Industry Report: Marketing
Marketing Case Study - Adam’s apples
by Annika Pham
01/02/2006 - Adam’s Apples [trailer, film focus] is one of the biggest Danish hits of 2005 made by marvel 33 year-old writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen. The film was chosen as the Danish entry for a Best Foreign language film Oscar nomination this year and just won Best Film, Best Script and the Audience Award at the Danish Oscars or Robert Awards. Cineuropa is going to explore how the film was marketed in Denmark by Nordisk Film for its theatrical release on April 2005, and how Nordisk Film International Sales promoted the film to international distributors.
1. Adam’s Apples - Nordisk Film Distribution marketing campaign in Denmark
Total P&A spend: DKK 1,6 million (€ 215,000)
Nordisk Film was involved in the film from a very early stage, having contributed to its financing with an MG. This gave Nordisk the opportunity to work closely with the director and M & M Productions on the creation of marketing materials from production stage.
Nordisk Film is responsible for the theatrical distribution of Adam’s Apples not only in Denmark, but also in other Nordic countries such as Sweden where the film was released by Sony Pictures on December 2, and in Finland and Norway through Nordisk’s joint venture with Columbia Tri Star.
The vertically integrated film structure of the Scandinavian giant enables Nordisk to optimise the distribution of its films and to make the most cost-effective use of its marketing materials and campaigns not only across Scandinavia but also across all media.
In the case of Adam’s Apples, the artwork for the poster created for the Danish distribution will remain the same for Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Here under is a broad description of the marketing campaign that was put together by Nordisk Film Distribution for the Danish release of Adam’s Apples on April 14, 2005.
Target audience for the film
According to Jan Lehmann, sales director at Nordisk Theatrical Distribution Denmark, the target audience for the film was the 18-35+ primarily male audience, but also female audience.
-Cast and director
The lead actors Ulrich Thomsen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Bro, Nikolaj Lie Kaas are hot items in Denmark, described by Lehmann as the Danish ‘rat pack’. So the whole marketing and publicity campaigns made full use of their names and faces to promote the film.
Anders Thomas Jensen is very popular as well in Denmark as a scriptwriter, associated with other successful directors such as Susanne Bier (Open Hearts [trailer] or Brothers [trailer]) or as a writer/director. His first film Blickering Lights released in 2000 by UIP was the second most successful Danish film of the year with almost 300,000 admissions and was described by the local media as a ‘witty buddy movie’. His second film The Green Butchers released in 2003 by Sandrew Metronome sold slightly less: 261,000. But Adam’s Apples released last April scored again with over 360,000 admissions.
Anders Thomas Jensen’s typical black humour and very stylised universe, his partnership with almost the same leading actors in his three films playing semi-comical misfits or neurotic characters have contributed to creating a ‘Jensen’ brand easily recognizable to Danish cinemagoers and appealing in particular to the 20-30+ male audience.
Release date and pattern of release
Nordisk Film knew they had a film with a strong box office potential, so they decided to release it in April 2005, a time in the year calendar when exhibitors can run a film for a long period if it gets hold of the right audience from the beginning. There were no other main competitors released at the same time.
The film was released with 60 prints covering 90% of the Danish territory. At press time (early December), the film was still playing in 69 cinemas.
The trailer was created by Nordisk Film in collaboration with M&M Production. The director was not involved in the making of the trailer.
The poster was again created in-house by Nordisk Film Distribution in collaboration with the production company. The artwork made a prominent use of the star actors, telling the audience that this was Anders Thomas Jensen’s third film with almost the same stars.
Nordisk Film used all possible medium available to advertise the film: TV, outdoor posters, newspapers, magazines, and radio.
The star actors and director did a lot of interviews and appearances on popular TV shows from production start, until the release of the film.
-Total admission figures in Denmark (2005/12):
2. Adam’s Apples - International marketing campaign
Positioning and launching of the film
Nordisk Film International Sales (NFIS) started working on Adam’s Apples right after its Danish release in April 2005. “Dark comedy films like Anders Thomas Jensen’s The Green Butchers and Adam’s Apples are better if seen on a big screen with an audience, and too cold to be seen alone on DVD”, says Susan Wendt, sales executive. NFIS needed a major festival to platform the film and Cannes in May was the obvious first A festival where to premiere it to potential international buyers. But the challenge for NFIS was then to sell the film without the hoped for festival selection which could have helped raise its position and profile in a highly competitive environment where hundreds of films are screened every day over a 12-day period. So the film ended up being launched at the market. What were then the marketing hooks on the film that NFIS could use to attract potential buyers attention?
-Name of the sales company
Nordisk Film International Sales is a credible and respected sales company offering a wide variety of –mostly-Scandinavian films.
The success of a film in its domestic territory is among the key elements to attract buyers attention and as stressed by Susan Wendt, “after the opening weekend of a film, and after buyers have had a chance to look at box office/admission figures in the trade publications, they often contact us to get more information if a film opens strongly”. Adam’s Apples had been released five weeks before Cannes and had already reached 300,000 admissions.
- Anders Thomas Jensen. Director and scriptwriter
The Green Butchers, the previous film scripted and directed by Anders Thomas was a festival hit in 2003 and had sold very well internationally, so buyers had an idea of Thomas Jensen’s personal style, vision and dark humour, making him an exciting new Danish auteur to follow. Plus as a scriptwriter, his name is associated to many critically-acclaimed Danish films such as the Dogme films Mifune, The King Is Alive and Open Hearts, as well as Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself [trailer], Skagerrak and Brothers.
The filmmaker has also been nominated three years in a row for his short films Ernst & The Light in 1996, co-directed with Thomas Villum Jensen, Wolfgang in 1997, and his 1998 nominated short film Election Night actually won an Oscar.
Mads Mikkelsen and Paprika Steen had both starred in Susanne Bier’s celebrated Open Hearts and Ulrich Thomas was in Bier’s other festival hit Brothers.
Sales closed during Cannes
All the major distributors attended the market screenings of Adam’s Apples in Cannes, and the territories that bought the film include Italy (Teodora Film), Poland (Kino Swiat), Thailand and Malaysia (Pacific). The sales input started again when the film was selected at the Toronto Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema section and as the Danish entry for an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Toronto 2005 and post-Toronto festival strategy
Adam’s Apples was very well received during Toronto where it had one gala screening and 3-4 public screenings. The film was sold there to Brazil (Broadway Filmes) and Portugal (New Age Entertainment). Serious negotiations started with France and German speaking territories which were finally closed after the AFM with Europacorp for France who had previously released The Green Butchers, and Delphi Filmverleih who bought it for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
After Toronto, the film screened at several smaller international festivals during the autumn, including Hamburg, Sao Paolo Reykjavik and Warsaw where it won Audience Awards. As stressed by Susan Wendt, those smaller festivals are often very important as they can sometimes entice local distributors to buy a film particularly well-received by the local audience. Such was the case of Adam’s Apples in Poland which was bought by New Age Entertainment during Mipcom just after it had won the Audience Award at the Warsaw International Film Festival a few days earlier.
Following Adam’s Apples selection as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscars nominations, NFIS did a lot of direct mailing to potential international distributors.
Marketing materials for international distributors
As part of the vertically-integrated media giant Nordisk Film, the sales arm was able to work at a very early stage with the theatrical distribution, video/DVD divisions of Nordisk Film and production company M&M on the making of the marketing tools.
Usually NFIS provides its international distributors with the local artwork and stills, the English script as well as certain materials such as the digi-beta of the film as a loan. The bigger territories get the films’ inter-negative in loan so that they can produce their own print.
The making of prints are in fact quite expensive in Scandinavia, more than in the rest of the EU, so for some of their films, NFIS place an inter-negative in Germany where costs are lower than in Denmark and international distributors then have the possibility to acquire the print from there to try to lower their potential print costs.
In terms of artwork, if they want to change the original image, they can make their own and recoup the costs.
At press time, Adam’s Apples was only starting its international distribution.