Is Traditional Movie Distribution Dead?

A few years back, I produced my first feature film. The movie was rough, but good enough to get us a few distribution offers. But upon reading the fine print, none of the offers seemed like good deals. It was clear we were living in a traditional distribution paradigm.

Make a movie, get into festivals, get noticed, get distribution, get screwed in the process.

At the same time, Amazon was gaining prominence as a popular movie marketplace. The opportunity at Amazon, combined with lots of traffic coming to our movie website motivated us to forgo traditional deals in favor of self-distribution. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In the years since, many end consumers have cut their traditional cable cords in favor of popular on-demand channels. Soon there will be no delineation between your TV and the internet. And these trends will alter traditional movie distribution.

Traditional Movie Distribution

Photo © artestudio8

Is Traditional Movie Distribution Dead?

In the old days, it was impossible to enter the marketplace without a distributor. You needed to work with someone who could navigate the complicated landscape of physical product and splinter your movie rights across the globe. But this model of traditional movie distribution is eroding.

Behemoths like iTunes, Netflix and other digital platforms are going global. And while many legacy distributors (and some foreign governments) are trying to preserve territories, the internet doesn’t have boundaries. Add the dozens of disruptive distribution companies to the paradigm shift, and you start to see why filmmakers may value the middle-man less.

To counter the traditional “middle-man” perception, distributors now focus on movie promotion as a selling point. The problem is, marketing is expensive. And even the most ethical and enthusiastic distribution companies lack the resources to commit to a campaign past the initial release.

Is traditional movie distribution dead?

After producing my own movies and actually working in distribution, I can tell you that (ironically) the best distribution deals are reserved for filmmakers who don’t actually need a deal. These entrepreneurial filmmakers go into the process with a promotional, sales and distribution plan.

If you’re interested in learning more about modern movie promotion, you might want to access the indie producer’s guide to distribution. This step-by-step system provides solid tactics so you can promote and sell your movie.

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