Friday, March 31, 2006

The Slate

Studios "program" their year's worth of movies by quarter. This is the studio's "slate" for the year. Wars have been fought over this extremely closely held information. When a studio announces the release date of a film, it's after the marketing and distribution department has had their chance to weigh in on what they think a particular film, with a particular set of elements (i.e. cast, subject matter, filmmaker) will do in a given date range. This is where the film business becomes very corporate. The release date of a film can make or break a regime. The $$ made or lost on a single film can move the stock of a multi-billion dollar company up or down by a quarter-point or more.

In each year there are certain seasons where studios, based on market data will program a "tentpole" film. Tentpoles are films that have a built-in audience -- the premise is high concept, the elements are A-list, and there's a tremendous amount of buzz and anticipation. Audiences already want to go see these films. The rest of the slate is built around these dates. Studios try to find good "slots" for their films which won't have too much competition for the same audience. That's why you'll see a kid's movie programmed against an R-rated film , or a date movie programmed against another release that targets males under 25.

Take this weekend's releases for example:

ATL (Drama) Warner Bros. No. of Theaters: 1,602 -- core: males under 25, urban, african american, fans of hip hop -- relying on fans of cast to broaden it beyond this

Basic Instinct 2 (Thriller) Sony No. of Theaters: 1,453 --core: males/females over 25 (really over 35) with sexually explicit content.

Ice Age: The Meltdown (Animation) Fox No. of Theaters: 3,964 -- core: kids under 12, with the likelihood of crossover to all four quadrants

Slither (Sci-Fi Horror) Universal No. of Theaters: 1,945 -- core: males under 25

Ice Age has a very wide release (pretty close to the most theaters you can open a film in) -- it's a sequel to a hit movie, it's animated, it has Ray Romano (males/females over 35), Denis Leary (males over and under 35), Queen Latifah (females over 35, african americans) and John Leguizamo (males under 25, latinos).

ATL, BASIC INSTINCT and SLITHER are pure counter-programming.

Fox has a list of the releases for the next two years with some dates and release patterns. Interesting information, check it out. Also, there's a great website called BOX OFFICE MOJO where you can do some research on demos. I'm putting a call out to all seven of you -- research films that are similar to your own, look at how the demos break down and post a comment or email me and we'll parse it out together.

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

Okay, I've picked 3 films from 2005.

Constantine - Warner Bros.
Cost 100 million
marketing N/A
3098 theatres
total Box Office $230.1
domestic $76.0 33%
foreign $154.1 67%

The Brothers Grimm - Dimension.
Cost 88 million
Marketing 30 million
3098 theatres
Total Box Office $105.3
domestic $37.9 36%
foreign $67.4 64%

Serenity - Universal.
Cost 39 million
marketing N/A
2189 theatres
Total Box Office $38.3
domestic 25.5 65.7%
foreign $13.3 34.3%

Where do I find the male/female age range info?