Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Film Distribution: Motherhood

It’s called ‘Motherhood’, stars Academy Award nominee Uma Thurman, UK star Minnie Driver, and TV show ‘ER’ helmer Anthony Edwards.

The plot outline for the film is: In Manhattan, a mother of two preparing for her daughter's sixth birthday party has no idea of the challenges she's about to face in order to pull off the event.

The total UK Theatrical Box Office for ‘Motherhood’ was $131 (£86) for just one weekend. Less than ten people in the whole of the UK actually bought tickets. Of which the tax man will take 17.5% of that £86 (VAT), the theatre will take 75% of the remaining, leaving nothing for the film makers. The film makers don’t get anything until the distributor has recouped thousands of pounds first, and take their fee for releasing it. Distributors, like the cinema owners, are not in business to cash flow any film, nor are they in business to lose money.

Distributors explained that Motherhood was not a hit because:
• The film is not very good (though it’s not terrible either)
• The film was released in one cinema in London only. Very little PR was done
• This limited release is a tactic to gain exposure and reviews for DVD, VOD and TV sales. They expected to do very little business in theatres (though maybe not this little)
• The distributor may have been contractually bound to release the film in theatres when in fact, it should never have appeared in theatres (but the film maker demanded it), therefore they did the minimum needed to fulfil their end of the deal.
• The DVD was released on the same day as the theatrical release (figures not available yet, but let’s not jump to any conclusions).
Metrodome released the film and their very own James Brown gave a presentation at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. He said:
• The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) has killed UK distribution, which is on life support. Retailers are going out of business. There is no theatrical audience over the age of 35 in the UK.
• In the UK, the audiences for theatrical and video are distinct. This means that, for example, you can make UKP 2.4 million on Broken Embraces at the box-office, but only ship 1,000 DVD's. Or UKP 800,000 on Away We Go and only ship 800 copies of the DVD in the 1st month. Conversely, it means there are massive DVD audiences for films which would not warrant a theatrical release.
• His main message: "I'm here to give you permission to make commercial crap to fund your passion project".

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