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Beasts of No Nation and Junun start a Titanic Shift

Oct 6, 2015 / by Miranda Fleming / In Crowdfunding, film, Film Distribution, Film Finance / Tags: , , , , , / Comments Off on Beasts of No Nation and Junun start a Titanic Shift

Titanic sg

The Titanic shift in film finance and distribution….Enjoy the ride.

October is going to be a ground breaking month in the world of film and distribution. As announced at Toronto this year, Beasts of No Nation, the new Netflix produced and funded feature premieres on 18th October on Netflix. Now what makes this story interesting is that out in Toronto this year where it premiered, I heard it was a good film – well acted, a child actor tipped for an Oscar and a hard but ultimately engaging story of relevant image – child soldiers.

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If you google Beasts of No Nation and Netfix, you will see a string articles from back in March stating that cinemas are up in arms and have ganged up together to prevent a theatrical if the film premieres on Netflix. But Netflix got through this and has partnered with Bleecher Street for a same day release in cinemas. It will be enough screens to make Beast of No Nation a contender for the Oscars next year. In the UK, Netflix has partnered with Curzon to play the film in Curzon cinemas one week before the Netflix premiere. I bet the film would have done good business for Odeon and Vue and wonder if next time Netflix will find a bigger cinema partner. Cinemas can’t avoid playing films like Beasts of No Nation. It’s time they brought down their 90 day window and join in the new models of release which are starting to serve audiences globally. (HEAR what Bleecher Street had to say at Toronto further down the blog).


And if that wasn’t enough to shake up the distribution models in October, MUBI announces that they will be premiering Paul Thomas Anderson’s Junun on the day it is released. Brilliant. That’s a perfect fit and ultimately brings another kind of financier to this brave new world of the film industry. To quote Paul Thomas Anderson ‘I’ll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will”.

I had a a short visit to Toronto. I caught up with the US companies that interest me and are making a difference to finance and distribution models I am working towards – these include Vimeo, Indiegogo & Kickstarter.

The industry panels weren’t as insightful as last year but they were still quite good.

The sessions began with the calming and very experienced CEO of Protagonist, and previously editor of Screen International, Mike Goodridge.

It was a calm and clear keynote. It lacked detail but informed you that Mike knows there’s a big change finally underfoot in our industry. He opened with the statement “There’s a titanic shift going on – it’s a new era with digital in focus” – What a statement and opening line. Unfortunately there wasn’t much detail he backed this statement up with but good to know he knows. It’s certainly true. Titanic shift is a great description.

On the distribution panel was Wayne Godfrey (the Fyzz), Lisa Bunnell of Landmark Cinemas, Kent Sanderson of Bleecher Street and Logan Mulvey of Alchemy talking producing, exhibition and distribution. Kent at Bleecher street gives little away about the Netflix/Beasts of No Nation release. Alchemy talks about drilling down your audience and finding that audience is key. They all felt day and date was healthier three years ago and now it’s a idea that’s been saturated and everyone is now finding new ways and models of release and tying in marketing strategies to find the core audience of a film. .They don’t generally think that all indie films need to collapse their windows – every film is individual and different from the next. 45
Years was successful in one way but had their theatrical restricted in another – perhaps it’s film that should have run the 3 month theatrical window.


Lionsgate’s profit is now 68% from VOD sales. A figure of 68% was mentioned as the proportion of profit that Lionsgate acquires from VOD sales. That’s a strong figure to know as no distributor releases VOD numbers (STILL!). On that note, all the panel said they stalked iTunes charts as it was the only route to finding out how well VOD sales were going on films.

Wayne said frankly that revenue was his goal, not where the film was played. He also mentioned Slated which many people are talking about in the States. Check it out.

As I say there wasn’t much from the industry panels this year, but hope you all find this interesting as Toronto always gives you a glimpse of where things are going. I couldn’t resist putting up my hand for the last question on the distribution panel to ask what these US players thought of crowdfunding. Bleecher and Alchemist were big fans. Bring a film to them with an inbuilt fanbase and audience engagement and they’ll be talking to you. Crowdfunding is still very much alive and kicking in the future of global film.

Please share this blog on your social media and help keep the conversation going.


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