FDA Guide to UK Film Distribution 2008

FDA Guide to UK film distribution 2008
Foreword by Tim Bevan CBE Film distributors deliver the audience Acquisition and source Planning a release Film marketing Licensing films to exhibitors The wider picture Summary Working in film distribution Film Distributors’ Association 2 4 6 10 16 25 28 30 31 34


Distinguishing features: Foreword by Tim Bevan CBE
“The creative process of making a film, from developing the script, through casting and pre-production, then shooting, editing and all the stages of post-production, often lasts for years. But when a completed film is brought to market, it’s usually just one of eight or nine titles opening that week alone. It has barely three days – its first weekend – to make a strong impression and hold its place in cinemas.


We filmmakers rely greatly on our professional distribution colleagues to navigate the most advantageous path for our products into and through the brutally competitive market place. Having worked with many distribution teams, I’ve long admired the brilliant designers who can condense a feature film into a single poster image, distinguishing it memorably from the pack. Likewise the skilled media and publicity planners, who can devise

effective campaigns that inspire people to see a particular new release.

This business is becoming ever more complex. As the internet plays an increasingly central role in many daily lives, traditional mass media channels continue to fragment. And as our society grows more diverse, the vast array of ‘content’ on offer is likely to expand further – even though few of I’m delighted to introduce the 2008 us have more spare time to consume it. edition of this FDA guide, which

As an industry, we succeed only when the stories we tell reach and move the audiences for whom they were intended. I believe that dedicated, passionate, innovative distribution and marketing, connecting films with their audiences both in the UK and worldwide, are absolutely vital to the film industry.

invites you to explore the essential life of a film after its production phase.” Tim Bevan CBE Co-Chair, Working Title Films www.workingtitlefilms.com


Film distributors deliver the audience
You may have read or heard a great deal about film actors and filmmakers. You may be familiar with local cinemas, DVD stores and many movie websites. You may appreciate that some films influence our culture, shaping the way we see the world.

reaps dividends throughout the release cycle, influencing the audiences and commercial value a film subsequently commands. In an age when we’re all bombarded with media choices, the cinema presents films with a vital shop window.


Exhibitors (cinema operators), who present the finished films on screen A host of external suppliers such as publicists, designers and advertising agencies

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The media Marketing partners The public



This generic guide, spanning the arc of UK theatrical distribution, explores what distributors do and how they do it.

Distributors also present and ‘sell’ the films they are launching to: Following the big screen run, films are released in flexible timescales on a plethora of other formats, so audiences may choose how, when and where to watch them:

But did you know that, right at the heart of the film industry, there’s a dynamic sector working to connect every new film with the largest possible audience? This is the distribution sector and it’s vital to the health of the whole film industry. Distribution is the highly competitive business of launching and sustaining films in the market place. The skills involved are very different from those needed for making films.

or delete. So how do people get to know about the range of films on offer and come to feel they really want to see one or more of them in particular? Films don’t become well known, or find their place in the world, by accident. The distributor’s task is to bring each one to market, starting from scratch (except for a sequel) and realising its potential.

forms of entertainment are increasingly available ‘on demand’, and as social media supplant traditional channels, consumer choice proliferates. Yet the cinema remains special and resilient. It is the place where filmmakers still aspire to have their creative work showcased as it comes across to its best effect. The audience seated in a darkened stadium-style auditorium before a super-size screen enveloped by digital sound… The cinema, where movies are made to be seen, provides a uniquely immersive out-of-home experience. Theatrical distribution has long been – and still is – the most effective way to bestow stature on a film and create demand to see it. The profile built up on a theatrical launch endures and

Home entertainment release – films packaged on digital media such as DVD and made available for download Then shown on various forms of pay/ subscription television Finally, broadcast on free-to-air television. Films may be scheduled repeatedly on TV channels year after year



“As a filmmaker, I know only too Like other forms of entertainment, well that films do not exist for the film business is product-driven: their own sakes… they only exist the films themselves are the main when they are experienced by reason why we buy tickets. There’s an audience.” an insatiable public appetite for great Sir Alan Parker CBE stories on the screen as well as in print. The film value chain But today more than ever, consumers Usually feature films open first call the shots, deciding what information to receive or reject, access theatrically (in cinemas). As many

Team effort Distributors share and discuss their release plans with:

Filmmakers and producers, who are likely to have nurtured their projects for years through the development and production stages


The secret’s out: This sequel to the huge hit, National Treasure (2004), romped into UK cinemas for February half-term 2008. From powerhouse producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Jon Turteltaub, the action-adventure starring Nicolas Cage as treasure hunter Ben Gates was shot partly on the streets of London. The cast includes Dame Helen Mirren who will also appear in the fantasy film, Inkheart.

As films are creative works – intellectual property rather than physical goods – their copyright is owned by the people or organisations that produced or financed them. Distributors act throughout under license on their behalf.
Where and how do UK distributors whatever ownership, may compete to obtain the films they release? From one pick up a film with available rights so or more of various sources: competition to sign a hot property can be fierce. A continuous flow of new content from a parent studio When considering acquiring a new film, distributors usually look A studio or production company for something fresh, original or with whom the distributor has outstanding. Is there an imaginative negotiated an output deal covering ingredient or special idea which could a slate of titles appeal to a significant audience and in due course form the basis of a A third-party sales agent, acting on marketing or publicity campaign? behalf of a producer Distributors recognise the importance A single title acquired at any stage of local product – British audiences before, during or after production naturally warm to good quality British films, Irish audiences to Irish stories, As in other countries, the UK has a and so on. number of major distributors (directly affiliated to the Hollywood studios) and A film’s marketability (who is the independent (unaffiliated) distributors audience, how it can be promoted to who tend to handle films made outside them) and playability (how it actually the studios. Any local distributor, of performs in the market place) are
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not necessarily the same thing. Who does the film ‘speak to’? Do the story, characters and situation grip the intended audience? Does the film ‘deliver’ and justify the expense and risk of a theatrical release? Although a film’s entertainment value is not directly linked to its production budget, today’s event movies, often containing many computer-generated effects shots, can cost $150–200m to produce. A further $100m is often spent on releasing and marketing such films worldwide, so the stakes are extremely high. The earlier a distributor is involved, the better A distributor’s opinion on a film’s marketability may, and ideally should, be sought before it goes into production. It’s generally preferable for a distribution


pre-sales to various territories via a specialist sales agent bank loans institutional or private investors beneficial tax schemes public subsidies
Comic vision: Writer/director Jake Paltrow cast his sister, Gwyneth, and Penélope Cruz opposite Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg in his comedy, The Good Night. Pegg will also be seen in 2008 in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and, at the end of the year, as Scotty in JJ Abrams’ new Star Trek. Meanwhile, popular movies such as Ghostbusters and Robocop are “remade” when all the tapes in a video store are accidentally wiped by a junkyard worker (Jack Black) with a magnetised brain. Be Kind Rewind is the latest comedy written and directed by Michel Gondry.

In the UK, most of the latter are coordinated by the UK Film Council, the government’s strategic agency for film. Read about the UK Film Council’s support for the film industry at www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk No fixed formulae apply to film financing or advances. Each case is affected by variables such as the film property itself, the script, cast and market conditions. Sometimes a distributor becomes a partner in a project, contributing in advance to its development/production costs and later bringing it to market. Over the coming years, the greater use of digital media throughout the theatrical sector is likely to have a bearing on film financing as it changes established models.




Acquisition and source

deal to be in place before principal photography begins. This may be viable on the basis of a hot script and anticipated cast. In practice, producers tend to seek finance from multiple sources, including:



Acquisition and source (cont’d)
Twentieth Century Fox

In some cases, the distributor may need to pay an advance/minimum guarantee against future earnings to the producer or sales agent. The advance commitment is for the distribution license rights plus the costs of theatrical prints and advertising (P&A). Distributors prepare reports for the producer or rights owner, detailing the marketing spend, together with forecast and actual theatrical revenues. These reports are submitted at least quarterly in the first year following launch and usually twice yearly after that. Individual distributors may release any number of films, sometimes as many as 25 every year. A typical week sees nine or ten new films opening in UK cinemas. Inevitably, with 500 or more new releases a year, all competing for screen time, media space and audience interest, the theatrical market place is highly competitive, churning, chopping and changing all too quickly.
Weapon reloaded: The hero of three movies in the 1980s, veteran John Rambo here leads a mission to rescue relief workers in Burma. Writer/director Sylvester Stallone also successfully revived his iconic character Rocky Balboa in 2007. Other proven action figures rejoining the big screen fray include Detective John McClane in last year’s Die Hard 4.0 and the adventurous archaeologist, Indiana Jones.

Generally, however, the larger the production budget, the more likely a film is to have a distributor attached before all its financing is confirmed.

The distribution contract Distributors sign a formal agreement with the producer, sales agent or studio, specifying the rights they hold in respect of the title, such as: The UK has a thriving home entertainment sector, while to release it in UK cinemas increasing numbers of homes have large plasma screens to promote it in all media before and delivering HD-TV. Worth £3 billion during its release – more than treble the value of cinema ticket sales – the DVD whether or not a local edit may market remains vital to the be made to secure a particular on-going prosperity of the film classification industry. In addition, the UK computer and video games how the income from the release will industry clocks up annual be apportioned and accounted for software sales of around £2 billion For further information, go to the date on which the distribution www. bva.org.uk and license expires www.elspa.com
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all rights in their particular territory, spreading the risk and opportunity across multiple platforms. Most theatrical distributors do not physically handle distribution in other media or tie-in merchandising, but in both cases they have sister companies or business partners that do so.

Importantly, in addition to the theatrical window, the license usually extends to the ancillary markets such as home entertainment and the further right to license the film to UK broadcasters. Distributors normally seek to acquire

If a broadcaster has contributed to the financing of a feature film, it is likely to have pre-secured TV rights as part of the deal, so the rights available to an incoming film distributor would extend only to theatrical, DVD and downloads.

Monster hit: This sci-fi action adventure, which scored a UK film chart topping first weekend gross of £1.9m in January 2008, has its origins in two successful franchises. Ridley Scott’s original Alien burst on to screens back in 1979, while John McTiernan’s Predator was unleashed eight years later. The extraterrestrial creatures have endured through several sequels, while in this latest incarnation a hybrid monster wreaks havoc.


Planning a release
Every film has its own tailor-made distribution plan, which the distributor develops in consultation with the producers and/ or parent studio. The most important strategic decisions a distributor makes are when and how to release a film – how to position it in order to optimise its chances.
Through a combination of market knowledge, commercial experience, statistical research and professional judgement, distributors gauge the audience for each film. Who can be convinced to spend money on a cinema ticket for this film? Why should they do so? What sort of audiences have similar films attracted recently? Relying solely on conventional wisdom is never an option – each release must be individually planned given current circumstances. A detailed understanding of who the target audience is (age range, sex, lifestyles, media consumption, social networks) informs all subsequent decisions on how and where a film is promoted. for young people – but overall, just Focus on the audience a quarter of the population goes Naturally the intended audience can that often. vary considerably film by film, for example from families with young Most UK homes and businesses children to teenage males or females have internet access and to older adults, or sometimes a broadband penetration continues combination. UK cinemagoers tend to rise rapidly. Over 20m people in to be upmarket, especially for more the UK now shop online, spending specialised fare, while cinemagoing is a shared experience with an average of more than £30 billion a year. The most popular social networking three people per party. websites attract more than 50 The most frequent cinemagoers tend to billion page views per month! Checking film/cinema information be aged 15–24 – teenagers, students, and booking tickets are among the young adults. They are the most voracious media consumers of any age most popular online activities, and group, and although television remains growing. Up-to-the-minute special offers can also be sent by email or popular, the internet usually plays a central role in their lives. More than half text to registered customers opting to receive them. of 15–24 year-olds in the UK visit the cinema at least once a month – it’s a favourite out-of-home leisure activity

The UK cinema audience is broadening slightly as the population ages and diversifies. In 2007, there were 162.4m admissions, an average of 3.1m per week. This equates to an average of 2.7 visits per person in the year, up from barely one a year in the 1980s, but still fewer than in countries such as Ireland, Australia and the US. It’s important never to lose sight of a film’s core target audience. But the

distributor’s challenge is always to attract as wide a demographic spread as possible – ideally to help a film ‘break out’ or ‘cross over’. If you look at how a film performs in the market place, the greater its boxoffice takings, the more likely it is to be attracting infrequent cinemagoers and repeat visits. It’s a function of the market that the more a film is designed for an audience beyond 15–24 year-olds
In his mind’s eye (left): Mathieu Amalric played a journalist paralysed by a stroke who communicated his memoirs by blinking his left eye. Julian Schnabel’s acclaimed film, based on a remarkable true story, had a screenplay by award-winning writer, Ronald Harwood, and a cast including Max von Sydow and Emmanuelle Seigner. Amalric went on to play the villain in Quantum of Solace.

or family groups – perhaps an older, more discerning segment who may not frequent cinemas as much – the more outstanding it has to be to sustain a theatrical life. Although much information can be gleaned from discussions with the filmmakers or by reading the script, every project is a one-off. Release plans can often be confirmed only when the finished product is available to view.


A nose for true love (right): This modern day fairy tale, starring Christina Ricci as Penelope, alongside James McAvoy and Reese Witherspoon, was shot in London and features a supporting cast full of British talent.
Pathé Momentum


Planning a release (cont’d)
Rolling the distribution dice Like all companies, film distributors aim to recoup their costs and turn a profit at the end of the year. But launching films is expensive and risky – audiences have many other leisure choices in and out of the home. Most releases do not make a profit from their theatrical runs alone. Audience tastes are notoriously unpredictable and traditional preferences may not count for a lot in practice. Nobody can be absolutely certain what makes a hit, or when and where it might happen. Notwithstanding the best made plans, cinemagoers discover particular films they like or dislike when they open. “It is clear to me that films only achieve their extraordinary potential when they are able to reach global audiences, week in, week out.” Lord (Richard) Attenborough CBE One or two films every year become ‘sleeper’ hits, playing for longer and generating greater returns than expected. But just because one romantic comedy or action adventure plays successfully to a particular audience is no guarantee that the next such release will do likewise: it depends on the individual film and market conditions. It’s well nigh impossible to entice people to a film in which they have no interest. As it’s such an unpredictable, productdriven business, each distributor’s earnings, market share and profitability fluctuate year by year. Inevitably this reflects the success or otherwise of individual titles. Market research in the form of pre-release test screenings may be conducted to probe audience reactions or to evaluate alternative marketing campaigns – fundamental considerations for every release. These screenings, after which the viewers complete questionnaires, can help the distributor to be more confident of the expected audience or box-office prospects. In the US, research screenings are held for most productions. The competitive jungle As well as the target audience and commercial risk, what factors do distributors take into account when developing their release plans?


Competition is always a primary consideration. Which films are other distributors likely to release at the same time and during the following weeks – especially those targeted at a similar audience? Is there space in the market for something different – some ‘counter-programming’? Are the most appropriate screens for this film available and likely to be offered? Projected release dates often change as competing distributors jockey for position week by week. Is it an event film, a prospective mass market blockbuster, or a specialised film for a more discrete audience? Is there any star power among the cast? What were the lead star’s last couple of films and how were they received commercially and critically? Is the film made by a ‘name’ director or producer? Is it a film for a holiday period? If so, which season? School holiday dates may vary around the UK, and with those in other countries. What kinds of films have been released successfully in particular slots in previous years?

Is it a film with hopes for award nominations? The Academy Award®, Golden Globe and Orange British Academy Film Award contenders often open in the UK between December–February, when the annual awards publicity reaches its peak, although this can cause a bottleneck in an already congested release schedule. For more about the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, visit www.bafta.org

and other media, can contribute to positive word of mouth in the UK – although this can work both ways, as a disappointing US performance may adversely affect perceptions here.

simultaneously on 800–1,000 screens UK-wide, playing at two or more screens per multiplex. Sometimes, a 35mm print can service more than one screen if it is ‘interlocked’ between adjacent projectors. This strategy, usually deployed for ‘tentpole’ titles such as large-scale sequels or star-led holiday releases, helps to accommodate mass audiences eager to see a film at the earliest opportunity. By contrast, the specialised release of, say, a foreign language film or revived classic may comprise 25 prints or fewer. Initially, the film may be booked into selected screens in London and some university towns, where local audiences are known to favour such films, before touring more widely during the following weeks. Very occasionally, a film might be ‘platformed’ in just one location before rolling out UK-wide. London, with an increasingly diverse population of 7.5m people, accounts for around 25% of UK cinema admissions. The UK has approximately 650 cinemas with 3,400 screens. A majority of films released go out on fewer than 200 prints, whether 35mm or digital. Every year, across all films, UK distributors procure and supply around 100,000 new prints.



Are any cast members available for UK/international publicity or to attend a premiere? Will the film lead the media reviews of that week’s new releases? Is there already a buzz about the film, due to its stars or makers, a book on which it is based, or perhaps some controversial subject matter? What is posted about the film online? If it is a sequel or franchise entry, what elements distinguish it or give contemporary resonance over and above its predecessor(s)? Has the film already opened in the US or elsewhere? Substantial success in the US, reported via websites

What certificate will the film have? The certificate awarded by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is important as it can affect the potential audience. Distributors submit a copy of each film to the BBFC for classification as soon as possible, paying a fee according to the film’s length. Consumer advice about the content is included in a panel on the film’s advertising.





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For UK classification guidelines and consumer advice on current releases, visit www.bbfc.co.uk Satisfying anticipated demand Different releases are naturally managed in completely different ways. For example, a saturation release at cinemas everywhere may open



Planning a release (cont’d)
Digital dimensions The recent expansion of digital cinema in the UK presents new releasing and programming opportunities for film distributors and cinema operators respectively. As well as utilising 35mm celluloid prints (with digital soundtracks), films can be distributed today on specially encoded media disks. They are ingested into a server in the cinema and played out through a state-ofthe-art digital projector. The disks are significantly less expensive to duplicate than 35mm copies (around 10% of the cost), while digital encryption can also render the disks highly secure.

Cinema’s migration to digital transmission is set to continue. Whatever the means of transmission, however, the fundamental principles of motivating audiences film by film remain the same. Budgeting the release As early as possible, the distributor screens the finished film privately and confirms how it will be positioned. In the UK, where distributors pay all the release costs including marketing and the duplication of prints, the distributor draws up and works to a comprehensive budget, covering the launch and the sustaining of the film post-release. Importantly, the investment and projected return can be reassessed subject to commercial performance week by week. A distribution budget may be itemised as shown opposite. It covers all the print costs associated with the physical release and all the ‘ad pub’ (advertising/publicity) costs associated with media and marketing activities:

Cost Category 35mm prints (for conventional projection) No. 35mm prints Cost of 35mm prints Cost of 3D / IMAX® prints (if any) Trailer print costs Print transport to cinemas Other print related costs Digital copies (for digital projection) Digital Master cost Encoding/encryption applications No. digital copies Disk duplication cost Despatch to cinemas Other digital costs Film certification charge (BBFC) Media (launch and sustain) Press/print advertising TV advertising Radio advertising Outdoor advertising Online advertising Other media costs Promotions On-air media promotion(s) Contribution to any retail partner/other promotion(s)


Cost Category (cont’d) Publicity Press screenings Talker screenings Premiere, if any Visiting talent hospitality Festival screenings/travel PR agency fees & expenses Press kits (online and/or printed matter) Other publicity costs Campaign production Film poster design Poster printing Print advertising production TV ad production Radio ad production Film trailer production Subtitles/audio description tracks Official UK film website content Foyer POS display items origination & print Promotional leaflets/flyers, if any Other production costs Other Research screening/exit polling, if any Additional materials (specify) Couriers, copying, other incidental expenses



A mighty draw: Animated films accounted for more than 1 in every 7 tickets to UK cinemas in 2007. Two examples from 2008, both with impeccable pedigrees: Kung Fu Panda sports a voice cast including Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Ian McShane, while WALL-E comes from the makers of Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life, both of which appear in the UK’s top 50 cinema hits of all time.

Digital images appear on screen in pristine quality and do not deteriorate over time. Digital remastering enables classic films to return to the big screen looking as good as new. Digital projection equipment also enables cinemas to present films in state-ofthe-art 3D, and more and more big films – live-action and animation – are being released with 3D versions.


Total UK distribution expenditure can vary from a few tens of thousands of pounds up to £4m–5m per film. In co-ordinating all these elements, often for several different releases at a time, distributors must exercise

formidable project management skills. It’s possible for a fine film to get lost in the mêlée without careful handling and distinct promotion, but beware! Even inspired marketing can’t save a film for which the public has no appetite.


Film marketing
Complementing the distribution plan, every film has a detailed marketing plan.
The marketing objective is to create visibility, raise awareness and engage interest, cutting through the blizzard of competing messages. Distributors must compete for a significant share of voice not only against other distributors but also other leisure activities in and out of the home. They all aim to entice the same public, who have never had as much choice as there is today. However large or small the marketing budget, audiences must be reached in appropriate, contemporary, compelling ways and persuaded that this is an especially entertaining, must see film. Their interest should peak as it opens in cinemas. Word of mouth Social recommendation is key. A personal recommendation from a friend, colleague or relative can be the most powerful trigger for a trip to the cinema, so distributors naturally aspire to have positive ‘word of mouth’ circulating on all their releases. Pre-requisites for this include high awareness and strong interest. Word of mouth can make or break your release: negative word of mouth is extremely difficult to overcome. When constructing a campaign, distributors aim to reach as much of their target audience as possible, as frequently but cost-effectively as possible. They must bear in mind that different audiences react to advertising, and reach a decision to see a new film, in different ways. Older audiences Post-release, hopefully, a combination may respond best having seen a film of favourable word of mouth and advertised on television and in the further advertising will give the film press, while for younger audiences it is ‘legs’. Nowadays, theatrical runs rarely more appropriate to promote the film exceed eight weeks, even for the online, on radio stations or bus biggest hits, and all too often last much shelter panels. less than this. In each case, a variety of As with any product, film distributors complementary media and must have a thorough knowledge of promotional options is considered: the market and innovative ideas about engaging consumers. Distributors’ Poster campaigns are generally highly The main image distilling the appeal of productive as most cinemagoers the film – its stars, theme/genre, credits consider in advance which film they and often a tagline to whet audiences’ want to see before setting off for appetites. With sometimes a dozen the cinema. or more different posters on display in a cinema foyer at any one time,

distributors have to work hard to make each one stand out. Film posters may be originated by the studio or sales agent (as applicable) and rolled out internationally or adapted for use locally. Alternatively, they may be devised in the UK from scratch, depending on what approved materials are available to the distributor and how the film is best presented to local audiences. A poster is designed for every release, in quad format (the traditional UK size of 30” x 40”, landscape orientation) or one-sheet format (the US equivalent with similar dimensions, portrait orientation). Many months before release, an initial teaser poster may be created to announce that a film is coming and to whet the audience’s appetite.
Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment


Trailers Probably the single most cost-effective marketing technique, playing to a captive audience of active cinemagoers. Full trailers, screened shortly before a film opens, may be preceded by early teasers (30–90 seconds). Exhibitors, who programme their own screens, select trailers appropriate to the feature film before which they’re played. Distributors fund the duplication, and sometimes the production, of trailers;

Love triangle: Katherine Heigl, hot from Knocked Up (2007) stars with James Marsden and Malin Akerman in the new romantic comedy, 27 Dresses, directed by Anne Fletcher who also appears in the film.

Hot fuzz: This teaser poster for the comedy Semi-Pro, featuring a single image and tagline, appeared months before the film’s release. In 2008, Will Ferrell also stars in another comedy, Step Brothers, alongside John C Reilly.


Film marketing (cont’d)
a wide release will often have 2,000 copies circulated to cinemas. Sometimes trailers for new theatrical releases are also added to the front of suitably targeted DVDs. Distributors also provide display material for cinema foyer spaces, such as cardboard standees, banners, window clings and mini-posters. Media advertising Usually the largest expenditure item on a P&A budget. Today the UK has more than 1,300 daily or weekly newspapers, 126,000 roadside poster sites (and another 120,000 sites on the London Underground), 17,000 radio stations available on the internet, and over 250 commercial TV stations – compared with just one thirty years ago. Every week, a billion text messages are sent in the UK, not counting communication via emails or websites. People have grown accustomed to using media how, when and where they wish, and can easily opt out of advertising that doesn’t quickly spark their interest. This provides a challenge for all advertisers, film distributors included. Media advertising costs rise and fall according to general market conditions throughout the year. Terrestrial television is traditionally the most effective visual means of reaching a mass audience. The cost of TV advertising, running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds or more for a package of spots in all regions, is prohibitive for most film releases given their potential returns.
Warner Bros.

Depending on the audience for an individual film, distributors may buy commercials (most often 30” or 10”) on terrestrial and/or digital TV channels and radio stations. They may also place display-advertisements reproducing the film’s poster artwork in newspapers, lifestyle and listings magazines, outdoor poster sites and bus panels. Blockbusters with top stars need heavy advertising spends to support their wide releases. But given the need for inventive marketing on limited budgets, less conventional media such as beer mats or T-shirts may also be considered for films, where appropriate. UK film distributors invest around £175m a year in media advertising alone to launch and sustain their releases. Television and outdoor, taken together, typically account for 70% of expenditure. Entertainment companies as a whole spend more than half a billion pounds on advertising each year. new releases. Online dialogues are evolving fast and the web accounts for a growing slice of film companies’ attention and expenditure. Most films have an official website, or perhaps a UK website hosted by a partner company, offering trailers, stills galleries, production information and behind-the-scenes footage. Even before the start of principal photography, distributors may release news snippets or teaser images online, seeding interest among fans. During shooting, video diaries and blogs may be posted direct from the set, aiming to engage the core audience by gradually accelerating the drip feed of buzz and hype. But of course the internet is a twoway street – with individuals in control of their own viewing. Film clips are among the web’s most searched-for content, while more and more usergenerated items, often including film or soundtrack grabs, are posted on social network sites, drawing comments from wider groups, especially teenagers. Sometimes producers invite suggestions via a website and bloggers’ ideas have been known to make it into the finished films. The moment a film is screened, reviews and feedback can be shared instantly and constantly around the world, as online communities swap opinions in a galaxy of chat rooms. Film distributor websites incorporate links to exhibitor sites where local tickets may be bought online.





Quantum leap: Over the last decade, the internet has changed the way film companies engage with audiences and, in turn, the way audiences can find out about current and upcoming titles. These are the official websites promoting four highly anticipated films of 2008.

Wizard campaign: The characters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the UK’s most popular cinema release of 2007, appeared on posters sited around the country. The sixth film in the blockbuster franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is out in 2008.

Online and digital marketing Fizzing with networks of film fans, the internet plays a pivotal role in shaping many cinemagoers’ perceptions of


Film marketing (cont’d)
Publicity Editorial coverage of a film can be highly persuasive – the public often accepts independently-written news stories and features more readily than advertising. The space itself is not paid for, in the way that display advertising is paid for, but column inches and airtime are limited and the subject of heavy competition in their own right. A distributor’s publicity team, frequently supported by specialist agencies, devises ‘hooks’ for articles and competitions. They arrange press and broadcast interviews with available members of the film’s cast and sometimes chaperone artists visiting the UK for junkets or premieres. In today’s multi-channel digital environment, there can be a host of outlets for entertainment news and features. The more the film’s talent is willing and able to support the distributor’s publicity effort around the world, the better! Publicists compile press kits for journalists, containing cast and crew lists, biographies, notable facts about the production and a synopsis. It’s very important to have a selection

of fine images from the film, taken during production by a specially hired unit photographer. Distributors disseminate all these materials for publicity purposes normally via online pressrooms with password access. Screenings for newspaper critics are normally held on the Monday and Tuesday before a film opens to the public; those for writers with longer lead-times are scheduled further in advance. Three times a year, FDA arranges four-day events named Cinema Days for regional journalists, with preview screenings and press conferences. Although positive reviews are no guarantee of commercial success, critics’ plaudits can be very important in helping to distinguish and champion a film and extracts are often used in advertising.

visit the set, especially of UK-based productions, along with key journalists, exhibitors or marketing partners. Awards buzz: The build up to the major awards (see page 13) is an important time for publicists promoting the films vying for consideration. Lasting around three months prior to the annual Academy Awards (Oscars®) in Hollywood, the awards season is a feverish period of speculation, then nomination of shortlists, culminating in the presentation ceremonies, which yield a global profile and prestige. Promotional partnerships Depending on the film’s theme and target audience, the distributor will endeavour to arrange third-party promotions. Such tie-ins generate displays for the film in shops, restaurants or on packs – places where conventional advertising cannot reach – and enable customers to interact with the characters, perhaps by collecting premium items or entering a competition. Importantly, too, tie-in advertising under license by a promotional partner or a company with product placement in a film can add substantial weight to the distributor’s own campaign.

Merchandising Many releases, particularly family films, have merchandising programmes coordinated by the film company or an external consultancy. Manufacturers may be licensed to use approved logo devices, images or character likenesses on specific products, normally in exchange for an advance fee set against subsequent royalty payments. Tie-in merchandise can embrace toys, action figures, ringtones, clothing, stationery, calendars, anything. Films regularly have official soundtracks, books and games, which occasionally generate significant revenues for publishers in their own right. On-air media promotions, for example on a radio show or children’s TV programme, can make effective use of film merchandise or location holidays as prizes. Such exposure helps to stretch the film campaign and create extra talking points. Occasionally, a film becomes a ubiquitous event, saturating the media as well as appearing in advertising, partner campaigns and other outlets. It may become an international news item and develop into a popular cultural phenomenon. That audiences around the world can take a new set of


Twentieth Century Fox

Warner Bros.

Everyone’s raving about them: These two very different films became popular talking points in early 2008. The sci-fi thriller, I Am Legend, gave Will Smith the biggest hit of his outstanding career to date, while unusual comedy Juno, ® starring Ellen Page as the eponymous pregnant teenager, earned four Oscar nominations.

Browse the latest news of FDA Cinema Days trade events at our dedicated website, www.cinemadays.com Set visits: As with any product development, the film production process is conducted confidentially behind studio doors or on guarded locations. Film sets are normally strictly closed to the public. But distributors may have valuable opportunities to


characters to their hearts, often within a very short period of time, indicates how powerful and influential a medium the cinema can be. Premieres Perceived as glamorous and exclusive, but painstaking and expensive to organise! Distributors’ publicists organise premieres as an official launch for a film, giving or reflecting an ‘event’ stature and providing a platform for photo opportunities and red carpet interviews. Star-studded premieres and after-show parties are covered by celebrity magazines and news media, and sometimes transmitted worldwide. Some TV companies present halfhour programmes devoted to one big premiere and this exposure is naturally very important. Most premieres in the UK – around fifty a year – take place in London’s Leicester Square, which has a centuries-old tradition of accommodating artists, exhibitions and novelty shows. Sometimes a gala screening in aid of charity raises a substantial sum via ticket sales and

donations, but from the distributor’s professional perspective the aim of a premiere is to give the film a highprofile, entertaining launch, boosting that all-important buzz factor. Preview screenings A useful way to fuel pre-release word of mouth among audience segments that the distributor wants to persuade to see the film. Preview screenings are targeted carefully, with tickets offered to readers of a particular print/online publication, or listeners of a radio programme, matching the film’s core audience. Sometimes a film is previewed widely to the public a few days before the official release date. This is a way to satisfy demand to see it as soon as possible and to boost the opening box-office receipts. Festivals There are dozens of busy film festivals in towns and cities worldwide, but the main annual events attended by thousands of international film buyers and sellers, and almost as many journalists, are presently at Sundance (Utah), Berlin, Cannes (right), Venice and Toronto.

a market, where distributors seeking to acquire product may meet with sellers (agents, producers, studios); a competition, where new titles may be screened to juries of filmmakers and awarded prizes. Such accolades flashed on a film’s poster can add prestige but might characterise it as ‘arty’;


For the Edinburgh and London film festivals, you’ll find news and programme information, when available, at www.edfilmfest.org.uk and www.lff.org.uk respectively.

Tracking and refining a high-profile platform where films can The ideal form of publicity is word be showcased prior to release. of mouth – when a film becomes a favourable talking point. Research Distributors sometimes choose to companies working for the distributors launch films, mostly independent may track levels of awareness as a works of notable quality, at a suitable release date approaches. With a month international festival, where critics and to go there may be low awareness: insiders may discover them and go on each campaign is effectively a new to champion them in early reviews and product launch, generally running in the columns. The eyes of the film world media for a few intense weeks. and the mass media are focused on the leading festivals, such as Cannes Usually on Tuesdays, distributors hold in May, which accommodates many marketing team meetings, reflecting on premieres and junkets. Trade papers each film they have in current release publish daily editions for industry and progressing plans for the next few members and journalists. Other titles. Some aspects of marketing, such important events in the international as a major promotional partnership, calendar include the American Film may require a year’s lead-time; others, Market, Santa Monica, and the Mercato such as running extra advertising to International Film e Documentario capitalise on good reviews or awards (MIFED) held in Milan. nominations/wins, can be turned around at very short notice.

Many prizes: Writer/director Cristian Mungiu’s film, telling of an abortion in 1980s’ Romania, may appear to have a bleak premise, but it was warmly applauded around the world as a brave and touching piece with compelling leading performances by Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu.

Artificial Eye


Film marketing (cont’d)

These festivals, each with their own personality, serve various functions:

The UK’s top film festivals – Edinburgh in June, London in October – are aimed mainly at public audiences. They showcase a panorama of new cinema from Britain and around the world, but do not have markets attached.



Film marketing (cont’d)
Accessible cinema UK distributors harness digital technology to make their films increasingly accessible to cinemagoers with less than perfect sight or hearing. Today, 150–200 films are released each year with subtitles and audio description. New titles are made available to cinemas every week. Some film trailers are presented online in accessible formats too. Whenever you see these symbols on a film advertisement, you’ll know that subtitles and audio description tracks have been produced for its release: Inspiring young audiences Film Education is a registered charity that encourages the study of film and media within the UK National Curriculum (except films classified ‘18’). Distributors may commission Film Education to create study resources in digital or print form, themed by curriculum subject and key stage to a new release, and to supply them to its database of teachers. Film Education also promotes schools’ use of local cinemas by arranging screenings for school parties, special events such as the annual National Schools Film Week, and teacher training seminars. Discover more about Film Education’s current services for teachers at www.filmeducation.org For comprehensive information on accessible film releases and screenings UK-wide, visit www.yourlocalcinema.com, a website supported by FDA and other bodies.
Warner Bros.

Licensing films to exhibitors
An important consideration in any distribution plan is where the film should play.
Which sorts of cinemas and screens are most appropriate? Given the intended audience, how can the theatrical release achieve its greatest impact? How many prints or screens are likely to be sustainable? Every theatrical release is effectively a joint-venture: the distributor supplies the film, the exhibitors supply the screens, and the arrangements are reviewed week by week. Like all retailers, cinema operators must be persuaded to ‘stock the product’. Distributors show their forthcoming titles to cinema bookers, discuss release dates and advertising plans, and make campaign presentations to cinema managers. carefully from week to week. Many cinemas aim to show a broad spectrum of titles. Others, depending on their location and catchment area, may specialise in films for discerning tastes. The distributor’s sales strategy and marketing strategy go hand in glove, with the film’s target audience kept front of mind. For each film, the sales department negotiates a confidential license agreement bilaterally with each exhibitor interested in playing the film. Under English law, the maximum booking period for a new release is two weeks, after which, by mutual agreement, the film may continue to play if it is drawing a significant audience. and signed off) ever closer to their release dates, so the time available for print duplication and transportation gets tighter. At the laboratories that duplicate the film prints, strict quality control procedures are applied and the colour specifications are rigorously checked to match the filmmakers’ intentions. On arrival at the cinema, just a few days before first playdate, the cans containing the reels that form the 35mm print are unsealed. The reels are physically joined together and laced on to the projector.


Cutting-edge: Tim Burton’s darkly comic, award-winning film, based on Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Sweeney Todd, was made at the UK’s Pinewood Studios. Johnny Depp, whose creative association with Burton dates back to Edward Scissorhands, portrayed the demon barber with relish. In January 2008, both men attended the film’s London premiere, together with other members of the cast and crew.

For digitally equipped screens, the data on the disks are ingested on to a hard Potential blockbusters may be 35mm print management drive in the projection room. Security booked into every available multiplex Distributors’ print managers arrange protocols adopted across the industry simultaneously, while for smaller for a print(s) to be boxed, labelled and ensure that all prints are kept safe releases, particular screens are likely to despatched to each cinema playing the throughout the theatrical run. be identified and the release nurtured film. As films are ‘locked’ (completed


Licensing films to exhibitors (cont’d)
As well as the films themselves, cinemas receive copious quantities of publicity and promotional material from distributors. For more information on this, visit www.nationalscreen.co.uk No second chances A film can only be launched once. Its first weekend in cinemas is crucial to further progress. The distributor’s marketing effort builds up to the opening weekend, which normally draws by far the largest audience of any weekend in the theatrical run. It’s not unusual for a film to generate 30% or more of its entire box-office during the first three days of release. Distribution plans usually assume that the revenues and number of screens on which a film plays will decline, often rapidly, as competing titles are launched in successive weeks. But such plans are necessarily flexible: better than expected box-office may lead to quick investment in some extra prints or advertising. Distributors may flash ‘UK’s no.1 hit’ on the second week advertising, or add ‘US no.1 smash’ to capitalise on a top opening in America. Almost two-thirds of cinema visits take place over the weekend (Friday–Sunday), with the other four weekdays accounting for 8–10% each. Monday is traditionally the least busy day. Although films conventionally start in UK cinemas on Fridays, distributors sometimes open on other days or run previews the prior weekend. New releases may face exceptional competition from a major sports event such as the World Cup, or the weather, as well as other films. Unseasonably hot temperatures, which entice people outdoors, can affect any title’s commercial destiny from day to day. title, indicating to the distributor how many tickets were sold (on the day or pre-booked) and at what price. Cinema ticket prices are always set by the individual exhibitor. Box-office takings – the gross receipts – are often reported in the press. But the sums that distributors earn are substantially less than these figures. Revenue from ticket sales is shared between the distributor and exhibitor (normally after the exhibitor’s costs of operating the screen are recovered). The percentage each party takes varies film by film and week by week. Very generally, UK distributors receive 2540% of the gross. So, if a film grosses £5m in cinemas, its distributor may eventually collect around £1.5m–£2m, allowing for the deduction of VAT which exhibitors must pay for each ticket sold. This net share is traditionally known as the distributor’s ‘rentals’. Distributors do not participate in the exhibitor revenue from advance booking fees or the drinks, confectionery and popcorn sold in cinema bars and foyers, or in any proceeds from screen advertising. Out of the net share, the distributor aims to recoup any minimum guarantee plus the P&A costs incurred in releasing the film. Any outstanding balance is shared with the producers according to a pre-agreed formula, as set out in the distribution contract. Alternatively, the distributor may simply retain a distribution fee, with all net proceeds being paid to the producers. The hold-over challenge On Monday mornings, after the weekend box-office takings are collated, the distributor’s sales team discusses with each exhibitor the holdover of any current release for a further week from Friday (four days later). A vital fixture in the working week, these flexible, bilateral negotiations take into account:
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the screen average (the average boxoffice gross per screen) of every film on current release, with only those ranked at or near the top being likely to retain a screen

Sustaining a release and keeping it on screens week by week is one of the main challenges in today’s fastchurning market. Films can be years in the planning and production phases – and then sometimes barely a few weeks on cinema screens. Courtesy of Nielsen EDI, you can keep track of the top films at the UK box-office every week via FDA’s website, www.launchingfilms.com, and elsewhere.
Role play: An erotic, wartime spy thriller directed by Ang Lee, Lust, Caution starred Tony Leung and Wei Tang, who was named by Variety in 2007 as one of the top ten actors to watch.

Making waves: 13 year-old Alex Etel from Manchester stars in this adaptation of a Dick King-Smith adventure story about a Scottish boy who discovers a mysterious egg about to hatch. Shot in Scotland and New Zealand, The Water Horse also stars Brian Cox, Emily Watson and David Morrissey.

Box-office returns Since every film is its creators’ intellectual property, the prints or disks are rented to, or hired under license by, the exhibitors, rather than being Indeed, an impressive ‘opening frame’ sold outright, as with most packaged with a gross running into several million or manufactured goods. Exhibitors pounds can become a news story. complete a weekly return for each

the new releases coming into the market (typically nine or ten each week) any previews planned for the coming weekend, intensifying the competition for the available screens



The wider picture
The global filmed entertainment business has annual revenues of approximately $70 billion, with compound annual growth forecast at 6%. The UK is an important hub for both production and consumption.
Most films nowadays secure their production finance from more than one source. Even the US studios may share the costs of a big production or split the distribution rights between say the US/Canada (domestic) and the rest of the world (international). Some films are licensed piecemeal, territory by territory; others are handled by the same company via its offices worldwide. For local distributors, dubbing or subtitling may be an additional release cost. Evolving distribution patterns Traditionally, films opened first in US cinemas, then rolled out gradually in other countries. Today, in an effort to combat intellectual property theft and to capitalise on global publicity, the gap between the US and international releases is shrinking. Indeed, more and more films open practically ‘day and date’ (simultaneously) in many parts of the world. With master prints arriving in each country ever closer to launch date, such releases represent huge logistical exercises for the distributors involved. The entertainment industry’s single greatest concern is copyright theft, even though distributors try hard to protect the security and integrity of the creative works they are releasing. Stealing intellectual property that is copyrighted is against the law – just as with physical property. Films are most vulnerable to illegal copying during the early or pre-release stages of their existence. Despite some lingering perceptions that piracy is victimless, the cash trade in knock-off film copies has serious repercussions in the UK. It feeds organised crime networks to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year, cheats consumers of the full viewing experience, and may also cost local jobs and future investment. As downloading speeds accelerate, so the threat from online piracy rises too. Discover more at www.copyrightaware.co.uk, www.fact-uk.org.uk and www.allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk You can report local film piracy activity anonymously at any time. Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
now common for films to earn more internationally than domestically, a trend that will endure as many European, Asian and African markets continue to develop. Economic multiplier effect With box-office ticket sales currently worth around £900m ($1.7 billion) a year, the UK is the no.1 cinema market in Europe and the third most valuable in the world after the US/Canada and Japan. When you factor in the extra amounts consumers spend during a cinema visit on food, drink, travel and other items, the theatrical market alone pumps more than £2 billion a year into the UK economy. FDA tracks the wider impact of theatrical distribution year by year.

Nevertheless, releases that perform well in one country’s cinemas will not necessarily do well in all countries, and may need to be positioned and marketed differently. One distributor may succeed with a film that loses money for another distributor in another territory. Distributors’ expert knowledge of local tastes, cultural sensitivities and market conditions guides a film through its openings around the world. Cinema release boosts subsequent prospects Although most films do not recover their production and launch costs from the theatrical release alone, cinema revenues constitute a minority of the total a film can earn. With a title’s profile and stature established, there is potentially substantial and vital income to be derived from the subsequent license periods – DVD and other physical media, download, video on demand, pay-per-view, terrestrial TV. Indeed, when overall DVD revenue is also taken into account, the UK rises to become the world’s no.2 market for film. Some titles, especially in the action/adventure or horror genres, may perform better – relatively – in the home entertainment sector than in cinemas. Notwithstanding the haemorrhage from film theft, cinemagoing has been positively affected by new media formats coming on stream. Most films that succeed theatrically go on to do well throughout their release cycle – the relationship is symbiotic, the audiences complementary. Non-theatrical film presentations in coaches, aircraft, ships, hotels or other leisure outlets must also be licensed. Filmbank Distributors offers UK licenses for screening films in selected venues outside the cinema or home on behalf of many theatrical distributors. Visit www.filmbank.co.uk

In addition to the UK, cinemas in the Republic of Ireland yield annual box-office takings equivalent to about £75m. The performance of British films here in their local market can have a significant influence on the attention they receive and their commercial prospects overseas.

Blockbuster status conventionally applies to the minority of films that gross more than $100m in US cinemas, although today’s biggest openers can pass that figure in their first week. It’s


Summary of the theatrical distribution cycle
The business of developing and delivering audiences immerses film distributors in a great deal of activity before and during a cinema release. Here’s a step-by-step summary – but note that, for any given title, some steps may overlap or be combined. After their final playdate, the film prints are returned or transported securely to another cinema. Ultimately, most 35mm prints are destroyed under supervised conditions. As much material as possible is recycled. Film cans are cleaned and reused, while digital disks may also be reused. With a small number of copies ultimately retained in archives, the distributor’s rights in respect of the theatrical release expire. Producer/studio acquires rights to film a story or treatment Screenplay is developed Production finance and cast and crew are confirmed Principal photography takes place, in studios and/or on agreed locations, followed by some months of post-production, editing and scoring Master print of finished film is delivered to local distributor Distributor determines release strategy and release date Distributor presents the film to exhibitors and negotiates bilateral agreements to have the film shown in cinemas Distributor’s marketing campaign creates a ‘want to see’ buzz among the target audience and launches the film Film prints/disks including the BBFC certificate are delivered to cinemas a few days before opening Film’s run extends any number of weeks subject to demand, which may be augmented by additional marketing activity

Working in film distribution
A challenging career connecting films with their audiences in a fast-moving market place – how does that grab you?
most thrillingly creative, emotionally and imaginatively, and to remain cool charged, technologically advanced and under pressure. Awareness of today’s hotly anticipated anywhere! evolving media landscape is crucial. Sometimes distributors need specialist Sharpen your skills public relations or event management Good experience for a film industry expertise to help arrange a premiere marketing position may be gained or a junket, and external agencies at an advertising or media planning may be appointed to handle a agency, especially by working with particular project. a film or entertainment client, or by project-managing in another area of Sales staff, who deal with the licensing intellectual property such as DVDs or of films to exhibitors, use various A distributor’s managing director games. As a marketing team member, strategies depending on the film and normally supervises a relatively small you’d be expected to be alert to the agreed scale of its release. Cool staff working in specialist departments: opportunities and to justify your ideas negotiation skills, absolute discretion to colleagues and those involved in and the ability to get on well with a Marketing, publicity & promotions the film’s production. Lots of ideas and range of customers are vital attributes. Sales sound judgement are called for when Technical developing both the creative and media Key administrative roles include Finance & administration elements of a film campaign, and invoicing exhibitors or paying suppliers; decisions are carefully evaluated. ordering and checking film prints, In some ways, these departments trailers and posters; and arranging for undertake activities similar to their For publicity, experience as a materials to be delivered to the right demand-side counterparts in any journalist or press officer is useful. location at the right time. It’s important industry. But for film distributors, the No two days are ever the same, but to be well organised with lots of drive products they handle are among the you should be able to write succinctly and stamina, or to possess current
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The film distribution sector is small, considering the scale, profile and influence of its output. Only about 300 people work in UK theatrical distribution – less than 1% of the film/ cinema industry’s total workforce – although employees in advertising/ media buying, PR and design agencies with distributors as clients collaborate closely on the planning and execution of film campaigns.


Working in film distribution (cont’d)
technical knowledge of digital formats, and far between. For your reference, laboratory processes and aspects of a digest of work placement 3D or IMAX® presentation. opportunities is posted on www.launchingfilms.com. It may also Getting started help to keep an eye on the publications As you would expect, the film industry where media jobs and placements are is hard to break into. Competition tends advertised. A little relevant experience to be fierce. The distribution business can count for a lot. offers relentless yet rewarding work, and sheer tenacity is an important Once you’re in, you may find that quality in itself. If you’re really training courses are offered to help determined, keep at it! refine your knowledge and skills. Having a passion for a wide spectrum of films is a great start. But it is only a start and not enough on its own. Explore what college courses are available to make you better qualified, and try to keep informed about industry and media developments as well as the films themselves. One news source is FDA’s website, www.launchingfilms.com. Try to see as many films by different filmmakers as you can, and observe how and where different genres are advertised and on which local screens they tend to play. Inevitably, vacancies in a small sector like distribution are relatively few For anyone who is in, or thinking of getting into, the audio/visual industries, Skillset exists to support workforce training and skills development across the sector. More at www.skillset.org. The UK also has a screen academy network including a film business academy based at the Cass Business School in the City of London, which offers a variety of highly regarded courses for film distributors and others. More at www.filmbusinessacademy.com. As many filmmakers are quick to point out, the vital blueprint for a film is its screenplay. FDA commissions script reading training sessions to help distributors refine their skills in this area. We work with training experts The Script Factory: visit www.scriptfactory.co.uk. Diversity – good for business The UK today is made up of many communities. Film distributors strive to recruit from as wide a talent pool as practical so that their companies remain competitive in the future. As opportunities arise, selecting people from a range of backgrounds with various perspectives enables distributors to remain lively hubs of fresh ideas. Staying in tune with audiences’ tastes and the on-going changes in culture and society, and having an awareness of, and care and respect for, people’s differences as well as their similarities, is not just desirable – it’s essential. This isn’t merely paying lip service to diversity; it’s fundamentally good for business. Best of luck We hope this guide has given a brief insight into how the UK film business works and that you’ll want to go on developing your interest. Happy cinema-going! Film is one of the high-profile creative industries, all of which have exciting potential to generate wealth and jobs through the application of individual skills and talents and the development of intellectual property. The Government is committed to helping the creative industries flourish: a strong, stable, successful film industry, for example, brings economic and cultural benefits across the UK. With new releases arriving in cinemas every week, it is the distributors’ task to give each one a distinctive, compelling voice that will stand out from the pack. Connecting films with their audiences is what makes distribution such a vital part of the film industry and central to its success.” Rt. Hon. Margaret Hodge MBE MP Minister for Culture, Creative Industries & Tourism www.culture.gov.uk




A day to remember: In Rohit Shetty’s Sunday (above), Ayesha Takia plays a young woman struggling to recall 24 hours in her life during which she may have been attacked – or committed a murder. The top Bollywood film of 2007 in UK cinemas, where their popularity continues to rise, was Om Shanti Om, whose star, Shah Rukh Khan, attended the UK premiere in London’s Leicester Square.

Apocalypse now: The first trailers for Cloverfield appeared six months prior to release and finished with just a release date, not a film title. Gradually, the innovative viral campaign clarified that this was an apocalyptic monster movie, set in contemporary New York City, told scarily from street level with shaky hand-held cameras.


Film Distributors’ Association
A bit about FDA: We are the trade FDA member services include body for UK distributors, founded back ‘One voice’ representation of in 1915 when the film industry was just members’ views in our regular liaison beginning to take shape. Today, films with other groups released by FDA member companies account for about 97% of UK cinema Investment in a range of generic admissions. As a trade association not market research, legal advice, training an operating distributor, FDA itself is a and a ‘mystery customer’ operation small company working in the member visiting cinemas UK-wide service business.
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Current FDA members
www.adlabsfilms.com www.metrodomegroup.com www.tartanvideo.com


Publication of a Yearbook every Spring containing a wealth of data and comment on the previous year in UK cinema

FDA’s mission is to add value


We are dedicated to delivering a range of generic services that improve and enhance the capacity of our member companies and other contacts to manage their individual working lives better We strive to be a credit to UK film distributors and a valuable resource to the media, and to play a facilitating role in developing the industry

Circulation of benchmark guidelines on matters such as film print/disk security and the provision of subtitles and audio description Regular dissemination of information and offers to members via e-bulletins

Industry development FDA is proud to be a long-standing sponsor of initiatives to foster the next generation of both filmmakers and audiences. We support the UK’s National Film & Television School based at Beaconsfield Studios, and Film Education, which develops the use of film and media in schools. Actively engaged in the fight against film theft, FDA is represented on the boards of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the Alliance Against IP Theft and the Industry Trust for IP Awareness. We’re also a member of other bodies such as AIM (All Industry Marketing for Cinema), the International Federation of Film Distributors’ Associations (FIAD) and the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF).











FDA media services include
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Compilation of a weekly schedule of screenings for national and regional press critics Organisation of the Cinema Days events for regional film journalists

Entertainment Film Distributors



FDA Council meetings are where senior representatives of our member companies meet to discuss matters of generic (non-commercial) interest to the sector and the industry as a whole.

www.erosentertainment.com www.pathe.co.uk www.warnerbros.co.uk


www.iconmovies.co.uk www.sonypictures.co.uk www.theworksmediagroup.com


Contact FDA
In the course of everyday work, FDA liaises with many different people and organisations. We welcome any approach where UK film distributors’ generic interests are concerned. With general enquiries, or to comment on this guide, please email info@fda.uk.net or write to us: Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. 22 Golden Square London W1F 9JW We aim to respond appropriately within three working days of receiving your enquiry. To keep in touch with the fast-evolving world of UK film distribution, visit FDA’s website, www.launchingfilms.com. You’ll find a weekly film release schedule, a bank of industry data, a gateway of links and much more information. Get the insiders’ views of the film business You can explore UK film distribution further, and watch some people who work in the business talk about their roles, at our dedicated microsite: www.launchingfilms.tv

© 2008 Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form by any means or for any purpose without the express prior permission of FDA. FDA thanks all contributors to this revised and updated edition of the Guide, which supersedes all previous editions. Information correct at time of going to press.

Design by wham media www.whammedia.co.uk

22 Golden Square, London W1F 9JW, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7437 4383 Fax: +44(0)20 7734 0912 Email: info@fda.uk.net

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