Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Distribution is the stage in between production and exhibition and involves all the deals done to promote the film.
There are two types of film promotion; 'Above the line' and 'Below the line'. Above the line refers to all the promotional material and marketing that is financed within the films budget such as the official trailers, posters and billboards. Whereas below the line consists of all promotion that isn't paid for, but that still generates interest in the film, for example; interviews with the cast or director, reviews and fan pages or videos such as trailer re-makes on youtube.
Films are loaned out to cinemas for a finite period and release deals are done that secures access to a certain number of screen at a time. But in the UK film market, an increase in the quantity of screens showing films has not led to an increase in the number of films shown.
The five main Distributors in the UK film industry are:
  • United International Pictures (This includes Universal)
  • Warner Brothers
  • Buena Vista
  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • Sony
    These show around 90% of the film in the UK.
    In most cases these distributors are directly linked to the Hollywood production companies who make the films and exhibitors who prioritise Hollywood films over others for profit.
    Usually the blockbuster films we are familiar with are distributed via what is called a 'blanket release' so even if a small UK independent company manages to get it's product into cinemas, it is usually competing for attention with one or more films that take on the status of an 'event'. This generally means that a lot of the films released in Britain do not reach the whole of the country.
    The problems smaller companies face is that every film in each cinema has a reel to project it, so a reel is needed for each cinema. Bigger companies can produce more prints, whereas smaller companies producing a less commercial product can't afford to do that so people who do want to see then have to wait for DVD release.
    Looking at an example of how important marketing is and why it is always such a large part of the budget, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Took over $50million at the box office and had over 1.5 million DVD sales ten days after release. However the film had received poor reviews from most critics, so the marketing of the product and it's previous installment contributed to the films success rather than the quality of the film.
    A huge problem in film distribution is Piracy. Hollywood investigators claim that there is a 10% increase each year in the revenue lost to illegal distribution. It is also a big problem in the UK.The UK film council aim to produce a strategy for responding to internal distribution opportunities and for working to remind the public that small production companies are actually hurt more by piracy than conglomerate companies.
    A new wave of distribution is being introduced in the form of digital distribution. It promises to transform the film industry more than any other as once it becomes the normal thing to download films via broadband, the potential for a new form of blanket distribution is obvious; not only do you no longer need multiple prints you can also bypass the cinemas. However, there will still be a need for cine,as as many people still go to enjoy 'the experience' of seeing it on the big screen. Another strength of digital is that it offers identical quality to the original film. Much of piracy involves films not being available in other countries until much later, so people who want to see it close to release watch pirate copies online. With digital distribution planning simultaneous global distribution via the Internet, it will put an end to this time gap and exploitation by pirates.
    Viral marketing is also becoming more and more frequent in distribution. Videos, quizzes and downloads are available from the films website as well as the production and distribution compaines' websites.
    The time of release is crucial due to competition and appealing to your target audience at the right time. Making the film noticed and available to the right people is also vital. On planning the release you need to think about the target audience, research and past experience with a type of film, how often people go to the cinema or buy a DVD (eg, many people but DVDs around Christmas time). To compete with other films the marketing needs to stand out and be directed at the right time to the right people. So during October half term, many children have nothing to due to darker nights, so many films appealing to younger audiences are released.
    Word of mouth is possibly the best marketing for a film you can have, however it is hard to acquire. Advanced screenings are free to the public ti convince them to see it and then tell their friends about it, however his can backfire if the word of mouth is negative. We see adverts for these screenings in magazines which match the target audience. Research proves this by showing that people are most influenced by their friends' recommendations.
    Distribution is vital to a films success, which is why such a large part of any film budget goes towards the distribution of the film and the marketing surrounding it.

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