Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Disruptive Cinema.

Writing about "casting where the fish are" reminded me that the P of place is one about which I talk little. This is probably because, at a macro level, it rarely varies except when a new paradigm like online comes along. Think about it. In general, we know where to go to get stuff.

But behind that lies a series of distribution hierarchies that are ripe for disruption. This is especially true for products with a short shelf-life such as movies. The separation of screen owners or exhibitors from producers (created via anti-monopoly law in the US) is a big problem, because exhibitors who make as much profit from their popcorn sales as their share of the box-office don't really care about anything but bums on seats, and this leads to conservatism and kowtowing to the majors. Not all that different from what goes on in other industries is it?

Similarly, distribution companies don't take risks with movies that they claim they don't know how to market and thus many independent movies barely get released in cinemas which is why you only chance across them in the DVD racks. Scenes Of A Sexual Nature is a movie that's attempting to break that cycle. The entrepreneurial financiers didn't like the attitude of potential distributors and reacted particularly badly to their assertion that "we'd like to work with you, but you'll not make any money."

They decided to go it alone and have hired 35 screens, thereby taking the up-front risk themselves in return for controlling their own marketing and, one hopes, sharing the greater proportion of revenues and retaining ancillary rights (for which exhibition is the primary marketing tool). It's archetypal disruption - bypass the established distribution taste-makers, speak directly to your potential audience (or, at least, some sneezers) via social networks and try to convert interest/"friends" into bums on seats.

To my mind, this is the type of innovation for which Mark Cuban appealed so dramatically and it's an approach that's already generating a lot of interest. If nothing else, when it comes to the sale of ancillary rights , the bidders will know that this is not just another independent movie and those negotiation conversations will be different than would otherwise have been the case.

I would hope that those potential cinema-goers who complain that their viewing needs are not being met by the existing model will take notice and seek to support this venture, but I'd also urge those of you in other industries to question whether a changed distribution policy would allow you a greater connection with your customers?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully the rest of the process will be made as transparent as they have up until now. Only three days to go before they release the film...

I think we'll see a lot more of this in the future - have you cast your eye over what FOX were doing with Borat over on myspace and youtube?

4:27 AM, October 31, 2006  

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