Film Distribution: How To Negotiate Minimum Guarantees

Picture this. Your movie is in the festivals. People like it. You’re getting tons of buzz. And for the past three days, you have been getting calls from distributors. Exciting right? Except the distributors are not offering minimum guarantees. And as a result, you realize something has changed.

Backyard indie filmmakers have saturated the market with cheaply produced product. The demise of DVD has forced traditional distributors to shift from a business to business model to a direct to consumer model. And without physical product, it is now difficult for distributors to predict the success of any digital movie.

minimum guarantees

Want To Negotiate Minimum Guarantees?

While the days of landing a huge MG seem rare, getting guaranteed cash for your movie is possible. But here’s the rub… Many films that land minimum guarantees are often the same films that could probably do well through self-distribution!

With this said, if you want to improve the odds of landing minimum guarantees, you will need to learn how to see the market from a distributor’s point of view.  You will need to answer the following questions:

  1. Can you define your target audience in 5 seconds?
  2. Do you have active and strong social media?
  3. Are you invested in the project and willing to promote?
  4. What sorts of additional value can you add to the project?
  5. Are there any merchandising opportunities beyond just the film?

Even when you take time to do your homework, negotiating minimal guarantees may still be challenging. Many domestic distributors are of the mindset that paying hefty cash sums will diminish the filmmaker’s support. So instead offering an MG, you may find distribution agreements geared towards a revenue split. This forces filmmakers to promote long after the deal is inked.

When it comes to a revenue split agreement, if your distributor is only invested in putting your film in the popular marketplaces, while depending on you to promote – Does it actually make sense to do a deal at all? Why wouldn’t you just distribute your movie?

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ARTICLE BY Jason Brubaker

If you'd like more tactics like the article you just read, make sure to grab a copy of the filmmaker checklist. You'll get 65 useful steps you can employ to produce your next feature film.
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