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Festivals & events

25 September 2008 à 13:02

Review of the

An appraisal of this recent Unifrance promotional incentive.


In recent years, French films have achieved excellent results in Great Britain, traditionally a highly difficult territory for non-English language films. Results for French films have reached unprecedented heights, with the 51 French films released in 2007 achieving a market share of almost 2% and an estimated 3 million admissions (figures are estimations as box office results only are calculated in the UK). The distribution sector for French films is well-developed, dynamic, and highly motivated, and covers all film genres. Following this year’s Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in London, Unifrance focused its efforts on closely monitoring the release of French films in the UK, thus allowing us to identify a considerable number of preview and premiere screenings scheduled for the months of June and July, 2008. A host of French actors and directors, including the lead actors of these films, made the trip to London and other cities to promote their films. Also at this time, a number of French artists traveled to Scotland to attend the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

An opportunity to reinforce dialogue about French cinema

Unifrance took advantage of this opportunity to bring added value to the high quality work currently carried out by local distributors. The objective was to strengthen the position of French films through collective efforts, and complementing the work carried out individually by distributors for each film acquired.
A decision was therefore made to increase communication about French cinema through an initiative entitled “A Summer of French Films.”

The following actions were undertaken as part of this initiative:
➢  The circulation of a communiqué in France and abroad and contact made with journalists regarding editorial coverage.
➢  Support provided to film releases through a publicity insert in Time-Out magazine on June 20 and in Screen International on July 11: the purchase of a half-page advertising space presenting distributors’ logos and the release dates of all French films due for release in summer.
➢  The printing of 5,000 copies of a postcard distributed at preview and premiere screenings within a specialized cinema network (London Calling, Film&Cinema Run). (See card attached to this article).

As well as these actions, Unifrance provided travel support to French artists accompanying their films, including travel costs. A number of films were also granted support from the CNC to boost their commercial release.

Results of the operation

All of the distributors who had scheduled French film releases for the summer period showed immediate interest in being a part of this initiative. On the whole, these distributors were highly satisfied with this additional promotional support. None of them turned down the opportunity to be associated with the image of "French Cinema," as is at times the case in the UK, with particular interest shown by distributors less accustomed to dealing with French films, who wished to appeal to a wider audience.

The media reaction to this initiative was, in general, extremely positive.
The industry magazine Screen International was particularly enthusiastic, offering a cover article for its June 27 edition, entitled “The French Exchange,” that featured a two-page article with an-depth version of information appearing on the magazine’s website from June 10. A photo of Audrey Tautou at the preview screening of Priceless from July 11 also embellished the article.
On the French side, movie industry publications also covered the initiative.

Thanks to the presence of actors and directors accompanying their films, the majority of productions attracted wide media interest, with some print media offering impressive coverage.

Results in theaters
On the whole, results were very pleasing, with films achieving a varying degree of success. Thanks to the highly efficient work of distributors, some films performed exceptionally well, such as Priceless, La Graine et le mulet (The Secret of the Grain, aka Couscous), and L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours). Other distributors, however, expressed a little disappointment with results considering the effort put forth.
Almost all of the films were still showing in theaters mid-September.

In terms of the benefits gained from such an initiative compared to the costs involved, this can be seen as a highly efficient operation that served to partially compensate for the absence of a Unifrance-sponsored event, which would have demanded a far greater financial investment and complex organization. Such events also enable us to better understand and respond to the concerns of distributors, who are in a great need of support at the time of film releases. It is important that this recent initiative does not remain an isolated event: its efficiency requires continuity, with further promotional efforts carried out in the British market on a regular basis. For this reason, Unifrance is currently organizing a luncheon for distributors and media representatives on October 20, as part of the 2008 London Film Festival, to be held in the presence of a French artistic delegation.

Author : Elizabeth Conter

Latest update : 23 April 2009 à 13:02 CEST

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Linked films (3)

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BFI London Film Festival - 2008

Type : Feature film and short film festival

Theme : All films

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