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Blockbuster Case Study: Avatar (CMNS 230)

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Nadine Chan

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Blockbuster Case Study: Avatar (CMNS 230)

Mirrlees (2013)
Film Studio Distribution Strategies
Wide Release Strategy
Limited Release Strategy

CMNS 230
Andrew, Misato, & Nadine

Designing Global Entertainment Media: Blockbuster Films, TV Formats, Glocalized Lifestyle Brands
1. Limited Release Strategy

2. Wide Release Strategy
Applying the Wide Release Strategy to
Economic Characteristics of Blockbusters
Relating Mirrlees to
Textual Characteristics of Blockbusters
Elberse (2013)
Business Model of

Canadian Context
Difficult to meet most economic blockbuster characteristics but can still use Big Synergy and Big Audience
Use textual blockbuster characteristics to maximize consumer response
ex. racially diverse actors, drawing from previous successes, combining genres, maintaining classic narratives, creating spectacles with technology
Big Budgets
- Majority of blockbusters exceed $100million
Big Marketing
- Usually 25% of budget
Big Release
- Simultaneous, ubiquitous
Big Synergy
- Merchandising, products and promotions not directly related to film
Big Audience
- Targeting international audience
Global stars
- prestige and familiarity
Definition of "blockbuster"
a thing of great power or size, in particular a movie, book, or other product that is a great commercial success
Launching and Managing Blockbusters
How it works:
start with low distribution & advertising levels
Basic idea:
invest high levels of marketing spending in advance to product release
Main goal:
attract right audience to spread word & increase coverage if product shows growth potential
Basic idea:
gradually discover the appropriate level of marketing spending
Visual spectacle
- visual aesthetics are universally appreciated & improves cinema experience
Classical narrative structure
- easily consumable
Genre hybridity
- mass appeal
Pre-sold properties
- reliable
International casts
- cultural proximity
Main goal:
capture the widest possible audience attention
How it works:
starts with high distribution & concentrated promotion in short period before release
1. Promotion in advance
first trailer released August 20th 2009, aka "Avatar Day"
2. Concentrated marketing right before release
ex. "Avatar Live" director & actor webcast interview December 3rd 2009
3. Sales peak quickly
opening weekend revenues of $77,025,481 in US
4. Revenues taper off after initial release
9 months after the film's initial release, the IMAX 3D version's opening weekend makes only $4,007,750 in US

marketing costs

revenue streams

pattern of release

promotional tie-ins

$237 million dollars

$150 million dollars

ticket sales, physical copies, merchandise, TV license deals, pay-per-view digital content providers, home entertainment

premiere, worldwide release, IMAX release

MacDonald's, Coca-Cola

DVDs, Blu-ray, toys, collectibles, video game, etc
How can a Canadian production company create and structure a blockbuster film?
Other ideas for financing Canadian blockbusters:
company partnerships with Hollywood studios
additional tax credits, incentives, government grants
develop a system to define "Canadian" & encourage film investment - perhaps similar to Pilot Project 2?
Discussion Questions
1. Why might a media producer opt for a limited release strategy instead of a wide release strategy?

2. Do the economic and textual trends of blockbuster film production take away or add to the quality of these films?
Cultural Proximity
Content that is culturally similar to that of an audience will be more successful.
Cultural Discount
Content that is culturally unfamiliar to an audience will be less successful.
Cultural Relevance and
$150m approx. 38% of
Full transcript