Media Ownership Essay

To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the marketing and distribution of media products in the are you have studied?

Key points and ideas.

  • Companies working together
  • companies that transcend media working together, for example a distribution company working with a cinema company.
  • the presence and reputation a film company has, has some impact on whether or not a cinema company will show it. As they assume it will make money.
  • A film has more reach depending on both the number of companies involved and the presence of those companies.

Films to talk about.

-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – big world wide.

  • Lionsgate was able to use its cross media ownership to form a synergy between production and distribution.
  • Lionsgate have a certain distribution model that they follow every time they release a film.
  • Lionsgate distribution model:
  • Was the most successful film Lionsgate have ever released. grossing over 400 million in total.
  • opened in over 440 UK cinemas.
  • Hired popular actors which has some influence on the success of the film.
  • Has the added benefit of being a sequel, fans of the previous film would want to watch this one.
  • This did not carry over to the third and fourth film as the quality of the series declined with this film (in the eyes of the fans).

-David Brent – World wide

  • The film was produced by BBC Films and Entertainment One,  it was distributed by Entertainment One’s various international branches and Netflix
  • Released on Netflix and in cinemas at the same time
  • Produced by BBC Films and Entertainment One,  it was distributed by Entertainment One’s various international branches and Netflix

-Borrowed Time – UK

  • Crowd funded through Kickstarter.
  • Was supported by bbc films and film london.
  • was released digitally only ten days after its original theatrical release despite it staying in cinemas.
  • Originally did not have a distributor.
  • This one isn’t very good

-Special Correspondents – World wide

  • Was funded by Bron studios and Unanimous entertainment
  • Directed by Popular Comedian Ricky Gervais who had his own cult following.

-A Field in England – UK

  • Fully financed by film 4 and thus was available on all of channel 4’s various channels including Channel4, E4, Film4 and 4OD: their online service.
  • Supported by the BFI fund.
  • Produced by Rook Films
  • Had a deal with Picturehouse cinemas, who made contributions to both the exhibition and distribution of the film.
  • All companies involved fully supported the release model.
  • Picture house removed the threat of a Cinema Boycott, despite stakeholders believing a boycott would likely have minimal effect.
  • Was released on all platforms simultaneously.
  • This essentially acted as a get out of jail free card as it became a popular news story, due to it never being done before. This wouldn’t work as well if it were to be done again.

To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the marketing and distribution of media products in the are you have studied?

In the modern era of films, a film’s success is directly tied to the company that owns it. Companies such as the big six media conglomerates, namely: Sony, Disney, 20th century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros and Universal. They almost never lose money on a film because they can afford to market their film to an extrapolated level. A good example of this is the 2013 Lionsgate film: The Hunger Games Catching Fire. Despite Lionsgate not being one of the big six it infamously spends 20 million at least on the marketing and advertising of their films. to the point where it’s referred to as the Lionsgate 20. The Hunger Games Catching Fire was as successful as it was because of the marketing put into it by Liongate and the budget for the film they could afford. As a bigger company Lionsgate can afford to hire more famous actors such as Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth. They can also afford to show their films in many cinemas in fact this film opened in 440 UK cinemas out of a possible 747. The film was later released on other media platforms such as DVD and VOD. This gave the film a larger audience and led to the film making over 40 million pounds in the UK. Through both theatrical and non theatrical exhibition.

Smaller companies however cannot afford to advertise and release their films with such a large budget. These companies usually work as an example of horizontal integration compared to the vertical integration that is commonplace among larger companies such as the big 6. As the film industry is an oligopoly, smaller companies cannot possibly compete with bigger companies ( with some exceptions, certain films may become popular ) and therefore to maximise the money a film can produce they often release their films in more unique ways.

One such example of this is A Field in England a 2013 film by Rook films and funded by Channel 4’s Film 4 company.  Despite Film 4 being a relatively well known company this film did not have a very large budget, only £360000. A Field in England was released on multiple forms of media simultaneously including TV, Cinema and DVD . It was slightly easier for Channel 4 to do this as they themselves dictate what airs on their programming But this meant that the film had more reach as it wasn’t in as many cinemas due to Channel 4 not having the budget that a company such as those in the big 6 would have. A Field in England had a unique deal with Picturehouse cinemas, this Symbiosis between companies worked as the majority of viewings at the limited cinemas the film was released in were at Picturehouse cinemas. This was because Picturehouse acted as both an exhibitor and distributor of the film. This gave Picturehouse an advantage over other cinemas as it had a film they did not0 but also aided Channel 4 as it prevented the cinema boycott they were facing at the time.

Media ownership can also dictate on what forms of media a film can be released on. For example two of Ricky Gervais’ more recent films: 2013’s David Brent Life on the Road and 2016’s Special Correspondents were both funded by Netflix and so no form of non theatrical exhibition is available for those films aside from the Netflix service. In fact Special Correspondents was not even available to be viewed via theatrical exhibition, however this likely was not to do with Netflix owning the rights to the film but due to a lack of budget. These films did succeed however, likely down to Ricky Gervais himself who advertised the films himself to his 12 million twitter followers, a large percentage of which are the target audience for those films: 18-35 year old males, resulting in a targeted advertising because he had directed the films and owned the rights to the characters from David Brent.

The success of these films offer a good example of the relationship between the presence of a company and the success a film has. As previously stated Special Correspondents was not released outside of Netflix, therefore it did not have as large of an audience as David Brent due to it being released in Cinemas as well. David Brent was financed by the BBC and Entertainment One who have much more money and a much higher reputation than the companies that financed Special Correspondents: Bron Studios and Unanimous Entertainment. This is evident as David Brent made over 5 million at the box office whereas Special Correspondents cannot claim to have made money on its own other than it being a driving factor for people paying for Netflix.

In conclusion, media ownership affects the ways in which films are marketed and distributed by forcing smaller companies to work together in both symbiotic and synergystic ways order for their films to succeed amongst those released by the big 6 and those with a much larger budget to promote their films, such as Lionsgate with their Lionsgate 20. They do this by releasing their films in more innovative ways and rely far more on the non-theatrical exhibition of the films rather than the theatrical as that is where they make a much larger percentage of their money when compared to the big 6 who work somewhat in reverse.



One thought on “Media Ownership Essay

  1. Owen

    June, 2015 – “To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the successful distribution of media products in the media area you have studied?”

    You can find the exam paper and mark scheme here:

    Explanation/analysis/argument (16-20 marks)
    * Shows excellent understanding of the task
    * Excellent knowledge and understanding of institutional/audience practices – factual knowledge is relevant and accurate
    * A clear and developed argument, substantiated by detailed reference to case study material
    * Clearly relevant to set question

    Use of examples (16-20 marks)
    * Offers frequent evidence from case study material – award marks to reflect the range and appropriateness of examples
    * Offers a full range of examples from case study and own experience
    * Offers examples which are clearly relevant to the set question

    Use of terminology (8-10 marks)
    * Use of terminology is relevant and accurate

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 3, possibly 16/16/8.

    – Proof read! Some of your sentences don’t make sense.
    – This is good, though your Hunger Games section is a bit short on researched information.
    – Take care over capitalisation, etc – this does make a difference.


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