Directed by Tom Hooper and starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.
British mid-budget independent film produced at a cost of approximately $13m and grossing over $400m.
It proved very popular in America. Its narrative is one that stereotypically appeals to American audiences fascination with “heritage” Britain (that it is based on a true story only adds to its appeal); the emotionally turbulent journey of the ultimately successful but flawed hero who, along with many of the films characters, is aristocratic (Four Weddings and a Funeral is similar in both these respects – Charles has to overcome his British reserve in order to capture Carrie and is upper-middle class).
It gained a number of awards, among them 4 Oscars for best Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay. These will help post-Cinema sales (e.g. DVD, downloads).
It could be made because of £1m of funding from the now defunct UK Film Council, having been rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4.
It was the archetypal sleeper/cross-over hit (other notable British examples include Four Weddings, Slumdog Millionaireand Billy Elliot), growing enormously in popularity after its first week of Cinema screenings, in part because of word-of-mouth recommendations and a great deal of critical acclaim.
It appealed to a diverse audience, including an older (i.e. 50+) demographic, who will perhaps only visit the cinema once or twice a year.
Case Study 2: Inception (2010)
Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, one of the big American studios.
Hollywood big-budget sci-fi thriller, with a budget of $160m. It grossed well over $800m.
A film with a high level of “bankability”; directed byChristopher Nolan (who also achieved great success withThe Dark Knight, Memento and Insomnia), starring well regarded A-List actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Gangs of New York, Blood Diamond, The Departed) and based on a premise that has already proved popular in films such as The Matrix; that of an alternative, dream reality.
It was, for a big budget movie, typically well marketed, with heavy TV, poster and internet advertising presence, contributing to its success.
It also received a lot of critical praise. Mark Kermode said that it proves that “it is possible for blockbusters and art to be the same thing”.
It won 4 Oscars, for best Cinematography, Special Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing (contrast this to the type of Oscars won by The King’s Speech, for example Best Actor). Indeed, it is a spectacular film audio-visually, with very advanced CGI effects. In this respect it is typical of many Hollywood blockbusters, although arguably with a more thought-provoking storyline. It stands in stark contrast to The King’s Speech, and many other British independent films, in that it defined as much for its narrative concept and special effects as it is for its characters.