Film distribution By Jack Morton
A film distributor is essentially the marketer for a film, which are hired to create campaigns to try and sell the film. It’s their job to ensure that they attract the widest possible audience possible for that film applying to the certified age. • More jobs they do include organising release dates for films, determine how that film can be viewed (e.g. a theatrical film will be distributed to cinemas, ported to DVD, Blu-ray, and box office showings). • The distributor is also responsible for creating all of the advertising for a film to try and make it sell. This includes television adverts, posters, newspaper and magazine adverts, trailers etc. • Film distribution companies also have to think about and take into consideration whether the film is for a large target audience or if it is aimed at a smaller, discrete audience. • Ultimately, they need to get the film across and known to the public in the must cost effective way, by as many different media forms as possible (internet, TV, magazines, newspapers, radio, posters etc.) • Competition is another primary concern with distribution companies, as they have to take into consideration what other films are coming out around the same time with the same target audience. It is their goal to try and get as many people as possible to see their film. Overview of film distribution
There is a certain process which applies to most film distributors and how the whole system of film distribution is carried out. • The process (as shown on the right) goes through various stages before it can even be released. The films first have to acquire rights to the story to actually make the film in the first place. After this screenplay written by the writers and a finance plan and budget is worked out. Cast and crew are hired and filming, editing and scoring are completed before the film distributor begins to get involved. The distributor works out a plan for releasing the film including the release date. Next the film is shown to exhibitors to have it agreed that it can be shown in a cinema. This is when marketing occurs, which is arguably the most essential job distributors perform. They begin creating advertising campaigns to try and ‘sell’ the film to the public with appropriate adverts to hype up the target audience. Film reels are certified and given an age rating ready to be delivered to cinemas. The film is then released and shown in cinemas. The film can stay in theatres from a few weeks up to a few months depending on how much money is being made from it. After it’s initial showing, it is then released on home entertainment systems and television, and shortly after released on DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix etc. The process
Film 4 Film 4 are an example of a film distributor. Starting in 1988, this sister channel to channel 4 started as a subscription company, but later became free to view in 2006. When they first began in 1982, they didn’t primarily focus on large Hollywood blockbusters, but more on lower budget British films that weren’t overly publicised. Nowadays they distribute many large, award winning titles like slum dog millionaire, 127 hours and train spotting. They did have major problems with budget constraints in 2002, resulting in large cuts, but are now quite a stable company. Examples of film distributors Quick facts • They produce roughly 6 films per year • They have a niche (very specific small audience) • Successful Films include – Slum dog Millionaire,127 Hours, Four Lions and Train Spotting.
DNA Films DNA films are another example of a film distribution company, founded by Duncan Kenworthy and Andrew Macdonald. The company is situated in London. They are quite a small and unknown company, distributing their first film ‘Kansas in August’ in 1999. They have distributed some fairly successful films in the past decade such as 28 days later and Love Actually. DNA films have a distribution contract with a company called Fox Searchlight (an auxiliary of 20th Century Fox) which focuses on independent, British films. This is agreement between two companies is called a Synergy, which means they both benefit from helping each other out. This company was extremely successful with the 28 days/weeks later franchise. ‘28 days later had a budget of 5 million pounds to make, and grossed in at 50 million pounds which is obviously a huge difference. This goes to show that small distribution companies like this can be just as successful, in the ratio of budget to profit, to larger film distribution companies. Examples of film distributors