An astonishing art house film that proved to be a good investment by returning more than the initial investment.
This week we bring another Oscar darling, Michael Haneke’s Amour. The movie about the ultimate test of love: death. As usual with this column we will highlight artistic testament as well as commercial performance. This week, Amour is at the Crossroads.
Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.
When you’re film student you often have access to early screenings before they are distributed to the masses. Amour was one of those films that I had early access to. From beginning to end, Amour was astonishing. Every possible human feeling was elicited during the screening. I’ll admit there were moments when I wanted to look away as the character’s pain was so raw, but I manned up. All this was accomplished with little lines of dialogue. The concept “show-don’t tell” was mastered here. This is what movie making is about: an unforgettable visual and emotional experience.
Amour received great critical reception around the world. It received more than 100 award nomination and won Canne’s Palme D’or and The Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film.
Amour falls under the category of: Art House Film. According to the most reliable source, Wikipedia “An art film is intended to be a serious artistic work, often experimental and not designed for mass appeal; they are made primarily for aesthetic reasons rather than commercial profit” and they contain unconventional or highly symbolic content.”
Amour defied part of this definition and had commercial profit. Sony Classic Pictures acquired U.S. distribution during Festival de Cannes and held the opening on December 21, 2012. Its opening weekend was not spectacular as it only brought in $68,266. That number grew to $6,738,954 domestically, and $25,915,719 world wide.
So why analyze a movie that did not make hundreds of millions of dollars? Because Amour is a sign of hope for all the artistic filmmakers with a unique voice. It shows that you can make an art film and also accomplish commercial profit. The return was not exponential, but it was enough to cover all the cost and some.
This is important because one of the common motifs at film school is the following: Why does Hollywood keep producing remakes? The simple answer is that the big studios try to minimize their risk by creating projects with known material. It’s common sense because at the end of the day entertainment is a commerce. Even venture capitalists at Silicon Valley minimize their risk, so the studios are in their right to produce less risky properties.
This also hints at why the festival circuit exists. It’s a smart way for studios and distributors to see the finished product before they invest. This is preciesly the route that Amour took. It was acquired during the prestigious Festival de Cannes. So, if you have the next best artistic idea keep pressing on. There are investors and distributors looking for these types of projects.
Highlight: Marketing Budget
As usual, the marketing budget was not avaIlable to the general public. However, it can be concluded that a small budget was used. This can be seen in the fact that only 1 movie trailer was created.
A strategy that many business use when developing a new product is to increase the marketing budget. It might not make sense, but the logic is as follows: Spend more money on marketing and more people will buy it. The question then becomes: Will it be enough to offset the marketing cost. In the case of Amour I believe that it would have been beneficial to spend more money on marketing because the product was good. .
The biggest issue with the marketing budget was the amount allocated for creating an trailer. According to a UCLA professor, only one trailer was created for this movie. (more below) It would make sense that creating multiple trailers would have been a no brainer.
Most likely, there wasn’t the budget to make more than one trailer, despite the difference in audience reception and marketing conventions worldwide. This strikes me as a very short-sighted “savings” of say, $50,000 dollars (possibly much less), since the provenance, talent, creative team, and critical buzz for the film was everything the distributor could have wanted to sell this movie more widely in the US market. But though I find it astonishing–given the marginal cost of creating trailers for different audience segments–that only one was finished to promote this film worldwide, the decision was not doubt more complicated and carefully considered than I’ve speculated.http://www.movietrailers101.com/amour-trailer-the-exquisite-subtlety-of-french-film-marketing/