The International Circulation of ‘A Bigger Splash’

This is the second film written and directed by Luca Gudagnino in the corpus. It could be considered the second part in Guadagnino’s “desire trilogy”, following I Am Love (2009) and preceding Call Me by Your Name (2017). It competed for the Golden Lion at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival. Like Guadagnino’s other films, A Bigger Splash met a high margin of difference between national (low) and international (high) success, both in terms of critical reception and box-office takings.

Turning to the analysis of Guadagnino’s films, the differences in the distribution strategies of the two films (Io sono L’amore and A Bigger Splash) appear evident. It is interesting to analyse the continuities in the shift of the patterns from one film to the next. Both Io sono l’amore and A Bigger Splash are entirely national productions, that see the involvement of Italian production companies with the support of national cultural institutions (MiBACT, the ministry for culture) as well as local ones (film commissions). Both of Guadagnino’s films were presented in competition at an international film festival: Venice, in 2009 and 2015 respectively.

 Release DateScreensWeeksOpening Weekend ($)Box Office ($)Admissions
IT19 March 2010/757.215265.00047.206
CH8 April 2010 (DE)
22 September 2010 (FR)
24 December 2010 (IT)
///274.85319.167
FR22 September 2010////158.067
UK4 September 2010472171.959620.954159.198
USA18 June 201016625248.1205.004.648634.406

Switzerland

A Bigger SPlash was released in Switzerland in April 8, 2015 for the German speaking region, in 22 September for the French speaking region and in 24 December 2015 in the “Italian” Ticino region. It was seen by 19.167 spectators, grossing $274.853. The Swiss distributor for all the speaking regions was Pathé films, a French company specialized in European arthouse movies. In regard to the VOD circulation, the film is currently available for renting/buying on Google Play Movie, iTunes and Videobuster.

France

The film was acquired for the French market by Ad Vitam Distribution, an independent company specialized in French auteur films, and was released in cinema theatres in September 22, 2010, reaching 158.067 admissions. Before the official release, the movie premiered in France in December 2009 at the Festival de cinéma européen des Arcs, and in July 2010 at the Festival Paris Cinéma. At this moment, the film is available in France for renting/streaming just on Orange VOD and iTunes.

United Kingdom

A Bigger Splash was distributed in the UK by Metrodome, a fully-integrated independent distribution company based in London which normally acquires film and TV content for exploitation across all distribution platforms in the UK and Ireland. The film was released in September 4, 2010, and grossed during the first weekend $171.959. After two weeks, thanks to its maximum distribution in 47 screens, the film grossed $620.954 in total, reaching 159.198 tickets sold. The year after the release, the film was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language. In the United Kingdom, it is possible to rent the movie in digital version on the BFI Player platform.

 Box Office ($)AdmissionsOTT - SVODOTT - Rent/Buy
IT265.00047.206//
CH274.85319.167/Google Play Movie, iTunes, Videobuster
FR/158.067/Orange VOD, iTunes
UK620.954159.198/BFI Player
USA5.004.648634.406Hoopla, Tubi TVGoogle Play Movies, iTunes, Vudu, PlayStation, Microsoft Store

United States

A specific type of circulation pattern is categorized by Luca Guadagnino’s films, as Io sono l’amore and A Bigger Splash. In this case, compared to the international market, the proportions of local ticket sales are quite decisively inverted. Taking the case of A Bigger Splash, Italian takings contribute very little to the total (4%) – while the proportion of international ticket sales increases significantly (63% in Europe, outside of Italy). American ticket sales, on the other hand, constitute 33%. This data, which is notably much higher for Guadagnino’s films than for other Italian films, reflects a greater proportional relevance of North-American spectators.

A Bigger Splash, was released in Italian theatres in November 2015, two months after its premiere at Venice. It was not released in the USA until the May of the following year, following a wide European circulation both in theatres and at festivals. Its distribution rights were acquired by Fox Searchlights. Already this information points to Fox Searchlight’s strategy, i.e. to reach the segment of the market interested in Italian film. The American distributor was evidently attracted both by the excellent first results gained by the previous productions of the Italian auteurs, and by the international awards and recognition their films had gained. With the aim of replicating the success of the preceding film, Fox Searchlights distributed A Bigger Splash, which, not by chance, was shot in English with an international cast.

For Guadagnino’s film, the distribution strategies radically differed from the director’s previous film. Indeed, the American distributor decided to double the maximum number of copies of the film (from 166 for I Am Love to a maximum of 378, in the fourth week) and decrease the total number of weeks of its release. The prolonged distribution over 25 weeks, which had proved fruitful for the 2009 release, was completely overturned: A Bigger Splash’s run was concentrated to nine weeks. The progression of box office is coherent with the number of theatres, creating an easily-interpretable cause and effect model. The takings for the first weekend were $114,419, practically half of what I Am Love achieved. The total ticket sales were also around half: at the end of nine weeks, it totalled $1,982,505. This was a decent result: though it did not replicate the vast American success of I Am Love, it nonetheless broadly followed the success of the film’s international circulation. American ticket sales equate to 33% of the total for A Bigger Splash. This is a high proportion, particularly when compared – along with the 44% for I Am Love – to those gained by Sorrentino’s two films.