Overview of Black Swan’s success

Black Swan was released on the 21st January 2011 in the UK. There were various marketing techniques that helped boost the interest in the film before it was released. The marketing team chose to use  “AIDA” – Attract film goers attention, Interest them, Create Desire, and Provoke Action. They decided to create advertisments and features in upmarket magazines to attract an audience, they also created advertisments for newspapers, bus shelters and even little post cards that were free in many large cinemas across the UK. Later there were various different trailers that were released into the cinemas, and teasers appeared on the internet which gathered the attention of a whole different type of audience – creating diversity. Due to the trailers and comments over Facebook and Twitter about the film, especially from America where it was already released, there was a constant growth in the “buzz” surrounding the film and this was amplified by the official website providing background information with cast and crew. The film was also marketed by merchandise, there were various posters created for fans as well as clothes and soundtracks associated with the Swan Lake Ballet. Overall the marketing campeigns helped to increase the interest in the film by making sure it was always in the public eye, and this has served to be very successful.

Black Swan recieved a lot of varied responses where critics are concerned, the majority being that of a positive nature. Here are a few of the positive comments on Darren Aronofsky’s work;

Fantastically deranged at all times, Darren Aronofsky’s ballet psycho-melodrama is a glittering, crackling, outrageously pickable scab of a film.
The Guardian

It’s a masterpiece of obsession and what that obsession ultimately does to a person. It’s also a perfect summation of Darren Aronofsky’s career to date, a cap on his independent work, and one which, if he does, indeed, depart to the land of Hollywood blockbusters for good, will serve as a dazzling tribute to his early craft.
Den of Geek

The most toxic, rapturous, melodramatic, operatic movie about a mentally disintegrating ballerina you’ll see all year… And featuring some of the best dance sequences ever.

Here are some of the negative reviews surrounding the film;

 It’s too impulsive and emotional to be picked apart at the level of logic and too ludicrous to exist in a world other than its own. It’s huge fun, but only if you’re willing to swallow its more bonkers excesses.
Time Out London

I have to say The Black Swan seems to me a fundamentally hollow exercise, and a very silly film at heart. Granted, it’s pretty good on the physical rigors professional dancers have to put themselves through. But the psychological side of the film feels like unadulterated tosh. It’s enjoyable trash and brilliant pastiche, nothing more, nothing less.

Black Swan did really well when it came to awards and nominations, the nominations include; 

 Academy Awards: Best Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Directing, Achievement in Editing, Best Motion Picture of the year

BAFTA: Special effects, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Make Up and Hair, Production Design, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actress

Golden Globes: Best Director, Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actress

Awards won include;

Academy Awards: Best performance by leading Actress – Natalie Portman

BAFTA: Best actress – Natalie Portman

Golden Globes: Best Actress – Natalie Portman

Overall Black Swan did exceptionally well with its overall success, some critics say the film was helped by the success of The King’s Speech whereas others suggest it hindered it. Overall I really enjoyed the film and can see why it did so well both with the Box Office and the award ceremonies.

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Overall Box Office Analysis

This is an overall analysis of how my film did in the box office over the 5 and a half weeks it has been out in the UK;

  • On Black Swan’s opening weekend it created £2.76 million in 356 cinemas across the country. Many people suggested that the opening weekend’s success was due to the “appetite of the cinema-going public for bold, creative and visionary filmaking.”
  • In the week of the 28th January, the second week of Black Swan’s release, the film took £2,566,346 from 429 screens. It was second in the top ten following the King’s Speech.
  • In the week of 4th February, the third week of release, Black Swan took £1,725,630 from 462 screens. It had fallen two places to number 4 in the top ten, falling behind Tangled, The King’s Speech and The Fighter.
  • In the week of 11 February, the fourth week after Black Swan’s release, it took £1,068,931 from 481 screens. The film had fallen to number 7 in the top ten, falling behind Just Go With It as well as Yogi Bear.
  • In the week of 18 February, the fifth week after release, Black Swan took £693,332 from 444 screens. It had fallen 3 places to number 10 in the top ten following Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
  • In the week of 25 February, the sixth week after release, Black Swan took £344, 755 from 308 screens. The film is no longer in the top ten in the UK and is currently number 15
  • In the UK Black Swan has currently taken £15,226,641 overall.
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Total Film Magazine review

I have just recently read the review of Black Swan in Total Film magazine and have to say I agree with the overall conclusion. Total Film gave Black Swan 4 stars out of 5 and described Aronofsky’s work as “a crazed monument to cinema.” I personally found the film fascinating due to the use of reflection and the main protagonist’s illusions of seeing herself everywhere. The review comments on the use of fusing genres – “psychodrama, horror, backstage musicals and materpieces such as The Red Shoes.” I think this hybrid of genres helps develop the film’s appeal because people will be attracted to various genres and a combination of them in one film draws the attention of a much wider audience. I found the film quite exciting, almost the feeling of being backstage during a performance and engaging with all the other dancers. The film review highlights the films strengths – “a film obsessed with movement, colours, sets and sound design.”I think the review really points out why the film is so exhilirating due to the brilliant use of camerawork and editing as well as props and costumes. The overall verdict by the magazine was “The most toxic, rapturous, melodramatic, operatic movie about a mentally disintegrating ballerina you’ll see all year … And featuring some of the best dance sequences ever.” I could not agree with Total Film more, however I would rate the film as 5 stars out of 5 as it is a breath of fresh air for mainstream audiences.

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Personal opinion of film

I recently went to watch Black Swan and I personally really enjoyed it. The camera work was almost documentary style which I felt increased the tension and made the scary parts of the film stand out more as the editing was also quite fast paced. It became difficult to determine between what was real and what was in Nina’s mind, this made the ending even more effective as I did not expect it to turn out that way, however the famous story of Swan Lake did prepare me for her death.

Recently we have been studying the effect of star appeal and how this may encourage someone to go and watch the film. Considering this poster:

The fact that the poster is just a close up of Natalie Portman suggests that this is one of the key marketing tools being used to promote the film. Many film posters usually have the name of the star and the film name and this is a way of promoting the film to all fan bases of that star. Natalie Portman has had quite a successful career and is already onto her next film “No Strings Attached”. In the poster, the use of the crack down her face symbolises the perfect image being destroyed and the “White Swan” being defeated by her evil twin. Surprisingly this poster is all that is really needed to promote the film using the name of the star, the film name and a subtle link to the narrative of the film. I personally really enjoyed this film and can see why it has been so successful.

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Black Swan was nominated for the follwing Academy Awards:
Best Actress- Natalie Portman
Best Picture
Director – Darren Aronofsky
Film Editing

The film has been a very successful piece of work from Darren Aronofsky and is said to be a big favourite when it comes to the Oscars. The future looks hopeful for Black Swan at the moment, but upcoming films such as “The Fighter” and on going competitors such as “The Kings Speech” may slow down the progress in weeks to come.

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Opening Weekend

Black Swan has done extraordinarily well on it’s opening weekend, which is said to have been “Fox Searchlight’s biggest UK box office opening”. The film was released in the UK on Friday the 21st January and has made an impressive £2.76m on it’s opening weekend. Recent film reviews have shown much appreciation for the film, one example of a posistive review is by N.P Horton:

I’ll come right out and say it, Black Swan is a masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece of obsession and what that obsession ultimately does to a person. It’s also a perfect summation of Darren Aronofsky’s career to date, a cap on his independent work, and one which, if he does, indeed, depart to the land of Hollywood blockbusters for good, will serve as a dazzling tribute to his early craft

Here is a review from the Guardian touching on certain “over done” aspects, however still a positive review:

Black Swan is ionospherically over the top, and some of its effects are overdone, but it is richly, sensually enjoyable and there is such fascination in seeing Portman surrender to the madness and watch her face transmute into a horror-mask like a nightmare version of Maria Callas. It is exciting, quite mad and often really scary

Here is a video review of Black Swan, with a personal rating at the end:


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Advertising and marketing for Black Swan

Black Swan has many faces (meaning it is represented through all types of posters and billboards)

Three examples of posters are:

The film is also being advertised on TV, and a press conference also helped to promote the film:

The premier of the film also served to create a stir before the film came out:

Various trailers and teasers such as the following have shown audiences insight into the film, and the lack of information revealed acts as a good method of attracting an audience:

This is a quote from one of the marketing directors of Black Swan mentioning the impact the film has made:

Due to marketing departments having an increased say in what goes into a film’s promotion, it can be quite difficult pitching alternative design ideas to a film studio. However, many within the industry are optimistic about the impact that ‘Black Swan’ has had on this mindset and are looking to capitalise on its success.

This is a quote about how much a poster may actually affect the success of the film:

Promotion for the film is now in full swing, especially with awards ceremonies, today Glamour got an exclusive, the international poster and it’s taking a different tack to the traditional and art-house posters we’ve seen thus far. This one is simple but very effective focusing on Portman and her shattered existence as ballet dancer Nina.


There is overall much anticipation for the film to be released this weekend, and the progress it has made so far in America is a good sign for how well it is predicted to do in the UK.

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