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Year 12 Audience & Institutions Case Study: Working Title Films. Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan have achieved the near impossible They’ve created a wildly successful production company in a country where the film business is subject to repeated predictions of imminent doom. Eric Fellner.

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Year 12 audience institutions case study working title films

Year 12 Audience & InstitutionsCase Study:Working Title Films

Eric Fellner

Tim Bevan

  • 1984

  • Working Title founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe

  • Now the most successful British film production company

Film maths
Film maths

  • Films + American stars = Appeal to international market (& success for the British film industry)

  • This approach has provoked criticism about the ‘mid-Atlantic’ nature of the films.

The british film industry dilemma
The British film industry dilemma:

  • Do you:

    A) Make culturally specific films which appeal to a limited audience?


    B) Make broader, generic films with a wider appeal?

The british film industry dilemma1
The British film industry dilemma:

  • Working Title want to make European films for a worldwide audience.

  • They want to imbue them with European ideas and influences and they couldn’t do these things without the backing of a major Hollywood studio.

History of wt
History of WT:

  • 1984

  • Working Title founded by Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe

  • 1985

  • First Working Title film My Beautiful Laundrette (The first of a series of collaborations with Channel Four Films)

  • 15

  • Number of WT films produced in the 1980s

History of wt1
History of WT:

  • 1988

  • Production deal with PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

  • 1991

  • WT sets up Hollywood office

History of WT:

  • 1992

  • PolyGram (a European music and media company) buys Working Title.

  • Sarah Radclyffe leaves to set up her own production company

  • She’s replaced by Eric Fellner

History of wt2
History of WT:

  • 1994

  • Four Weddings and a Funeral

  • A big box office success due to the access to the US market provided by Polygram

History of wt3
History of WT:

  • 1998

  • Polygram bought by Universal, a Seagram company

  • 2000

  • Seagram is bought by Vivendi, the French multimedia conglomerate

  • WorkingTitle is now owned by Universal, which is in turn owned by Vivendi

  • $35m

  • The amount of money WT can spend on a film before consulting with Universal

  • WT2

  • Set up to encourage new British filmmakers.

  • Billy Elliot (Dir. Stephen Daldry, 1999)

  • WT2 did not need the approval of Universal

  • WT2 no longer exists


  • There is no other British Film Company like Working Title

  • It is allowed freedom to make creative decisions but it is owned by a conglomerate

Safety net
Safety Net:

  • £13m

  • Budget for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

  • £9.8m

  • UK Box Office takings

  • The protection of Universal means that Working Title was able to survive this disappointing performance

Some numbers
Some numbers:

  • 4 or 5

  • The number of films Working Title produce each year

  • 1

  • Number of ‘risk free films’ Working Title will invest in each year

  • 2

  • Number of mainstream films WT will invest in each year

  • 2

  • Will invest in projects they feel passionate about (which have risk factors involved)

Some numbers1
Some numbers:

  • 95

  • Number of films made (to date) by Working Title

  • $4.5 billion

  • Amount of money made by these films

  • 6

  • Number of Academy Awards won

  • 26

  • Number of BAFTA Awards won

Successful relationships
Successful Relationships

  • Working Title make films with 3rd parties e.g. the Coen Brothers and people they know well and have built up a good working relationship with e.g. Richard Curtis

Notable films
Notable films

  • TheSoloist

  • State of Play

  • The Boat That Rocked

  • Wild Child

  • Burn After Reading,

  • The Interpreter

  • About a Boy

  • Notting Hill

  • Elizabeth

  • Fargo

  • Dead Man Walking

  • Bean

  • High Fidelity

  • Johnny English

  • Billy Elliot

  • Four Weddings and a Funeral

  • Bridget Jones's Diary

  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?

  • Love Actually

  • Shaun of the Dead

  • Pride & Prejudice

  • Nanny McPhee

  • United 93

What does eric fellner have to say
What does Eric Fellner have to say?

  • Working Title focus on character and narrative (as opposed to action/ special effects etc.)

  • They often create films of cross-genres

  • Fellner feels the simple essence of a successful film is a really good screenplay and sense of humanity; that the most important thing is for the audience to identify and empathise with characters

What does eric fellner have to say1
What does Eric Fellner have to say?

  • Working Title have aimed to create an industry that is exportable and global

  • There is an active aggressive industry in Hollywood that we can never compete with

  • What we should focus on is making films we believe in and exporting them

What does eric fellner have to say2
What does Eric Fellner have to say?

  • We should dissipate the notion of the British Film Industry just being British

  • Instead we should work with home grown material and work with others to distribute, market etc

  • Characters should be fun and engaging; you should want to spend time with them (regardless of whether they’re simplistic or stereotypical)

  • This is the focus for Working Title, rather than trying to package films/ characters for American audiences

  • Fellner says that the British film industry is “thriving” and can ride out recessions


  • Next lesson you will pitch your own film idea. You need to produce a synopsis of a film you think would fit into the Working Title production style.

You must explain why it is suitable for a working title production
You must explain why it is suitable for a Working Title production.

  • Your synopsis should include comments on:

    • Genre

    • Plot

    • Setting

    • Stars

    • Intended audience.