"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 statement, within the media area you have studied?
I believe that for a film to succeed it must make a profit and appeal to the majority, if not all, of the four quadrant. The two films that I will be using for evidence to prove this statement is either right or wrong are Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road. Ex Machina is a British sci-fi film about a robot that has been programmed to have feelings and a conscience, and Mad Max: Fury Road is a Hollywood Blockbuster that consists of a massive car chase in a desert. These two extremely different films that were similarly successful should show why I ultimately agree with the above statement.
First of all, the production practices play a very important part to the success of a film, e.g the actors, script, cameras and director, as it is what brings the film together. Mad Max had many beneficial factors in this area, one of which was having a famous actor (Tom Hardy) playing the main character. Having this often encourages 'fans' to go to see the movie in both American and British cinemas. The director, George Miller, will also have helped the film's success because of his good reputation from previous films he has directed. Having the same director for previous Mad Max films would have given hope to audiences that the recent one to be as successful, enjoyable and action filled as the others. Another factor that would have contributed to the success of the film is its genre; action films are one of, if not the most, popular film genres in the industry on a global scale and the constant action in the film would have appealed greatly to a worldwide audience, as proven from a recent survey showing that 61% of people said their favourite genre was action/adventure. As the film is almost all action with little dialogue it could be possible that the audience it attracts would be mainstream as they would have to have a strong liking for action to enjoy this film. During one of the car chase shots an Edge Arm camera is used. These cameras rotate 360 degrees, allowing it to move in all directions. This results in more detailed action and smoothly flowing shots. A good example of this is at the start of the car chase when we see Max tied to the front of the car, it then moves across to the War Boy, then up to his friend, and then pans out to show the war rig.
Ex Machina's production practices were significantly different to those of Mad Max's, and can be seen as a bit less impressive. One of the major differences is that there is very little action involved, making its success surprising as the action genre is dominant in the film industry. Another negative of the production practices of Ex Machina is that there are no big names involved unlike Mad Max which has Tom hardy. Although, it could be argued that Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson will be appearing in the upcoming Star Wars film 'The Force Awakens' in December 2015 and may be recognised from that. The script could also be critisised as it is heavily dialogued, for example when Caleb and Ava are having conversations and they are just sitting talking to each other, with little movement in the scene. This factor would appeal more to older audiences as they tend to like less action-based films. As this is the most common film goer type it could provide a reason to the film's success. The director, Alex Garland, is well respected due to his successful writing of The Beach and 28 Days Later, even though Ex Machina was his first time directing.This could have helped viewer ratings as fans of Garland would have been keen to see his on screen work instead of just written.
When marketing Mad Max, the team decided to stick to the traditional root of using posters and TV adverts. Due to its big budget for being a Hollywood Blockbuster, it ended up spending $7 million on TV advertising and $43.7 million on advertising altogether, engaging all audiences when watching regular TV. Having a large budget will have also helped marketing as films like this are often mentioned on the news, building up recognition in various countries. As quoted from the YouTube video 'Transformers 3 and the truth about Blockbusters, "If you spend enough money and make it newsworthy, it will make its money back because if you spend that much money your film becomes an event the film becomes an event A production practice that aided the marketing of the film was the stunts performed. For example, when the pole cats are seen approaching the War Rig in the later half of the film, pictures would have been taken and sent viral via Twitter and Instagram, creating viral marketing.
Ex Machina took a very different approach to the marketing of the film. One of these was done with the online website avasessions.com in which the audience got to briefly speak to Ava, the robot with artificial intelligence seen in the film, before having a sketch drawn of them. This would have highly appealed to their target audience of sci-fi finatics. This technique would have easily attracted this audience into seeing the movie as it leaves them with a curiosity of how she is presented in it. A similar abstract viral technique was done by creating a fake Tinder account of Ava at SXSW, which then led an Instagram account advertising the film. This can also be known as digital ideas, which relate to popular social network sites like Instagram, Facebook etc. As they are used universally this is a very smart way to reach reach out to all audiences. Although this account was clever and sneaky, it did cause moral issues to arise. One man even said that it 'toyed with his emotions so hard.' In contrast to Mad Max, Ex Machina spent very little on the marketing of the film, which could have allowed for a larger chance for profit, or in another view a loss of profit through the chance of not having raised enough recognition to audiences.
The distribution of Mad Max and Ex Machina were also very different. Mad Max was released in May 2015 and was distributed by Warner Bros. This would have helped with the film's success as Warner Bros. have a very good reputation and hold 19.7% of the US/Canadian market share in the film industry, which is the biggest percentage of all the 'Big Six' companies. Mad Max went for wide release and launched the film into cinemas on IMAX screens. Worldwide the film grossed over $375 million. The film was originally planned to be filmed and released in 3D, however after facing problems of fitting the recording equipment into the War Rig they decided to film in 2D and digitally remaster it in IMAX 3D instead. This would have been beneficial to the success of the film anyway, as the number of 3D viewings after started to decrease.
Distributed by Universal Studios, Ex Machina was released on January 21st 2015 onto only 4 cinema screens. It then gradually increased the number of screens it was being viewed on until it reached 2000. It did this because it 'piggy backed' the most recent Avengers film: Age of Ultron, as that was released at a very similar time and dominated cinema screens. This technique saved them money that they were guaranteed to have lost if having used wide release when releasing at the same time as the Avengers. Instead, people went to see the film more as the number of screens increased and the number of screens the Avengers film decreased, therefore increasing its success. The film managed to gross over $36 million dollars worldwide.
The evidence shown from these two very different films gives the summary that overall, Mad Max had higher numbers of positive production practises than Ex Machina, but Ex Machina's genius marketing techniques beat Mad Max's traditional root by far. The fact that both films succeeded in winning awards and gaining profit is the reason that I agree that successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practises. I think that over the next few years the cinemas and the film industry will become increasingly dominated by action films based on the notion of the films that are to be released within the next 5 years, e.g there is a plan to release 50 marvel films in this period of time. However, because action genres are already popular, I believe that this will cause people to get bored the more that they start to 'take over' and will gradually lean towards other genres. This means that marketing will have to be more extravigant and unique to try and grasp the audiences attention if creating an action movie in order to be successful.