Perfect Movie Title: The Process Behind Finding the Perfect Name
Back in 2021, Paramount tested a new supernatural horror film by the name of Something’s Wrong With Rose. Though audiences responded well to the movie, studio executives found that many were struggling with the name. The decision was made to simplify the title and highlight a component of the story. Thus, Smile was born; a film that went on to earn over $200 million worldwide. Naming a film is often a more complicated process than one might think, as production executives try to put themselves in the shoes of moviegoers to create a title that cuts through the noise and creates something to talk about. Even classics like The Breakfast Club faced the challenge; that film almost premiered as The Lunch Bunch. But names make a difference, and since moviegoers mainly purchase tickets online now, theater owners believe that a title is often all that’s seen before the point of purchase. On the other hand, short and general movie titles like Plane or Dog, can get lost in Google searches. Everything Everywhere All at Once, which began as a working title, was thought to be too long and hard to remember, but the film recently dominated the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture. Experts believe that the key to a great movie title is to have something that gets the audience interested and elicits a reaction without confusing them. Subtitles have come back in vogue recently, as with Avatar: The Way of Water or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This type of phrasing gives a title a familiar feature while adding a new layer of intrigue. Overall, movie marketers must find a unique compromise when titling their films, as to avoid giving away too much information while making a feature easy to remember.
U.K. Tax Credits: The British Government’s Boost for TV and Film
The U.K. recently announced that it will be increasing tax breaks for film and television while maintaining the qualifying threshold. This change comes from Jeremy Hunt, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, who aims to transform the current 25% rebate into a 34% expenditure credit in January 2024. The threshold will stay at £1M (or $1.2 M) for high-end TV shows. While U.K. ministers consider raising the threshold, several producers spoke up against the action, saying it would deter investment. When announcing the new measure in his budget, Hunt said, “Our film and TV industry has become Europe’s largest with our creative industries growing at twice the rate of the economy.” Hunt singled out the animation and children’s TV sectors by adding that they will also be eligible for a 39% expenditure credit. Another update in the tax reform is regarding the qualifying length of a TV, which has been reduced from 30 to 20 minutes. In addition, an 80% cap has been placed on all expenditures, and all tax credits claims will now be submitted online. The tax relief measures, renamed Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit, will have legislation drafted on July 20. The demand for this reform was quite high and comes after the government received 63 responses from interested parties during its consultation period. The first film and TV tax breaks for the U.K. were made available in 2013 and have greatly contributed to the success of the local industry. Production spending in the U.K. reached a record high in 2022 with £6.3BN ($7.6BN), higher than pre-pandemic the production spend.
Specialty Content and Diversified Revenue: The Streaming Model Thives
Streamer Crunchyroll, known for its anime content, bet on diversified revenue streams with a tiered subscription model several years back, and now more popular global streamers are following suit. The combination of two U.S. entities, Funimation (which was founded in 2014) and Sony (which bought the company in 2017 for $143 million) make up today’s Crunchyroll. Sony bought the company, the second-largest dedicated anime service, from AT&T in 2020 for $1.8 billion, and some thought they overpaid for such a niche outfit. Now, analysts are arguing that this purchase was a bargain. Rahul Purini, Crunchyroll’s president, says the increased focus on profitability and the flywheel effect in the streaming and entertainment space is something they have focused on for years, as Crunchyroll and Funimation “were startups that needed to grow profitability to survive, and because a 360-degree flywheel approach is how the anime community actually wants to be served.” The Anime community is quite passionate about its content, and Crunchyroll is eager to meet fans where they are. With the largest online library of specialized content, Crunchyroll reportedly has 10 million paying subscribers using one of three tiers. In addition to its ad-supported tier, the company is also a leading theatrical distributor of anime films in North America, and they are behind half of the highest-grossing movies in this content category. Along with hosting live events (like fan conventions), the company is diversifying its revenue with merchandising operations, mobile gaming, and a growing music streaming service. This solid business with several successful revenue sources has become an enviable model that many other streamers are now trying to replicate. For now, Crunchyroll’s executives believe they will maintain their flow of titles and success thanks to their span of relationship deals across entertainment, creating multiple touchpoints with their audience.
Spotlight on Spanish Animation: Day of Global Recognition and New Projects
On Tuesday March 14, Animation Day was celebrated as part of the Spanish Screenings Content at Malaga Festival. The industry zone of the festival, called Mafiz, which saw five unique Spanish animation works pitched to the international industry, is supported by ICEX Spain’s Trade & Investment, Diboos, the Spanish Federation of Animation Producers, and the VFZ Production Companies Associations. All pitched titles are currently works in progress, presented by their respective producers. This selection of WIP projects showcases the best animation professionals and what they are currently working on. Darío Sánchez, CEO at Tenerife-based 3Doubles, which produced one of the works shown, says, “Spanish animation is booming. We are recognized worldwide and many of our artists are working all over the world.” The showcase also highlights the current trends in contemporary Spanish animation, and the diversity of these projects is something that really stands out to international entities. Some of the projects are also already highly anticipated. Films like 4 Days Before Christmas and Dragonkeeper will be aimed at family-oriented audiences and plan to be launched in theaters this year. Another animated title shown called Dalia and the Red Book has already been acquired by Disney across Latin America. A spectrum of indie films and adult animation content was also highlighted at Animation Day this year. Styles are changing as well, and each project is taking a unique approach when it comes to using traditional 2D animation or using mixed techniques by incorporating collage and CGI. There is a lot of variety within the projects and Goya Award-winning producer-director Chelo Loureiro points out that “each story demands a specific technique—and no other—from the narrative point of view of its creator.”
Craft Community Weighs In: The Oscar’s Return to Airing All Categories
In 2022, the Academy Awards decided to remove eight artisan categories from the Oscars ceremony, awarding those statues during a celebration an hour before the live event. This decision was met with a good deal of outrage from different corners of the industry, including by several craft guilds. This year, the Academy reversed this decision, airing all 23 categories in full. Voting members praised the move, saying things like, “I’d call it a win for the Academy.” Along with the full live presentation, the Academy decided to provide more details about the artisans with the inclusion of QR codes for each category. By scanning a QR code at home, audiences could learn more about the craft category and nominees. One Academy member said, “the craft awards were given a more balanced inclusion.” The show itself made several nods to industry artisans with an AVID editor and a camera rig on stage during their respective category presentations. Members praised the show for its diversity of winners as well, though others noted areas where the show could still use some work, including those infamous moments when speeches are cut short (as with the team from Avatar: The Way of Water while accepting their Best Visual Effects award). Someone from the editor branch summed up the ceremony by saying, “There is definitely still work to do, but the Academy tried to get it right.”
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