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Annecy : le marketing des films d’animation pour le jeune public

juin 23, 2011

Europa Distributionworkshop about animation has been held in Annecy from June 7th until June 9th in partnership withAnnecy International Animated Film Festival and Market.


The first talk dealt with release strategies for animated movies in Europe with a special focus on audience policies and viral marketing. It gathered Michaël Ismeni, with Belgian theatrical distribution Le Parc Distributionassociated to the cultural center Les Grignouxand the schoolnetwork Ecran Large sur Tableau Noir, Alessandra Romanelli, from the Swiss child cine club The Magic Lantern, and Stefan Tiess, head of content and video promotion at, a web agency for movie communication.

Michaël Ismeni opened the discussion with the presentation of his activity, as a distributor and an exhibitor. Indeed, created 20 years ago, Le Parc Distribution is the distribution arm for young audience animation movies of the cultural center Les Grignoux which manages 3 movie theaters (Le Parc, Churchill and Sauvenière), 8 screens, in Liège. It has been created in a time where animation movies were equal to Disney… Last year, Les Grignoux, first Belgian arthouse movie exhibitor, welcomed 403 000 spectators in their 3 spots. A few years ago, Les Grignoux created Ecran Large: showing movies in the morning for the schools in sixteen French-speaking cities of Belgium (130 000 pupils over one year). Le Parc Distribution movies represent 23 % of these admissions.

The main goal is to develop among young audience the desire to go to the movie theaters, and not only to watch movies at home, on TV, and to build their loyalty towards it. The library is composed  mostly of animated movies, but also of live action movies, some classical films and documentaries. The idea is to create room for movies which are left aside normally.

To achieve this goal, they focus on developing good relationships with the arthouse movie exhibitors in order to be able to program all their movies from Le Parc Distribution, at least for a 6 weeks period. The other main part of the activity is Ecran Large which creates a one year programming booklet sent to every school and teachers. Ecran Large library holds 44 movies whose 21 are distributed by Le Parc. Everything is done in order to reach this young audience target, between 3 and 18 yo, through the learning of watching and understanding movies. They prepare children to became grown up spectators. They need to renew constantly their audience, as children grow… so the network is done by the other pupils, year after year, as well the business model.

The main problems are the following ones: to convince the press to talk about young audience animated movies, to get the public subsidies (they mainly have short movies which didn’t match with the criteria) and the MEDIA programfor distributors. On the other hand, here are their strengths: low expenses, flyers for pupils, social partners, mature internet strategy (website, newsletters, youtube and facebook profiles), co distribution with Folioscope, the Brussels Animated Film Festivalorganization), agreement for movies co purchase with the Flemish distributor Jekinoto divide the distribution between Flanders, Netherlands, and Wallonia, Brussels and Luxemburg, vivid dialogue with French distributors and producers in order to get easily French version of the movies they’re buying. In a way, the weaknesses are the strengths and vice versa…

Thus, the distribution activity is backed by the exhibition one, which enables them to give visibility to their movies. For the future, they’d like to be open to new partnerships, to make their library stronger, to discover new talents in animated movies for young people, to enter a European distributors solid network or to get in touch wich producers who might associate them in projects.

Then, Alessandra Romanelli took the floor to introduce the Magic Lantern association which is a cine club for children from 6 to 12yo, created in 1993 in Switzerland. It has the same goal than Le Parc, to enable children to discover movies in real movie theaters. The originality stands in the fact that children go without their parents (there are four adults which are attending to take care of them). Now, there are 40 000 members and 74 clubs spread around the world (France, UK, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Argentina, Mexico, Lebanon, Arab Emirates) with different realities to think about. The subscription fee is 32€ a year, 24€ if there is another child in the same family, and free for the rest of the family. It works over a one year period with 9 movies to see: mix of silent movies, black and white, animated ones, etc. 33% of animated movies are shown (12% of stop motion and 21% cartoon movies). Before coming to the theaters, the children read the magazine with all the information and tools which explain the movie. There are five fundamental criteria to choose the movies: technics, emotion, subject, aesthetics, story. For example, Wallace and Gromit, Azur and Asmar, The adventures of Prince Ahmed, etc. They’re setting up partnerships with festivals, like Fantochein Baden, or organizing contests to create a trailer. The idea is to make children active around a range of pedagogical activities. Pop corn, the TV program about movies, is aired on the TSR. As the Magic Lantern is an association, the financing is done through public subsidies, they’re paying screening fees to distributors. There is no advertising.

Finally, Stefan Tiess concluded the workshop by introducing his activity through the website Moviepilot, which started as a personal entertainment guide, on the same pattern as IMDB, and now is more an advertising and communication company for movies distribution. Their clients are the distributors. It’s the biggest and most active film community in Germany. There is no website, it’s only a Facebook page and the whole idea is relying Facebook: the idea is to speak directly to your audience, and consequently to your friends’ audience, to be funny and creative. “Get personal, act boutique”, “there are no bad movies, there are only small audiences” are repeated as a mantra. But Moviepilot doesn’t want to be presented as advertisers, they’re creating games for the audience, because ads are always rejected. You need to by-pass this aspect and make your audience believe that they’re playing… not that they’re indirectly listening to an advertising speech (for example, personality tests for The Simpsonsor Brüno). In Germany, people are reluctant to personal data use, they don’t trust critics as well: using friends is a much better way. Now, they’re mainly working on commercial movies, but they’ll start with indie movies as well. The target audience is from 12yo, because they take the Facebook basic audience when teenagers go to junior high school and create their Facebook profile. Here’s the limit as well, because it seems impossible to target younger audience for animated movies for example.

Moviepilot is a way to communicate about movies in a B to B scheme, by giving people something which doesn’t exist: original footage, trailers, quizzes, tests. When they’re dealing with movie majors, it can be tricky because they’re not keen on giving this kind of material (because of the rights infringement) and they prefer the tests or quizzes. The growing worldwide movies campaign could however restrain their activity.

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