P. 1
Who's Got the Power MM25 Fans Sept 08

Who's Got the Power MM25 Fans Sept 08

|Views: 20|Likes:
Published by Julie Thrasher
Who's Got the Power MM25 Fans Sept 08
Who's Got the Power MM25 Fans Sept 08

More info:

Published by: Julie Thrasher on Mar 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less






Cult fans versus the film industry
Elaine Homer asks
you to consider what type of film fan you are and how you could influence what is on offer at your local cinema.

In a high risk industry where predictable is more likely to guarantee profit, can cult fans wield their power and demand something different? Study Cult film for the WJEC synoptic unit Fandom and it’s inevitable that you will compare the relative power of fans and the film industry. A quick scan of your local cinema listings shows that the multiplex is dominated by a menu of high concept films, genre and star packages, and sequels. Does this offer reflect all film fans preferences? Not necessarily, as there are groups of fans that seek out quirky, off-beat films that defy categorisation and that stimulate and challenge the spectator in a myriad of ways. These are cult fans that look to UK independent or arthouse cinemas to cater for their needs.

Fiction genre, attends conventions, dresses up, collects memorabilia, and shares his views with like-minded fans via the internet. The representation of his character as a socially inept loner also hints at the psychological and social compensations that cult fans crave for whom the benefits of social interaction and shared interests can lead to feelings of security; acceptance and a sense of belonging.

Cult fans enjoy speculating about philosophical questions posed by Science Fiction films facilitates. Films with complex narratives that are open to multiple interpretations often appeal as they stimulate cult fans’ thoughts, conversations, and searches for meaning. Donnie Darko (1999) is a challenging film requiring multiple viewings, interaction with the film website and fan forums to clarify understanding. Fans can explore themes such as the possibility of tangential universes and time-travel, and

How do cult fans express their fascination with film and what are the benefits?
Cult film can be defined in opposition to the mainstream as: a small devoted group of fans’ response to a film; who can be identified by the intensity of their response and particular behaviour and motivations.

Social interaction
Comic book guy from The Simpsons epitomises the stereotype of the cult fan and makes fun of this. He runs The Android’s Dungeon comic book store; prefers the Science

Donnie Darko courtesy of Image.net Star Wars

40 MediaMagazine | September 2008 | english and media centre


english and media centre | September 2008 | MediaMagazine


MM enhance their understanding of the film through repeated viewings. Some fans relate the trials and tribulations of the central character to their own lives, seek solace and affirmation of their values. Donnie Darko fans describe the impact of the film upon them as profound or religious. Visit the Donnie Darko official website to test your skills in navigation and commitment as a fan. The rewards are further insight into the film and additional information such as press reports about the fate of the characters that were not included in the film.

Rituals and enhanced participation
Cult fans watch the same films over again, quote lines verbatim and participate at screenings. For example, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) helped secure its cult status with students and gay and lesbian fans who cross-dress like the characters, bring props and copy the actions in particular scenes. In doing so, straight fans safely transgress gender expectations and social norms; for some fans this provides fantasy and escapism; for others self-validation.

by Newmarket films after imaginative marketing in the UK using an artist’s hand-drawn stickers helped find its niche as a cult movie with British fans.

Imaginative extension
Cult fans engage in independent creativity and imaginative extension. For example, Star Trek fans act in and produce their own films inspired by the original, faithfully reproducing characters and scenes. Sites like YouTube have helped to democratise exhibition and provide an outlet for fans to show their own products.

endings to judge fan response. Famously The Blair Witch Project (1999) website established before a distribution deal, was used to build interest amongst potential fans. This low budget flick proved extremely profitable owing to the hype generated by this fan speculation and recorded the highest profit-to-cost ratio. Yet, attempts by the industry to use fan input is not always a success. Snakes on a Plane was heavily marketed by New Line Cinema on the net prior to release and they used fan feedback to extend shooting by five days. Despite this the film was a disappointment at the box-office.

Profit from an existing cult fan base
Cult is a cross-media phenomenon applicable to TV and comics; and the film industry seeks to exploit this already loyal fan base. Since Star Wars (1977) revealed the profitability of tie-ins and merchandise, the industry invests heavily in comic book adaptations with potential for toy and game licensing to capitalise on comic book fans’ penchant for collecting. Tie-ins are authorised products based on the movie that provide additional income and synergy through cross-media promotion. Targeting cult fans can sometimes be a risky strategy as they bring high expectations, and box office losses can ensue from adaptations that fail to meet them. For example, although the distribution deal for Judge Dredd (1995) was clinched because Stallone committed to the role, using his persona in the film conflicted with fans expectations of the original comic. In the comic Judge Dredd does not take his mask off but Stallone does this early on in the movie.

Ironic readings
Cult fans read films ironically; for example, they ridicule low-budget 1950s Science Fiction with poor production values and stilted acting. The Sound of Music (1965) has become a cult hit with gay and lesbian audiences because of the ‘sing-a-long’ events that celebrate gay sexuality. Ironic or camp readings of films are important for gay audiences whose sexuality is underrepresented in mainstream cinema.

How does the film industry create cults or seek to capitalise on their existence?
Although there is often a contradiction between what’s on offer in mainstream cinema and what cult fans want, at times the industry does take notice of their desires. The following are examples of ways that the industry influences and seeks to exploit cult fans, some more successfully than others.

Use the web for marketing
The film industry has attempted to take advantage of the critical dialogue between fans and industry personnel opened up by the internet. Film fans contribute to blogs, chatrooms or social-networking sites to share their views. This can be used by the industry for covert market research, to create hype about a film before it’s in production; or to circulate possible

Defy the critics
Despite critical reviews when first released, Donnie Darko gained popularity with cult fans following international exhibition. The film was popularised through midnight screenings in New York City’s East Village for 28 months and secured $10 million in the US from DVD and VHS release. A follow-up Director’s Cut was released 42 MediaMagazine | September 2008 | english and media centre


Donnie Darko and Snakes on a Plane courtesy of Image.net Clockwork Orange d. Stanley Kubrick (1971) Credit: Warner Bros/The Kobal Collection Star Wars

Be independent
Films that are different from the mainstream are a risk for production companies. Richard Kelly did well to get this low-budget independent film Donnie Darko produced and into cinemas. The film was made because of a number of factors including Kelly securing an agent; working for independent film company New Line cinema and the fact that Drew Barrymore signed up for the movie secured the finance.

Ban, censor or restrict a film’s release
Restrictions imposed by the censor can gain kudos with fans and help a film progress to cult status. Similarly, withdrawal of permission by the director Stanley Kubrick for A Clockwork Orange (1971) to be screened in the UK added to its appeal as cult fans watched foreign video with subtitles. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) courted controversy with rumours that scenes of torture, mutilation and murder were footage of real events, which encouraged fans to watch to decide for themselves.

Have you got the power?
Next time you pay to see a film, or purchase the DVD, merchandise or tie-in, remember you’re contributing directly to its commercial success and encouraging the industry to repeat the formula. If you act as a cult fan it is likely that you persuade the industry at least to consider investing in something different in the future. Elaine Homer is an Advanced Skills Teacher for Media at Kidbrooke School, South London.

english and media centre | September 2008 | MediaMagazine


You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->