American cartel controls British screens – the bare facts and the marketing myth

Today Screen Daily mentioned some devastating statistics – that 95% of the UK film market is dominated by only 10 distributors, leaving more than 80, yes 80, fighting for a share of the remaining 5% – that’s crumbs from the table which wouldn’t even feed one mouse!

What Screen Daily fails to point out though is how the top 9  are North American, with Pathe creeping in at number 10 with a meagre 2% – whereas the American majors occupy the top 5 and take some 70%. But this is hardly surprising when you consider that most Uk screens are American owned as well.

Many have claimed that this dominance is down to a mixture of better films and better and bigger marketing. It plainly isn’t. Besides the blockbusters most screens are stuffed with often very poor fare with little marketing besides the display of foyer posters which have been re-cycled from the film’s American run, re-cycled trailers, and printed details in ‘forthcoming attractions’ programmes. On top of that they’ve been able to re-cycle prints from the american run as well, rather than having to produce new dubbed versions for non-English speaking countries. These add up to minimal prints and advertising costs – the blockbuster advertising blitzes bring in the punters and the foyer adverts take it from there. It is impossible for any other distributors to compete against such advantages.

When it comes to other industries this is called ‘dumping’ and governments take steps to protect their own producers from it.


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