"Successful media production depends as much upon marketing and distribution to a specific audience as they do upon good production practices"
I do agree with the statement that successful film production does depend upon marketing and distribution equally that it depends upon good production practices. For a film to make money and achieve a good profit, marketing and distribution has to be done well and needs to be delivered to a wide range of audiences to attract a large population of viewers from all areas of the globe and all age groups as well.
Unlike the other Star Wars Films, The Force Awakens had Disney Motion Pictures in charge of all marketing and distribution. Disney determined what screens the film was shown on and what marketing took place. With Disney now being the owners of LucasFilm and having all rights over the Star Wars films this brought in larger audience than the other films had done. Disney is the biggest film production company in the world and is very popular in many households across the planet resulting in so many people becoming intrigued about ‘The Force Awakens’ even more so than they were about the previous films. An 88 second teaser trailer was released on the 28th November which received 58.2 million views and also got critics talking which would naturally increase views and get more people talking about the film. This gave fans the chance to see the first glimpse of the new film without giving away the story line or main characters which were later released on Topps trading cards on December 11th. The official trailer was released in the next year in October 2015 with a vast number of views reaching 128 million views in the first 24 hours which broke box office records. This came alongside a poster designed and created by Drew Struzan. In November 2015 the official Japanese trailer was released gaining even more worldwide coverage.
Disney put in a lot of money to all aspects of the marketing, especially in Japan and china where life size models of storm troopers were built to go in shops and in shopping malls, however more marketing was spread across the UK, The US and Canada. Vanity Fair magazine released a cover dedicated to the new film. Disney made collaborations and tie-ins with many companies, one being Google where fans could change their Google home screens to the ‘dark’ or ‘light’ side. This was a very clever idea as so many millions of people use the internet every day and would see this collaboration. It would also get fans and children/teenagers excited as they could engage in the film and become a part of it. Disney also collaborated with Lego to created figures of characters that children could buy and play with, further expanding the audience variety as many children would have been too young to see the film in the theatres. Also keen fans could have bought the figures as collectables. Disney also paired with Hasbro to create McDonalds toys to get more and more people viewing the merchandise. Of course Disney world had its own section dedicated to Star Wars which would have attracted thousands alone. Force Friday was the biggest day for the all merchandise as it is where all the collaborations were sold and where fans could meet Rey and Finn. Madame Tussauds introduced wax figures to their collection also.
Another major night that gained a huge amount of media attention was the premiere for the film that was hosted to over 5000 guests in Los Angeles.
Disney Motion Pictures were also in charge of distributing the film. Disney have been doing this since 1953 with all of their previous films. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot on 35mm and 65mm film to achieve the authenticity of the original three films however it had to be distributed digitally as there are hardly any cinemas that are able to show film in on their screens as they have all been converted to digital. Film is extremely expensive to distribute and can cost up to $7.5 million to distribute a big film to America. Digital costs 90% less than film does making it more feasible to distribute the film to more countries around the world. The Force Awakens was distributed to 44 countries across the globe; this was more achievable as there was only a hard drive to transport over. In the USA the film was shown on 4134 screens, 3300 of which were 3D. In the UK it was shown on 4143 screens including 3D, premium large screens and IMAX. In the UK, Vue cinema sold 45,000 tickets in the first 24 hours and sold £6.5 million worth in the first week.
The film had to be shown on a large number of screens making sure everyone of all ages could watch the film. Star Wars is a four quadrant film covering male and female under 25s and male and female over 25. Marketing for The Force Awakens was so complex as it is a mainstream worldwide film meaning the marketing had to reach out to all age groups however this did increase the profit as more people could see the film.
The new Star Wars film had a budget of £306,000,000 and also received a government grant of £31.6 million. This meant that production practices could afford to be the best they possibly could. Having Disney as the name behind the film and also having JJ Abrams who is an A-list director, directing the film this was a good basis for the film. Lawrence Kasdan helped write the scripts for The Force Awakens, this also made links with the original films as Kasdan had written the scripts for Empire Strikes Back. There was nostalgia with the last film as they brought back original characters which would allow the audience o relate to the previous films and would maintain the film’s original fan base. There were some unknown actors that starred in the film such as Daisy Ridley and John Bodega who didn’t have links to other films, for example, Daniel Radcliffe always being associated with the Harry Potter Films meaning the audience didn’t associate them with also films and really engaged with them as characters in the film. The new actors were creating a new start to the franchise similarly to how Harrison Ford did with the original films. Abrams cut and shortened the film during pre production as he wanted to keep it simple after complaints had been made about the previous films being too complicated and looking fake.
Pinewoods studio was used to shoot the film and be the set for a majority of the film. Pinewoods is known to be the best studio in the world and is also where many other big films franchises are filmed such as the James Bond films. The budget allowed for the producers and cast of the film to out to different location all around the world to create the best look for the films without just creating sets in the studios. Deserts in Aub Dhabi was where the first scene were shot. This allowed for a realistic set up and where life size models could be used. Disney wanted to build as much of the sets as they could as well as using CGI to make the sets look as real as possible instead of using SFX for everything. The Millennium Falcon was built by hand to give it the realistic effect they wanted. Techniques such as ILM were created by George Lucas specifically for the film as there is not SFX like it.
Worldwide, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made a profit of £258 billion proving that marketing and distribution is heavily relied upon equally to production practices. The film is still making money today and has past making a higher profit than the previous films. All of the Star Wars films have been big films with big budgets however not all films have to have a big budget and A- list directors to make a profit. For example, The Kings Speech had a very small budget of $90 million dollars yet managed to make a profit of $859million. This demonstrates what good marketing and distribution can do.