The rise of the feature documentary : fact or fiction?

O'Sullivan, Shane (2017) The rise of the feature documentary : fact or fiction? In: Wroot, Jonathan and Willis, Andy, (eds.) DVD, Blu-ray and beyond : navigating formats and platforms within media consumption. Cham, Switzerland : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 135-157. ISBN 9783319627571


The last fifteen years have seen the relentless rise of the feature documentary—from four titles released in UK cinemas in 2001 to one hundred and seventeen in 2015. For most documentaries, a short platform cinema release provides the oxygen of press reviews and publicity to drive DVD and VOD sales in an increasingly saturated market. This chapter analyses key trends in documentary distribution by charting the rise of Dogwoof and Picturehouse as two of the UK’s leading documentary distributors. These case studies explore the mechanics of documentary distribution and the clever marketing campaigns used by distributors to create new audiences for documentary beyond its niche market. Dogwoof’s success in home entertainment demonstrates how to develop an engaged audience for documentary despite limited theatrical exposure.

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