Basics of Film Distribution

By: DonaldJennings

Filmmakers must have a solid understanding of the basics of film distribution. Filmmakers who are successful (and who can recoup their investment and repay investors) will develop a distribution strategy before they begin filmmaking. Sometimes, they may even write the script before creating it. MovieTransit has been created to provide the best service for both major film studios as well as independent distributors, providing advanced and cutting-edge features to boost your production. Enhance your delivery of content by using the most reliable, secure and flexible what is dcp delivery platform now!

Don’t forget the global deal. Split rights are where deals are made

No longer are major distributors able to buy your movie from you post Sundance, Toronto, Cannes or other international festivals.

There are exceptions, like Fox Searchlight’s acquisition of Another Earth at Sundance 2011. But it would be foolish to make a film based on the belief that a global deal might happen.

It costs a lot to get your film in cinemas

It is very expensive to book ad space on magazines and newspapers. The cost of publicity and social media assets can make a theatrical release seem like a small country’s budget. Keep in mind that the distributor company and the exhibitor (theatre owners) will each take a third of the profits. Then, the remaining money from all the cinema admissions begins to shrink. The distributor deducts costs associated with the release from the ‘profit.

Service deals can work

A service agreement allows the filmmaker to hire a specialist to handle the distribution of the film. This is done for a nominal fee. Specialists are then booked and preview screenings are held for cinema booking agents. The money is returned to the filmmaker, less any advertising or publicity campaigns.

Service agreements can give filmmakers more flexibility and control. The distributor works for you. The rewards are generally greater if the filmmaker is involved in the campaign.

The bigger the deal, the less control you have

Dah. Yes. Of course.

Fortune will place your sweet, adorable, sweetheart film in the hands of big distributors. You’ll need to quickly learn how to dance to their tune. If you don’t like the way they play, you can forget about your voice and you will likely be completely ignored while the big guys decide how to maximize their return on investment. If they fail to do the right thing by your books and mess up everything, you can just say goodbye to your movie. They are free to re-cut and re-do any artwork they like without consulting you. It is important that you are clear in your contract what the approval process for major marketing decisions is.

Cap Film Distribution Expenses

Marketing campaigns are expensive. You must ensure that you limit expenses if your deal requires a split of profits after expenses. Otherwise, any profit will evaporate.

Russell Owen, a British filmmaker, taught me a great trick: to add a filmmaker’s fee to your expenses. Insisted that 10% of your budget be included if your distributor or agent is planning to spend 100k on promotion for your film. After the film has recouped its expenses, you’ll be able to revert back to your original deal.

The Cheque is in the Post

It can take a frustratingly long time for money from your film to reach you. Remember that money from your theatrical release can take a long time to arrive at the distributor (theatre owner). The wait for DVD sales is longer. It is not unusual for delays of up to 12 months or even 15 months. Retailers often hold back cash to cover unsold merchandise.

Beware of the middleman

Some middlemen are available to represent film slates by newcomers on condition that they have an excellent screening process through which they cherry-pick the best of the undiscovered talent for potential distributors.

This function is much more formalized in the digital age. These intermediaries, also known as aggregators or middlemen, serve two purposes. They prepare your film for digital distribution by encoding it in a variety of CODECs that can be used for everything, from Playstation to mobile phones to internet viewing. They then sell your film to major platforms such as iTunes and Netflix. The fees are higher and filmmakers can only get a fraction of the total revenue after the platform or aggregator has taken their cut.

Film Distribution Basics: There is no guarantee

Every relationship in life develops and disintegrates. A distribution agreement is something wise filmmakers will sign. This allows the filmmaker to leave the distributor if they have not reached a minimum revenue stream. A void clause is another common element to include in your distribution agreement. This will allow you to cancel your film’s release within a set time.

R.O.I. All that and more

Every film has a potential revenue. It is important to determine the potential revenue for your film and to then price your film at a lower amount than you anticipate earning. This is one the most important aspects of film distribution. This is why? This is why.