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Stephanie Colderick 2016

Successful media products depend as much upon marketing and distribution to


a specific audience as they do upon good production practices.
To what extent would you agree with this statement, within the media area you
have studied?

In many ways Star Wars The Force Awakens needed there to be equally as good
marketing and distribution campaigns as the production. Both of these factors
are massive influences on the films success and wouldnt have worked without
the other.

Star Wars The Force Awakens was able to be viewed in cinemas, and also
released by download, Blu-ray and DVD. The film was mainly distributed by Walt
Disney Studios Motions Pictures which is vertical integration as Disney produced
the film and own Lucasfilm the other major production company for the film.
There were also some other distribution companies such as Starz! for USA TV
and Columbia Pictures for theatrical in the Philippines, this is horizontal
integration. The film was filmed on 35mm film and 65 mm IMAX and distributed
digitally. This helped the success of the film as it meant that it was considerably
cheaper than if the entire film had been filmed on film and not distributed
digitally. As it was cheaper it meant the overall success of the film increases as
the profit made would be a lot higher. This also enabled the film to not just be
shown and be successful in cinemas but also be easily accessible online with
opportunities like iTunes, Google Play, X-Box and Netflix available. This massively
helped increase the success of the film as the specific market of todays
audiences wants to be able to view films whenever, wherever and on what
device they want; distributing digitally allows this which increases the success of
the film as more people will be more inclined and encourage to watch/download
it. This also increased the success of The Force Awakens in cinemas as cinemas
more has easier access to it as shown by North America having 4,134 cinemas
showing the film in December and from December 18th playing on every IMAX
cinema in North America. This massively increased the success of the film as
being able to watch it on IMAX would excited and appeal to modern day
audiences.

The film itself was marketed extremely well by Disney. Disney has the power,
influence and money to create very effective marketing campaigns like the one
for The Force Awakens. As well as the usual trailers and posters, which were
insanely successful themselves, breaking viewing records, Disney also used the
power of social media, merchandise and other companies to market The Force
Awakes. A whole day was created on 30th September 2016 which was named
Force Friday and this consisted of a 24 hour live streaming event of fans unboxing the merchandise. Not only did this increase interest for the merchandise
but massively racked up success for the film from the dedicated fans. Star Wars
is a franchise that quite unique in the amount of very interested and passionate
fans particularly in the UK and USA for the franchise so individual marketing
opportunities like this really increased the hype and overall success of the film.

Stephanie Colderick 2016


Disney also involved other companies in the marketing to enable The Force
Awakens to become a familiar sight for particularly the American and British
public. By using household brands like Tesco in the UK and Hot Wheels in the USA
plus many more the public would be surrounded The Force Awakens which would
massively increase the films success. This blanket marketing helps ensure
success for the film as it increases the excitement and amount of people viewing
the film.

The marketing also helped the film be known to all audience demographics that
Disney has the advantage of promoting too such as children and families. The
Force Awakens would attract massive Star Wars fans however with Disney now
producing, distributing and marketing the film it increases the excitement and
prosperity of the film for much wider audiences which will help make the film
more successful. The wide range of marketing used for the film also massively
helped increase its success as it reached and engaged many audience types.
This can be shown by how Disney worked with brands like Cover Girl and Max
Factor to engage a female audience and also the success of the film in China.
The Force Awakens set a new record for the best box office for a weekend release
in China for $33 million. This is a particular achievement for the Force Awakens
as unlike in the USA and UK there are not many passionate fans in China due to
the political climate when the original Star Wars trilogy was released. Star Wars
(the first Star Wars film) was released in 1977 when China was under a very
strict Communist role which meant that Western, American, Hollywood
blockbusters were not widely accepted or even prohibited. This meant that there
was a very small Chinese fan base as not many people had grown up with the
movies like British and American audiences had. To combat this Disney launched
a massive marketing campaign in China to raise awareness, excitement and
overall successfulness for the film; this included 500 Stormtroopers on the Great
Wall of China and using famous Chinese stars like Lu Han to introduce trailers
and create promotional songs. The success of the film in China really shows how
important marketing is to have a successful film; Star Wars went from being
almost non-existent to breaking records in China mostly due to the marketing.

Production is also important for the success of a film. Again Star Wars in very
unique in the fact that there have already been six successful films previously. As
the first trilogy was most successful the director J.J. Abrams wanted The Force
Awakens to be as similar to those films as possible, as it would satisfy fans and
audiences the most. Firstly having J.J. Abrams as the director, and part of the
screenwriting and producing teams was a good production practice as J.J. Abrams
is very well experienced in producing Sci-Fi Action films like The Force Awakens.
He has directed all of the Star Trek films which not only familiarised him with Star
Wars fans (as often these franchises go hand in hand with fans) but also shows
how he is a successful director, perfect for The Force Awakens. This production
practice helped the success of the film as fans knew they could trust this director
and would be more inclined to watch the film. Another production practice
unique to Star Wars that helped the success of the film was using the same key
people and companies in the production. In 2012 Disney brought Lucasfilm for
the main aim of producing more Star Wars, they could not do this successfully

Stephanie Colderick 2016


without the help of Lucasfilm as having produced the other six films they have
the very best knowledge and expertise to create a successful seventh film. In
many cases the same people were used for example Harrison Ford for Han Solo
and John Williams to create the film score like he did for the previous six films.
This carried on continuity for the fans and also enabled the best acting and
composing as these individuals knew their roles very well, knew the characters
and knew what worked; without this idea of continuity mixed with the new the
famous line Chewey were home would never have made the screen and
delighted fans globally. Likewise introducing new characters like Daisy Ridley as
Rey and John Boyega as Finn helped attract new audiences and fans to create a
new era for this Star Wars trilogy. These two leads in particular would help attract
and increase success in modern audiences of 14-30 years olds as having a
female and black lead would excite them, as often not portrayed in Hollywood,
this audience would be more than happy to watch a female and black lead.
This helped the success of the film as the mix of old and new attracted old and
new audience which would just keep the success of the film rolling through many
audience demographics.

The next production practice of sticking to the original methods and practical
techniques as much as possible also helped the success of the film. Going back
to the older ways of filming and creating a film like: using 35 mm Kodak film to
film many parts of the film, less green screens and using models, sets and
paintings instead, using real explosions and having characters like the
Luggabeast fully practical, linked The Force Awakens back to the original trilogy
which helped the film succeed. This production practice helped the success of
the film as it would attract fans back to the franchise and would also impress
audiences that werent already fans leading them to be more interested to see
the film. However a film as fantasy based as Star Wars could not be done without
the aid of some CGI and special effects especially with all the amazing
technology available; here Disney can really help the success of the film as they
have the access, knowledge, money and influence to this technology. The
character of Maz Kanata (based on Abrams high school teacher) was created and
filmed entirely digitally. A motion-capture suit was used to allow the actress
Lupita Nyongos character to come alive which is a very modern and state of the
art technology. This production practice helped the success of the film as it
added the wow factor for audiences. The quality of this character and other CGI
and special effects technology enhanced the whole experience of the film
especially for modern day viewers who have become accustomed to great levels
of technology in films.

Overall I believe the marketing and distribution and production practices are
equally as important to create a successful film. I completely agree with this
statement and do not believe you can have one without the other; as a great film
not marketed or distributed well will not reach audiences as shown by the
success in China (had The Force Awakens not had such a impactful marketing
campaign the film would be less of a success) and a awful film marketed and
distributed well would have had much less success in merchandise sales, home

Stephanie Colderick 2016


media sales or repeat viewing in the cinema that Star Wars massively gained
success from.