Multi-platform release: a hit or miss?
The much-vaunted (and rightly so in our book) first in multi-platform film releasing recently took place, as Ben Wheatley's A Field in England opened on 5 July across cinemas, DVD, Film4 and VoD simultaneously.
The release weekend turned out to be full of potential opposition, mainly from the weather. As Friday loomed, the forecasters were predicting a scorchio weekend, with temperatures pushing 30°; on top of this came the excitement of Murray's Wimbledon semi-final. Surely people would not leave all that behind and head for a darkened cinema or choose to stay indoors to watch the film on the small screen?
But they did. Sixteen cinemas showed the film during the opening night (including a Q&A with Ben Wheatley plus cast, broadcast to all 16 venues), garnering £12,000 in total takings that night. The subsequent box office take has ensured that A Field in England is actually ahead of its theatrical targets, and is currently in the UK box office top 20.
At Film4, the part-consolidated viewing figures hit 357,000. And the small screen platform was also the biggest Twitter hit, with the TV broadcast getting the most mentions. (Film4 itself chose not to tweet at all during the screening, as it was a premiere). After the screening, there was an online digital masterclass available, emphasising the whole interactive theme.
And what of VoD, which included Film4oD, Virgin and iTunes? It proved pretty popular here too, racking up a chunky 30% of Film4oD's weekend sales. The film seemed to inspire viewers to watch other titles from the director too - Film4oD consolidated the weekend with a Ben Wheatley retrospective.
And to round off the results for the fourth viewing platform: Blu-ray surprisingly outstripped DVD sales.
This all seems quite a feat for a film that took just 12 days to shoot and around £300,000 to make…
Film4 had made no bones of the fact that this type of release was an experiment, and we think its success proves that today's audience relish not just the fact they can choose how, where and when to watch something, but also the fact that it is a shared experience, albeit remotely.
With another (hot?) summer filled with outdoor screenings and live streaming of theatre and opera on giant screens, there certainly seems to be an appetite for shared viewing pleasure.
What next for experimental releasing? Let us know your views below, or via our Facebook page.