East is East - Distribution • Distribution is the middle part of the 'cinematic apparatus' which consists of production, distribution and exhibition. Any company that is involved in all three areas, such as Warner Bros., is described as being vertically integrated.
East is East - Distribution • In the case of East is East, the film was produced by Assassin Films with the majority of the finance coming from FilmFour whose distribution arm was responsible for getting the film into the cinemas. Distributors deal with 'p + a' (prints and advertising): they manage the distribution of prints to cinemas and create the marketing campaign.
East is East - Distribution • For most commercial films the first three days are the most important to its box office success. Hence the promotion of films usually focuses of the opening with the hope that positive word of mouth will give the film legs afterwards. Commercial films usually open widely, in Britain this would be in over 400 screens, to take advantage of the opening week's hype.
East is East - Distribution • East is East, however, because of its apparent lack of commercial potential, received a platform release. East is East opened, after previews, on Friday 5 November 1999 on 79 screens. The film 'went wide' in week three on 246 screens. The first five weeks of East is East's box office record is as follows:
East is East - Distribution • The staggered opening allows time for the realisation that an apparently non-commercial film is actually worth seeing. The distributors, confident of good reviews and word of mouth, can keep some of their promotional budget back to boost the roll-out over weeks two and three. The fact that the second week's box office take was about the same as the first, from virtually the same number of screens, indicated the film was going to be successful. Films normally drop about 30% in their second weekend.
East is East - Distribution • FilmFour probably waited two weeks, rather than one, before going wide to avoid going 'head to head' with The Sixth Sense, which had been a massive hit in North America. Distributors are always conscious of the competition.
East is East - Marketing • Philip Kotler defines marketing as a: human activity directed at satisfying needs and wants through exchange processes. (Kotler, 1980, p. 13)
East is East - Marketing • This basically means the selling of products and services. Marketing consists of four variables, called the marketing mix, and these are often characterised as the 'Four Ps': • price (of little relevance in film) • place • product • promotion.
East is East - Marketing • For our purposes we are interested in 'place', the distribution of East is East; the product and the promotion.
East is East - Marketing • Films are marketed like any other product or service. However, because they are all unique, each film must have its own campaign. A brand of beans, for example, only needs one campaign, in a given period, for every tin. This is obviously expensive, the average cost of marketing ('p + a' - prints and advertising) a Hollywood film, produced by a major studio, is about $25million (approximately half the cost of the film).
East is East - Marketing • The British film industry, primarily due to its relatively small domestic market, does not spend anywhere near Hollywood's amount of money. East is East cost £2.4 million to make and a relatively large £1 million was spent on marketing it.
East is East - Promotion • Promotion involves both advertising and publicity. Advertising consists of paid for space (in a magazine for instance) or time (on television and radio); publicity covers all the other promotional activities. For example, an advertisement in a magazine Time Out will cost £4095 for a full page and £2573 for a half page, while a review in the same publication will not cost anything. The review, of course, may be negative and therefore be useless as publicity.
East is East - Promotion • Publicity also includes interviews and profiles on a film's stars and, sometimes, the director. This would also be 'free of charge' to the film's distributors (who are responsible for the marketing) and will be positive. In addition, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes may carry stories about the making of the film; most of which would be positive. Distributors can be confident that coverage will be positive because of the nature of the 'publicity circus'. For instance, film magazines know if they are critical of a film star they are not likely to get to interview them in future. As stars are important selling points for the magazines this would be detrimental to their sales. Hence most non-review coverage accentuates the positive. Similarly stars and celebrities only appear on chat shows if they have an opportunity to plug their new film/song/album/book.
East is East - Promotion Types of advertising and publicity • Advertising • banners on Internet • TV • radio • magazines • newspapers
East is East - Promotion Types of advertising and publicity • billboards • Publicity • trailers • posters in cinemas • website • stunts
East is East - Promotion Types of advertising and publicity • press (tabloids & broadsheet) • magazines • tie-ins (including single, music video, script, book, the making of documentary) • previews • broadcast • festivals • premieres
East is East - Promotion Promotion: the East is East campaign Campaign objective: • To position East is East in the media and in the public domain as a must-see, hugely successful, critically praised, hip, British comedy for all and everyone to enjoy.
East is East - Promotion • The East is East campaign very successfully positioned the film as a movie about generational conflict that appealed to all cultures. This was done by emphasising the 'universality' of having problems with parents and by emphasising the risqué ('rude') elements.
East is East - Promotion Consider why each particular promotional vehicle was used: • Advertising • banners on Internet • TV • radio • magazines
East is East - Promotion Consider why each particular promotional vehicle was used: • newspapers • billboards • Publicity • trailers • posters in cinemas
East is East - Promotion Consider why each particular promotional vehicle was used: • website • press (tabloids & broadsheet) articles and reviews • magazine articles • tie-ins (including single, music video, script, book, the making of documentary) • previews
East is East - Promotion Consider why each particular promotional vehicle was used: • broadcast • festivals • premiere • stunts
East is East - Promotion • In terms of generating publicity FilmFour had a 'hit list' of 'target media' through which they wanted to address their audience.
East is East - Audience • The key concept of audience usually focuses on how an audience is targeted and how audiences read a text. The first part of this section considers how FilmFour used focus groups to find out whether East is East had universal appeal. The second part uses the 'uses and gratifications' theory to assess how audiences might experience the film.
East is East - Audience • On paper, a film about an Anglo-Pakistani family set in Salford in the 1970s is a marketing nightmare; it does not sound appealing to a mass audience. Previous 'Asian-themed' films, such as Bhaji on the Beach (1994) had not played widely (in other words, they had not done good business at the box office). As most films are produced as a commodity, that is they are made in order to make money, this is clearly a problem. FilmFour sidestepped the issue by emphasising it was not 'Asian themed' but about being young; as one of the taglines put it: 'Young, free and soon not to be single‘.
East is East - Audience • Hollywood, in particular, keenly uses focus groups to assess whether a film will be successful and will even re-shoot scenes if the previews are negative.
East is East - Audience • Consider the statistics from the Wimbledon focus group: • The figures were very positive in all groupings. 25 years of age is a watershed for exhibitors as people are less likely to visit cinemas after that age. These are the core cinema-goers to whom a film must appeal if it is going to be a mainstream hit. These results were replicated elsewhere showing the distributors that, if they could successfully open the film, then they had a likely hit on their hands, as word of mouth would be positive. These positive results were no doubt engendered by the fact that the focus groups did not feel the 'ethnic' aspects affected their enjoyment.
East is East - Audience • The following conclusions were drawn: East is East, it was clear, would play to a mainstream audience. The task of the promotion was to make sure that the cinema-going public would know that it was 'their sort of film'.
East is East - Audience • The uses and gratifications theory suggests four ways in which audiences use films (and any other media texts). While the theory errs too much on the side of audience autonomy (it virtually denies the texts can affect individuals unless he or she wants it to) it remains a useful way of understanding how audiences may read a film.
East is East - Audience • entertainment the text provides pleasure for the audience, this is often characterised as being 'escapist'. social interaction: films, the news or last night's television programmes are common topics of discussion; we use the media to feed this social interaction. personal identity: we can get a sense of ourselves and our peer group from films. We may identify with particular film stars, who we may even use as role models.information: the media are full of information which we are at liberty to use.
East is East - Audience • Most films are produced as entertainment for this is what audiences most want and therefore the film is most likely to make money. Any film that becomes much talked about (social interaction) can be considered an 'event movie'. If you have not seen the 'event movie' then you are likely to be left out of conversations. Hollywood's box office suffered in 2000 through the lack of an 'event movie'; in 1999 the Star Wars prequel, The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project were all films that generated buzz.
East is East - Audience • Most films do not set out to provide information (documentaries aside), though they may do so as a 'side-effect', but films may help give us a sense of ourselves. In Britain we most often see North American society represented in films, which is physically distant to us. We see our own country represented less frequently; for Anglo-Asians the absence is much greater.
East is East - Audience • Apply the uses and gratifications theory to East is East. • In what ways is the film entertaining? • Can you recall whether you talked about, or heard people talking about, the film? • Did you get any understanding of your own life from the film (maybe in terms of the conflict between parents and children)? • Did you learn anything from the film about the time and place and/or Anglo-Asians?
East is East – • When Channel 4 was launched in 1982 it launched Film on Four and so helped sustain the British film industry through its darkest days of that decade. Much of Film on Four's production reflected the commissioning editor's, David Rose, preference for 'contemporary and social political topics'. Films such as The Ploughman's Lunch (1983), Letter to Brezhnev (1985), Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1986) were commercial and critical successes. Film on Four also funded My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), which featured a homosexual relationship between a white fascist (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Omar (Gordon Warnecke) born in Britain to Pakistani parents.
East is East – • In the mid 1990s the then controller of Channel 4, Michael Grade, brokered a deal with the Government that allowed the channel to divert money it paid to the ITV companies (as part of an advertising airtime deal) into film production. FilmFour was first set up as an independent film production company and then also a film distributor. The company put up the whole budget for East is East after BBC Films had funded script development.
East is East – • FilmFour is sponsored by The Guardian newspapers. Why do you think this newspaper has chosen to pay to be associated with the type of films FilmFour produces?
East is East – Institution/ Industry • As a key concept institution is often elided with industry. Basically, if we consider the business side of filmmaking we are looking at the industry; if we are considering the practices and regulatory restraints (such as the need to get a 15 certificate from the British Board of Film Classification) then we are looking at institutional aspects.
East is East – Institution/ Industry • The elements below focus on the industrial factors in the production of East is East : FilmFour Distribution Exhibition
East is East – Institution/ Industry • In relation to these three we should consider the notion of independence, an institutional way of thinking about media organisations. Independents
East is East - Independents • FilmFour was classified as an independent as it was not part of a major media corporation. In fact there are no major British film companies. Polygram Film Entertainment (producers of Notting Hill 1999), which was based in London, operated as a mini-major until it was taken over by Seagram, in 1999, to become part of Universal Pictures. In 2000, the French company Vivendi, in turn, swallowed Universal.
East is East - Independents • Independent film companies, whether producers or distributors, are much more financially vulnerable than the majors. In the 1980s the immensely successful Goldcrest (of Chariots of Fire, 1981, and Ghandi, 1982, fame) went bust after a number of expensive flops. Major film companies can usually survive lean years with help from other companies within the corporation. For example, 20th Century Fox had a relatively bad 1999, leading to the resignation of studio chief Bill Mechanic, but as it is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation it was never likely to go bankrupt.
East is East - Independents • British films have to compete with Hollywood's major film studios' blockbuster releases. The only UK produced film in the British top ten box office in 1999 was Notting Hill, which grossed £30.7 million (source Screen International, 1 September, 2000). Notting Hill was also a hit in North America, a rare occurrence for British films though much of the movie's appeal was probably due to Julia Roberts.
East is East - Independents • There is a tendency for independent producers to make less commercial films than the major studios. This is partly a result of the economics of filmmaking, most strictly commercial films are expensive to make because they have big stars and/or many special effects. Low budget movies tend to be both starless and bereft of special effects and it is relatively rare for them to 'cross-over' into the mainstream to become a box office hit. In recent years The Full Monty (1997) and The Blair Witch Project (1998), along with East is East in Britain, have managed to be amongst the years' most successful films.
East is East - Independents • Independent film-makers may also eschew commercial films because they are more interested in making a personal statement. In 1999 the Tim Roth directed film The War Zone, a bleak tale about child abuse, was never likely to trouble the box office charts.
East is East - Independents • East is East was 18th in 1999's chart; a very respectable position especially as it was only released on 5 November 1999. It eventually grossed in excess of £10 million in Britain and Ireland alone. If we ignore Notting Hill with the 'Julia Roberts' factor, this made East is East the biggest Category A hit released in 1999. Category A is part of the British film institute's classification of a film's cultural and economic origins and is defined as: • Films where the cultural and financial impetus is from the UK and the majority of personnel are British. (Dyja, 1998, p. 18)
East is East - Independents • One independent company that has a lot of success in making smaller budget movies box office successes is Miramax. This company distributed East is East, to moderate box office, in North America. Miramax, however, is only a quasi-independent as it is owned by Disney. It does, more or less, operate independently of its parent company.
East is East - Representation Representation is a multi-faceted key concept and it can be approached from these four perspectives: • What conventions are being used in the film to re-present the world? • Are the characters in the film meant to be representative of particular types (and are they stereotypes)? • What is the film trying to say (its preferred reading)? • Who is the intended audience and what sense do we think they will make of the film?
East is East - Representation • Write down what connotations you associate with Islam? Your list of connotations will obviously depend upon many factors, not least of which is whether you are a Muslim. If you are not a Muslim, list your sources of information about Islam and any Muslim public figures you know.
East is East - Representation • It is likely that the news gives many of us information about Islam as the media as a whole rarely represents Muslim, or indeed Asian, characters. One recent exception in Britain is the sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, which managed to disrupt the Asian stereotype that included the idea that Asians are not funny (and that white British are not interested in 'Asian television').