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he Inbetweeners Movie has been nothing short of a box-office sensation. The $5.5m (£3.5m)-budgeted comedy has grossed $71.8m (£44.9m) in the UK to

date, making it more lucrative than studio tentpoles Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Hangover Part II and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and the third-biggest film of the year to date behind Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and The King’s Speech. The surprise hit completed four consecutive

weeks at the head of the local box office, a feat matched this year by only Harry Potter, and it easily saw off challengers Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, One Day and Friends With Benefits during its remarkable run. “It’s been quite surreal. We knew there was a

core audience but it’s the way it has sustained that has been amazing. It has become a cul- tural phenomenon,” says executive producer Shane Allen. The Inbetweeners Movie picks up where the

award-winning sitcom from the digital TV channel E4 ended last year, following four hapless but hilarious 18-year-olds from the south of England, on a holiday to Crete in the hope of finding girls, cheap beer and sun. Crucially, the film retained the creative ele-

ments that made the series such a hit: writers and producers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, director Ben Palmer, key producer Christopher Young and lead actors (main image from left) Blake Harrison, James Buckley, Simon Bird and Joe Thomas. “It was about keeping the model of what worked for TV and not breaking that spell,” says Allen, Channel 4’s head of comedy. But as he explains, backing the film to the

tune of $5.5m was a considerable risk for princi- pal financiers Channel 4 Comedy: “This is the first film the TV comedy department had invested in. The spend was above and beyond our usual budget. The average TV sitcom series is around $2.4m (£1.5m) so this was a massive leap. I had to put on some swagger when I went to the board. While you’re normally trying to undersell in pitching TV, with this I had to be extremely confident. It was like a poker game.” The impressive arc of the script, which set

The Inbetweeners: anatomy of a UK hit

The UK’s summer box-office smash, The Inbetweeners Movie, is the territory’s most successful independent comedy ever and its third-biggest film of the year. Andreas Wiseman breaks down the keys to its success

the film apart from the usual adaptations of popular TV comedy series, was a major factor in convincing Channel 4 to put its chips in. Channel 4’s rights exploitation arm, 4Rights, decided to put up the majority of the film’s budget on the proviso it retained the DVD rights — a risky move which frustrated many would-be distributors during discussions at Cannes 2010, but which turned out to be a mas- terstroke.

(From left) Director Ben Palmer with writer-producers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley n 8 Screen International at the AFM November 4, 2011

Sense of scale Despite that downside for distributors, the film was courted by a number of the UK’s top com- panies. Producer Christopher Young was won over by the enthusiasm shown by Nigel Green of Entertainment Film Distributors: “He was the most positive. He had a scale of ambition. Most of the other distributors saw the DVD sales as the obvious cash cow and they talked in terms of a film that might do up to $7.8m (£5m)

or $15.6m (£10m), maybe $18.7m (£12m). Nigel never talked figures. He said we could do some- thing really big with this. That matched our own ambition.” The team set themselves the ambitious task

of shooting in February and March 2011 and releasing in the summer: “People will wait one year [the third and final TV series wrapped in summer 2010] for the film, but I didn’t think they would want to wait much longer. Anticipa- tion would be high by then. In practical terms it made my life hell but we had to do it that way,” recalls Young. The production involved its large, built-in

fanbase from an early stage, releasing a teaser trailer on the film’s Facebook site (which has 3.4 million ‘likes’; a number closer to the Hol- lywood blockbusters than most UK films) and offering fans the chance to be extras during the shoot, with many even flying themselves out to Mallorca for the chance to be involved.

The Inbetweeners Movie spent four consecutive weeks at number one in the UK


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