What is distribution?Definition: It is the process of sharing somethingout to a number of recipients.In this case, releasing and sustaining films in themarketplace.
Vertical and horizontal distributionDerived from the business term ‘vertical and horizontalintegration’ – strategies that are made to grow your business butdiffer in approach.Vertical integration for film distribution is similar to the businessequivalent: all stages are seen as part of the same larger process– under control of one company. For example: a film companyowning the production, post-production and exhibition - thisway, they have full control . Also known as synergy.Whilst the horizontal integration is more of a collaborativeprocess between a few companies. Working with separatecompanies to form one final product: the film. This could be anindependent producer in need of a distributor – this morecommon for smaller independent companies than major ones.
Distribution is also demands legal rights to show a film.Major studios generally have their own distributionoffices in all the major territories, such as the majorcinemas, therefore more coverage of the population.On the other hand, independent producers have to selltheir films to different distributors in each territory.A local distribution is more common in the UK, where afilm is released only in one country – the UK.A local distributor frequently share profits equally withthe producer for the theatrical legislation.
How are films released?• Release• Marketing• Prints and management of them• In the UK• Wide release• Digital
Release• When and how to release?• Scheduling – strategy on what day to release as well as seasonality for the best success• Film Distribution Association (FDA) http://www.launchingfilms.com/“Film Distributors Association Ltd. (FDA) is the trade body for theatrical filmdistributors in the UK - the companies that release films for UK cinemaaudiences.Originally established in London in 1915, FDA liaises and works with manyindividuals, companies and organisations. FDAs Council, or board, comprisinga senior representative of each member company, normally meets six times ayear and considers only matters of generic interest to film distributors.”• Marketing campaign is the most expensive process
MarketingThere are many ways a film can be marketed:• Print: on buses, billboards, movie posters on display near the cinema, newspapers, magazines• Video: trailers, teaser clips, viral online• Synergies: companies working together to create a combined effect that’s greater than if they were doing it by themselves.• Viral real-time: requires the audience to partake in a real-time activity - a prominent example would be during the then-upcoming The Dark Knight – where Warner Brothers promote the Batman film using a viral marketing strategy, focusing on the ARG (Alternate Reality Game) ‘Why So Serious? The Dark Knight’. The campaign was launched around 15 months prior release of the film and witnessed participation from millions around the world. http://www.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/Marketing/MKTG224.ht m
Marketing: ATL/BLT/TTLAbove the Line/Below the Line/Through the Line: advertisingtechniques or different strategies which companies use to sell theirproducts.• ATL: use media to broadcast and publish to mass audiences, it is also difficult to measure well• BTL: use media that are more niche focused and have ability to tailor their messaging more personally, it is also in comparison to ATL promotions to be highly measureable• TTL: involves both ATL and BTL communications. Allows brands to interact with a customer at many points – for example: they see the TV advert, hear the radio advert and handed a flyer on the street. This is an integrated communication approach which gives consistent messaging though multiple media.
Many independent distributors do not have press departments, thereforehave to hire a press agency to run a pre-release campaign.A distributor will consider the use of advance public screenings, premiersinvolving the actors/actresses, directors etc. from the production to air on TVor radio to create a word-of-mouth and advanced ‘buzz’ around a film.Other ways to create awareness and ‘hype’ of a film could be if the film has afew sequels already released for example, the Twilight saga - cinemas or adedicated movie channel on TV could show the previously released films as a‘refresher’ for the upcoming new film.Another way would be the use of movie-related merchandise released beforethe film release such as t-shirts, figurines and toys. Use of other companiessuch as McDonalds to release kids movie toys in their children’s meal boxes.Another way of getting customers into watching a specific release of a 3Dfilm is releasing limited edition collectors 3D glasses which accompany thefilm.
Prints (film reels)‘Prints’ used in this context are the 35mmmotion picture reels.Niche films would have 10 prints or less - aredistributed to key independent cinemas andthen ‘toured’ over a 6-month period to all partsof the UK.Mainstream film would have 200+ prints – allsimultaneously screening all major UK townsand cities.
Management of prints• There’s transportation – risk of damage, delays, etc.• Huge cost of £700-£1000 per 35mm reel – depending on the length of the film. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2062289/Digital- cinema-eclipse-35mm-film-early-2012--celluloid-disappear-2015.html• Prints hired by the exhibitor – too bulky and expensive to store• Can be easily damaged – costly!• More are bought for first few months then destroyed – waste in money and harm environment• Digital taking over: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/nov/29/life- after-35mm-digital-film
Distribution in the UKTaken from Film Distribution Association guide 2012:• “UK distributors obtain the films they release from one or more of various sources:• a third-party sales agent, acting on behalf of a producer• a continuous flow of new content from a parent studio• a studio or production company with whom the distributor has negotiated an output deal covering a slate of titles• a single title acquired at any stage before, during or after productionAs in other countries, the UK has half a dozen major distributors (directlyaffiliated to the Hollywood studios) and many independent (unaffiliated)distributors who tend to handle films made outside the major studios. Anylocal distributor of whatever ownership may compete to pick up a film withavailable rights, so competition to sign a hot property can be fierce.”
Wide release• A Hollywood blockbuster film is released ‘wide’ with one or more prints sent to each cinema. Usually 400-500 film prints, each totals up to £1000!• It is dependent on promotional and advertising coverage for the first weekend to create a ‘buzz’ about the film• Free trailers packages and electronic press kits are sent to radio stations, television stations and newspapers. Preview screenings are made exclusive to journalists and some members of the public. People who partake in the film like actors/directors give interviews which are aired on radio or TV – guarantees exposure of the film.• Costs over £1m and relies on the opening week of £2m or more at box office
Digital distributionDigital distribution is taking over 35mm film after 120 years in the business.“In January, 63% of the worlds screens will be digital, according to report from IHS.Last year, 67% of global screens were still 35mm. The year 2011 is the tipping point,when digital cinema replaces celluloid as the mainstream form of projection. Its theend of an era and the start of something new.”“In 2008, 13 billion feet of 35mm was used per year. Next year, 4 billion feet of celluloidwill be used, as print production costs rise and films are sent out as files on USB sticks.The switchover is picking up speed. In America, the statistics warn, there will be nomainstream 35mm usage by 2014.”Taken from news article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/nov/29/life-after-35mm-digital-filmSince 1889, 35mm was the primary film projection technology – now cinemas areexperiencing rapid change, triggered by the rising popularity of 3D films.Switching over to digital has many positives: cheaper to distribute, picture quality isfar better, and so on. But will the deterring usage of 35mm film reels strip away‘authenticity’ and ‘feeling’ of cinema?
What is exhibition?Definition: a public display of works of art or other items of interest.Retail branch of the film industry – public screening, mainly for payingcustomers in a site dedicated to screenings.“What the exhibitor sells is the experience of a film (and, frequently,concessions like soft drinks and popcorn). Because exhibitors to someextent control how films are programmed, promoted, and presented tothe public, they have considerable influence over the box-office successand, more importantly, the reception of films.”Taken from: http://www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Criticism-Ideology/Exhibition.html
Major cinema chains in the UK• AMC (American Multi-Cinema): second largest movie theatre chain in North America with 5,325 screens. Has locations in the UK (Birmingham) Founded: 1920 in US• Apollo: locally focused, independently owned multiplex cinema operator in UK. 14 cinemas nationwide. On 11th May 2012, announced that Vue Cinemas were to buy Apollo for £20m. Founded: 2002• Cineworld: Second largest cinema operator in the UK with 801 screens, 78 cinemas. 76 located in UK and one in each Ireland and Jersey. Founded: 1995• Empire: multiplex cinema in UK. 17 cinemas with 164 screens in total. Founded: 2005• Everyman Group founded in 2000 when a group of investors bought Everyman Cinema which dated in 1933. Currently 9 cinemas.
• Merlin: cinema chain based in England. Currently 11 cinemas. Opened 1935 with ‘Regal Cinema’ based in Redruth, Cornwall, UK.• Odeon: one of the largest cinema chains in Europe. Owned by ‘Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group’, founded in 1928.• Picturehouse: art house cinemas in UK. Has 19 sites in England and Scotland. First Picturehouse opened in 1989 in Oxford. (There’s one in Norwich called Cinema City)• Scott: Based in English county of Devon. Has 8 cinemas in total. First opened in 1931.• Showcase: owned and operated by ‘National Amusements’. More than 950 indoor screens in US, UK and Latin America.• Vue: formerly ‘SBC International Cinemas’. Formed in 2003. Now 69 Vue Cinemas with 654 screens – third largest UK cinema chain.• Ward Anderson: largest cinema chain in Ireland. Operates in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Own 32 in Ireland and 12 in Northern Ireland.
Possible problems with exhibitionRecently in late October 2012, a Saturday morning screening of 15-ratedParanormal Activity 4 started playing instead of PG family movie, Madagascar3.Children as young as 5 were in that screening and there were around 25families in there. Taken from: http://www.dailymail.c o.uk/news/article- 2222366/Paranormal- Activity-4-instead- Madagascar-3-shown- screaming-children- bungling-cinema- staff.html
Other ways of exhibiting• Outdoor in-car screenings• DVDs, Blu-Rays• Stream online e.g Netflix, LoveFilm• View on movie-dedicated channels on TV e.g Sky Movies• View on mainstream channels e.g BBC One, Channel 4.