimalistic conventions separate the movie from Hollywood blockbusters as it is outside of the Hollywood system so this would effectively attract film buffs. Finally, I think because the movie lacks action and closure it is different from other films and would stand out more therefore attract audiences to see the movie.

1 comment:

  1. Olivia

    This is an encouraging first attempt, you make good use of class notes to try and structure your argument. You also make a clear attempt to explain the potential problems with the film as well as the solutions the director and producers devised to avoid failure. There is clear evidence of excellent additional research.



    Use the first paragraph to set out your argument. Include Mark Kermode's thoughts on what makes Hollywood blockbusters so succesful (and then contrast this with what Ex Machina 'lacks')

    In paragraph 2 give examples from actual Hollywood films (also include their box office takings)

    Include details about who bought the distribution rights to the film and give examples of films which that company is associated with.

    Try and link the film's marketing campaign to the actual plot of the film.

    16/25 argument
    17/25 examples