The movie business can often appear to be an elusive mix of information that still leaves you wondering “how do they make movies again?” There are many steps involved in creating a hit movie including development, pre-production, production, post-production, marketing and distribution, and exhibition (Young, Gong, and Van Der Steele 3). One of the most interesting and difficult aspects of movie creation is getting the movie out into the world, also known as distribution. For the scope of this paper, I will review the process of movie making with an emphasis on distribution.
Movies are well thought out before they are created and the Producer is the head of organizing the film and responsible for the film. The producer acquires the intellectual property to create the film (script, book, video game, etc.). He also hires screenwriters and gets funding for the film (till this day it is common for Hollywood films to be financed by NYC financiers) (Davidson, “How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?”). Predictions are also made about how successful this movie can possibly be using data from similar projects in the past. In pre-production the producer hires everyone from the director to the cast. Production is the part where the movie shot and post-production is when all of the editing, visual additions, and scoring occurs. A film is appropriately marketed using trailers, actor interviews, and more and the film is distributed to all the areas where it will be viewed and finally shown.
Distribution can sometimes be a difficult deal to strike within the movie industry. The film studio will make a licensing agreement with a distribution company and the distribution company will determine how many copies of the film to make. The company then will show the film to potential buyers representing the theaters. The buyers than negotiate which films they want to lease and the terms of that lease agreement. The copies of the movie are then sent a few days before the official showing dates, are shown for a specified amount of time, tickets are bought, the movie is watched, and at the end of the time the copy is sent back to distributors and a payment is made on the lease agreement. Most major film companies also have their own distribution companies, like Disney has Bueno Vista, and this can make it easier for companies to get movies out into the world but can be troubling when sharing financial risks. Smaller independent films may try to get attention from distributors by showing their films at major film festivals where distributors will be at to attract a deal. Also, if a film does very well at a theater the distribution deal can be renegotiated to continue showing the movie for an extended amount of time. This has shown competition for second run movie theaters, which already get poor distribution terms, and are now facing major competition from movie theaters that run films for longer periods of time. Some major film distributors in the United States include Columbia Pictures, Fox Film Corporation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Warner Brothers (and there are at least a hundred more, lesser known companies).
Recently, due to the success of digital media, many film producers are rethinking traditional approaches to having their movies viewed. Some people are foregoing traditional distributions all together and shooting straight for the internet to get their ideas and films out. There are several streaming service that are allowing for the old model to become challenged. Some film producers are also only interested in being viewed on sites like YouTube. The creators of “The India Game: The Movie” took their time when selecting a distribution deal (Ramos, “How to Win at Self-Distribution”). Many of the offers they had encountered did not feel right to them so they passed them by. They had garnered significant attention during the Sundance Film Festival and offers for deals but eventually decided to start a Kickstarter Fund and self-distribute (Ramos, “How to Win at Self-Distribution”). The film eventually was seen across the country and distributed online on iTunes and Stream.
The film industry will always remain an exciting place to study. This is a place that captures humanities stories and gets them out to the world to enjoy. It is my belief the traditional movie theater is not going anywhere anytime soon. Yet, times have changed and the internet has become more and more important in day to day tasks. People can do everything online from shopping to meeting the love of their lives. The internet has also made getting movies out into the world easier and for those film makers who really want their message to be heard may be the better route for distribution. The old model of distribution will remain attractive for the films that serve to mostly entertain us with high end technology, sets, and actors. When it comes to movie making and distribution much thought must go into each individual project. As far as distribution the producer will inherently know what formula fits best for them. If I wanted to make a film the best formula for me would be digital distribution because I would have more of a possibility of actually getting my work out into the world. If I were a large scale producer I’d be interested in seeing a profit for my effort and would try and get a major distribution deal. As long as the movies get out into the world somehow the process becomes a backdrop to the final exhibition.
- Ramos, Steve. “How To Win At Self-Distribution If You’re Not Louis C.K.: A Case Study For Creators And Marketers.” FastCo.Works. 03 Dec. 2012. Web. 22 May 2016.
- Davidson, Adam. “How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 June 2012. Web. 22 May 2016.
- Young, S Mark., Gong, James J., Van Der Steede, Wim. “The Business of Making Movies” IMA Net. February 2008. Web. 22 May 2016.