How Many Films Can You Sell?

One of our Filmmaking Stuff readers asked me a question worth sharing: “As a filmmaker, I would like to make a living making movies. There is all this talk about selling movies online, but I can’t find any numbers to reflect how many films people can sell on sites like Amazon, Hulu and iTunes. Can you help? I mean, how many films can you sell?

Having spent the last six months working behind the scenes for a movie aggregator, I can tell you the best answer is probably not as concrete as you would like. The answer is, “It  depends.”

Your success as a filmmaker depends very little on the VOD platform you choose. Rather, your success as a filmmaker has everything to do with the strength of your marketing, the strength of your audience engagement and the quality of your work. Your success has everything to with your conversion rate.

Conversion Rate: Out of all the people who visit your movie website, how many visitors can you divert to your preferred VOD platform? And out of the visitors who click through, how many will buy your movie? The answer to these questions is your conversion rate.

You can start this process by evaluating your movie idea:

  1. Who Is Your Target Audience?
  2. How Large Is Your Target Audience?
  3. How Will You Reach Your Audience?
  4. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?
  5. How Many VOD Sales To Break Even?

In a past article I wrote about financing movies with VOD sales projections. The math is pretty sobering and reveals why the studios spend millions of dollars on marketing. Yet for some reason, indie filmmakers pretend that marketing is something best left to some sort of magic movie marketing fairy.

If you want to find out more about how to market and sell your movie, check out the indie producer’s guide to digital self-distribution.


  1. says

    Casey – this depends on how many viewers you can source. For example, a filmmaker with 100K followers on their email list will probably do much better selling than the folks who don’t even have a mailing list. Most filmmakers get too caught up with platform selection – and this is the incorrect focus. The better focus is: How many viewers can I source? How many of these prospects will convert to sales? What is the cost of this marketing and publicity?

    If you don’t have answers to these questions, odds are good that you probably won’t sell too many views of your movie.

  2. says

    Okay.. but still didn’t get an answer on the ‘numbers’.
    ” but I can’t find any numbers to reflect how many films people can sell on sites like Amazon, Hulu and iTunes. “

  3. says

    Even though VOD is relatively new, things move so fast that I don’t think the concept of people building digital libraries is going to take hold as it did in the past like when people were buying their favorite movies on DVD. For a short time people will be herded into the cloud to park there digital wares there, but it won’t be long before they realize that soon every movie will already be available on a Netflix type service. Most people won’t buy hard drive after hard drive to build a movie collection. I think your best bet is to go for high volume streaming rentals through services that still charge on a per rental basis. Then eventually put it into the abyss library of a Netflix type service where your revenue will slow to a tiny trickle. Make movies only for the love of making movies, otherwise good luck make a living at it!!

  4. says

    Great points Jason – thx for sharing. I love the line, and think its right on point, that indies leave marketing up to the “movie marketing fairy”.

    We have to engage people and then support others along the way!

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