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AS Media Studies Institutions & Audiences
‘A Field in England’ (UK, 2013) Case Study
The film’s budget of £316,000 was financed by Film4’s Film4.0
division. The low budget nature of the film fitted Film4.0’s
innovative model. Film4.0 was created to find new ways of
connecting talent and ideas to audiences using digital technology. The low budget also
reduced the financial risk involved. P&A spend of £112,000, including £57,000 from the
BFI (British Film Institute).
The film opened on July 5th 2013 on 17 cinema screens, DVD, Blu-Ray, Transactional
VOD (iTunes etc.), and free-to-air television through Film4. Simultaneous multimedia
release was suited to the cult following of the director Ben Wheatley.
The support of Picturehouse Cinemas removed the threat of a cinema boycott. This was
unlikely to have had a major impact as the film would only be released on a small
number of prints anyway. In fact the day-and-date strategy may have increased the
theatrical reach of the film.
Primary audience was ABC1 18-25 years olds, and frequent cinemagoers in the 25-35+
bracket who may already be aware of the director’s work. The audience was skewed
towards men. The audience profile was in line with predictions, with an average of 35,
skewing strongly male at cinema screenings, with around a 1/3 having seen some of the
director’s other films.
Channel 4 were involved in distribution to all platforms apart from theatrical. Channel
4 has its own DVD label (4DVD) which also distributes to transactional VOD (TVOD)
platforms such as iTunes, as well having their own TVOD platform in Film 4OD. Both
the Film4 Channel and Film4.0 felt the multiplatform approach fit their brand
positioning – exciting, innovative, and audience-centred.
Marketing plan involved building interest across all platforms – Channel 4, Film4,
Film4OD, Picturehouse Cinemas, related websites, social media, and VOD platforms.
The director had a strong, active fanbase, including 12,000 Twitter followers which
contributed to the marketing of the film. His active use of Twitter, including retweeting
audience reviews and comments played a key part in the marketing of the film. The
director also took part in special Q & A screenings which sold out the participating
The involvement of Film4 and Channel 4 offered another means of marketing to a large
audience, with 23 million people engaging with the channel in some way. Promotional
trailers on Channel 4 and the Film4 Channel pushed viewers to both the television
screening of the film as well as other platforms. Without this promotion for the film
may have to include paid advertising which would have affected the cost of the film’s
release. This is an example of synergy.
The aim of the marketing campaign was to build a single momentum around the film in
all its forms that would make its opening weekend a real event.
AS Media Studies Institutions & Audiences
One marketing innovation included a website masterclass which attracted a large,
engaged audience. This was commissioned by Film4.0 as a way of using digital
technology to engage with the audience. It attracted 54,000 visits, with 34% of users
following links to screenings or purchasing options.
The heavy promotion of the film’s innovative release ensured the film was reviewed as a
major release by the key national newspapers, and generated publicity in news pages
and broadcasters about the nature of the film’s release including on a number of BBC
programmes, and news channels.
The online campaign was targeted at a clear core audience, and was highly effective.
Even among the cinema audience the online campaign was the single biggest factor in
spreading audience awareness (45%).
Twitter was a key platform for social media mentions of the film, with 12,000 mentions
on the day of release, with the film trending.
The film would not have been more successful if it had used a conventional release.
Results for the film’s theatrical, television, DVD, and VOD release were all close to or
above expectations, and showed no signs of fragmentation on any platform. Opening
weekend theatrical revenue was £21,000. VOD rental figures were well above
predictions for the opening weekend. The film was the most watched on Film4OD on
the opening weekend, and also boosted rentals for the director’s other films. The Film4
television screening averaged 367,000 viewers, 3% of TV audience and higher than
average for timeslot and channel. Opening weekend DVD/Blu-Ray sales of 1500.
The publicity generated from the film’s release model would not be available to any
films using the same model in the future. The big argument against day-and-date
release is that it will take audiences away from traditional platforms, especially
cinemas. The Q & A was a major draw to theatrical screenings, with 51% of the
audience saying that was why they had chosen to watch the film at the cinema. 77% of
the cinema audience were aware they could watch the film for free on television but
chose to watch it at the cinema anyway. This suggests frequent cinemagoers will not be
swayed by alternative platforms.