Audience trends 2010

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1. Audiences: Trends, Profiles and Patterns: What People Go to See, Why and How to Reach Them Pete Buckingham, Head of Distribution and Exhibition, UK Film Council In March 2010, iFeatures was delighted to have Pete Buckingham of the UK Film Council along to one our iFeatures Twelve workshop days. The following is an edited transcript of that session: In my experience, this is not something that is usually taught to people who either write, produce or direct films. As a result it sometimes seems a complete mystery as to why financers, distributors, TV companies etc are not that interested in your particular film or project. What were going to try to do here is to uncover some of the unconscious or conscious rules, if you like, that are being played out in the marketplace on behalf of audiences. What were going to take a look at here is the UKs cinema-going audience: Young. 15-24s represent 32% of the population, but 40% of cinema audience. By contrast 55+s represent 34% of the population, but only 20% of the cinema audience. 35-44s who make up 38% of cinema audience represent 35% of the population. Upmarket. ABC1s represent 49% of the population, but 60% of the cinema audience which increases up to 66% amongst heavy cinema goers. Rule of thumb; the older the audience, the more upmarket. Frequency. 15-34s form 60% of heavy cinema goers and within that 40% are from the 15-24 group. Medium cinema goers are 50% of 25-44s. The 55 plus make up 32% of the light cinema goers. These figures dont cover the international market, although theres evidence many of these markets operate in the same way, apart from France which is a special issue. You can see this is a young and upmarket audience, surprisingly enough. Within the film industry there is a degree of snobbishness towards the so-called multiplex audiences I sincerely hope youre not part of that snobbishness and therefore there is a feeling that the multiplex audiences are comparatively down-market, which isnt the case. 1 2. What Does a Cinema Audience Look Like? Well in marketing terms we can cluster them, which is an extremely useful thing: HERO SEEKER: IMPULSIVE FILM FANATICS: IMPRESSIONABLE MODERN PARENTS: FUN LOVERS: Not YOUTH OF TODAY: See Dont go out much, MATERIALIST: Male, Pre-plan SOCIALITES: Kids pressurising the film literate. Big film films as soon as they place well in advance Fashion victim, their trip, 25-44, go Male/Female. Under parents. and video consumers come out affluent, film- in 2s, review-led. 25. Like dinner-drinks. blockbusters. Led by Word of mouth is ads. key. This is a very common way of interpreting what an audience looks like, and a way of understanding how we can talk to them and what they are like. The problem is that when youre in a creative process - from the writers or directors or producers side of the fence - thats not really much help to you. Its not much help to you to say, Well, is my film a hero seeker film or a youth of today film? These clusters arent giving you enough information. When I was at Film4, when we were facing the issues around what kind of films should we make and why are films working and not working, we set out to look at two things: How do audiences really behave and why? Are there any possible tools to help filmmakers and distributors in assessing the viability of the project? 2 3. This research was done in 2001 but has since been backed up by an equally large piece of research at the Film Council. It is actually still as valid now as it was then. We did qualitative research talking to people. We spoke to some film buffs and very mainstream types, but mainly to general film-goers, people who enjoy a wide variety of films but dont tend to seek out arthouse or European films. We asked: What activities are more important to you than film? Men: Music, Drinking, Sport, Socialising, TV. Women: Music, Socialising, Shopping, TV. Younger people: Music, TV, Socialising, Computer Games, Shopping Theres one big note here and thats music. Music is a really common denominator right across age and sex but interestingly music and film are not aligned very strongly. We have a very strong music culture in this country, and yet the film and music industry do not align themselves very easily. Actually most famous films usually tend to have a soundtrack attached to them that you can remember thats not a PR thing, its because theyre working in symbiosis together. I urge you to think about music much more centrally, the music is important. Next: What is it that film represents for people? For the vast majority of people, except for film buffs, it is satisfying peoples unfulfilled desires. This is what film gives us. This is what it is. It is entertainment. It is all the things that people do not get from work. In another MORI poll, people said that these were things that people dont get from work, but that they look for in film (in no particular order): Excitement Ambition Innovation Exhilaration People to Admire Style and Glamour Power Creativity The Surprising Fun Imagination The Unexpected These are power words, these are really strong, emotional words that need to be borne in mind. If we understand that people go to the cinema to fulfil unfulfilled desires, and to be entertained, we need to look at how people choose what theyre going to see. UKFC did a huge piece of research on behalf of the whole industry on this and the biggest thing that came out is that cinema is an event. And since people tend to go to the cinema with at least one other person (unless youre a film buff), choosing what youre going to see means you have to negotiate. We found that audience choices are governed by the following: What partner / friends want to see. Often, the choice of film is a compromise. However, people still want to feel the film they will see will give them a peak experience i.e. they will leave the cinema on a high. 3 4. No one wants to be blamed for choosing a bad film. Apart from the emotional reasons attached to seeing a bad film, it can also feel like a waste of money. In a group of friends those films that polarise, are unlikely to be seen - even if a large minority like them. So, inclusive blockbusters will always win out. People do not like seeing films on their own and 7 is felt to be a significant amount of money especially when the groups entrance fees are totalled up together There is a currency going on here about yourself, in other words, Who am I?, Am I able to pick the right film?, Can I be a trusted person with my group of friends? and so on. You dont want to choose the bad film, and we all know its quite uncomfortable sitting beside somebody who is not enjoying the film as much as you are, unlike a DVD which you can just switch off. Theres a desire to have a shared experience. Given peoples desire not to make a mistake, and also in order to make a quick and effortless decision, they look for clear signals the film really is one they will like: DRIVERS