"Successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices"
To what extent would you agree with this this statement, within the media area you have studied?
I believe that for a British film to be successful it must be profitable, if a British film wins awards this emphasises its success as it connotes its recognition and popularity amongst its specific audience. An American film also needs to make profits to be successful, these profits are often a lot larger than those generated by a British film but I don't consider this to make the American film more successful. American films have expanded their audiences by including Chinese locations therefore this increases the movies profit because more people in China will go and see the film. This ability to inflate the target audience of the film makes an American film more successful.
Two films I have studied are: 'Mad Max: Fury Road', an American film directed by George Miller and 'Ex Machina' a British film produced by DNA Films and Film 4 producers and directed by Alex Garland. Both films made healthy profits and succeeded in reaching their specific target audience. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' presents the story of a female warrior 'Furiosa' and her alliances on a pursuit of escape, it features successful and well known actors; Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. 'Ex Machina' tells the story of a computer coder played by Domhall Gleeson and his experience with a bio-engineered robot, 'Ava', played by Alicia Vikander.
A contributing factor to 'Mad Max: Fury Road' being a success is its cast. Tom Hardy plays Max, he is a well known actor that has featured in other successful action movies like 'The Dark Knight Rises' and 'Inception'. This background gives a positive base of a specific audience therefore appeals to mainstream audiences that enjoy action movies and fans of Tom Hardy will be attracted to the movie as they know they've enjoyed his previous performances, also the gaze theory increases the audiences attracted to the movie. Featuring Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, creates the expectation that the film will be impressive, this enticing reputation will encourage even the likes of less common cinema goers to see the film; these production practices are important for a film to be successful through profit. Also, this sequel of 'Mad Max' (1979), 'Mad Max 2' (1981) and 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome' (1985) had a crew of 1,700 workers on the film set including 150 stunt performers. This large crew and successful previous movies provide predictable success. The making of the movie faced challenges such as dealing with the weather conditions like the extreme dust and also rain on multiple occasions which meant the crew needed specialised waterproof and dustproof equipment. Another problem faced by the team was managing to film with all different camera angles in a moving environment to capture the scenes in the best way possible. The constant movement while filming was what Charlize Theron believed was 'tricky' about the production. Recognisably, the movie conforms to containing Summer Blockbuster conventions like impressive explosions and exciting car chases and successfully attract a mainstream audience therefore relied on action over plot. For example, 'Mad Max: Fury Road' contains a lot of car chases specifically a very exciting one as 'Furiosa' drives the war rig into a dust storm and is followed by the war boys; to make this scene as impressive as it was production practices like camera angles and movement were very important. Also, a very tasking scene is when the war rig blows up, to create this very visually appealing image the crew took mobile refinery out into the desert and drove it remotely and surrounded it by camera cars. This explosion is a contributing factor to the films success as it adds to fulfilling the films expectation of a hollywood blockbuster it also would entice audiences that enjoy action packed and visually thrilling. These appealing features urge the target audience to see the movie in cinemas as that is where the film is shown at its best therefore the film increases its profits. Certain scenes like when the war rig blows up are known to look better in cinemas. The film made $374 million at the box office.
Unlike 'Mad Max:Fury Road' a British film like 'Ex Machina' didn't have such an allowing budget, it featured less well known but undoubtably upcoming actors and actresses. Domhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander are to appear in the upcoming 2015 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' a very popular sequel which similar to 'Ex Machina' appeals to 'films buffs'. 'Ex Machina' relies on a strong script to entice its specific target audience of 'film buffs', a good plot is more important than action in this movie. Instead of using computer generated imagery the crew rotoscoped the body of 'Ava' which took a lot of time but created a sensation on 'the big screen'. Using a production practice like editing a body onto a robot takes time; a scene that would have been difficult to create would have been when Ava runs towards Nathan, the fast pace contrasts with the rest of the movie to create an effective scene but made rotoscoping more difficult.The movie reached its specific audience therefore made a healthy profit of $6.9 million. 'Ex Machina' challenges institutional practices.
A sum of $7 million was spent on television advertising of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' in order to reach the specific audience of this blockbuster, television is the most effective method of marketing. The TV trailers featured small snippets of the film to portray the general idea of the movie. In marketing the film it typically became influenced by the production practices used, its marketing would be used to demonstrate these(e.g. car chases and explosions) to portray the film at its most appealing. An example of a scene the trailer shows is within its opening; Max is being chased by War boys and almost ends up running over the edge of a cliff, the shot then cuts to Max leaping from the cliff but then doesn't reveal its outcome. The cliff scene, ironically, leaves a cliff-hanger where the audience want to see more. The scene used in the trailer immediately demonstrates the fast pace of the movie and how it will contain fight scenes and thrilling chase scenes. In collaboration with the trailers, film posters were released featuring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, this created a 'buzz' over the well known faces therefore enticed their fans to see the movie. The marketing of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' lead to the specific target audience(mainstream) facilitating the studios by going to see the film at the cinema. In comparison, 'Ex Machina' used fairly minimal marketing methods. It used digital initiative creating modern accounts on popular applications. This enabled the crew of 'Ex Machina' to exploit social media to promote the film with either very small costs or for free to its target market. This unique marketing method was hugely effective as it reached 'film buffs' that would go to see the film.
Distribution plays a key role in the success of a film. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' used a wide release on many IMAX screens. On the 14th May 2015 'Mad Max: Fury Road' opened on 12,000 screens in 48 countries. In the United States and Canada the movie opened on 3,702 screens and earned $16.77 million on its opening day. This is similar to other blockbusters like 'Transformers age of Extinction' and 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'. The film was originally planned to be shot in 3D but the crew changed to more straightforward 2D shooting, audiences would engage well with this as 3D revenues have been decreasing as the fascination has faded. The film needs to distribute well or people would challenge institutional practices and not watch the movie in the cinema but choose to use 'Netflix' or an alternative source.
'Ex Machina' was released through universal pictures on the 21st January 2015 in the UK. The film at first, was only shown on one or two screens using modified wide release as the new release of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' dominated the cinema screens. 'Ex Machina' then piggy backed the 'Avengers' sequel by increasing the number of screens it was shown on as 'Avengers' decreased. The films specific target audience facilitated the studios as they went to see 'Ex Machina' as its screens increased.
I agree that successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices. I think that in years to come methods of marketing will need to change and adapt to more fresh and exciting ideas. The marketing of 'Ex Machina' supports this because although it wasn't expensive; it was new and unexpected which is an effective factor and appealing to audiences of the current generation. I think that while action movies are increasingly overtaking other genres of the film industry there are films that are already being made, e.g. there are fifty marvel films to be produced within the next ten years. However, this genre is currently popular, I predict that it will become too familiar and less of an experience to see at a cinema therefore audiences will gravitate towards other genres that are more exclusive and interesting for them to see. The contributes to how a film will need to expand its methods of marketing and distribution to make a profit and in turn generate a successful profit.