Will my movie make money? This is not a new question. A decade ago, I read Adventures In The Screen Trade where William Goldman said something that has stuck with Hollywood heavyweights ever since:
“Nobody Knows Anything.”
This means that you can you have the most famous stars, a great screenplay and a gazillion dollar marketing budget – and your movie may or may not make money.
Will My Movie Make Money?
Here’s the thing… It’s not a matter of how much money your film will make, it’s a matter of setting a goal and working backwards. This is important because film distribution has gone from a B2B model to B2C model.
Or in other words, the stuff that happened in the music industry and the publishing industry when digital replaced physical has happened in motion pictures too. The film distribution paradigm sort of looks like this:
Distribution Then: Filmmaker > Distributor > Video Outlet (like Blockbuster Video) > Customer
Distribution Now: Filmmaker > Distributor > VOD Outlet (like Netflix) > Customer
Without making a distribution deal for a set number of physical units (DVDs), there is no way to know how many units you will actually sell.
This leaves creating a customer up to you.
(Your distributor only has 20 employees and they pick up 20 titles a month… Can they really hustle your film better than you?)
This is a big reason why comps are complete BS. It is far better to focus on sales projections you can manage. For example, lets say your sales goal is $100,000 dollars.
If we know iTunes is roughly a 70/30 split in your favor…
Then you simply divide $100K by $7.
In this scenario you’d need to sell 14286 Units.
But how will you movie 14,286 units?
That is the question.
Here is a podcast that aims to help you figure out how much money your film will make.
By forcing yourself to answer the question, you’ll work backwards. You’ll leverage blogs, websites, offline publications and influencers. And through the process, you’ll end up creating a promotional plan more pragmatic than any comps or phony projections.