The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

3.4 Marketability versus playability

As viewers, we often think about how ‘good’ a film is. But those whose job it is to get people to see films have to look at this a little more deeply. Alex talks about two concepts often used in the marketing of a film.

They are ‘playability’ – how the audience responds to the film when they see it – and ‘marketability’ – how easy it is to get audiences interested in wanting to go to see it.

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Transcript: Video 5 Alex talks about playability and marketability

The notion of marketability versus playability as a dichotomy is a bit of a cliche, but like all cliches there is something that people often fall back upon. A film can appear extremely marketable. It's got the hot new actor, it's got a genre that everybody loves, it's got a great trailer, and then of course the film doesn't necessarily deliver. Whereas certain films can be- what's a great example, Billy Elliott. That wouldn't, on paper, have appeared to be a very easily marketable film, but it was very playable. People would like it, and all the time everybody in the industry is looking for films that they can both market and that will play.
 So sometimes- and the golden goose, as it were, is when they're marketable and playable, and that is frankly rare, because normally the hype goes up to such an extent that people are inevitably disappointed in some way. So there is a relationship, but what we're always all looking for is what we think is something that's playable, because there's something satisfying as a human being. If it's your job to put content out into the world, and you feel that you're actually putting good content out into the world, as opposed to content which is maybe being manipulated and spun to get people in, there's something just more innately satisfying about putting out good content.
 So you can look at your friends in the eye, and tell them to go and see your movie. There's a phrase, hey, it's a piece of business. And I always slightly refute that phrase overall. Yes, there are films that are made as a piece of business, but if there's not someone bringing passion to it, and trying to bring something new to it, then what are you buying? And I just think the really big hits normally are playable.
End transcript: Video 5 Alex talks about playability and marketability
Video 5 Alex talks about playability and marketability
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Think about a film you've seen recently. Consider your own decision process for seeing it, and then whether you ended up liking it or not. These are, of course, quite different judgements.


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