A film distributor is a company/ individual who is accountable for the advertising of a film. The distributor may set the release date of a film and the way in which a film shall be displayed/ made available for viewing. The best examples of this are: video on demand (VoD), DVD/Blu-ray, TV and download. A distributor may well do this independently, but this is only if they own theatres to do so otherwise it will be done through other theatrical exhibitors.
The main objective of a distributor is to persuade the exhibitor to essentially ‘buy’ a film. With this in mind, a distributor will often organize industry screenings for exhibitors, and will use other marketing techniques that will make the exhibitor a) want to show the film and b) make a profit from the film
After this, the distributor will: Secure a written contract, which specifies the amount of the gross ticket sales to be paid to the distributor Collect the money Review the exhibitors ticket sales (this is to ensure the gross informed by the exhibitor is precise) Secure the distributors share, and diffuse the remaining money to the production company/others In most cases this is a set amount but may be varied depending on the film.
They must also ensure that: Enough film prints are made to accommodate all exhibitors On the day of opening- make sure the film is delivered Observe exhibitors to make sure the film is shown in the particular theatre with the minimum number of seats and show times set On the day of closing- collect the film from the exhibitors This involves film prints (now more digital) and posters, newspaper and magazine adverts, TV adverts, trailers, and other types of ads as well.
The Film distributor must therefore create enough advertising for their film. When dealing with foreign films, it may also be responsible for: Dubbing/subtitling for the film Censorship or other legal or organisational ‘consent’ for the exhibition of the film in the area; in which it is shown This must be done prior to approaching the exhibitors for booking.
In the UK, distributors are responsible for ascertaining and delivering the largest possible audience for every film. Bearing in mind that they must compete with other forms of entertainment and other titles, this is no easy task.
A film’s first weekend in cinemas is vital for further success; most films gain 30% or more of its entire box office during the first three days, which is why it is important to get the marketing correct. Film distributors must think about: Who is the audience? Who does the film speak to? Do the story, characters and situation attract the audience? Does the film make up for the cost (risk) of a theatrical release? What sort of audiences have similar films attracted recently? These are all very important and explains why many distributors may only release 1-2 a year and others may release 20-30.
COMPETITION- Which films are being released at the same time- particularly the ones that target s a similar audience? A different film/counter programming? Release dates are changed more very commonly for competition EVENT- a film which can either be a probable mass market blockbuster or a specialised film for more distinct audiences STAR POWER- Well known actors among the cast? Stars previous roles to promote this film Is the film made by a well known director? Cast members available for screenings
Different releases are accomplished in diverse ways. A blockbuster release may open simultaneously on 1000 screens UK-wide playing at two or more screens per multiplex: this includes large scale sequels or star led holiday releases and therefore helps to accommodate mass audiences eager to see a film at the earliest opportunity. Sometimes, a single print can service multiple screens if they are ‘interlocked’.
A film that is a re-released or a foreign film may consist of 25 or less prints. At first the film may appear selected screens in London and some university towns to audiences to which it appeals. It is rare to see a film only be put out on one area before expanding but does happen. London’s population accounts for about a quarter of UK cinema admissions. It must be kept in mind that people decide to go and see films for different reasons. Older people may like things advertised on TV or in the press where as younger audiences may prefer if it was advertised on the radio or internet. The internet is very important to raising lots of awareness of many new films.
Vertigo films, founded in 2002, is a British, vertically integrated film distributor who is responsible for ‘Monsters’. They were set up to create and distribute commercially-driven independent cinema. In 2010, Vertigo set up PFXE which is a 3D facilities company with the aim to create European 3D films to combat other 3D films in Hollywood i.e. ‘StreetDance 3D’.