Sell A Movie To Netflix

The world of indie filmmaking is abuzz with folks wanting to sell a movie to Netflix. And this is for good reason. With over 30 million subscribers, getting your movie into the platform would represent exposure. As a result, many filmmakers have been leaving messages at my office like this:

I want to sell a movie to Netflix! I just want you to know that I don’t care about money. In fact, if I can’t sell a movie to Netflix, I’d be happy to put my movie on Netflix for free.

If you’re having similar thoughts, you may want to rethink a few things. While the opportunity for exposure feels enticing, accepting a silly deal doesn’t pay the bills or pay back your investors.

Sell a Movie to Netflix

Unlike many VOD platforms, the majority of Netflix deals still happen the traditional way. A filmmaker finds a distributor. The distributor negotiates a deal with Netflix. And then the filmmaker gets paid a licensing fee upfront.

If you decide to tackle Netflix distribution yourself, you’re going to jump through a series of hoops. To start, you must first get into their database.

Sell a Movie To NetFlix

How do you get into the Netflix database?

This is the secret sauce. Netflix decides what movies get into their database. And short of knowing somebody on the inside, there isn’t much you can do to change this. So at the very least, you better have an awesome movie that appeals to a large segment of the Netflix subscriber base. Beyond that, it helps if you can drum up tons of publicity.

What does Netflix pay for film acquisitions?

If you are fortunate enough to get your title into the Netflix database, you still need a gazillion people to request your movie in their Netflix queue. This is called queue demand. And this metric will influence the actual amount of money Netflix will offer you. If you want to score a big deal, your movie better have a lot of demand.

Should You Try To Sell A Movie To Netflix?

Aside from getting your movie noticed, the deals may not pay. In response, some of my filmmaker friends argue that it is important to sell a movie to Netflix merely for the exposure. To that, I usually remind them that piracy is also good for exposure. And getting someone to bootleg your movie involves a lot less headaches.

Next Steps For Netflix Distribution

If you are still set on getting into Netflix, then you may consider reaching out to traditional distributors. Utilizing traditional channels may allow you to circumvent some of the requirements I mentioned earlier. And who knows? You might find a distributor able to negotiate an awesome deal.

Conversely, if you’re willing to go the distance, you can start the process by utilizing a filmmaker friendly VOD aggregator like Distribber. (Note: In full disclosure, I once ran operations at Distribber, and they still pay me to promote.)

In both instances, I would advise that you don’t hold your breath. Now that Netflix produces their own shows, getting in (and actually landing a satisfying licensing deal) may still prove challenging.

sell your movieIf you would like to explore other popular (and accessible) outlets for your movie, you might wanna focus on transactional platforms first like iTunes and Amazon and then drive targeted traffic to your point of sale.

While you’re at it, if you’d like more info on modern distribution tactics, check out the Independent Producer’s Guide To Digital Distribution.

Three Steps For Netflix Distribution

UPDATE: You may want to read this article about Netflix Distribution

Many indie filmmakers are interested in finding out how to distribute their titles on Netflix. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to provide some details and save you headaches.

Step 1 – Verify The Netflix Database
Netflix has a proprietary, systematic approach for scouting and selecting titles for their database. And unless your title is selected for the Netflix database, Netflix will not make an offer for it. This is a circular requirement. If your title is not listed, there is not a whole lot you can do to change this.

Step 2 – Increase Queue Demand
If your title is listed in the database, the next step is increasing the “queue demand” so that the Netflix algorithm can determine the value of your title. To increase Queue Demand, you will need to organize a mini campaign that involves getting friends and your social network followers to add the film to their Netflix queue.

Step 3 – Get An Offer
Assuming your title is included in the database and you are able to increase “queue demand” then a 3rd party or aggregator (like Distribber) would approach Netflix for an offer. At this point you will either get an offer that makes sense for your movie or they will pass on your title.

Keep in mind that these offers can sometimes be much lower than anticipated – so it is important to manage your expectations.

While I think Netflix is a popular platform, some filmmakers will not want to go through the process. If this describes you, it might behoove you to check out Hulu, iTunes and Amazon as great alternatives. My guide to VOD distribution might help.