Posts Tagged “movies”
The amazing journey of a well-done cable series to an internationally known hit series.
Photo Courtesy of Static.Dnaindia.com
On July 16, viewers around the world will eagerly tune into the premiere of the seventh season of “Game of Thrones.”
That phrase – “viewers around the world” – hasn’t applied to television premieres before. For most of its history, television has been a profoundly national medium. While shows like “Dallas,” “Baywatch” and “The Simpsons” all drew large global audiences, international television trade required delays: A television series could air in different countries, but it often happened months – even years – after it would air in its country of origin.
As I explore in my book “We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: How Cable Transformed Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All,” many of those practices have changed in recent years. It’s now possible for a series to release new episodes for viewers around the world, and the result is a global watercooler – a shared media culture that transcends national boundaries.
While you might think that Netflix or Amazon Video would have an advantage, it’s an HBO show – “Game of Thrones” – that’s at the forefront of this phenomenon.
Building a global fan base
Even in a golden era of television production, “Game of Thrones” stands out. HBO spends lavishly on the series – beyond what most other networks can afford – and the result is a visually breathtaking product.
Its fantasy setting takes place in a world that isn’t geographically or culturally distinctive to the U.S., which also broadens audience appeal. Television shows that aren’t country-specific – miniseries such as “The Odyssey” and “Gulliver’s Travels” – tend to be among the most successful in international trade. There was also a built-in global fan base from the popular series of novels that inspired the show.
“Game of Thrones,” however, didn’t start out as a global blockbuster.
HBO debuted the show in 2011 for its U.S. cable channel. Following standard practice, the network sold the series to channels around the world that would air the series with the typical delay. For example, Canal+ airs it in France, Sky Atlantic airs it in Italy and Foxtel airs it in Australia. There are also several HBO branded channels around the globe such as HBO Canada, HBO Central Europe, and HBO Asia. Some are owned fully or in part by HBO’s parent company; others just license the name.
By 2014 “Game of Thrones” had become the network’s biggest hit. But as the show’s popularity grew, so did its rates of piracy. While unauthorized access of video is difficult to measure with certainty, many called the series the most pirated show in the world.
How HBO pulled it off
We’d expect changes wrought by the internet to have played a key role. They did, but not in the way you’d expect. HBO didn’t use the internet to distribute “Game of Thrones” to subscribers around the world like Netflix and Amazon Video have done with their series. Instead, the internet was important to the series’ global growth because of the opportunities it gave fans to interact with one another.
The intricate, surprising storylines on “Game of Thrones” inspired instant dissection and analysis on social media feeds. This encouraged fans in TV markets outside of the U.S. to seek out unauthorized video sources: It was the only way they could avoid spoilers. While news stories about the high rates of piracy highlighted the popularity of the series – a form of free promotion – HBO certainly would prefer viewers to watch through authorized channels. Eliminating the delay in access was one solution.
In 2015, just before the start of its fifth season, HBO announced that it had deals in 170 markets around the world to air new episodes simultaneously with its U.S. broadcast. This was not unprecedented. “Dr. Who” did the same in 2013 with a 94-country simulcast in honor of its 50th anniversary – a one-time event.
Arguably no network other than HBO could have pulled it off.
Because HBO is both the producer and distributor of the series, it can adjust the timing of its international availability. Making shows (the job of studios) and presenting them to audiences (the job of channels) are two different businesses, and their interests don’t perfectly align. If a different studio produced “Game of Thrones” for HBO, the studio might be too concerned that the simulcast would diminish its ability to sell the series to other distributors. Moreover, HBO had significant international reach and relationships that provided it with a direct pipeline to viewers outside the U.S.
Not the new normal – for now
While HBO has shown that global TV blockbusters are now possible, they aren’t likely to become common practice. Internet-distributed services that are building a global subscriber base – such as Netflix and Amazon Video – have a clear advantage in this regard. They have customers around the world and can act as the producer and distributor of their series or negotiate for worldwide rights. It’s notable, however, that neither has succeeded in creating a true blockbuster hit. For example, Netflix’s “Marco Polo” had a huge budget and a premise that appealed to audiences around the world. But it never caught on.
While blockbusters can be incredibly lucrative, there’s no magic formula for making one. The odds of success are far greater when making series that speak specifically to the cultural experiences of people in individual countries or with particular tastes.
Once Netflix and Amazon Video have firmed up a strong subscriber base outside of the U.S. with local programming, look for them to also wade into the risky – but rewarding – business of global blockbusters.
This week, Soulivity Magazine is pleased to feature photographer Sabrina Eleb!
When you look at Sabrina’s photography, you are immediately transported to the time, space, and location of each photo. Her passion captures the vivid colors and feelings of the moment. Her work is simply amazing. Enjoy!
(For full-size photos, please click on image to enable the lightbox)
French photographer, Sabrina Eleb, is based and lives in Paris, France; but, she also loves to travel. She says, “I let my curiosity guide me through new territories and experiences. Photography is my way of keeping track of all my discoveries.”
Make sure to follow her on Instagram: itsabrina
Profile Photo by Camille Betinyani
The past, current, and future history of the Cannes Film Festival will always be complicated.
Photo Caption: Students and striking workers occupy the projection hall of the Cannes Film Festival Palace to prevent showing of films in 1968. (Courtesy of AP Photo/Raoul Fornezza)
On May 17, the 70th edition of the Festival de Cannes kicked off with the opening-night screening of director Arnaud Desplechin’s “Ismael’s Ghosts.” It will wrap up 11 days later, when the Pedro Almodovar-led jury bestows the highly coveted Palme d’Or on one of the 19 international productions in the festival’s main competition.
In between, dozens more motion pictures will flicker to life in theaters along the Croisette, a sun-kissed promenade dotted with luxury hotels that attracts a swarm of paparazzi with the promise of celebrity sightings and scantily clad starlets.
But behind the pageantry, controversy has been brewing. Netflix has two entries premiering during this year’s event. The popular streaming service will then release the films to its millions of subscribers – foregoing the exclusive run in French cinemas requested by the organizers. In turn, they’ve threatened to ban Netflix from submitting any films to future editions of the festival. Telegraph reporter Robert Mendick called this dustup Cannes’ “most explosive.”
If it is, it’s only the latest.
As Lucy Mazdon, one of the few film scholars to have studied this annual event, points out, the Festival de Cannes has long functioned as an expression of France’s national identity. It reinforces the important place that film occupies in the country’s culture, along with its reputation as a purveyor of artistic – rather than strictly commercial – cinema.
But Cannes has sometimes struggled to live up to this ideal, and the competing agendas of art, commerce, international politics and national pride have long roiled the festival.
In 1938, French diplomat Philippe Erlanger, film critic René Jeanne and Minister of National Education and Fine Arts Jean Zay were disturbed by that year’s Venice Film Festival, when pro-fascist films from Germany and Italy – Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia” and Goffredo Alessandrini’s “Luciano Serra, Pilot” – jointly won the top award (the tellingly named Coppa Mussolini).
They were also appalled by the hostile reception given to Jean Renoir’s anti-war masterpiece “The Grand Illusion” one year earlier. (Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda, who had been a “guest of honor” at the Venice Biennale, had called it “Cinematic Public Enemy Number One.”)
In response, they came up with the idea of a French “counter-festival” that would stand in opposition to Italy’s. Originally branded as the “Festival International du Film,” the organizers hoped the event would outshine its European counterparts, celebrating the art – rather than political value or propagandist content – of cinema.
However, politics almost immediately came into play. On the night of the inaugural gathering on Sept. 1, 1939 – as guests were arriving at the Casino Municipal, including Hollywood stars Gary Cooper, George Raft, Norma Shearer and Mae West – Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Following a single screening of the RKO production “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” organizers brought the festival to a sudden halt.
Great Britain and France declared war against Germany two days later. It would take another seven years before Erlanger, Jeanne and Zay’s vision was finally brought to fruition.
Art clashes with commerce
In 1946, the first full-fledged film festival held in post-Liberation France took place, featuring soon-to-be classics like Roberto Rossellini’s anti-fascist neorealist film “Rome, Open City” and Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller “Notorious.”
Even then, the festival was torn between dueling agendas, with European ideals of art cinema rubbing up against popular Hollywood productions that many French audiences clamored for.
The contradictory nature of the Cannes Film Festival has only intensified since.
In 1959, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs André Malraux called for the establishment of an international “film market,” the controversial Marché du Film.
Intended to strengthen the commercial appeal of the festival, the Marché brings together industry professionals for the purposes of networking and brokering deals between buyers and sellers. Meet-and-greet opportunities are formalized through the inclusion of daily breakfasts, round-table talks and workshops with industry leaders.
Significantly, that initial foray into the business side of cinema took place just as the festival helped launch the “Nouvelle Vague” (French New Wave), a hugely influential, decidedly noncommercial film movement. Led by François Truffaut, whose autobiographical coming-of-age tale “The 400 Blows” earned him a Best Director award that year, French New Wave cinema privileged the personal expression of young filmmakers. Films like “The 400 Blows” and Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” (made one year later, in 1960) also expanded storytelling possibilities through a reflexive foregrounding of the cinematic medium itself (with characters frequently “breaking the fourth wall” and looking directly at the camera). (Ironically, Truffaut had been banned from Cannes one year earlier after he criticized the festival for prioritizing entertainment and spectacle over art and personal expression.)
A decade later, in 1968, student and worker protests swept through Europe. Truffaut and other French filmmakers and intellectuals, including Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Lelouch, called for a premature end to the 21st edition of the festival. The festival, which was supposed to run between May 10 and May 24, was shut down six days early in a show of solidarity with those who were opposed to American cultural imperialism, the Vietnam War and the global spread of capitalism.
Since then, other well-publicized episodes have disrupted the Festival de Cannes, from the discovery of a handmade bomb beneath a stage at the closing ceremony in 1978 to Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier’s explosive (if jesting) claims that he was a Nazi who “understood” Hitler in 2011.
Grappling with Netflix
This year’s edition of the festival is no exception to that history of politicized hullabaloo. Much of the recent commentary surrounding Cannes concerns the current state and future of film exhibition and distribution.
Specifically, the decision of the festival’s artistic director, Thierry Frémaux, to include two Netflix-produced films – South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and American filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” – has been criticized.
The move has drawn the ire of the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF), an organization that represents the interests of local theater owners who worry international streaming services will threaten not only their own livelihood but also the quality of cinema in the years to come.
Almost immediately after this year’s Cannes program was announced in early April, speculation arose in the pages of U.S. trade magazines as to whether online streaming services and small-screen platforms would be blocked from entering forthcoming film festivals. According to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, a new rule set to go into effect next year will require any competing film at Cannes to be distributed in French theaters before being made available for online viewing.
Moreover, current French law requires a window of 36 months between theatrical release and streaming availability, a stipulation that Netflix, Amazon Studios and other streaming services aren’t likely to abide by.
The wrenching changes brought by streaming services to the TV and movie industries mark a departure from the political conflicts of years past. But controversy is certainly nothing new on the Cote d’Azur: a long view of its history suggests that strife and contention have distinguished this French cultural event since its very beginnings.
This concert was a first on the list of big movie-based events in Hungary and we are glad to say it turned out almost perfectly.
Author: Lilla Kurta
All around the world, it is a universal truth that everybody loves movies. But, the thing that gets an even bigger platform is the soundtracks of these films. John Williams, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard or the late James Horner are all huge names in the industry. Here in Hungary, they weren’t really in the spotlight yet, though last year Hans Zimmer himself arrived in Budapest to give a big concert. It was a huge success, and everyone could see that people here (just like in other countries) love film music. And, the idea for this concert was born.
Planning this event was a massive undertaking because of the age differences of the performers. Our youngest little boy was only seven years old, and he is already a real talent in playing the drums. While our oldest member was a 72 years old very nice lady, she sings as part of the choir.
The youngsters of Strém Kálmán orchestra were responsible for bringing legendary scores to life, like the theme music of Star Wars, Forrest Gump or The Lord of the Rings. Their leader, Arpad Jakobovics, teaches in the local music school. This orchestra is a local favorite and founded in 1995. This competition-winning group has a really good relationship with the Finns.
Ritmus Choir had a blast during the concert. Their Hungarian version of the world famous “I Will Follow Him” from the movie, Sister Act, was probably one of the biggest success of the night. And, their closing song “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt made everyone a little weepy. Their music leader, Katalin Ernszt, was the founder of the choir ten years ago, and they still have the same people working with them. Though tragedy struck the choir in January when Katalin’s beloved husband passed away, they were right back in business after a period of mourning. Their enthusiastic dedication brought them great success at the end of the concert.
While I was the main organizer of this tribute concert event, I also took a role as solo singer, performing songs like “Beauty and the Beast” and “God Help The Outcasts.” It was my lifelong dream to organize this type of event. I am a huge movie maniac, and I truly believe in the power of music composers – a movie is only as powerful as its original soundtrack. It was a night to remember with a full house! Shortly, we will work on another event to pay tribute to other great film composers and their wonderful melodies.
Behind the Scenes – The Magic of Movie Soundtracks
Hungarian artist Lilla Kurta tried out on a variety of art fields before the drawing and painting area. Being a serious film addict, her pieces show this side of her heart. She says, “to those who would like to learn to draw or paint, keep on practicing, hard work does pay out in the end.” You find more of Lilla’s work by following her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.