Category Archives: Information

Animation Insider


Magic Dumpling Entertainment President & CEO Kevin Geiger speaks on the challenges and opportunities facing animation producers in China and around the world in the MIPTV special edition of C21 Media’s “Insider’s Guide to Animation”.

China Television Co-productions: The Basics

co-production

Co-productions on the Chinese mainland are regulated by China’s State Adminstration of Radio, Film & Television (SARFT) through a combination of applications, approvals and oversight at the provincial and national levels.

Television co-productions can proceed under any of the three following models:

  • JOINT PRODUCTION: in which the Chinese party and the foreign party jointly invest capital, provide personnel & resources, and share profits & risks.
  • COLLABORATIVE PRODUCTION: in which the foreign party invests capital and provides key personnel, while the Chinese party provides labor services, resources and locations.
  • ENTRUSTED PRODUCTION: in which the foreign party invests capital, while the Chinese party is responsible for production in its entirety.

The application & approvals process varies depending on the co-production models, with requirements that are variably stringent and vague.

Studios solely looking for distribution in China will be attempting to enter the market as a foreign property, regardless of their content’s cultural cues, and subject to a different set of regulations and restrictions.

More to come…

Distribution Considerations (发行考量)

film

Release Windows

The typical method of releasing animated feature films begins with domestic theatrical exhibition, which gives value to the various film “windows” (the period following a domestic release before a film can be released in other markets). Historically in the United States and Europe, the sequencing pattern for feature films has been to license international theatrical exhibition, home video & DVD, cable television distribution, broadcast television rights and other ancillary rights. As the rates of return shift among these different sources, changes are made to the sequencing strategy. Not only are release windows currently shrinking, but there is speculation that they may compress completely in favor of a distribution model in which content is delivered simultaneously on the “big screen” (theaters), the “mid screen” (TV displays) and the “small screen” (mobile phones). Regardless, it is important to note that the release windows for gaming and publishing ancillaries usually precede the initial theatrical release of a film or broadcast release of a show by one to three months, and this aspect is unlikely to change.

Distributors around the world plan their release windows with certain target audiences in mind. Low-budget films will often receive platform release windows in selected major cities that feature substantial populations of cosmopolitan filmgoers. In this way, the film is given a build-up to a wider release that may occur several weeks later. With the high costs of film prints, even a relatively modest theatrical distribution of 1,000 screens can exceed $2 million USD in initial expenses, although digital delivery may eventually drive distribution costs down to almost nothing.

Theaters

Ideally, the best possible initial release for an animated feature film is release in theaters. In addition to its own potential revenue, theatrical release can generate demand for other media release platforms such as broadcast television and DVD, as well as consumer interest in ancillary products. For a film in initial release, the exhibitor will pay a percentage of the revenues from ticket purchases to the distributor (referred to as the “film rentals”, and not to be confused with home video rentals). Film rentals customarily diminish over the length of a film’s theatrical run. Depending on the distribution agreement, the producers and investors are entitled to a percentage of film rentals, after the distributor recovers its distribution fee, marketing expenses and distribution expenses.

Other media releases for the film are calculated in a similar fashion. For instance, in the U.S., a home video company pays an amount to the distributor for the right to stock its DVD stores with the title. From these fees, the distributor will deduct its distribution fee, advertising costs and other distribution expenses in order to recover costs. The producers and investors then receive their agreed-upon revenues as set out in the distribution agreement. The same goes for television and ancillary rights. The total of the money received by the distributor from the exercise of all rights that it is entitled to is called the “distributor’s gross”. Every distribution agreement is different; however, there are similarities common to all. The distributor receives a distribution fee, which is the percentage of the profits that the distributor will receive from the gross. The distributor is then entitled to recover its marketing costs and distribution expenses. The remaining sum is payable to the producers and investors, and is generally called the “producer’s gross” or the net sum.

Independent animation producers have several ways of distributing feature films:

  • For the widest distribution, independent producers must partner with a major studio, although this means giving up significant rights. Typically, when major studios get involved early in the production, they finance most or all of the animated film’s development and production budget and also handle distribution. In return, they receive all rights (including the copyright) and control all creative, marketing and distribution decisions. While filmmakers can benefit financially from the guaranteed exhibition and broad audience reach provided by such deals, final compensation may be far less than expected once significant studio fees and expenses are deducted.
  • Major studios and independent distributors (such as Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) can also simply distribute an animated film, controlling marketing and distribution but not production. The distributor usually gets involved only after it sees the completed film, and production funding comes from elsewhere. In this scenario, the distributor takes 20%-35% of gross distribution revenues returned from the theaters, and then deducts expenses before remitting the remainder to the producer. While the relatively lower distribution take and the retention of creative control and copyright are attractive incentives to the producer, there is the very real risk of creating an animated film that is considered “unmarketable”. Distributors routinely reject films that they suspect will be under-performers at the box office due to lack of audience appeal or a clear market position.
  • A “middle way” is to negotiate with a major international distributor to distribute the film upon delivery of a master negative (or digital equivalent) – a deal known as “negative pickup”. The distributor’s early involvement brings valuable market insight to the development and production process, may include an advance against revenues, and provides the benefit of helping the producer to gain financing. Signed distribution agreements can be used as collateral for bank loans, and as incentives for other investors to join the enterprise. The distributor receives distribution rights, usually in all media, for a specified length of time (often “in perpetuity”). When possible, it is in the producer’s best interest to negotiate options based upon performance milestones, which allow the distribution rights to return to the producer if the distributor fails to actively market the film.
  • Some studios and distributors may also choose to come on board as co-producers, which creates a level of involvement somewhere between owning all rights and simply distributing the film. The studio provides a degree of production financing, has creative input, oversees marketing and distribution, and shares back-end revenues, but does not take full control. The financial details of such arrangements vary greatly.

As these examples demonstrate, studios and distributors can license animated films at various points during the production process: while the film is being financed, during production, or after completion. The more that existing elements seem to point to box office success, the more likely a distributor is to pick up the film early in the process. However, distributors are generally reluctant to get involved early in the production process of independent animated films. The independent producer usually must finance and produce the film without any distribution presale money, and then try to find distribution through success on the international film festival circuit in venues such as Sundance and Cannes, or at markets where films are sold such as the American Film Market and MIPCOM. The hard reality is that only a small percentage of companies pitching their films at festivals succeed in securing distribution deals.

DVD

The home video & DVD market is currently undergoing dramatic transformation. DVD sales are dropping as much as 25% at some studios, and low-cost DVD rental kiosks are challenging traditional DVD distribution & release strategies. But a bright spot in the midst of this downturn is animation, which continues to perform better than ever in theaters, and to hold its own on DVD and in ancillary media. In fact, animated movies on DVD appear to perform in a unique, toy-like manner: purchased as both collectibles and as “electronic babysitters” (children love to watch animation over and over again).

Once a “graveyard” for movies which could not obtain theatrical distribution, the direct-to-DVD pipeline is becoming increasingly important to mainstream film franchises. While many direct-to-DVD (D2DVD) releases are sequels to popular theatrical films, others start out as direct-to-DVD franchises and have built their success without a box-office track record. Disney, Lionsgate and Marvel are among the distributors who have made millions on so-called “DVD Premieres” (DVDP) over the past decade. Disney started making sequels to most of its animated films for video/DVD release beginning with “The Return of Jafar” (the sequel to “Aladdin”) in 1994. Universal began its long line of “Land Before Time” sequels that same year. The number of direct-to-DVD films worldwide grew almost 40 percent between 2005 and 2008. In 2008, Disney’s “Tinker Bell” direct-to-DVD movie grossed over $50 million USD. In 2009, the direct-to-DVD title “Barbie and the Three Musketeers” grossed an estimated $14 million USD in North America alone (not counting HD-DVD and Blu-Ray sales).

DVD Premieres are now a substantial source of revenue for movie studios, collectively grossing over $3 billion USD in the last few years. DVDP movies can be shot on budgets much smaller than those of films intended primarily for theaters, allowing studios to profit easier with the combined revenues of home video sales & rentals, broadcast licensing, and theatrical release in international territories. High-profile producers, such as Joel Silver of the “Matrix” trilogy, are signing major deals to produce direct-to-DVD titles, bringing with them top directing, acting and production talent.

DVD Premieres are not only reserved for larger Hollywood studios. Many independents distribute DVDP’s almost exclusively. In fact, DVD Premieres have become a lifeline for independent filmmakers and smaller companies who may not have the resources for a competitive international theatrical release. In Japan, the so-called “V-Cinema” movement has a broad consumer base, and is valued by film directors for the greater creative freedoms allowed. For anime, this is called Original Video Animation (OVA) – often used to tell stories too long for a theatrical feature film and too short for a full TV season.

TV

In the area of broadcast animation, the United States remains the largest and potentially most lucrative television market in the world. The traditional method of selling animation content to U.S. broadcast and cable networks is to license 13 to 26 episodes (a half-year’s or a year’s worth of shows) for a flat fee per episode, which gives the network the right to air each show at least twice, and often indefinitely. Around the world, license fees paid to content creators have shrunk dramatically over the last decade, with networks usually demanding that producers cut their budgets as a precondition of acquisition. These fees, ranging from $0 USD to $100,000 USD per half-hour episode, vary dramatically by budget, country, population, economic conditions and many other factors.

The important point is that a considerable amount of most broadcast animation production budgets remains in deficit, and must be covered through international presales, co-production partnerships, ancillary sales or other means. Partly because of this, networks in the U.S. and around the world commonly become co-producers and co-financers in the productions they air, purchasing part or full ownership of the property, rather than simply licensing the rights to broadcast the show. As stake holders, they also receive revenues from international broadcast sales, home video & DVD, merchandising and other ancillaries. The total number of broadcast networks around the world is on the rise, and the growth in channels provides more points of entry for animated programming. Increasingly in the digital era, television rights are often “bundled”, without separate splits for each media type.

Ancillaries

Interactive gaming software is an increasingly important revenue stream for animation properties. This category can easily amount to 50% or more of all ancillary activity, and can rival the revenue of the core theatrical or broadcast distribution for animated films and television shows. Gaming software is also a good way to increase awareness for an animated property, especially when released prior to the screening or airing of the production. On 3D CGI productions, digital assets can be shared between the producers of the animation and the producers of the games. This is often done simultaneously, and can enhance the development of story and characters for both. Games often introduce new story lines and sometimes new characters that expand the world established in the original entertainment property. Platforms include PC, console, mobile and Internet formats.

While book and comic book publishing is usually not the top ancillary category in the United States, books and comics are still an important revenue stream in the West, and an extremely popular and profitable one in the East. Book and comic ancillaries generate awareness with the target audience, provide a means to extend story lines, backstory and character development beyond the original animation property, and enhance the brand image. Typical formats, depending on the age of the consumer and the nature of the content, include board books, story books, magazines, comic books and graphic novels, film novelizations (adaptations of the animation script) and derivative novels (“prequel” and “sequel” stories).

Many animation producers and executives take soundtrack sales into account when they plan the music for a film. By including musical acts that are popular with children and pre-teens (the primary purchasers of animation sound tracks), the producer can enhance sales of the album even among those consumers who have not seen the film. This marketing synergy can also work in the other direction: having a popular singer or band play an important role in the soundtrack can bring people into the theaters who might not otherwise see the film. Music videos are naturally an important part of this equation, and are often planned in conjunction with animation production to create tie-ins between the live action performers and the animated characters.

Toys are the main ancillary product category for most children’s animation projects, with dolls, action figures and board games among the most popular items. There is also an expanding market for collectible “urban vinyl” toys and cast resin figurines among teenaged and adult animation fans. Toys are often one of the first licenses granted for an animation property due to the long lead times required for product development and manufacturing. Some animation-based toy lines are narrowly focused. A licensor of a new, relatively unknown animation property might choose to self-distribute toys, or to license the sale of a small range of toys over the Internet. This approach allows the producer to test the market and gauge demand. For example, Cartoon Network chose to test a dozen products based on its “Samurai Jack” series, with sales initially limited to their website.

While interactive games, publishing and toys are the primary ancillary categories for animation properties, the number of possible products is unlimited, depending on the nature of the content and its audience.  Clothing, stationery, food and beverages are among the available revenue streams. Tactical considerations for maximum profits include the timing of product introduction in each country where the property is released, the product categories chosen, whether to grant exclusive or non-exclusive rights, and the choice of retail outlets. While under-stocking can reduce revenues, over-stocking can shorten the life of the product licensing program, and even have an adverse impact on the animation property itself by creating a negative consumer reaction.

Product placement within a film, common to American live-action properties, is generally not encouraged within animation properties, as it tends to reduce the “classic” status of the animated film. Threshold Animation Studios’ animated feature “Food Fight” launched a direct assault on this principle by setting a story in an American supermarket filled from top to bottom with name-brand household products, and using the fees charged to fund production. The ultimate results of this approach remain to be seen, but the negative online buzz from animation fans prior to release is noteworthy, as is the film’s ongoing difficulty in finding theatrical distribution. A more acceptable phenomenon common in mainland China is the inclusion of corporate logos in the end credits of feature films in exchange for production financing.

The Internet

The Internet is a global market that can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world. Independent animation filmmakers can now obtain a bigger audience through a website than through traditional TV or film distribution. For animation producers motivated to tell stories to the widest possible audience, the Internet offers over a billion potential viewers through more than 300 million broadband households.

Much can be said about the revolutionary potential of online delivery.  In short, the opportunity and the challenge that all producers & distributors now face is how to manage the continuation of traditional revenue streams, while also embracing the uncertain (but unquestionable) potential of digital distribution through online media.

Summary

The global animation industry is highly competitive, with much of a project’s success being directly related to the skills of the distributor’s marketing strategy. Magic Dumpling actively solicits early feedback from potential distribution partners within the U.S. and China, including independent companies, major studios and government entities. Magic Dumpling is committed to the creation of appealing animation content for mass markets, and values the guidance of experienced distributors. This open strategy directly benefits the market position and profit potential of our properties. Our goal is to make quality animated films and programs that people will enjoy and that distributors will be interested in acquiring prior to completion, thereby increasing the chances of financial success.

~ Kevin Geiger


发行间隔期

比较典型的动画电影放映方式通常是从国内院线开始的,这样可以为其不同的发行间隔期(国内院线放映之后,该影片在其他市场放映之前这段时期)提供参考。在美国和欧洲,按照惯例,影片授权许可的依次顺序是全球影院上映、家庭影院与DVD、有线电视、广播电视以及其他周边衍生产品。由于每种媒介的回报率会不停变化,授权顺序也会发生改变。现在,不仅发行间隔期在缩短,而且有些投机商人会完全的压缩发行模式,即在“大屏幕”(电影院)、“中屏幕”(电视)和“小屏幕”(手机)上同时发行。无论如何,有必要指出的是,游戏和其他衍生产品的发行间隔期通常是电影首映、或演出的首演之前的一到三个月,这一规律很少改变。

在做发行计划的时候,全世界的发行商心里都有特定的目标观众。低成本的电影通常有选择性的在一些大城市放映,特色是面对一部分较固定的观影爱好者人群。以这种方式,电影在几周之后将会依靠良好的口碑,获得更宽广的发行平台。由于电影拷贝成本高,即便对于一个相对适中、有一千块银幕的院线发行来说,初期开销就超过二百万美元,然而未来数字发行可能最终能够将发行费用降低到几乎为零。

电影院线

动画电影最佳的放映方式,还是在院线放映。除了其本身的潜在收入,院线放映可以促进其他的媒介放映平台如电视放映、DVD等的发行,还可以刺激消费者对周边衍生产品的兴趣。一部电影在首映的时候,放映商会将票房收入中的一部分付给发行商(被称为“片租”,但和家庭录影带的片租概念不同)。按照惯例,片租会随着电影放映的延长逐渐减少。根据签署的发行协议,在发行商扣除发行费用、市场以及发行花销之后,制片方和投资方应该拿到一定比例的片租。

影片的其他媒体放映渠道也可以按照相似的方式计算。例如在美国,家庭录像公司会付给发行商一部分钱来购买冠名权。为收回成本,发行商会从这笔费用中扣除发行费用、广告花销以及其他发行支出。制片方和投资方将根据发行协议得到他们协商好的收入。电视和其他周边产品权限也是这样计算。发行商通过授权所得到的收入被称为“发行商收入总额”。每一份发行协议都不尽相同,但其中也有许多相似之处。发行商从收入总额中得到一定比例的利润作为发行费用,接着有权得到一笔费用抵消市场成本和发行花销。剩下的收入就归制片方和投资方,这部分资金被称为“制片方收入总额”或净利润。

独立动画电影制片人有多种发行影片的方式:

  • 为了实现最广泛的发行,独立制片人必须同大制片厂合作,即使这意味着必须放弃一些重要的权益。大制片厂参与的模式如下:负担前期制作预算并负责发行:通常,如果大制片厂介入电影制作的时间早,大制片厂将负担大部分或全部的动画电影前期创意策划预算和制作预算,并且负责发行。作为回报,他们会得到所有的权限(包括版权),并且掌握所有创作、市场和发行的决定权。虽然这些可以使电影制作方从有保证的放映覆盖率和广泛的观众群体中获得经济利益,但是一旦可观的制片费和其他花销被扣除,制片方的最终收益往往不如预计。
  • 仅负责市场营销与发行:大制片厂和独立电影发行商(比如狮门影业和韦恩斯坦公司)也可只是单纯的负责一部动画电影的发行,但不参与制作,也就是发行商只控制市场营销和发行部分。一般而言,大多数发行商通常要等看到完整的电影之后才开始介入,而制作资金则来自其他的渠道。按照这种方案,发行商会从院线获得发行收益总额的20%-35%,再扣除其他费用,之后余下的部分归制片方。虽然相对较低的发行成本、创作决定权和版权的保留,无疑对制片方来说都是具有诱惑性的,但创作一部被认为是“没有市场”的动画电影的确有很大风险。发行商一般会拒绝发行他们认为难以吸引观众的、没有明确市场定位的,以及票房预期较差的电影。
  • 底片提取:比较“中庸”的做法是,制片商与发行商商议在发行商拿到底片(或数字版)后再介入影片的发行,这一协议被称作“底片提取”。发行商的早期介入,除可为电影的前期概念和制作过程带来具有价值的市场洞察,获得一部份的预付款外,同时也会帮助制片方获得额外融资。签署的发行协议可以被用作向银行贷款的担保,也可以刺激其他投资者的加入。也就是在这种方式下,发行商从制片方获得发行权,一般情况下可获得规定时间范围内所有媒介的发行权。对制片方最有利的方法,是按照发行商的发行业绩进行谈判,即如果发行商在积极拓展影片市场方面做得不好,发行权就会又回到制片方的手中。
  • 成为联合制片商:许多制片厂和发行商也会选择成为联合制片商,也就是形成了拥有所有权限和单纯发行影片二者之间的方式。制片厂提供一定程度的拍摄资金、创作意见,同时监督市场运作和发行,而且分享后端收益,但并不得到全部控制权。以这种方式签署的协议在财务细节方面差别会很大。

如上所述,制片厂和发行商可以在影片制作中任何一个阶段对动画电影授权许可,即电影融资阶段、影片制作过程中或完成之后。指向票房成功的现有因素越多,发行商越可能尽早的介入到电影制作中来。但是,发行商通常不愿意过早介入独立动画电影的制作之中,因此独立制片人不得不在缺少发行预售资金的情况下,为影片融资和制作电影,然后试图在国际电影节获得好的放映口碑,藉此来找到发行渠道,如美国圣丹斯国际电影节、法国戛纳国际电影节等上;或是通过电影交易市场,如美国电影市场(American Film Market)、法国戛纳秋季电视节(MIPCOM)等寻找发行商。但残酷的现实是,只有很少的公司能藉由电影节上的大放异彩,而成功签署发行协议。

DVD

家庭录像带与DVD市场正在经历重大的变化。这几年,部分公司的DVD销量剧减了25%之多,低廉的DVD出租店也给传统的DVD生产和发行策略带来了挑战。但是,这个低迷时期中的唯一亮点恰恰是动画片,动画片在电影院发行、DVD和其他周边媒体的发行上继续着强劲的势头。事实上,动画电影在DVD发行上有着一个独特的、像玩具一样的特点:人们收集DVD作为珍藏品、家长则买来作为小孩的“电子保姆”(孩子们都爱一遍又一遍地观看动画片)。

一旦电影的“坟墓”出现,即影片並未得到在电影院发行的机会,则直接发行DVD的管道对于主流电影经营商来说就变得越来越重要。有很多直接发行DVD(简称为D2DVD)的公司专门制作受欢迎的动画电影的续集,但其他制作原创题材的直接发行DVD经营商,则不将他们的成功依赖于票房纪录的表现。前者例如迪斯尼、狮门影业公司、惊奇漫画公司等,都是在过去的几十年中依靠所谓的“DVD首映”(简称为DVDP)赚入丰厚利益的公司。迪斯尼将其大多数的动画电影制作出录像带/DVD来发行,初始于1994年的《贾方复仇记》(动画电影《阿拉丁》的续集)。环球影视公司则在同年开始了长篇续集《小脚板走天涯》的发行。全球范围内直接发行DVD的电影数量在2005至2008年间增长了将近40%。在2008年,迪斯尼的3D动画电影《叮当小仙女》直接发行DVD的收入总额超过五千万美元。2009年,《芭比与三个火枪手》直接发行DVD的收入总额仅在北美地区就约为一千四百万美元(此收入还未计入高清DVD和蓝光DVD的销售)。

现在,“DVD首映”成为了电影公司的一种极其重要的收入来源,在过去的几年中,总共收入超过三十亿美元。而通过直接发行DVD的电影,因为预算比在电影院首映的电影大幅降低,因此更使得电影公司可在全球范围内结合家庭录像带销售、出租、播放许可、电影院发行等渠道,而更容易获得收益。著名的制片人,如《黑客帝国》三部曲的制片人乔·希尔沃,为直接发行DVD的制作大笔签单,并配备了顶尖的导演、演员和制作团队。

“DVD首映”不仅仅为好莱坞大公司们所采用。很多独立发行商几乎全部采用“DVD首映”的方式。事实上,由于独立电影制片人和小型公司没有足够的资源来与全球院线发行商竞争,“DVD首映”已经成为他们的生命线。例如在日本,一种所谓的“V-影院”运动有着广阔的消费者基础,并且给予电影导演更大的创作自由空间。对于动画片来说,这种类型被称为原创动画录映带(OVA)──代表一个对于剧场版动画来说太长、对于一整季的电视动画系列来说又太短的动画故事。

电视

在广播电视动画领域,美国依然是世界上范围最广和潜在盈利最大的电视市场。销售给美国电视台和有线电视网的传统方式,是先授权给播放方13到26集(半年到一年的上映期),每集收取固定费用,这样电视网就可以有至少两次播放作品的权利。在世界范围内,因为电视网有时候会以制作方需减少预算作为播映前提,所以支付给原创作者的费用在近十年内突然缩水。这笔费用从每集(半小时)0美元到几十万美元不等,并因为预算、国家、人口、经济状况以及许多其他因素的不同而有很大区别。

值得注意的是,相当多电视动画制作公司的预算中仍有赤字,必须通过全球预售、合拍以及周边收益或其他途径来弥补。部分原因在於美国及全世界的电视网遇到他们属意播放的影片时,通常不仅想拿到播放项目的许可授权,还希望成为联合制片人和合作投资者。作为风险承担人,他们的收入也来自全球电视销售、家庭影院VCD/DVD出售、产品广告推销以及其他衍生产品。全球电视网的数量正在不断增加,而这种渠道的增加确实为动画节目提高了入账点数。

周边衍生产品

互动游戏软件:各国市场销售额显示,互动游戏软件已是动画产业越来越重要的收益来源。这项收益可以轻松占据所有辅助产品的50%或更多,甚至可以同主要院线或广播电视发行动画电影和电视动画系列片的收益相比。在行销面上,游戏软件也是一种很好的增加动画作品受关注度的一种方式,尤其是当游戏软件发行时间比电影的上映时间要早的时候。制作3D电脑动画游戏时,数字的设计模型可以由动画电影制片方和游戏制作方共同分享。这种运作通常是同时发生的,而且可以促进故事和角色的发展。游戏中通常会包含新的故事线索,有时会出现新的角色来扩展原来故事中的世界。操作平台可以包括电脑、控制台、手机和互联网模式。

图书与漫画:虽然图书和漫画的出版在美国并不是周边衍生产品项目开发中的首要内容,但是图书和漫画在西方仍然是非常重要的收益来源,在东方更是尤为普及而利润丰厚。在宣传功能上,图书和漫画可以增加目标观众对影片的认识度,同时也提供了在原有故事的基础上拓展故事线索、背景故事和人物角色、增强品牌形象的一种宣传方法。按照典型的模式,根据消费者年龄层和故事内容本身的不同,可以包括板纸书、故事书、杂志、漫画、插画小说、电影小说(由动画电影剧本改编)和改编小说(故事的前传和后传)。

动画原声带:许多动画制片人和监制在策划电影音乐时,将原声带的销售也纳入考虑范围。通过加入在孩子们和年轻人(动画原声带的主要购买者)间流行的音乐,即使在一些不看电影的人群中仍可销售原声带。这种营销协同方式换一个方向也很适用:邀请著名歌手或乐队来演唱主题歌,可以让一些本没有兴趣看电影的人走进电影院。制作MTV也是影片取得收支平衡中的重要组成部分。通常MTV以搭卖的形式和动画一起制作。

授权系列玩具:动画电影项目中,玩具也是主要的周边衍生产品,包括电影中最热门人物的玩偶、模型和棋盘游戏等。收集“都市搪胶公仔”(Urban Vinyl)和树脂人形塑像在年轻人和爱好动画的成年人中也形成了一个逐步扩展的市场。由于产品开发和制作的周期很长,因此玩具往往是动画片首先得到授权许可的产品之一。一些根源于动画片的玩具开发范围较狭窄。形象授权人可能对尚不具知名度的动画形象选择自行发行玩具,或通过网络授权小范围的玩具销售。这种做法让制片方得以测试市场和对质量的需求。例如2001年美国卡通网(Cartoon Network)通过在网站上出售限量商品的做法,对一系列《武士杰克》的产品进行市场测试。

其他:虽然互动游戏、出版物和玩具是动画片的主要周边衍生产品市场,由于故事内容和观众群的不同,产品的种类和数量并没有限制。服装、文具、食品和饮料都可以成为有效的收益来源。为了获得最大利润、对于权益的考虑,还包括在影片上映的各个国家进行限时产品介绍、产品类型选择、实行独家或非独家授权,以及零售渠道的选择等等。缺货会造成收益减少,而过剩会缩短产品许可计划,甚至会因为消费者的消极反映而对动画电影形成负面影响。

在美国,真人电影中的植入式广告很普遍,而在动画电影产业却并不提倡,因为这样会降低动画电影的“经典”形象。极限动画制作公司的动画电影《食物大战》打破了这个规则,将故事设定在一个从上到下堆满了名牌日用品的超市,将得到的商家广告费用用作电影制作资金。这种做法的最后结果还不得而知,但电影放映之前动画电影爱好者在网络上发表的沸沸扬扬的负面评价很值得关注,因为这增加了寻找发行商的难度。中国还有一个商业附属现象,是在电影结束的时候在片尾穿插合作商的商标,在很多情况下这些商标所属的公司与电影制作本身毫无关系,以这种方式换取投资经费。

互联网

本质上,互联网算是世界任何地方都可以获得的全球性市场,独立动画电影的创作者现在可以通过录像共享的网站而得到比传统电视和电影发行更多的观众。对于动画制作人来说,动机就是想把故事讲给越多的观众越好,而网络就通过超过三亿的家庭宽带用户,提供了几十亿的潜在观众。

关于网络在线播放的革命性潜力有太多可讨论的话题。简单来说,所有制片人和发行商所共同面临的机遇和挑战,是如何在维持传统的收益源流的同时,去追求那些尚未确定的(又是毫无疑问的)来自在线媒体发行的收益。

总结

现今全球动画产业进入竞争白热化阶段,其中发行商的市场营销策略最为关键,可直接左右着动画影片项目的成败。魔力饺子公司目前正在美国和中国积极寻求潜在的发行合作伙伴,寻求范围包括独立公司、大制片厂以及政府机构等三类型。魔力饺子公司乐于尊重经验丰富的发行商的指导,以吸引最大的观众市场。这种开放式的策略对於影片项目的市场定位及潜在利润都能产生直接的益处。我们的目标是创作观众喜爱的、发行商愿意在影片制作完成前参与的高质量动画电影和电视动画系列片,以此来增大商业成功的机会。

~ 凯文·盖格

The Chinese Movie Market

Chinese movie marketThe Chinese people comprise the fastest-growing animation market in the world. With a total population exceeding 1.3 billion individuals, potentially 500 million people in mainland China can be identified as animation consumers.

Mainland China’s total 2010 box office is estimated at more than 10 billion RMB (approximately $1.5 billion USD), up over 60% from 2009 (which itself saw a 44% growth rate), and is one of the largest markets in the world. Taiwan’s 2010 box office total is estimated at $96 million USD (about 7% the size of the mainland market), and is dominated by Hollywood films.

There are currently just over 6,200 movie screens on the Chinese mainland, compared with more than 42,000 in the United States. Mainland China produced over 500 films in 2010, but few of these make it to theaters and China’s box office is still relatively small compared to North America’s. At present, 31 cities – each with at least 1 million residents – are without commercial movie theaters, presenting a major opportunity for growth. Three movie screens are being built each day in mainland China.

China’s current 6,000+ screen total includes more than 1,000 3D screens, making it the second-largest 3D market in the world after the United States. At the current rate of growth the number of 3D screens in mainland China is anticipated to equal the number of 2D screens in three years

Mainland China is currently the world’s largest internet market by user, and poised to be one of the world’s largest VOD markets. Legitimate DVD is a sparse revenue stream due to piracy, and China still only shares revenues with 20 foreign film imports per year.

For more on the Chinese movie market and film industry, here is a great primer by Jeffrey Hays.

The Global & North American Movie Markets