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Industry Report: Animation

Distributing an Animated Feature Film - Case Study: Niko and the Way to the Stars


- French distributor Roch Lener detailed the distribution strategy for the film in France. The film had been positioned for a family audience and precisely children between 4 and 10 years old. The communication has been done on two targets: children and parents, and the film was released 2 days before the beginning of Christmas holidays.

Roch Lener has been president of Millimages since 1992. Under his management, Millimages has become one of the leading European animation companies through the production of programmes of high-quality and creativity. Millimages is a fully integrated company handling it own distribution, merchandising and video publishing. Listed on the Paris stock market, Millimages also expanded its services with the acquisition in May 2004 of Bac Films, a flagship theatrical film distribution company.

Bac Films released the film Niko and the Way to the Stars in France in December 2008. What were the characteristics of the campaign?
The target was a family audience and precisely the children between 4 and 10 years old. The communication has been done on two targets: children and parents.

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We released the film on 17 December, 2 days before the beginning of Christmas Holidays with 372 prints. We spent €3 millions for the whole campaign.

What were the results at the box office?
The first day, Niko registered 22,504 admissions and 203,423 admissions for the first week. On the second week, the results dropped only by 10%, with 190,000 spectators. At the end, Niko registered more than 600,000 admissions.

Who were the competitors?
We had three films for kids the same day. Igor, with 395 prints realised 192,000 admissions; The Crimson Wing with 467 prints realised 247,000 admissions; Bedtime Stories with 335 prints realised 400,000 admissions.

We had a discussion with my team, they wanted to release Niko the week after. I was not personally afraid by the competition. I think Igor had a design too aggressive for the French audience. The Crimson Wing was a documentary and Bedtime Stories was really targeted to an older audience.

What where the main axes of communication as far as theatres were concerned?
We used 3 main axes of communication: the theatres, the medias, the non-medias. We produced a variety of material that has been provided to theatres to create events and to communicate about the movie. The artwork was placed 6 weeks before the release of the film.

We also placed preventives billboards of different sized 2 or 3 weeks before the release.

We produced a trailer which has been released on theatres 5 weeks before the release. We were lucky enough to have during those five weeks Madagascar 2, so the trailer went before the film and many children and parents were able to see it (between the 3rd and the 16th of December).

We also produced “Totems” and “Pane Stickers”, the kind of equipment that can be placed on the halls of the theatres.

A “candy operation” has been released in 130 theatres, where pop corn cup with Niko visuals has been put at spectators disposal.

We organised previews the Sunday morning before the release. Goodies were distributed to the audience during these premieres.

Did you use the print media?
Yes, one month before the release we advertised on several children magazine: Toupie, J’aime Lire, Toboggan, Wapiti.

To reach the parents we advertised in theatrical programmes 2 weeks before the release and in TV Programmes (TV Mag, TV Loisirs) 1 week before the release.

Did you use internet?
Yes, the artwork, the pictures and the trailer were broadcasted on several web sites about cinema. These website were also linked to the official website of the movie (online since 5 November). We established several partnerships with other website for kids. For example (the website of TF1 kids programmes) placed a banner between the 3rd and the 31st of December.

We did an advertising campaign on, the first French website for theatrical programmes. The space has been bought mostly after the release, during the holidays.

We also launched an intensive radio campaign. 138 chronicles were broadcast on 22 regional stations the week before the release.

What about non-media campaign?
We placed logos on several shops like Interflora (Flower shops), Passion beauté (perfume shops), Buffalo Grill (restaurants), Pom D’api (kids wear shops). The artwork and the trailers were broadcasted in all these different places.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

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