Can’t Start A Fire Without A Spark…

Thursday, August 15 2013
Can’t Start A Fire Without A Spark…

It’s arguably the hottest day of the summer; temperatures have soared outside even though it’s still morning. It’s even hotter where we are, in a cinema foyer in Leicester Square, in the heart of the cinemagoing district of London’s West End, along with the great and the good from the worlds of theatrical and home entertainment, and our hosts, Lionsgate.

The trailers playing on a loop on TVs dotted around the bar area of the cinema complex give the game away as to the reasons so many people from the upper echelons of the industry, certainly from the retail side of the business, both online and physical, are all present and correct, as do the branded cupcakes strategically placed on tables.

We’re here for the big reveal about the latest instalment of The Hunger Games franchise, Catching Fire.
The presence of so many retailers alongside theatrical exhibitors shows the increasing importance of a theatrical bow at store level and just how a successful blockbuster franchise can help generate cash outside of cinemas, in the high street and online.

That’s probably why the likes of HMV, supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and a wealth of video on demand players and online retailers, aren’t complaining too much about the stifling heat in the lobby.
Before long, the assembled throng has headed into the cinema for the key, salient points.

Lionsgate has showed its credentials at the blockbuster level, like eOne before it, the independent has proved it can handle a huge theatrical release as well as any one.

And its figures for the first film, the one simply entitled The Hunger Games, back that up: £24 million at theatrical for starters, as well as some 1.2 million units sold over the counter for the home entertainment release.

Lionsgate firmly believes that it can grow the franchise with the sequel ¬– it points to the likes of The Matrix, Batman Begins, The Twilight Saga and, even more recently, Despicable Me, as franchises that started off well but were bested by their sequels. Where the distributor looks likely to succeed is in finding out who its audience was and identifying areas where it can grow numbers, looking at demographics and breakdowns of the cinema-going public for other blockbusters and comparing it with those who saw The Hunger Games. And after identifying those, it is going after them with some vigour as part of its multi-million pound marketing campaign.

TV will form a large part of the campaign and social media is once again key too. The overall profile of the release will be raised even further by one of the Industry Trust’s excellent Moments Worth Paying For adverts airing to some 10 million cinemagoers during October.

But it was the drafting that the video half of the audience had come to hear about and Lionsgate’s plans around this are impressive.

Its comparable is one of the more recent items given a renewed push on the theatrical release of a sequel, Despicable Me. It had sold more than 250,000 copies as Lionsgate was addressing its audience, a figure that has grown further still.

“We’re going to work closely with our home entertainment team to drive sales across all platforms,” said theatrical head of distribution Matt Smith. “It worked really well for Despicable Me, selling more than 250,000 units. We want to ensure The Hunger Games is visible at all retailers, physical and digital.”
Moreover, both home entertainment and theatrical will be working hand in hand, the two helping each other. The more people that see the first film, the more will want to see the second, and the home entertainment arm is sparking interest in Catching Fire by giving away the first chapter of the book with every copy of the film sold.

As the presentation draws to a close there’s time for a couple more key reveals. For starters there’s the closely guarded information that the film’s premiere will take place in London on November 11, highlighting Lionsgate’s UK arm’s standing in the global marketplace for the film. That news went public this week, timed to coincide with 100 days before the film’s official November 22 bow.

And there’s also the trailer, featured below, offering the most footage we’ve seen yet from the latest adventures of Katniss and co.

Here’s the trailer now, for more on the drafting plans, see this week’s newsletter…

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