Definition 1 (Wiki)
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for the marketing of a film.Definition 2 (taken from BBC)
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.
Definition 3 (BBC)
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.My definition
Distributors are the 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 often rely on this technique. Distributors often attempt to create hype during production and pre-production. They are primarily responsible for marketing and decide upon the release dates, it remains conventional to stagger release dates across 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.
This is a blog further explaining distribution
Top 10 distributors of 2014
The Big Six Distributors
The big six distributors are: The rest are:
Warner Bros. Pictures New line (subsidiary of Warner Bros)
20th Century Fox Lionsgate
Paramount Pictures Dreamworks SKG
Universal Pictures Miramax
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Walt Disney Studios
Miramax is an Indie, formerly owned by Disney, Dreamworks is an Indie but have a distribution deal with Disney and New Line is a Warner subsidiary.
The current Big Six distributors
The current Mini-major studios
The leading independent producer/distributors—Lionsgate Films, is referred to as a "mini-major". (Wiki) But due to its recent success has led some to insist on talking of a 'big 7'.
In 2010 Lionsgate generated $513.9 million in grosses and was far ahead of the other mini-majors, none of which reached $100 million. And more recently their success with distributing some of the Hunger Games franchise.
These are the top ten distributors of 2014. They are all part of the big 6 and own the largest shares in the film distribution industry. As well as this they are conglomerates and own many subsidiaries. However, as successful these companies are many of them are not suited to distribute our film. This is because they specialise in working with big budget films containing an A-list filled cast not a small low budget Indie film. StudioCannal however have distributed a much larger variety of films ranging from thriller to horror to rom-com and period dramas. They have also distributed social realist films such as Mickybo and me.
They distribute movies focused on a global audience therefore their films appeal to a majority of consumers, for example the four quadrant strategy like in the film Avatar, so that their gross is a large a sum, due to the increased numbers of people who will go see it, this strategy would be used when making a tentpole film. The four quadrant strategy means that the film must appeal to a female and male audience as well as a youthful and more mature audience. If a film uses the 4 quadrant strategy it will have aspects that will appeal to all 4 audiences The film Avatar successfully achieved this, making worldwide $2,787,965,087, it's action and military aspect appealed to a male audience (especially youthful) and the romance attracted the female audience. The fast paced and exiting nature of the battle scenes would appeal to a youthful audience whilst the slower appreciation of nature and creatures is more likely to appeal to a more mature audience.
The Dark Knight Rises
Even though the big 6 want their films to appeal to a global audience, the American audience make up 50%(moving now more to 40% as China's film industry is developing this shown by The Dark Night Rises) of the total gross of the money made from the film industry, due to their ticket prices being the most expensive in the world at around $8.17. This fits with the Gant rule which states that
'an average significant hit has 10 times the amount of box office in the USA than the UK. We tested this by looking at Hunger Games Mocking Jay part 1. It made £22m in the UK and $258 in the USA proving the Gant rule.'Total Lifetime Grosses (of the Dark Night Rises)
Warner Bros (the number 1 distributor in the world during 2014) distribute films like Green Lantern budget $200m, Inception $160m and The Dark Night Rises with a budget of $250m.
This films budget was huge and way bigger than many of their other action/superhero films i.e Green Lantern $200m and their original production of Batman in 1989 who's budget was a mere $35m. This film made $1.005 billion.
Our film will be focused on relating to the British audience so it wouldn't be suitable for an American audience, as it's not familiar
- the rural Yorkshire setting
- strong accents
- the mise-en-scene which contains many British films, books and artists that would not be familiar to an American audience
Submarine - A directly comparable film?
Our film is heavily influenced by Warps ( an independent film production company based in Sheffield and London) Submarine.
Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2011)
Produced by Warp Films (+9); UK distribution: StudioCanal
Budget:$1.2mBox Office: $467,602 (domestic); $397,057 (foreign)
The scenery shots and bedroom scene were inspired by Submarine. It made a box office gross of $ 4,581,937 which for Warp was a substantial amount. Therefore there is already a current market and audience for this film so it will be less of a risk, meaning that we would be a good choice of producers to work with. It was also well received across seas as its international box office came to $467,602, in Australia $219,292. Therefore this is anchorage to distributors that our film is not too much of a risk. StudioCanal did a very successful job of distributing the film as we can see from the total gross.
Another option would be self-distribution where we would distribute our film ourselves. This in the 21st century is possible due to digitisation, which supports innovative methods of research. Positives of doing this would be:
1. We would have full control over the right of our film and choose where we want it to exhibited as well. Corey Geenop after signing with a distributor to distribute his film 'Wandering Rose' in America, lost all control of this film's trailer and even its tile. It was changed to 'Demon Baby'.
2. We also get to keep any cut of the money that would have been used to pay the distributer.
1. It could be very time consuming due to extra work and would take time away from working on other aspects of the film.
2. We would need to be trained legally so we could be sure that the distribution rights that we are signing would not prevent us from exhibiting our film else where.
Warp, when self distributing their film Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, came up with good marketing ideas, for example creating downloadable Christmas cards and collapsed the cinema release window as they promoted a fake cinematic release campaign to advertise the DVD realise by getting interviews. This is proof that even if you are self distributing unusual and ingenious ideas can work massively in your favour. But as we have minimal funding (micro budget) there is limited chance that we would get distribution. A good example of self distribution is Hinterland by Harry Macqueen in 2015 and Warp's All Tomorrow's Parties which was funded by the crowd. The before mentioned all have VoD releases. Le donk and scor-zay-zee cleverly faked a cinematic release to create buzz. Many use this technique of touring the director along side the Q + A events. This marketing technique was used for the films Four Lions, Wondering Rose and Hinterland. This was key in creating the buzz that helped Four Lions receive an extended distribution following their unexpected high box office.
In conclusion we have decided to go with Studio Canal as they are a successful distributer with a long history of distributing Indie films. They also have a past of working with lower budget films for example Billy Elliott, who's budget was £5m and distributing them globally not just in the Uk. Warp may have been a good distributor for us however Warp is a self distributer therefore it is very unlikely for them to pick up films that they have not produced, meaning that they probably wouldn't work with us. StudioCanal also distributed Submarine, as we already know they did a very good job and therefore have previous experience with handling a film that is very similar to ours. Therfore we have chosen to go with StudioCanal.