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Tough Times for UK Indies

July 23rd, 2010

UK Film Council Statistical YearbookThis week the UK Film Council stated that the number of feature films funded in the UK fell from 77 in 2008 to 71 in 2009. The figures were released as part of the Film Council’s first fully-searchable website with comprehensive statistics.

Median budgets for UK domestic feature films also fell from £1.7 million in 2008 to £1.5 million in 2009.

“Overall it’s clear that British cinema has been weathering the global recession well,” said UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward. He added that the sectors of production, distribution and exhibition were “firing on all cylinders”.

For a small country, the UK film industry has an astonishing creative track record. Of the top 200 global box office successes of 2001-2009, 30 films are based on stories and characters created by UK writers, which together have earned more than $16 billion at the worldwide box office.

The UK Film Council report showed that independent UK films were at their most popular in 2009 – both in the UK and global markets – since records began.

As mentioned on the BBC website this week, with the success of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, indie films took 8.2% of the UK and 2.3% of the global market share. Other top performers included Nativity and The Young Victoria.UK Film Council

The Film Council report also showed that British film talent – including actors, writers, directors and crew – continued to shine on the international stage. Some 14% of all major awards won around the world between 2001-2009 were won by British films and talent.

John Woodward commented that, “Low budget independent production is a tough business – it always has been,” noting that figures for the first half of 2010 showed a continuing pressure on smaller film production. The marketplace for financing small and independent films has always been difficult and the recent economic slowdown has not helped the situation, along with world broadcasters paying less for feature films and the slow erosion of the DVD market.

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Posted in: The Weekly Wizard, UK - Film news

Party Time for Sky with HD

November 13th, 2009

Sky TV have gone all festive and are in bountiful spirits, giving their UK high definition customers a complimentary ticket to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Angels & Demons and The Hangover on Sky Box Office HD in their homes the same week that the films are being released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK.

As part of the Sky+HD Party campaign, Sky hope for customers to share the Sky+HD experience with friends and family. To help the party give customers the best experience, Sky are offering a complimentary Sky Box Office HD movie (worth £3.91) and a £10 Marks & Spencer’s voucher. Now that’s just not any voucher, that’s an M&S voucher (said with a seductive commercial voice).

Sky+HD Party

Sky+HD Party

So are we all ‘HD Ready’?

HD services are already on-air in some parts of the world and they are about to be launched across the UK. To view HD you need a high definition display with HDMI or DVI connectivity, and there is an industry ‘kite mark’ to show whether a particular display is ready for high definition broadcasts.

High Definition TV (HD) is part of the latest digital revolution. HD television brings cinema quality into the home with greater picture quality and sharper images. Like 3D promises (look to the 30th Oct blog entry), there is the hope that such advancements produce a more colourful, exciting and immersive experience when watching television and films.

Sky HD

Sky HD

Standard definition digital TV displays a picture consisting of 720 by 576 pixels. This means the screen is made up of slightly less than half a million points of light.

High definition can display a picture of 1920 by 1080 pixels – well over 2 million – which adds clarity to scenes never before possible with either the old analogue system or standard definition digital.

Large television companies such as the BBC, Virgin, FX, ESPN and the National Geographic Channel have already launched themselves in high definition, magnifying the vibrant colour and quality of such events as the NFL, NHL, NBA, and many more American acronyms that are too tiresome to type. The National Geographic Channel – or NGC – has aired it’s HD content to great success: Alien Worlds, Earth Shocks, Alaska’s Fishing Wars and Inside Nature’s Giants – where a team of experts examine the nauseating anatomy – in full – of an elephant, crocodile and a giraffe, there’s even a 55-tonne whale.

Pixel Value Comparison

Pixel Value Comparison

ESPN HD soon launches on Sky+HD, with the service now offering customer’s access to up to 35 HD channels. That’s a lot of high definition sport! You can see them sweat, up close and in detail.

The Sky+HD Party offer (http://sky.com/hdparty/) is subject to availability and limited to the first 10,000 parties.

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Posted in: The Weekly Wizard

Redbox Bites Fox

August 13th, 2009

Redbox DVDRemember the piece we ran about Redbox a couple of weeks ago?  The DVD booth in convenience stores where you can rent a DVD for $1 a night?  Well Fox thinks it’s too cheap and will affect their own DVD sales so they asked Redbox to hold off selling their new releases for 30 days. Redbox declined and Fox told their wholesalers not to supply Redbox with DVD’s so Redbox sued.

They claim Fox is trying to eliminate competition and to prevent customers from having timely access to its new releases from Redbox outlets.  Last year Universal similarly tried to stop supplying Redbox for 45 days while Sony and Lionsgate are happy to supply their titles to Redbox at the same time as everyone else and have lucrative fiver year deals with the company.

Other studios including, Paramount and Warners are on the sidelines at the moment while Redbox CEO Mitch Lowe says, the low cost means people rent more movies than they would normally and if they like them, they buy them.

What I want to know is, when are they coming to the UK??

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Posted in: US - Film news

And Now The Good News

June 18th, 2009

dollar-signsAmidst the general gloom that often pervades the films industry these days, comes predictions of good times ahead.   In a report to be published on Tuesday, consultancy Price Waterhouse Coopers, predict a worldwide growth in consumer spend on, ‘filmed entertainment’, that is cinema, home video and DVD rentals and purchases, and film downloads, from $83.9 billion in 2008 to $102 billion in 2013.

The biggest areas of increase will be in the Asia Pacific region, Latin America followed by North America.  The increase will be partly due to the growth of 3D, which costs more per ticket, and though this growth has been held-up by the slow uptake of digital cinema, there are around 50 movies set for 3D release over the next two years.

Of course the way consumers buy entertainment is changing, and though it’s likely the DVD market will drop, this will be replaced by the better quality Blu Ray along with video-on-demand and downloads which are more appealing to the younger, online audience.

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Posted in: International - Film & TV news

Block Bustin’

March 25th, 2009

Popcorn cartonDVD rental giant Blockbuster, is streaking ahead with technology which will allow it to sell and rent it’s movies and TV shows through TiVo.

New releases will be available two to four weeks after being available in stores, well ahead of pay-per-view. Addressing the trend towards downloading rather then renting from stores.  Charges will range between $1.99 – $3.99 (£1.37 – £2.74) for rentals and $14.99 – $19.99 (£10.30 – £13.75) for sales.  Staying-in is the new going out, staying on the sofa, is the new, going to the DVD store. Popcorn of course, is extra – ask mom!

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Posted in: US - TV news