What is Distribution? Distribution is about releasing and sustaining films in the market place Vertical Integration - the three stages are seen as part of the same larger process, under the control of one company Horizontal - distribution is necessarily a collaborative process, requiring the materials and rights of the producer and the cooperation of the exhibitor to promote and show the film in the best way possible
Acquiring legal rights to show a film The major US studios generally have their own distribution offices in all the major territories By contrast, independent producers have to sell their films to different distributors in each territory ‘Local’ distribution – one country – not 90+ territoriesCinema, DVD, TV rights A local distributor will conventionally share profits equally with the producer for the theatrical leg, pay back higher royalties for broadcast rights, and lower for video/DVD#
Release Dates When and How? Scheduling – Fridays Film Distributors Association – oversee process Seasonality, light weekends, other releases – optimum success 10 releases a week Marketing Campaign – most expensive part
Film Marketing • In your experience, how are films marketed? Posters/adverts in newspapers/TV/ Trailers New Technologies Viral Synergies Above the Line/Below the Line
Many independent distributors in particular do not have press departments, and will consequently hire a press agency to run a pre-release campaign. A distributor will consider the use of advance public screenings to create word-of-mouth and advance 'buzz' around a film.
Film Distribution in the UK • Film distribution has its own unique procedures. • Success or failure of a cinema release determines how the DVD and TV releases will be handled subsequently. • In the international film business, the rights to screen a film are sold in respect of distinct ‘territories’ such as the UK.
Film Distribution in the UK • Most Hollywood films are distributed directly by the studio which financed the film. • In the UK the cinema box office is dominated by a handful of major distributors. • In any year, the 5 major distributors will account for 90% of the box-office rentals.
Typical Practice: Wide Release • A Hollywood blockbuster is released ‘wide’ with one or more prints sent to each multiplex. Typically 400-500 prints, each costing £1000. So, a significant investment. • The wide release depends on blanket promotional and advertising coverage for the first weekend to create a ‘buzz’ about the film. • Free trailer packages and electronic press kits are sent to radio and TV stations and newspapers. Preview screenings for journalists are arranged. Stars give interviews and newspaper and TV advertising guarantees exposure. • Cost – over £1m but rely on opening £2m or more at box office
Digital Distribution Digital projection, especially when combined with the increasing use digital formats in production, can now replicate Cheaper Send films as computer files to cinemas across the UK – piracy Digital Projection (opposed to motion pictures) The compressed and encrypted files sent directly to cinemas to be downloaded, de-encrypted (unlocked) and opened as files for screening with digital projection equipment. The shortened first-run period will allow distributors to release on DVD earlier
Digital Screen Network • DSN sites supports new facilities in 211 screens across the country (out of a total of just over 3,300), small but important step change towards full digital cinema.
The average Hollywood blockbuster opens on 300-plus screens across the UK; most independent films, restored classics, documentaries and foreign language films still struggle to reach over ten per cent of those screens. • Digital screening cuts the cost of releasing films (a digital copy costs around one tenth of a 35mm print). That's why UK Film Council and the Arts Council England created the Digital Screen Network – a £12 million investment to equip 240 screens in 210 cinemas across the UK with digital projection technology to give UK audiences much greater choice.
The Exhibitors (cinema chains) in 2004: Only Showcase remains in American hands, but all the other chains are deeply committed to distributing American films.