New cinema releases, film festivals, online subscriptions, video on demand, DVD, BluRay, cinema re-releases, extended cuts, live cinema events... As a consumer, the list of options for how to view film is seemingly endless. The choices of type of film are also greater than ever. It’s much easier to (legally) find and watch movies from all corners of the globe than it ever used to be. With the expansion of broadband in the 2000s and early 2010s, there was hope that the internet was leading to the ‘democratisation of movie distribution’. The thinking was that it would now be possible for anyone - regardless of budget or background - to make and distribute their own films via the internet. Many saw this as a freeing opportunity: a chance to present their films to audiences beyond the confines of highly competitive film festivals and traditional distribution routes.
Unfortunately, time has shown that the existence of the internet isn’t enough on its own to break down the barriers that prevent independent film from reaching wider audiences.
A 2018 study of Films in VOD Catalogues by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) shows that EU film titles are listed on VOD platforms in fewer countries than those from other regions (particularly US film titles.) A 2019 case study by the EAO found that European films that had a cinema release within the EU 28 countries had a much higher likelihood of being listed on VOD platforms in those countries than movies that didn’t.
So what can we do with this information?
The reality is there is no quick-fix solution. But, if we take a long-term approach, there are ways to harness the Internet to broaden film’s reach that aren’t yet being widely tapped in to.
usheru’s ethos is that data is your best friend.
We are working with national film promotional bodies to create Home-For-Film websites that will serve as an interactive, continually evolving database for all of a country’s national film.
Within the website, users will be able to:
Take, as an example, a fan of Irish film who is living in Brussels. While browsing online they see an ad for a new release from Neil Jordan. They click the ad and are brought to the Screen
Ireland promotional website. There, they find that the movie is playing at a cinema near them and buy their tickets. They can sign up for email updates about similar releases in the future. On the same website they can also find other Irish films to stream on VOD platforms in Belgium. If there’s a film they want to watch that isn’t available in their area, they can choose to be notified when it becomes available.
Through this platform, a film promotional body can consolidate all of their country’s film fans in one place, learn more about their customers, track which advertising campaigns are leading to the most sales and retarget website visitors with personalised digital advertising for upcoming releases. They can see what locations around the world have the most interest in their films and use that information to leverage wider distribution. Through the sign-up and demand-it feature, a database of eager fans will also be gathered.
According to the Union Internationale des Cinémas 2019 Annual Report, ‘many of the most frequent cinema-goers are also significant consumers of films online.’ Identifying and connecting with these fans is a key part of keeping the film and cinema industries thriving. Our websites will allow promoters to connect with and update these fans at every stage of a film’s release - festival, theatrical, and longer term distribution. By communicating in an ongoing way with the fans that interact with your website, you will create a global community of reliable consumers of your films.
The ultimate purpose of this is to increase sales of cinema tickets and online viewing figures over time, and support the ongoing success of international and independent film.
As film fans ourselves, we want to use our knowledge and technology to support the industry we love. We want to hear from you - let’s see how we can work together.
Website: Usheru www.usheru.com
About the Author:
Shauna Farrell is Operations Manager with usheru. Her background includes film development and production in Los Angeles and film festival programming and marketing in Ireland, New York and LA. She is passionate about film’s place in our global culture and cares about elevating diverse voices through cinema.
Usheru is the trading name of We Love Cinema Ltd. We create websites for national film promotional agencies, film studios and distributors, filmmakers and film festivals that connect their marketing directly to the cinema box office. We integrate with cinema Points-of-Sale to improve the return on investment of marketing and increase sales. We pride ourselves on supplying high quality, detailed marketing analytics.