Puttnam delvers state of the industry address

Warns against complacency amid record breaking numbers

LONDON -- Film Distributors' Association president David Puttnam told a gathered audience of movie industry reps that if content is king, distribution is the kingmaker.

Puttnam, a former Columbia Pictures chief and movie producer who sits in the House of Lords here as a voting lawmaker, said the industry would do well to start talking to consumers about what and how they want to get their film fix.

He warned the industry against complacency amid the record breaking U.K. cinemagoing numbers of 2009 which saw boxoffice revenues for the U.K. and Ireland surpass £1 billion ($1.5 billion) for the first time from a whopping 173 million admissions.

The producer-turned-government movie guru said the rise of influencers from social networking sites and the emergence of digital distribution techniques are to be embraced and revenue models and biz plans for distribution should reflect this.

Talking at the launch of the FDA yearbook of facts and figures, Puttnam also backed a future for British filmmakers and filmmaking "as long as there is an overriding sense of identity with the characters and British element" of projects.

He said: "American cinema has long and still has a immense, innate sense of confidence in its own stories which is why it is so successful."

Describing his own tenure as a studio chief as "less than stellar" Puttnam noted that industry representatives would do well to remember that there is simply no way to "fool an audience with a bad film."

The FDA yearbook throws up some mouthwatering stats for U.K. industry bean counters including the fact that one in every five pounds spent at the U.K. boxoffice was forked out on comedies last year, marking the jokefest far and away the most popular single genre.

And one in every eight pounds last year -- in what is largely regarded as being a year hard hit by the recession -- went on movies in 3D. Considering there were just 13 3D movie releases in 2009, that tally will almost certainly rise this year, with more than double the number of films already scheduled to unspool in that format.

Distribution by the FDA's 22 company strong membership -- which includes all the studio's overseas releasing arms -- account for 97% of cinemagoing here.
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