Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hollywood Case Study: Prometheus (2012)

Over the next few weeks, I will be putting up case studies of Hollywood, Independent and British films to help my A level Film Studies students learn more about the finance, organisation, production, distribution and exhibition of different types of films.  These case studies can be used in their exam when discussing the American and British film industries.

Director:  Ridley Scott

Director of many profitable Hollywood blockbusters including: Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster, Robin Hood

Investors trust Scott to make big budget films, often on an epic scale, with international stars and make a profit.  He has a fan base, as do the stars of the film.  It is also in the science fiction genre which also has a huge amount of dedicated fans and the idea that this film is a prequel to Alien has attracted many more people to it.  That film, as well as Blade Runner, are widely considered to be science fiction classics and Ridley Scott’s return to the genre is a really big deal for fans.  The marketing is therefore very likely to emphasise the director, the genre and the stars.

Some discussion of the budget:
‘Ridley asked for $250 Million.

Fox said Make it PG rated and we may give you the money.

Scott said one word..."NO".

Fox said...O.K. think about it some more because we are not giving you $250 Mill for a movie with an R rating ...Lindelhof approached fox and told them with his new re-writes they could do this thing for considerably less and apparently the studio agreed with him and cut the budget down to between 100 and 150 Million..except...there are now some serious reports...which indicates Scott finished this entire thing on a budget compromise with FOX of $200 million even, and not the 100-150 million that was being reported’

Production Companies
Brandywine ProductionsBrandywine Productions is an American film production company most known for its Alien film franchise. The company was founded by American filmmakers Walter Hill, David Giler, and Gordon Carroll’ Wikipedia

Scott Free ProductionsScott Free works closely with RSA Films, the commercials company started by Ridley Scott more than forty years ago.  RSA Films represents many established and up and coming filmmakers and one of Scott Free’s roles is to assist these directors in their feature film and television projects’ Wikipedia

No major studios listed as production companies on IMDb (rare for a Hollywood blockbuster).  However it is being distributed by 20th Century Fox suggesting they have put money into the production in order to get distribution rights. 

Some information on 20th Century Fox: ‘In October 1985, Fox Inc. was formed in a major restructuring of the entertainment and broadcasting interests of News America and TCF Holdings. Fox Inc. is a consolidation of those interests and consists of three principal operating units:

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Television Stations Inc. and Fox Broadcasting Company...
William Mechanic was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed entertainment in December of 1996. His remit included all operations of the studio including world-wide feature film production, marketing and distribution activities, as well as all worldwide operations for Fox Videos, Fox Interactive, Licensing and Merchandising and Fox Music...

Along with the impressive performance of the 20th Century Fox production division, the company has established Fox 2000, a mini-studio focusing on general entertainment and Fox Searchlight Pictures, which produces specialized films aimed at sophisticated adult audiences’


Principal photography began in March 2011, with filming taking place in Canada, England, Scotland, Iceland, and Spain. Prometheus is scheduled for US release on June 8, 2012 through 20th Century Fox’ Wikipedia

‘Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic shot at Pinewood Studios using the world famous 007 Stage, the North Lot and 7 other stages. This is the fifth time that Ridley Scott has shot at the studios; previous films have included Alien, Legend, White Squall, and Robin Hood.

The Twentieth Century Fox, Scott Free Productions and Brandywine Productions film, stars Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) and Academy Award®-winner Charlize Theron (Monster).

Ridley Scott said of working at Pinewood and Shepperton: “It’s my heritage, my personal heritage, I film everywhere in the world and I think all things considered what we have to offer here are as good as anything you’re going to get in Hollywood.”

Prometheus re-teams Scott with several of his long-time collaborators, including production designer Arthur Max (Robin Hood, American Gangster), Academy Award®-winning costume designer Janty Yates (Gladiator, Robin Hood), and Academy Award®-winning editor Pietro Scalia (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator), as well as set decorator Sonja Klaus (Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven)’


‘The entire movie has been shot in 3D and the experience has been so compelling for Scott that he writes, “I will never be the same again. Even with a dialogue scene, the arena in the room grows. There is no question that you can be drawn in further by the feeling that you are there.”’

Ratings and classification:

Fox is keen for the film to be open to a wider audience, and is pushing for a more teen-friendly rating’

 ‘Ridley Scott hints that the violence may have been toned-down enough to facilitate a PG-13 rating, but intriguingly suggests that the impact will match the R-grade shocks of Alien and Aliens. "The question is, do you go for the PG-13, [which] financially makes quite a difference, or do you go for what it should be, which is R? Essentially, it's kinda R."

"It's not just about the blood, it's about ideas that are very stressful. I'm not an idiot, but I'll do everything I can to get the most aggressive film I can."’

Theron, Fassbender and Rapace are among Hollywood's most intriguing actors. Theron is a resurgent force, with last year's comedy "Young Adult" and this June's "Snow White and the Huntsman" leading the way. Fassbender has recently become one of Hollywood's favorite actors following his leading role in Steve McQueen's "Shame" and scene-stealing turn as Magneto in "X-Men: First Class." And Rapace is ready to take American audiences by storm with her first leading role in the States following her "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" fame in Sweden.’


‘It’s not enough that movie trailers entice you with what you’ll see in the movie. From the marketing masterminds of ‘Prometheus’ here is a teaser for the official movie trailer that is to come out on Thursday, December 22.

What is nice, however, is that it shows glimpses of the actual scenes from the movie and a behind the scenes look of Ridley Scott directing. And it doesn’t hurt that the first words you hear is Scott saying, “So, here we are… I’m back again.”’

‘the marketing for Prometheus has really only hinted at its Alien roots, and a sizable portion of the summer moviegoing audience they need to show up will likely have never seen Scott's original sci-fi movie. So the marketing has been even more creative and intriguing than usual, focusing around the corporation Weyland Industries that sends the Nostromo ship into space to begin with. There was the model of the ship itself, the TED Talk given by Peter Weyland himself (Guy Pearce), and now there's this video to introduce us to David, the robot played by Michael Fassbender.’

‘The marketing for Ridley Scott's upcoming "Prometheus" continues to outshine that of recent releases (yes, even you, "Hunger Games"). 20th Century Fox just released this video starring the dishy Michael Fassbender, who plays the android David in the film.

This video is positioned as an ad for the fictitious Weyland Corp. and introduces the creepy next-generation robot. It was previously teased in a "David 8" viral video.

The short is directed by Johnny Hardstaff from Little Minx and RSA Films, and the eerie background music comes from Drazen Bosnjak, founder of Q Department. Accompanying the short is a "Project Prometheus" website that offers insight into Weyland, as well as a site created with Verizon that lets fans tour the Prometheus ship.’

 In concert with the movie's traditional marketing effort, which includes the trailer, Scott and 20th Century Fox have pursued a second, more innovative path to publicity. It began unexpectedly at this year's TED conference, with a presentation by entrepreneur Peter Weyland, who powerfully articulated the challenges facing a society beginning to question its own nature in the face of rapidly advancing technology. Weyland's talk was one of the highlights of the conference of presentations by thought leaders. The twist, of course, is that Weyland isn't real. He's a character from "Prometheus," played by Guy Pearce, and he was speaking from the year 2023! 

The TED2023 promo video cooked up by Scott and writer Damon Lindelof ("Lost," "Star Trek") was released on the TED blog and quickly became the subject of online articles and social-media discussions. It is a great example of a technique sweeping the entertainment industry: transmedia storytelling , in which a message or story is conveyed across multiple platforms. Fans who received Weyland Industries business cards at the Wondercon convention were led to another piece of in-story content, titled "Big Things Have Small Beginnings," on YouTube…

Unlike conventional trailers, which use rapidly cut, repurposed footage and are widely available online along with straight clips, transmedia videos expand the movie's narrative and encourage fans to immerse themselves more deeply into the story. The advertising becomes part of the movie -- with the bonus that it is tailored for mobile devices and sharing across social networks. Brands are even beginning to leverage the power of HTML 5 technologies to create videos with embedded interactive and social features’


Charlize Theron Hits the PR Circuit for Prometheus Premiere in Paris  The stars are still an important part in the films marketing. 

The film's opening 10 minutes screen in London, while Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender discuss the film's secrets Again, star and director used to promote the film.

Release dates are staggered,  probably to allow for more promotion specific to each territory.  Stars can attend more premieres, do more press interviews etc.

‘The IMAX release of Prometheus will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX 3D Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX's customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie’

There you have it:  Prometheus in quite a large nut shell. Watch the full trailer below:

More case studies at I Love That Film:

Independent Case Study: Juno

British Case Study: Attack the Block


  1. Brilliant work matey. I love this.... and I am only feeling more excited to see this now!! You little monkey you

  2. It seems that this film is gonna be out of this world (pun intended)...

  3. Damn Pete that was more informative and well written than my senior thesis back in college ;-)

    I think this is going to set the new standard for viral marketing of a film. David the Android is going to haunt my dreams for a long time I just know it.

    I was a bit horrified by your thoughts that people would be walking into the theater who had not seen Alien. Prob true but made me as sad a crying David the robot.

    1. Thanks man! To be fair I barely wrote any of it. It's mainly quotes! Yeah he's shaping up to be a really interesting character!

  4. Very comprehensive post, Pete. That's interesting how much rating drives just how much budget a filmmaker can get. In any case, they've done a great job promoting this thing that I can't imagine this being a flop!

    1. Thanks Ruth! Yeah it might not be true, it's just what I read! Wouldn't be surprised though.

  5. Great post! I think a lot of money went to built the bigger studio - Scott shot in the biggest studio in Europe but still needed more space for the scenes in the room with the giant head seen in the trailers and they actually made it a lot larger for the purpose of this movie.

    1. Cool I hadn't heard that. It's great Scott choose to do it practically and not go for the CGI option!

  6. You went quite in depth for this post. As someone who wants to become a filmmaker its interesting to read about stuff like this.Great post

  7. Thanks Pete for the detailed post on Prometheus! I'm a bit worried about all this hype, I think the problem with prequels is we already know the universe, and therefore the films lack the freshness and surprise of the original.
    In fact, the only prequels I remember living up to my expectations, are X-men: first class, Godfather 2, and maybe Red Dragon.
    The exciting thing is Ridley Scott is on board again, and the fact he hasn't made a sci-fi film since Blade Runner has my mouth watering ( :

    1. I know I'm sure I'm over hyping it. But it does look really great. And after Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men First Class, I'm starting to feel a bit better about prequels, although generally they are a bad idea. And yes Scott's involvement is very promising!

  8. I absolutely love the viral marketing that's been done for this film! Great post here, just reminding us all that viral marketing can be just as clever and have as good production values as the finished product.

    I had no idea Europe was getting this before the States!

    1. YAY for Europe! What with Avengers and now this! It's crazy, I don't really understand it. Yeah the viral marketing has been really exceptional on this. Much prefer to watch these little videos than endless clips from the film.


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