Should British Film Makers Capitalise on the British Brand?

News that the top three films at the UK and Republic of Ireland Box Offfice ar all British is quite amazing. Check it out…

Top 10 biggest films in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2011

1 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – £73.09 million
2 – The King’s Speech £45.68 million
3 – The Inbetweeners Movie £45.03 million
4 – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides £32.92 million
5 – The Hangover 2 £32.83 million
6 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 £30.73 million
7 – Transformers: Dark of the Moon £28.11 million
8 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows £23.11 million
9 – Bridesmaids £23.02 million
10 – Arthur Christmas £20.79 million

Looking closer though it looks to me that all three of these films are branded movies. Harry Potter is of course Harry Potter, The Kings Speech is effectively ‘British Royalty’ – both Potter and Royalty are international brands that are much adored. The big surprise is ‘The Inbetweeners’, again a brand, but a national brand.

So what does this mean for us?

When I interviewed Nic Powell for the last Guerilla Film Makers Handbook I think he put it best… ‘What I do say to people, which is not a popular point of view, is that we should play to our strengths. That is what Hollywood does, and we should do the same.’

These figures tell the truth. There is no spin here, this is what audiences in there many millions told us they want.

The question for us all is this, should we use this data to influence our choices as artists, entrepenuers, story tellers, business people?

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

4 Responses to Should British Film Makers Capitalise on the British Brand?

  1. harvey s parkes February 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Filmmakers should capitalise on the British brand, sure, but producers should be brave enough to also step beyond it.

    One of my current feature screenplays combines UK kitchen sink drama with a more European magical realism, and it’s depressing how all positive comment is tempered by a suggestion that ‘we’ simply shouldn’t touch magical realism, as it’s not ‘our’ thing. Yet it plays so well when it’s imported.

    Meanwhile, in Latin culture, nobody is questioning social drama as ‘too kitchen sink’ or ‘too British’, and their industries reap reward with their vibrancy of content.

    In short then, ‘capitalise’ on ANYTHING as long as it tells the story.

  2. Edward February 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Haven’t seen it yet, but can you further explain how The Inbetweeners is a brand in the UK?

  3. Chris February 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Hey Edward, it’s a brand in so much as its an existing successful TV show. Speak to a thirteen year old, The Inbetweeners is a brand to them I am sure.

  4. Jon Mills February 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    How do you define our strengths though? I’d argue that something like Submarine is as British as The King’s Speech, and both are films that play to ‘our’ strengths – quirky and distinctive humour in the former, heritage cinema in the latter. Yet they are very different products and I for one am glad we have room for both.

    Others may dispute this but I think for too long there has been a strong bias towards slightly soapy, kitchen-sink social realism in Britain, especially with such reliance upon state funding with all the socio-political baggage that comes with. Even now I suspect an urban drama about the riots would attract more interest than a wild fantasy about a girl who can fly – but why? Maybe our writers aren’t comfortable enough with thinking big, maybe it’s the producers being too nervous, maybe it’s simply the comfort of sticking to what you know.

    I think it can change though; ten years ago Scandinavian cinema was still Bergman and porn – now people are scouring every crime novel for the next Dragon Tattoo, The Killing etc. I think we’d do well to remember that not only should we play to our strengths, but we should be more strident in defining what those strengths are, according to what we want them to be.

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