The Film Distributor’s Guide To Film Genres That Sell

When producing a feature film, investors and distributors want to find ways to reduce their risk and increase the opportunity for reward. One way to get the attention of industry professionals is to focus on producing films within genres that sell.

A few years back, a good friend sent me a feature drama project to review. I took a look at the project and let him know that unless he got some serious star talent in the film, the prospects for selling it would be limited. This is because independently produced dramas can be a tough sell, even with star talent.

film genres that sell

Finding Film Genres That Sell

With all this in mind, I came up with an idea for my friend’s film. I reread the script and realized it wouldn’t take too much to turn his edgy indie drama into an action film with a no-star cast. It would make the writing even better. This suggestion came to me for one reason only – Around the world, ACTION sells. And you usually don’t need an A-lister to sell it.

While we are on the subject of “tough sells,” consider avoiding comedies that are too edgy. Meaning there’s a lot of sex, cursing, or drug use. Outside of appealing to the market, certain international territories (like China) have censored boards. And these countries won’t even consider films that touch on subjects they deem too controversial.

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Action films fit into a category referred to as “evergreen.”  These films play well internationally because you don’t need to know the language to understand the action. And as a result, when I attend film markets, many buyers ask if I have action films. 

In addition to action, other film genres that sell include sci-fi and horror. These films tend to be attractive because they have an easily identifiable, built-in audience. And if you find these genres are not appealing to you artistically, you might consider making Christmas-themed dog or cat films. Or heck, sometimes non-offensive RomComs tend also to attract buyers. 

All this to say, you must find the balance between art and business. You have to decide your goals for the film. If your goal is to get your independent voice out there with an edgy drama, you’re welcome to do so. Just know that this may reduce your distribution opportunities.

And if your goal is to make money on the film, your best bet would be to focus on film genres that sell. If you’re interested in learning more about developing your film, check out my series on film distribution.

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Tom Malloy is a film producer, actor, and writer. Over the course of his career, he has raised over twenty-five million dollars to produce, and distribute multiple feature films. If you're ready to "level up" your film producing, make sure to check out Movie Plan Pro. The video training and downloadable film business plan template will provide you with the same tools Malloy uses when approaching prospective film investors.