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Film and Media
FILM 240
Sidney Eve Matrix

Movies Lecture Thursday, November 08, 2012 6:28 PM HISTORY AND GENRES Moviesare a form of cultural storytelling Major Studios, corporate independents, indie filmmakers Movies:great cultural storytellers 6 Major studios: 20th Century Fox, Paramount,WarnerBrothers,Universal, Disney, Columbia • They are multimedia conglomerates - Also own theatres, music labels, etc. • Mass distribution of media by 6 major labels helps us consume moreof it Corporate independents → Independent film production houses often owned by major studios, producing less mainstream,more edgy, and often award-winning movies [ex] Miramaxfilms, Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures • create more low budget films • lends prestige to the studios from winning film festival awards • More intellectual and sophisticated, low special effects = heightened realism • A-list stars • Many have disappeared and been reabsorbed by their main companies Indie Films → independent film production houses that work outside the major studios who tend to control the industry • must have a distribution deal with the major studios in order to increase their reach - Marketing and promotionof the film requires financial help from a corporatemajor • Less mainstream Canadian film industry: NFB • Created in 1939 by the governmentfor wartimepropaganda • Feature length films about social problems Classic Hollywood (1930-1950) The studio era A-List celebrity: Mae West (circa 1930) • Important figure, but very scandalous - constantly in trouble with the censors • Typically starred in musical comediesthat had a provocativeedge • Wrote the screenplay and starred in "I'm No Angel" • Responsible for many quotable one-liners - "Is that a gun in your pocket or…" Motion Picture Production Code Outrage over scandal promoted by Mae West and other classic Hollywood influences demonstratedthe need for production company guidelines • No sympathetic portrayal of criminals/sinners • No swearing, gratuitous violence,religious critique • No nudity, lusty kisses, suggestive postures • No bathroom humour, drug use, prositution, childbirth scenes • No homosexuality • No miscegenation(race mixing) - Stars had to be "whitened-up" These guidelines prevented governmentinvolvementin the censoring of the film industry • If you broke the code you got fined • If you broke the code you got fined • Code was meant to ensure that films were tasteful and didn't promoteimmoral behaviour 1940s:Film Noir Create stories about the underside of American life • Corruption, crime violence,the American dream gone sour • Gangsters, detectives,FemmeFatal • Emphasis on camera angles • Social turbulence • Gender roles: films generally star a vulnerable, unsuspecting, unmarried, poor man and a powerful woman • It was difficult for film noir directors to communicatethe themes of film noir while adhering to the Motion Picture Production Code Gilda: equal shot time between male and female characters, verbal conflicts and sexual tension (abiding to the motionpicture production code) FemmeFatal = long and pointy characteristics (costumes,props, hair, etc) Positionsof characters indicate power relationships between males and females [ex] The PostmanAlways Rings Twice Neo-Noir → Update film noir by including sex and violence [ex] Black Widow • Modern renditions are more pronounced in their "film noir" characteristics • Scenes prevalent across multiple genres: Psych-thrillers - science fiction 1950s:Musical Comedy In the 1950s,less people were attending movietheatres • They were getting married faster - fewer dates • Moving to the suburbs, so commutingto a downtown theatre was difficult • Studios were experiencing a dropoff in revenue, so they needed to create a new genre that would attract an audience - Relied on the sexual sell Bankable young stars with great soundtracks • Light • Funny • Thin narratives • High sex appeal • Guaranteed entertainment • Double entendres, slapstick humour, screwball comedies • Colourful costumes • Music moviesstill make good box office - Effortlesslyentertaining - they're fun - Soundtracks also make money for the production companies - Inspired reality television programs 1970s:Blaxsploitation Inspired by the civil rights/black power movement • Reflection of reality for the rising black middle-class community - A reaction to the need for black representation in pop culture • Span over multiple genres: comedy to horror films • Black cast - white production crews • Very political • Very political • Heroes are black, villains are white (edginess can make people uncomfortable) • Featured musical numbers, groovy soundtracks, fantastic costuming, fast cars, interesting plots, and amazing actors • Plots about social disenfranchisement,urban life, drug addiction, poverty,police brutality • Eroticize/exoticizeblack womenand emasculinate black men - White supremacy ruins lives • Focus on action, adventure, entertainment,and sexuality Neo- blaxsploitation films: Jackie Brown, Boyz N the Hood, She's Gotta Have It, Shaft • Good music, politics, narratives, amazing stars New Hollywood (early 1970s) Young male filmmakerswho all came on the scene at the same time with a unique look to their movies • Films tested well with young theatre audiences • Realist edge • "Making it in America" • Fresh perspective and real (compared to the prior musical comedies) • Filmmakersgained celebrity status • The filmmakersbecame celebrities themselves - There ideas for new projects were always approved immediately Director as Auteur (Signature style, oeuvre) Auteur → Someonewho has made an impact/importantcontribution • Have a signature, recognizable style [Ex] Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney, Quentin Tarantion, Peter Jackson, David Lynch, etc. High Concept Films Can be pitched in 1-3 sentences, if not within the title itself: Designed to have mass audience appeal and be commerciallysuccessful • The look, the hook, the book - Visually appealing, special effects (the look) - You know what it's going to be about (the hook) - Merchandise after-marketpotential through the soundtrack, toys, etc. (the book) • Easy to understand • DirectorSteven Spielberg specializes in high concept films [Ex] Jaws, Jurassic Park Event Films → DO NOT MISS films • A big, carefully-choreographed,cultural event • Opened at 409 theatres (wide release) • All the television networksadvertised the film during prime-timecommercialbreaks • Saturation advertising: Jaws purchased prime-timeadvertising space on all the networks3 days before the premier - the summer of the shark (1975) - sharks were everywhere Blockbuster Era (from late 1970sto Present) Event Movies • Stimulated from Jaws and Star Wars - changed how Hollywoodmovies were budgeted, how studios thought about the return on investment,and the way that movieswere marketed • Count on a Blockbuster to undermine films that flopped - Blockbusters are guaranteed to pack theatres • Familiar quests and narratives that people understood • Recognizable characters • Big budget, big special effects, big marketing • Big budget, big special effects, big marketing Comic Book Film Adaptions • Super hero films whose characters originate from graphic novels or comic books • Guaranteed to do well - blockbusters • Will make tons of money from loyal fan base - more money if they are more loyal to original comic story • Formulaic - you know how it will turn out - Ordinary people acquire extraordinary superpowers that enable them to go on quests for the good of mankind • Digital backlot on a green screen - special effects and scenery are put in post-production • Purpose-built for after-marketmerchandise Animation Films (hand-drawn cell animation to 3D digital animation) • Snow White (1937)was the first full-length animated film - Hand-drawn cell animation • Beauty and the Beast - won the 1991 Golden Globe for Best Picture (musical/comedy) - 3D computeranimation • Toy Story - Disney started working with Pixar - first fully computer animated feature film • Shrek - first academy award for best animated feature in 2001 • Avatar - 3D animation produced 2.8B worldwide box office - Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton) - James Cameronwanted to make 3D film ubiquitous on all platforms by 2016 - Not all films are suited for 3D film - it makes a difference whether films are retrofit or produced for 3D - Fewer and fewer people are picking 3D when they have the choice (tickets are 40% more expensive) - If 3D is not done well, the heightened sensual experience can have negative physical side effects • Enchantment, escapist, entertainment • Expensive to produce (computeranimation/celebrityvoice-overs) DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION Block Booking, Blind Booking Block booking: If you wanted a Blockbuster, theatre owners had to purchase smaller films with it Blind booking: Forced theatre owners to take a bunch of films as a bundle without being able to cherry pick Paramount Decision (verticalintegration) Vertical Integration → One company controls several steps in the production/distribution/consumption of a product/servicein the same industry • The Paramount decision (1948)decided that studios were not allowed to own theatres - too controlling/toodifficult to compete (independent films) • Decision was reversed by the Reagan governmentin the 1980s Theatres: movie palaces, drive-ins, megaplexes Many theatres closed after the war (ended in the 50s) after the introduction of the television Average Canadians see 4 movies/yearin the theatre - Not a lot of revenue comesfrom ticket sales Drive in: 1930s - 70s • Death of the drive-in when production companiesstop selling film as film reels and convert • Death of the drive-in when production companiesstop selling film as film reels and convert completelydigital • Light pollution on screen, low sound quality, seasonable businesses, subject to weather conditions, can only open at night • Drive-ins are going to close soon as production companies stop distributing movieson film - they are going all digital Small theatres will be dead if they don't go digital with the digital production company - the price to convert is $80-100K Megaplexes - 19-20 screens, snacks, surround sound, stadium seating, comfortableatmosphere VIP sections at cineplex: alcoholic beverages, valet parking, reserved seating, in-seat concession, extrawide reclining seats • 40% of studio revenue is made during the summer - Summer theatre attendance down 4% in 2012 - Mass shooting made many people reluctant to attend theatres - 1/10of regular movie-goersdidn't go to their regular theatre because they were home watching the Olympics • 70% are weekly movie-watchers • 5% movie-goers • 1946 was the peak year for theatres - the average person saw 18 movies over the course of the year #1 favourite genre - comedy Digital Cinema Packages Release Windows Theatrical, DVD, pay-per-view,pay TV, network TV, syndicated TV, Netflix DVD/blu-ray sales represent 50% of studio revenue - Theatrical releases are considered to be an advertisementfor the DVDs - In 2011 DVD sales fell 20% YOY = the potential for the death of the DVD • Good news for Netflix - Instantaneity - Extensive choice (in the USA) - Makes us more comfortablewith moviesin the cloud - comfortablewith streaming - More movieswill be streamed in 2012than purchased in digital media format MARKETING MOVIES Opening Weekend Box Office If you don't make money opening weekend, your film will not be successful Bruno was killed by Twitter: Bad tweets = bad opening weekend • Box office dropped 40% from Friday to Saturday WOM, Social Buzz, Sentiment Analysis Tracking tweets and sentiment via status updates - promoteexcitementon social media before it premiers • Ted - Followed character before he premiered Platform Rollout - Brokeback Mountain opened on 5 screens, but within 10 days was playing on 2000screens - Brokeback Mountain opened on 5 screens, but within 10 days was playing on 2000screens - Hoping for good reviews/feedback - Created insider buzz - Test market ParanormalActivity: No script - shot in 7 days, paid the actors 500 each - purchased by Paramount, who switched the ending and set a record for highest cost ratio • Made from a $10 000 budget, but ended up producing $193Min worldwide box office SocializingMovie Marketing Via Media Convergence (360degree IMC Campaigns) The James Bond movieshave made generational Bondologists • We each have our favourite Bonds, our preferred 007 women,outlaws, slick gizmos, sweet rides, commandcenters, and double entendres • James Bond is considered the first social media movie - Presence on all social media platforms (105Kfollowers on Twitter vs. 1.3M fans on Facebook Product placement in Skyfall • Heineken - $28M • SONY gadgets • Honda • The 007 Coke zero advertisement"unlock the 007 in you" was considered "status update worthy - 8M views "This movie costs a lot of money to make and nearly as much again to promote,so we go where we can." - Daniel Craig on product placement 360 Degree Campaigns: online is important, social media is important Online and offline advertising all works together to sell social connections [Ex] the Hunger games • Social media is relationship marketing - enabling fans to organize themselvesand amplification of their voices • Cross-platformengagement: Tapping into all the large social platforms in different ways because each platform is unique - Gamification on Twitter:competing for opening first in your city - Posting pictures of traditional media advertising (like magazine covers) first on Pinterest - Social media for social good on Facebook engaged different donators at different levels through an engagement ladder IMC: social+traditionalmarketing synchronicity • Perfect integration of earned, owned, and paid media Sequence and Franchises Top franchise movies:James Bond (23), Star Trek (11), Pink Panther (11), Batman (8), Harry Potter(8), Star Wars (8) • When 80-90%of films fail to make money at the box office, franchise films make up the revenue and finance the production of these flops Movies Readings Friday, December 07, 2012 3:32 AM Narrative Film Pg. 191 → Movies that tell a story, with dramatic action and conflict emerging mainly from individual characters. • The introduction of narrative film characterized the shift of the mass medium stage towards movies - Movies allowed an audience to engage their imaginations and suspend their disbelief • Georges Méliès opened the first public movie theatre in 1896, and also recorded some of the earliest narrative films - He was one of the first directors to understand that movies didn't have to be a recording of reality; they could be artificially planned and controlled like a staged play • Edwin S. Porter was the first camera man to master the technique of editing diverse shots together to tell a coherent story - He would shoot narrative scenes out of order and reassemble or edit them together to make a story. - He made America's first narrative film in 1902, the Life of an American Fireman, which contained the first close-up shot in US narrative film history - Introduced the western genre and the art of film suspense with The Great Train Robbery in 1903 Nickelodeons Pg. 192 → The first small makeshift movie theaters, which were often converted cigar stores, pawnshops, or restaurants redecorated to mimic vaudeville theatres • A piano player added live music and theater operators used sound effects to simulate gunshots or loud crashes • The silent films that were shown made nickelodeons very popularbecause they transcended language barriers and could also appeal to the mass of European immigrants from the turn of the twentieth century • Required a minimal investment to operate; just a secondhand projector and a large white sheet. The Rise of the Hollywood Studio System Pg. 192 • Thomas Edison attempted to dominate the movie business early on by establishing the Motion Picture Patents Company, known as the Trust, in 1908. - The company pooled patents, acquired most major film distributorships, and made an exclusive deal with George Eastman,who agreed to supply movie film only to Trust-approved companies. • Independent producers relocated to Hollywood to avoid the confines of the Trust's terms, who were situated in New Jersey. - Hollywood was particularly appealing because Southern California offered cheap labor, diverse scenery for outdoor shooting, and a mild climate suitable for year-round production. • Hollywood became the film capital of the world • Two Hungarian immigrants played a role in the collapse of Edison's Trust - Adolph Zukor(who would eventually run Paramount Pictures) found ways to bypass the Trust - William Fox (the eventual owner of Twentieth Century Fox) filed a lawsuit that resulted in the Trust's breakup for restraint of trade violations in 1917 Entrepreneurs like Zukor developed other tactics for controlling the industry with ambitious strategies that dominated the movie business at all three essential levels; production, distribution, and exhibition. • Vertical Integration → In media economics, the phenomenon of controlling a mass media industry at its three essential levels: production, distribution, and exhibition - The control of all levels of the movie business gave certain studios great power and eventually spawned a film industry that turned into an oligopoly → an organizational structure in which a few firms control most of an industry's production and distribution resources PRODUCTION Pg. 193 • Early filmmakers didn't grasp the concept of actor popularity - fans tended to make decisions about which films they would see based on whether or not their favourite actors were featured. - Film companies were reluctant to acknowledge specific actor popularity because they didn't want to have to increase salaries. • Eventually, the industry came to understand how important actor's identities were to a film's success - Adolph Zukorhired a number of popular actors through exclusive contracts to the Famous Players Company in 1912 - Popularity of specific actors required producers to pay them increasingly larger salaries (Mark Pickford went from receiving a weekly salary of $5 to $15000 in seven years) • Thomas Ince and his company, Triangle, constituted a new production system known as a studio system → an efficient assembly-line process for moviemaking; major film studios controlled not only actors, but also directors, editors, writers, and other employees, all of whom worked under exclusive contracts • Ince also developed the concept of the studio head; he appointed producers to handle hiring, logistics, and finances so that he could more easily supervise many pictures at one time. DISTRIBUTION Pg. 193 • In order to make an effort to control the film distribution industry, many movie companies provided vaudevillie theaters with films and projectors on a film exchange system - in exchange for their short films, movie producers received a small percentage of the ticket revenue - Edison's Trust company would withhold equipment from companies not willing to pay the Trust's patent-use fees • Independent film companies looked for other distribution strategies - Adolph Zukordeveloped block booking distribution → To gain access to popular films, exhibitors also had to agree to rent new or marginal films with no stars. - Such contracts allowed production companies to test-market new actors without taking financial risk • After World War I, the American film industry became the international leader in the movie business, dominating foreign markets. EXHIBITION Pg. 194 - 195 • Trust refused to supply theaters with films unless they purchased a license. Eventually, the Hollywood independents were producing enoughfilms that theater owners could resist the Trust's scheme • Zukor and similar producers realized that they could influence movie exhibition by purchasing first-run theaters, which premiered new films in major downtown areas in front of the largest audiences, generating 85 to 95 percent of all film revenue • In order to continue drawing middle and upper-class audiences to the theatres, studios built movie palaces → full- time single-screen movie theaters that provided a more hospitable movie-going environment - The three-thousandseat Strand Theatre opened in New York in 1914, attracting spectators with elegant décor, elaborate architecture, and air-cooling systems. • Mid-city movie theatres were first built in the 1920s in convenient locations near urban mass transit stations in order to attract the business of urban and suburban middle class spectators. These were the archetypes that modern day multiplexes were modeled after • Their dominance of the production, distribution and exhibition stages of the film industry cultivated the big five (paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, and RKO) and the little three (Columbia, Universal, and United Artists), who did not own their own theatres. - These eight companies formed a powerful oligopoly, which made it increasingly difficult for independent companies to make, distribute, and exhibit commercial films. The Development of the Hollywood Style Pg. 196 - 199 Pg. 196 - 199 A style for storytelling emerged in Hollywood with the rise of the studio system in the 1920s. This system combined elements of distinctive Hollywood narratives, genre, and author (or director) with timing, marketing and luck to produce a dependable equation for successful movies throughout history. HOLLYWOOD NARRATIVES A narrative includes two components: 1) The story (what happens
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