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Media, Communications & Trends

Becoming Media Literate


To illustrate the convergence of media and the importance of the U.S. giants of Big Media and their vertical integration and synergies, it may be interesting to study the promotion and distribution of a film. For this, I wanted to choose a film released recently and therefore to study the campaign deployed before and during the movie. So I chose the French film The Artist, who has been very successful in France and who knows now the same situation in the United States. He had many awards at the Golden Globes and is nominated in many categories for the Oscar ceremony on Feb. 26. This film was directed by French director Michel Hazanavicius. It was produced by Thomas Langmann. The main actors are Jean DuJardin and Berenice Bejo. The music was created by James Bource. La Petite Reine and ARP Selection are the studios which produced the film. There are different distributors for different countries. Entertainment Film Distributors is responsible for distributing the film and promoted in the UK. In France, posters, promotional magazines, advertising, and exploitation campaigns, the official website of the film, press interviews, press releases, derivatives (such as posters, the soundtrack to the film) were developed by teams of Warner Bros France.

I expected by choosing this film that Warner Bros which belongs to the media giant Time Warner, will be responsible for communicating and promoting the film. And that he could deploy its channels, its magazines, its newspapers as ideal platforms for promotion and that a cross media promotion could take place. However, I was surprised to learn that it was The Weinstein Company, which last May did get the rights to distribute and promote the film.

The Weinstein Company (TWC) is an American film studio founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in 2005.  Just after the brothers left the then-Disney-owned Miramax Films, they had which co-founded in 1979. They retained ownership of the Dimension Films label of Miramax. While TWC is a mini-major much smaller than the six media giants (Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation,Viacom and CBS, Bertelsmann and General Electric/NBC Universal) in the United States, it is nonetheless a real war machine.

Harvey Weinstein, who worked long time for Disney, is an  experienced and prestigious distributor, and a talented communicator. In fact, TWC was responsible for promoting many films that became cult like Pulp FictionShakespierre in LoveThe King’s Speech or more recently Iron Lady. This media company does not have a various number of channels, magazines and newspapers as Time Warner or News Corps, but manages to deploy powerful media campaigns. For example, TWC was able to promote the film The King’s Speech which was named best film against all odds. This year, U.S. President Barack Obama was the first american viewer to watch The Artist, projected in August at the home of Harvey Weinstein in Tribeca.

For this, the main actors, Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, and the director Michel Hazanavicius agreed to play the game and blocked their calendars until February, 26th 2012 to participate in interviews and other events to promote the film. Moreover, the concept of the film has a certain advantage, it is easily understood in all countries. The action, which takes place during a pivotal period of American cinema, may not leave the Academy of Oscars indifferent, not to mention the numerous allusions in the film echoing the works of this period. Projections are scheduled in New York, in Hollywood, at the American Film Market in Los Angeles, in many festivals … The Weinstein Company, with its professionalism in the field, which earned over the years numerous awards, therefore falls in battle.

We can see that the  movie’s official website is related directly to TWC. We can see that many newspapers belonging to media giants as Time -who belongs to Time Warner- published flattering articles on this film and place first in their top 10.  Newspapers as The Guardian or Los Angeles Times which wrote extensively about this film. Large websites specializing in cinema as DeadLine or Fandango promoted the film.

In the U.S. tabloids, TWC has succeeded in creating a new star, Jean Du Jardin. It appears in several articles as a rising star as was the French actress, Marion Cotillard. Despite the French accent and his bad English, TV channels  are fighting for the actor on their TV sets.  Just a few weeks of the ceremony, Jean Du Jardin participates in many shows including the famous U.S. show The Late Show. TWC has also managed to create a buzz around Uggie, the dog of the film.

Moreover, many products have emerged before and after the movie as film posters or for instance the soundtrack which is currently is available on Sony Music or on Amazon. And I think that after the Oscar Ceremony, a lot of products, press articles and TV  shows come out around the results and awards of the film.

Finally, we saw in the analysis of promotion and distribution of the film The Artist that even if the distributor is not part of a big media company, they may still succeed promoted for a movie. Of course, be part of a huge media company would facilitate the cross media promotion, the dissemination of promotional messages in various media channels of the media group. But it is also necessary that the film is as good as the communication process implemented by the media company! The media business and power are not everything !

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