Distribution Case Study : A Field In England

The distribution of “A Field In England” was done in an innovative and new way, which in fact was hugely successful for Ben Wheatley. On the 5th July 2013, A Field In England was released on multiple platforms, which initially included cinema screens, DVD, VOD (Video On Demand, iTunes ect.) and also it was shown as a free terrestrial broadcast on Film4 for a single one-time viewing. On the 5th July the film was opened up on 17 cinema screens, and tickets were at premium costs.

A Field In England was released on Film4 for a single-one time viewing on a Friday evening. Overall it was very successful with 367,000 viewers. For the time slot it was in, the audience was up 8%. Overall, with 367,000 viewers this represented just over 3% of the entire television audience.

However, despite being available for free on Film4, the film still made good sales on DVD and Blu-Ray. Statistics recorded that 1,462 sales were made on Friday and Saturday alone. Blu-Ray sales also were found to have sold significantly more when compared with DVD sales. This is primarily due to the additional content which was featured with the Blue-Ray versions of the film. There were extra features went meant that there was an overall better experience meaning consumers were willing to pay more for the film. This also meant that the total revenue for A Field In England was higher because Blu-Ray versions of the film came at a higher cost making more profit.

The film itself is of the experimental genre, meaning that there is a smaller target audience available. However, such a type of genre should not be criticised as it still owns a good proportion of the market and whilst it may be part of a niche market, there is still good potential for such films to be profitable in the long-run.

The budget for A Field In England was £316,879, with only £112,000 spent on P&A (which is proportionally low in the world of film production). The P&A spending of £112,000 had about 50% of it’s cost covered by BFI. However, overall it was fully financed by Film4. Which made the financing of the project highly successful, considering financing can proof to be a big challenge to overcome for some of the larger film projects with the larger production costs.

When A Field In England was released on July 5th, the people who went to see the film at the cinema primarily knew that it would also be available for a free viewing on Film4. In fact, it was recorded that 77% of the cinema audiences knew that A Field In England would be available to watch free of charge at home on the television. However, clearly the audience were paying for the cinema experience, as there was more on offer, such as a Q&A session with Ben Wheatley himself at the end of the viewing. There was also special merchandise available for viewers at the cinema which made it more appealing and improved the cinema experience thus making it more appealing to pay the extra money to view the film. Overall, in the opening weekend, the film generated £21,399 in theatrical revenues, which was quite impressive. Especially since the budget for A Field In England was relatively low in the world of film.

The distribution for A Field In England was particularly interesting and it is said that social networking was very important for advertising Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England. Advertising was promoted through Twitter, where A Field In England was at one point trending at number 1. A Field In England also had it’s own Facebook page which there were subscriptions to, promoting advertising further free of charge. This was very successful, and at literally zero cost – was fundamental to the success of promoting viewings for A Field In England. On top of this, the target audience for A Field In England was 18-25 years old. This was therefore important that there was plenty of advertising on social networking sites because they are predominantly supported by younger users, fitting that specific age category. To reinforce the idea of the success of A Field In England, there were 12,000 followers on Twitter for A Field In England.

The success of A Field In England’s distribution is exemplified by the opening weekend figures, as shown below.

  • Box Office (Fri-Sat) 2,213 admissions
    Total box office revenues £21,399
    Film4 screening 367,000 viewers
    DVD/Blu-Ray (Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon) 2,154 sales
    Special screenings with Q+A (Fri) £770 screen average per show
    VOD (Rental) Film4OD 714, iTunes 3,133, Virgin Media , 1,746
    VOD (EST) iTunes 680

As shown above, A Field In England’s distribution was largely successful. In most cases, expectations for audiences and sales had been exceeded. In only a few cases this had not been exceeded, although overall it was still more successful than expectations. Another factor which helped A Field In England’s distribution strategy to be so successful was in fact the critical reaction. Due to the low budget, critics seemed to rate A Field In England quite highly, with the notorious Rotten Tomatoes giving it a grand score of 88% – which is quite impressive. Potentially, having a largely positive critical evaluation of the film generated additional viewers, who might have not watched A Field In England if it had received more negative reviews. Even when it came to the cinema viewing, 54% of the audience came to watch the film with “quite high” expectations and 78% found those expectations met, with some (36%) finding that the films experience exceeded their expectations overall.

Overall, this shows that Ben Wheatley’s distribution was hugely successful for the low budget film it was. Releasing the film on a multitude of different media platforms enabled the film to target a wide range of audiences and it also challenged previous release models for similar films. Due to the success, it provides some information into how smaller film-makers can release their film without taking huge unnecessary risks.



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