Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hit The Weinsteins Where It Hurts

[EDIT: Please read the comments below. They may indeed offer a better way to strike at the Weinsteins. Can anybody else join the debate and clarify the best course of action?]

After the news came last week that Grind House was to be split into two films and released not only some weeks apart but months and months from now, I was fishing around for a suitable protest. What could film ick do that would make much difference?

And then I realised the answer...

Nothing much. But - ! - there was something that could be done, just not directly by me. I fired off a few e-mails to the people who were in a position to do something. Something that would hit the Weinsteins where it hurts them most: in their bank balance.

Only one reply has arrived so far, which I'll post below - and keep you updated on any future response. But this will make it very clear what we can all do to teach the Weinsteins a lesson...

(I've altered this to protect the identity of the individual and the company concerned... at their request, and for now, at least)

Hi Brendon

Thanks for your e-mail regarding the UK cinema release of Grindhouse. I was as disappointed as you and your readers. Don't worry though, the ideas you put in your e-mail were very close to our way of thinking.

Now is when I tell you that this e-mail comes from a well-known, much used and well-respected DVD mail order company here in the UK. As well as selling UK R2 discs, they import and sell a whole warehouse full of R1 titles too. And that's how they can help out.

When the US Grindhouse discs ship, the UK will still be awaiting release. Obviously, a lot of fans will be looking to import the US discs - likely to be COMPLETELY uncut, loaded with features and no more expensive than two, or at most three, tickets to the cinema. We plan to market very agrressively, maybe more aggressively than ever before. This obviously very good for us. I believe it is also very good for fans of Grindhouse.

Like you say, if you want to hit the Weinsteins where it hurts, boycott the UK cinema release of Grindhouse and import the DVDs instead. Find yourself a nice big screen to watch them on, I bet most of your readers have these already, and sit back and enjoy knowing that there won't be anybody talking in the middle of the film or throwing popcorn or answering their mobile.

The exchange rate is such that UK customers purchasing the US equivalent instead of the later released UK discs will really hit the Weinsteins hard. In fact, if every Grindhouse fan follows this plan and imports the DVDs instead of paying the cinema ticket price it will cost the Weinsteins millions upon millions. Best of all - it is traceable. They'll see that the UK imported the US discs. This could even have a powerful effect on the gap between UK and US release schedules. Obviously only if people do this in enough numbers.

So tell your readers to get ready. And when the time comes, give them the links to preorder. We can hit the Weinsteins hard and get our Grindhouse uncut, early and cheaper than they would like us to.

Thanks for your e-mail, keep up the good work and lets hit the Weinsteins hard.

I think this is a pretty good plan. I will, as the man said, market Grind House aggressively as an import DVD option. We really could teach the Weinsteins a lesson, save ourselves money and maybe even strike a blow against really late European releases - if we get our numbers up. So, if you blog yourself, consider spreading this plan there too. Get the word out. Shout it from the rooftops.

And if you have any ideas on how we can be aggressive in this marketing, drop them in the comments below. Maybe making flyers and putting them up near cinemas in our towns? Maybe discussing the idea on forums. Maybe even petitioning.

Oh - and if you want to see the films at the cinema, the solution is simple there. Wait until they are screening at The Prince Charles and treat yourself to a day trip to London. Admission prices at the Charles are very, very cheap - so relatively little goes over to the Weinstein's coffers. And buy a drink and snack while you're there - cheap too, definitely compared to other cinema's prices - and the most direct way to support the cinema.

[EDIT: Now please read the comments below]


Anonymous said...

How does that work? The exhange rate variation will barely touch them, and they have almost cetainly hedged it all anyway, all it does is hammer their UK distributor & help out their US distributor - although that may make UK distributors less likely to work with TWC (yeah right cause distributors are where the power is).

You should probably change the title to "Free publicity sales promo hype for Play & Amazon who have sent me some free DVD's in exchange for pointing out they sell R1 DVD's & that by supporting a billion $ company you can sock it to da man!!!!".

Brendon said...

I haven't received anything form anyone, nor would that be an option.

The exchange rate is hovering around 2:1. Do the maths.

Momentum are every bit in the wrong as the Weinsteins - so maybe they deserve to be hit too.

Anonymous said...

I buy any films out on R1 before they are in English cinemas that i want to see. If more people did this the gap between the american and english release would get smaller.

Anonymous said...

Momentum are only in the wrong if its their call on how & when the film is distributed, with TWC this is unlikely as they typically retain full control, although if you know different you have a good point.

Re 2.1 exchange rate if they have hedged their sterling exposure - which they will have, where the sale takes place becomes irrelevant.

Basically anyone buying the R1 DVD gives a large boost to the retailer, a boost to the US distributor, a loss to the UK distributor & virtually no impact on TWC.

In fact if TWC are acting as their own distributor in the US it actually boosts their revenue on the title by cutting out the middleman.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Long time American reader, first time commenter. Love the site and love the writing...(much better than Cinematical) but I digress...
Despite the idea of what the Weinsteins are doing (which, when you think about it, is really just covering their losses from what was a DISMAL showing at the box office, which sees no reason to think it will be different in the UK), there is no reason to think this will change how these companies do business in countries that receive movies much later than where they're initially distributed. {Do you think when a toy is released in a country where it doesn't do well, they don't think how to change that toy to market and sell it in places where it is yet to be released?}
What I'm trying to say is:
Look at Sunshine. America won't get that film for a LONG while. Say we in America imported the DVD from the UK and therefore didn't go to see it in the theaters because we all have, quote, "Big TV's anyway."
Now, how many imported movies like Sunshine would companies bother to release if they knew, Americans, en masse, would buy the imported DVD to stick it to the company who waited so long to release a movie they knew would work much better later in the year? Aren't we just talking about good business sense? Which we want so we can continue to enjoy movies like the ones we like?
I don't quite get why sticking it to the Weinsteins about an idea for a movie release that went horribly wrong that they are trying to change would make the Weinsteins do business any differently.
Huh...just wondering...again, love the site, keep it up, and damnit...find a way for Shane Meadows to get bigger in America...use your blogger powers to make that happen...SOON! His movies aren't specifically british-themed...like the area that got the rating lowered, kids here should see his movies, too...he's the John Sayles of Britain! Get him over here! In a BIG WAY...
Alright, thanks.

Brendon said...

That's a very good point -

- why DON'T huge, huge, huge numbers of US filmgoers import Sunshine?

If this happened enough, it would have an effect.

Enough might be an awful lot, however.

Anonymous said...

People US would not bother importing because DVD costs are so much higher in the UK - One Night in the Museum in the UK is £11 ($20-$22), in the US its $16.

So would anyone pay $4-$6 more to import Sunshine 3 months early?

Brendon said...

Not many people, necessarily.

But enough?

There were quite a few importers of 28 Days Later, if I remember correctly.

I suppose the pirates are really the most powerful to say it in situations like this. I hate to admit it, but I think it's true.

If the UK Sunshine DVD is pirated and floods the US before the film hits cinemas, that is bound to have an effect.

Not that I condone piracy.

Anonymous said...

Long-time American reader here again:

But isn't the point of seeing a film like Sunshine is to see it in the theaters? Maybe that's looking at things through "artistic-colored" glasses...the whole communal experience in a theater thing...but why force a movie to lose it's business because it wasn't released when you wanted it to be released? Wouldn't that just facilitate distribution companies releasing everything straight-to-dvd? Is that something film-lovers want to see happen? Planet Terror is considered by many I know who've seen the movie to be FAR inferior to Death-Proof, dare-I-say a straight to dvd title anyway...so wouldn't it just stand that since it was something done to try to release a movie in a different way...wouldn't that mean the Weinsteins would go with the stronger film to get some money out of things?
Let's say STARDUST is equally difficult for American audiences to get through. Let's say distributors decide to release it like they did Children of Men. Would you have wanted to only see Children of Men on a home theater? That was the most amazing theater experience I've had in quite a while...(sorry for the hyperbole, but there were projection issues that enhanced the film GREATLY). Should Americans import Stardust and make a really good filmmaker lose that much business? I can't see the logic in that model. Maybe it's just me...I like this topic, though...thanks.

Will said...

I have my money ready to pay and see Grindhouse as a double feature. If I don't get that chance I will be downloading it instead. Simple as.

fraggle jock said...

Is there any word on when GH will be released on DVD in the US?

Brendon said...

Some sites have speculated an August release for the US DVDs. Let me join them.

Anonymous said...

DVD window in both US & UK is 4 months. Its not set in stone but virtually no one breaks it, last company to do so was Fox with One Night at the Museum in an effort to get the UK christmas market but really with the lost Box they barely broke even.

Basically take theatrical, add 4 months, thats the DVD window. TWC may shorten it if the re-release toilets as well but its unlikely.