Thursday, 7 June 2012

Avengers and Prometheus: Worldwide Distribution Madness!

 North American readers... ever wondered why the hell you're suddenly getting huge Blockbuster films like Avengers and Prometheus released later than the rest of the world?

Readers from the rest of the world... have you been wondering why here in Europe and elsewhere, we are being blessed with earlier release dates all of a sudden?

Well I've done some digging and come up with something resembling answers.  After first getting the chance to see Avengers on the big screen a full week before the Americans, I began wondering just what the hell was going on with the distribution plan of this most anticipated of blockbusters.  And then I find out we're getting Prometheus similarly early. 

My first thought was that staggered distribution is beneficial as the studios can fly the talent out to premieres and press junkets in many different parts of the world and they can essentially follow the release of the film, promoting it as they go.  But why not start with the USA as always used to be the case?  And also isn't this good for pirates?  Won't shoddy filmed copies from one country end up on street corners of some other country as soon as the film first gets shown on a big screen.  I'm pretty sure this was the case when I stupidly purchased a dodgy copy of Alien VS Predator in Malaysia.  The whooping, cheering and general enthusiasm of the audience watching the film on my dodgy copy meant it must have come from America!  (I mean that as a compliment!)

The point is it's not just down to staggered distribution patterns as these have been happening for years and America always got their big blockbusters first followed by the rest of the world.  So what's happened now to cause this (quite frankly) AWESOME shift in distribution tactics?

Rolling Stone report: 'It's somewhat unusual for a major commercial film like The Avengers to open abroad ahead of its U.S. release, but in this case, it may have worked in the film's favor. Given that American grosses for superhero movies typically dwarf international grosses, it looks like The Avengers will be a massive domestic hit.'

So the idea may be to get international audiences to be more excited about the film if they see it first.  As the international market is so huge, a film needs to get a fair shot at it and if it does not do well domestically, it may be less likely to gain success elsewhere.

The Hollywood Reporter said: 'Avengers posted the biggest opening day ever in New Zealand, earning $800,000. The film also bowed to $2.9 million in France and an even stronger $3.7 million in Italy -- the second-biggest opening day for Disney and the second-best for a Marvel title. All told, Joss Whedon's film earned an eye-popping $17.1 million from only 10 markets... Avengers, which is beginning its foreign rollout a week ahead of its domestic launch May 4, likewise enjoyed a record start in Taiwan, scoring the best opening gross of all time with $1.2 million. And it scored the second-highest opening day in the Philippines, grossing $1.3 million'
Seems like the early release in these foreign markets definitely had some impact.  These are huge numbers and the studios are no doubt licking their lips at the extra money rolling in from what they once saw as an opportunity for a little extra money after cleaning up at the domestic box office!  After the recent success of films like Titanic 3D in China, Hollywood are going to be increasingly paying attention to ways they can increase their revenue from all us suckers for American product that live outside their borders.
Bob Mondello writes: 'Hollywood studios have started premiering big films overseas before they come to the United States, and Battleship is a prime example of this practice: It first hoisted anchor six weeks ago in Japan, then cruised into Europe a week later. Soon after, it steamed into Russia and Pakistan, and has since docked in every movie port of call on the planet except the U.S., Canada and Paraguay... The Amazing Spider-Man will amaze Japan and New Zealand five days before it amazes the U.S. And if you positively can't wait to see Ridley Scott's prequel to Alien, Prometheus, you'll want to book a flight to Europe. Prometheus will open a week early in Europe to get ahead of soccer's Eurocup finals, which the studio figures will be a huge distraction to young males, the film's target audience.'
This is a fascinating article and just click on Mondello's name above to read more.  It is particularly interesting to note the consideration of football in the release pattern.  Is this solely the reason behind Prometheus' early UK release?  I can't quite believe it but I'm very interested in seeing how this develops in the future.  Just as long as the studios don't start delaying the UK release of films because they think we're all a bunch of football mad nutters who run around with shaved heads, flags painted on our faces and beating each other senseless because 'our' boys lost or beat another team.

What do you think dear international readers?  Should I just keep my mouth shut and enjoy the early releases in the UK?  American readers... is this pissing you off?  Sound off below!