Monday, 1 December 2014

INDUSTRY: Notes on distribution

Notes on Distribution
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for the marketing of a film.(simple explanation from (

What is a Distributor?

In terms of shorts, a distributor is an individual or organisation who will represent your film at festivals and markets around the world and who will attempt to sell it to television (including terrestrial, cable and satellite), airlines and other companies that show short films. The major short film distributors in the UK are (in alphabetical order): Dazzle, Futureshorts, Network Ireland TV and Shorts International. See the distributor section of our Related Links: Exhibition & Distribution – Shorts for information and links to these distributors and others.

In terms of features, a distributor is generally an organisation who handles the theatrical release of a film in a particular country as well as the marketing and circulation of films for home viewing (DVD, Video-On-Demand, Download, Television etc). Often feature films have different distributors representing them in different territories and different distributors handling the home-viewing circulation. Independent film distribution in the UK is generally managed by indie distributors such as Metrodome, Optimum Releasing and Momentum. See the distributor section of our Related Links: Exhibition & Distribution – Features for information and links to these distributors and others. (from

Distributor (2nd source)

Distribution is the highly competitive business of launching and sustaining films in the market place.
Like other forms of entertainment, the film business is product-driven: the films themselves are the reason why most people buy cinema tickets. But how do people get to know about the range of films on offer, or coming soon, in the first place? How do they come to feel they want to see particular films and go to the cinema to do so? UK film distributors alone spend around £300 million a year on bringing new releases to market, and building awareness and interest among audiences. It's a fast-moving, highly competitive, high-stakes business.

Distributor notes:

  • Middle men between producers and exhibitors
  • Producers often pre-sell distribution rights to finance production. Michael Leigh and Ken Loach do this to distribution companies in European countries e.g Spain, Italy, Germany and France. Working Title sometimes do this but low budget films rely on this technique.
  • Distributors are primarily responsible for marketing
  • Producers often attempt to create hype during production and pre-production
  • Distributers decide upon the release dates, it remains conventional to stagger release dates across different markets E.g Love actually is heavily related with Christmas as they used a seasonal release strategy (DVD came out just before Christmas and was first shown on Tv around Christmas as well) as well as the posters and CD covers had connotations of Christmas. Saw and Paranormal activity franchise  are now associated with Halloween.
  • For film distribution they have to involve the audience, this is becoming a bigger and bigger issue, user generated content e.g fan art for Star Wars (free marketing) Snakes on a plane - extreme example of this, the producers invited an audience to name their film.
  • WT are a good example of a production company that almost always gets involved in the marketing even though they're not a distribution companyLots of online material- they created games, Saun of the dead, space invaders, Hot Fuzz, Pac man on their website. Muli-lingual Facebook groups, Spanish and French official group for the movie Paul, they have money to spend on this in contrast to Warp.
  • Star wars fan art
  • Films of all types and people are looking for a gap in the market, for example if there are lots of children Disney film coming out around the same time you could try and bring out a very different genre of film like a horror. If you have a similar film to a big tentpole film then you would wait 3-4 week to release yours

What specific stratagies are involved in film marketing?

  • Teaser trailers e.g Star Wars
  • Production company - pre- production and production blogging, UGC (audience interactivity) can happen at any stage inc. exhibition
  • Release date, awareness of what else is currently on the market and thinking of rolling regional releases e.g Avatar was released simultaneously. Reduces marketing costs, create hype, standard to release is staggered because hoping its a hit in one major market, creates hype, one sets of prints sent round is expensive
  • Main trailer possibly differentiated for differentiated for different markets, posters possibly differentiated for different markets, Tv spots, cast and crew doing Tv tours to promote films, DVD and  Blueray additions, initial release with no extras = vanilla release then Special addition, Un cut addition may have a higher age rating, the director of Blade runner, director of this was unhappy with the cinema release so you can get directors cuts, collectors addition = more extras
  • For films such as Halloween, Blade Runner ect, ultimate addition (lots of unseen extras) New Harry Potters DVD's being re released with new covers creating collectors covers.
DB distribution

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