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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    Why are British films commercial flops?



    Why are British films commercial flops? - Telegraph

    18 Feb 2010



    This Sunday, the leading lights of the British film industry will pour themselves into glamorous evening clothes and repair to the Royal Opera House, where they will tread the red carpet before making their way into the BAFTA awards ceremony. There they will present each other with awards and bask in an atmosphere of mutual back-slapping before a watching TV audience.



    I only hope none of them looks too smug while they’re about it.

    The fact is, the last year has been a pretty good one for British films, with almost a dozen genuinely worthwhile titles in release. But it’s been a mediocre year for British audiences wanting to see films from their own country.



    Most titles singled out by the BAFTAs as representing the best our industry has to offer have performed indifferently at British box-offices. There truly hasn’t been a breakout hit among them. So for people living in vast swathes of this country, away from urban centres, there have been few chances to see interesting British films.



    This is nothing new. Only a year ago, we were celebrating the extraordinary success of Slumdog Millionaire, a huge hit here and throughout the world — while some were wondering if the British industry might benefit from its momentum.



    There’s a recurring motif here that goes way back to Four Weddings and a Funeral, through The Full Monty, Billy Elliot, right up to Mamma Mia! and Slumdog. Once every few years, a British film (often about the triumph of little underdogs) captures the global imagination, and otherwise rational people start speculating that here, finally, is a bright new dawn for our film industry.



    It never happens, of course, and it certainly didn’t after Slumdog. Instead the industry fell into its familiar pattern of boom and bust. Indeed Film Four, the production company that launched Slumdog on the world, found itself in financially straitened circumstances.



    In a sense, then, Sunday’s BAFTAs will be surveying a year that has found British films in default mode: that is to say, not reaching sizeable audiences.



    You’d never know this from the upbeat press releases issued by the UK Film Council, the quango that among other things offers completion funding from the public purse to those British films that tick the right boxes.



    The UKFC never tires of telling us how well our films and the talent in them are performing. Look, here’s a Britflick (or a British actor) nominated for an Oscar! Look, British independent films have never been more popular!



    One sometimes wonders if the UKFC (which genuinely performs several valuable functions) feels the need to indulge in this happy-clappy propaganda to shore up its own comfortable existence and ward off close political scrutiny.



    In truth, there is a massive disconnect between the British film industry and the audiences it is meant to serve. Consider BAFTA’s five nominees this year for Oustanding British Film: In the Loop, An Education, Nowhere Boy, Moon and Fish Tank. None has been a sizeable hit, except by the low standards of the industry.



    In the Loop and An Education (both also Oscar-nominated) both grossed �2.2 million in British cinemas during the course of their entire run, over several weeks. That sounds fine till you consider that Valentine’s Day, a mundane Hollywood romcom, just grossed �3.7 million here on its opening weekend.



    Nowhere Boy and Moon have grossed some �1.3 million, and Fish Tank only �600,000. To put the fortunes of that latter film in perspective, it means that fewer than 110,000 people have paid to see it. Not many, is it?



    It’s not as if bad notices by British critics, the most popular excuse for failure employed by our film producers, played any part. These five titles were largely reviewed positively. Personally, I’d rate all of them, plus the neglected Bright Star (which seems to me the best of all), among my 20 favourite titles of the past 12 months.



    So can it be that we simply don’t like British films?



    No, and here’s why. Valentine’s Day, like so many heavily marketed and advertised Hollywood films in Britain, opened last week on a massive number of screens - 432. Fish Tank opened last September on just 47. What hope did it have? At that time I met its director Andrea Arnold, who told me plaintively she believed lots of people would like her film if only they got the chance to see it.



    But they don’t. Some weeks back, I alluded to this in a Saturday Telegraph column, and a reader wrote to confirm that her friends were 'not aware of this type of (British) film, whereas they know all about American releases.’ Popcorn movies, she added, could be seen 'anywhere, at all times, but anything else is restricted viewing as far as my two local cinemas are concerned.’ Now this was someone with not one but two local cinemas. And she lives within 20 miles of London. If she feels excluded from British films, imagine how someone living in Cumbria or Cornwall must feel.



    Looking at the bald statistics, one might conclude that a film’s Britishness was a negative in branding terms. But it’s not that we don’t like British films: it’s simply that not enough of us get the chance to see them.



    Our cinema chains are partly to blame. Is there another country in Europe that so willingly rolls over for the big studios, and allows Hollywood product, so much of it indifferent, to exclude our own films? Over the years, when in France, Germany, Italy and Sweden, I’ve been struck by the prominence of domestic films in cinemas.



    There will be people at the BAFTAs on Sunday who have the power to change this state of affairs. It’s about time they started. I hope everyone at the ceremony has a good time, especially the British film-makers. But that’s not the same as asserting that everything in the garden’s rosy. And an awful lot of TV viewers will be wondering if this isn’t an insular industry that’s just talking to itself.







    Hollywood Blockbuster

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

    Critical reaction: “At once loud and boring, like watching paint dry while being hit over the head with a frying pan.” Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian Number of UK screens on opening: 516 Box office gross: �26 million.









    British film: Bright Star

    Critical reaction: “It feels special without being at all precious.” Sukhdev Sandhu, Telegraph.

    Number of UK screens on opening: 118 Box office gross: �1.05 million.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    name='julian_craster'] imagine how someone living in Cumbria or Cornwall must feel.


    I imagine they must be staring about them in wonder at the astonishing beauty surrounding them in both places. Why go to a cinema?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    In the Loop and An Education (both also Oscar-nominated) both grossed �2.2 million in British cinemas during the course of their entire run, over several weeks. That sounds fine till you consider that Valentine�s Day, a mundane Hollywood romcom, just grossed �3.7 million here on its opening weekend.



    Nowhere Boy and Moon have grossed some �1.3 million, and Fish Tank only �600,000. To put the fortunes of that latter film in perspective, it means that fewer than 110,000 people have paid to see it. Not many, is it?


    Surely valentine's day must have cost at least ten times more than these low budget british films and therefore probably is a genuine commerical flop by comparison.



    You're only a commerical flop if you lose money. The real money is in Hollywood. Surely the british films quoted are traditional low budget fare that weren't expecting to gross the same as Transformers.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Afghanistan
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    british films have become flops , because basically they consist of concrete,dirt, rain and staring up our own arses and probably made by some morose,self absorbed leftie who still has an axe to grind about Thatcher?



    Nobody else wants to see it, they have thier own problems they want 90 minutes of escape.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: England
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    I had assumed,that 'our' films,in the rest of the world,notably the U.S.A

    'failed' because (compared to a few mega blockbusters I could name!) we

    use certain subtleties,like PLOT,good dialogue,REAL characterisations etc.

    But perhaps its just me?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    british films have become flops , because basically they consist of concrete,dirt, rain and staring up our own arses and probably made by some morose,self absorbed leftie who still has an axe to grind about Thatcher?


    You mean such as Hot Fuzz, The Descent, Billy Elliot ??



    British films aren't all made by Ken Loach you know.



    The situation now is little different to that in the mid 1970s once the American money was pulled out.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: UK Brief Encounter's Avatar
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    What an interesting article. And it makes me feel quite sad too, as someone who hopes one day to make some impact on the British film industry.



    Yes, screenings are a problem: Telstar, an excellent film, simply was not given a chance. A week at my local multiplex (while I was away!), so then I had to wait for the DVD. I think the other problem is that most youngsters are now being reared on a diet of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters, unaware of classy films that tell a good story. It probably is true that British films nowadays seem to mainly be rooted in realism - and if one wants escapism, Hollywood is your only option. Us Brits do these realist films wonderfully - but I do think we need to bring back some of the old-fashioned glamour. We need more films like The Duchess: not a period drama-overdose, but colourful pieces with charismatic stars. Which reminds me, half our stars are working in Hollywood since that's where they can get decent work.



    The most successful British (ok, not entirely!) film of the past few years has been Mamma Mia!. Shouldn't that teach the industry the kind of film they should be making more of?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    name='m35541']Surely valentine's day must have cost at least ten times more than these low budget british films and therefore probably is a genuine commerical flop by comparison.


    Hollywood make the films, Hollywood control the UK distribution, so are obviously going the give preference to their films to recoup money.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    name='Brief Encounter']

    The most successful British (ok, not entirely!) film of the past few years has been Mamma Mia!. Shouldn't that teach the industry the kind of film they should be making more of?


    Wasn't it Alan Parker who once said that most British film makers produce films to to impress their film maker friends and not to entertain the paying customer. Perhaps the British film 'industry' is still doing that.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK Brief Encounter's Avatar
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    You could be right there. At least in the 1940s we weren't ashamed to make films the critics would pan, but the public would flock to in their droves. People love the outlandish plots in soap operas - films have taken the grittiness from soaps, but not bothered with the glamour and far-fetched plots!

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    name='Brief Encounter']You could be right there. At least in the 1940s we weren't ashamed to make films the critics would pan, but the public would flock to in their droves. People love the outlandish plots in soap operas - films have taken the grittiness from soaps, but not bothered with the glamour and far-fetched plots!


    Agreed.



    I think that's one of the reasons why the big expensive Hollywood movies are so successful .... they offer spectacle and the possibility (not always achieved) of excitement, something British films seldom offer .... so why would Joe Public want to go and see a low-budget British film when he can get that sort of vibe from watching TV.



    TV has also lost the ability to create spectacle and excitement on a regular basis, so anyone seeking something 'big' to watch will go down the Hollywood route.

  12. #12
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    I got this one to be watched ....




  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    There are two British films. The moneyed toffs at play, and the unemployed a-strugglin' through.



    Both can be great, if the script, plot etc. is good. But there may be something else to talk about.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Country: Afghanistan
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    name='m35541']You mean such as Hot Fuzz, The Descent, Billy Elliot ??



    British films aren't all made by Ken Loach you know.



    The situation now is little different to that in the mid 1970s once the American money was pulled out.


    you right to pull me up on that but these were the first images that entered my head .



    ...and it was a credit to Peter Rogers that he managed to produce all the carry on films without accepting a cent of American money.



    The other thing about the British film industry is its never been treated as an industry even in the 21 century . Your expected to enter this industry with no pay and just be greatful to run around skivveing and making tea , picking up skills as you go.

    If that happened in any other industry you be hauled before a tribunal.



    No wonder the film industry splutters to halt every few years once the dreamers have made their uncommercial films and walked away from the mess they have left.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    What we are lacking today is a good selection of genre films, with fewer films about toffs and 'low lifes'. The only active UK film genre is horror, presumably because it sells internationally....



    We are lacking well made comedies, mysteries and thrillers....I would like to see updated remakes of films like Hell Drivers......

  16. #16
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    name='Rowdon']There are two British films. The moneyed toffs at play, and the unemployed a-strugglin' through.



    Both can be great, if the script, plot etc. is good. But there may be something else to talk about.


    Indeed. But since most of the films mentioned above don't fall into either of those categories, surely that provides something to talk about right there?



    And isn't a major part of the problem the way we're so quick to resort to the same lazy, clich�d stereotypes? There are times when I think that the French understand our films better than we do - they certainly do a better job of championing the good ones in festivals like Dinard.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    The Queen wasn't a 'flop', i've been told when it was on release it played to packed houses in the USA.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: UK Brief Encounter's Avatar
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    Maybe The King's Speech (2010) will do well then...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    name='Brief Encounter']Maybe The King's Speech (2010) will do well then...


    I hope so BE, I did see a pic of Helena and Colin as the King and Queen recently, not quite the same but passable enough, I didn't see the King's mam Queen Mary in the cast list though, there was no one more royal than her.......

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Afghanistan
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    The royal family are soft targets, easy money.



    Just make a movie about the Queen being some old deranged bird who drinks tea while yearning about the empire, outside add a bit of fog and rain and some gas lamps and you have got an instant hit all over the world.

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