THE GUARD Is The Number 1 Independent Irish Film Of All Time

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THE GUARD has  overtaken THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY in the Irish box-office  to become the most successful independent Irish film of all time. Overtaking other successful Irish titles including IN BRUGES, VERONICA GUERIN & MAN ABOUT DOG, THE GUARD has now grossed over €4.13 million in Ireland. This figure is also significantly ahead of other heavy-weight films this year like THE HANGOVER 2, THE KINGS SPEECH, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON and PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.

THE GUARD is also finding audiences around the world and has been in the top 10 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand already this month. In the US, it has grown week on week and now in its sixth week with a box-office total of nearly $3m million and it has now expanded close to 200 screens in the US. With further releases planned for later this year in Germany, France, Italy and Holland, we expect  THE GUARD to become one of the most successful Irish film exports in recent times.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the film is produced by his partners in Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo, along with Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures (who also co-produced THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY). Element Pictures Distribution is distributing the film in Ireland.

Speaking on the phenomenal success of the film, writer-director John Michael McDonagh commented that ‘It’s been extremely satisfying for me that such a hard-drinking, whoring, drug-taking, anti-authoritarian character as Sergeant Gerry Boyle has struck so resounding a chord with Irish and International audiences.’

On behalf of Element Ed Guiney said ‘This is a landmark film for Irish cinema and we are delighted to be part of it. Its brilliant that it has hit so big at home but its also more important than ever that Irish film punches above its weight internationally – and its case proven with The Guard.’

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Irish Film Board said ‘This is great news for the Irish film industry.  We’re delighted to see an Irish film compete successfully with major Hollywood blockbusters here in Ireland and also achieving a strong audience response worldwide.  It’s a testament to the local and the international appeal of Irish film and the quality of filmmaking in Ireland.’

Speaking on behalf of Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo said: ‘We are thrilled that the Irish public have taken the film to their hearts in such numbers. To become the biggest Irish film of all time is an incredible honour for a British production company with its first feature! We thank John Michael McDonagh, our partner at Reprisal Films, for his incredible work as writer-director and we will always be in debt to Brendan Gleeson for his genius performance as Sergeant Gerry Boyle. ‘

THE GUARD is an Irish/UK co-production, backed by the Irish Film Board and Section 481 as well as International Financiers. It’s produced by Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo for Reprisal Films and Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe  for Element Pictures.

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Issue 128 – Mind Games

If you want your movie seen, it’s not enough to target a specific audience: you have to play marketing mind games with them too, writes Niall Kitson.

Mind Games

There’s a lot of money in pranking – just ask Ashton Kutcher and Johnny Knoxville. Better yet, ask Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. The names might not be as familiar but ten years ago this summer they were responsible for creating the biggest in-joke in the history of cinema: The Blair Witch Project.

Still credited as one of the scariest films of all time, The Blair Witch Project only really makes sense as part of a wider phenomenon: a strategy that played on cod local history, ‘documentary evidence’ and the temporary listing of the actors as missing by the Screen Actors Guild. Sure you might have learned about the movie from word of mouth, or been impressed by the trailer and iconic poster campaign, but the real buzz was a different kind of pre-release hype grounded by an indie sensibility making it acceptable to gorehounds and middlebrow cineastes. Was the footage that convincing? Were the actors really working without a script? What was the big deal?

The big deal was that, scary as some people found it, the absence of exposition created a fresh narrative space the filmmakers toyed with. Audiences flocked to internet forums to discuss the slow release of additional information: fresh ‘footage’, scraps of local history in document form. Who were the Burkittsville 7? How did they come to a bad end? Who was Rustin Parr? At one point the official website Blairwitch.com was clocking up 3 million hits per day from the concerned, the curious, and the bored in work. That’s the kind of spontaneous interest most marketers would kill for. Technically, they did. Posters may create awareness but active discussion makes for good box office. And it worked, to the tune of $248 million, a net return of $10,000 for every $1 spent on production and marketing. The Blair Witch Project was more than a movie, it was a puzzle enjoyable as a standalone commodity or within a wider context. As then head of marketing at Artisan pictures John Hegeman noted, without the internet the film simply would not have resonated with the masses, ‘[The internet is] against the grain of every other media, you can create a message and give it time to breathe. If the environment is interesting you can hold on to the fanbase longer, as opposed to a thirty-second spot that’s here and gone. For us it was […] the most impactful of delivery mechanisms.’

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 128

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