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Old February 12th, 2004, 05:19 PM   #1
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A new distribution paradigm?

How would you setup a new feature film distribution system? I am interested in developing a new model for film distribution and would like your input. Traditional methods work well for established large budget Hollywood movies. But as you probably know it is nearly impossible to get your feature film into the "system".
What is your idea? Please feel free to throw out any idea, thought or experience you have. How would you set up the new system?
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Old February 12th, 2004, 05:23 PM   #2
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Uh... can you narrow the topic down a bit?
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Old February 12th, 2004, 10:51 PM   #3
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There's as of yet no economic pressure to tear down the current system and build a new one.

Speciation of markets can lead to new markets that sometimes compete with the old markets, as happened when TVs became popular in American homes in the 1950s and old films were shown television. But there's no reason to think any present-day technological innovation--even the internet--will pose as much of a threat to the current system of theatrical distribution as TV did in 1956.

When home video arrived on the scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hollywood was desperately afraid home recordings would demolish the theatrical market, and they challenged the right of consumers, through both lobbying efforts and lawsuits, to own their own copies of movies in their homes. As they realized there was tremendous profit potential in the sale of their back catalogues through an emerging home video market, they shifted strategies to embrace the then-revolutionary notion that their business wasn't in selling movie tickets, but rather in selling filmed entertainment, whatever format it may be packaged in.

And despite the home video market, Hollywood still breaks box office revenue records most years. (True, fewer movie tickets are being sold in this decade than in the 1920s, but it hardly matters: by controlling distribution dates and successfully marketing the theatrical experience as the preferred weekend evening pastime, studios have kept cinematic presentation viable in the face of new distribution modalities.)

Internet piracy of new films is an emerging problem, but it won't be able to compete with on-demand movie presentations such as are now becoming available with digital satellite. So long as subscription prices compete with the cost of internet bandwidth, and are hassle-free (whereas finding and downloading movies on the darknet can be a real pain and can take a few days), the studio system will remain successfully competitive.

So to answer your question: I'd create subscription movie services that deliver new movies at the push of a button. One might say this is already available: it's called HBO with TiVo. Make it cheaper, easier to use, and give it newer movies faster--eventually, the same weekend as their theatrical release--and you have your new distribution modality.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 06:28 PM   #4
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This is interesting, because I'm looking into alternative distribution methods with my first feature. The most important thing though is to create demand.

I remember reading an article about the first movie that Master P (I could have the wrong rapper) put out. Basically he distributed through music stores (this is before they really started to sell movies heavily). I think he sold somewhere around 200,000 copies that way. And basically the demand for his movie was high enough that Blockbuster and other video outlets starting calling him.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 07:57 PM   #5
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For mainstream features, the distribution system is already identified . . . satelite transmission of digital streams.

Amazon has a nice distribution system too. Probably not bad for good content.

I thought there was an Indie distribution system as well.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 11:34 PM   #6
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Mainstream features use digital satellite?

To start another distribution system you would be competing against the Hollywood system AND the smaller distributors already out there. Those distributors vie for available screens. As distributor you would be responsible for costs of prints plus advertising in each city.

Distribution is not the problem. Sellability of the product is the problem.
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Old March 1st, 2004, 12:01 PM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Belics : Mainstream features use digital satellite? -->>>

For the future, yes. Cuts out the middleman distributor, allowing the movie companies to have that piece of the pie plus they don't need to spend millions on dupes plus the quality is better (on average).

So the next distribution channel for Hollywood releases will be satellite.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 12:07 AM   #8
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I was talking with the guy in charge of equipment for the largest theatre chain in my neck of the woods. He said with digital projectors the studios would want at $125,000 each, not including satellite receivers, compared to new 35mm projectors at $9500, it will be a long time before that will ever happen.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 12:11 AM   #9
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>>fewer movie tickets are being sold in this decade than in the 1920s

"In fact, theaters took in $9.5 billion in ticket sales in 2002, when the number of people going to the movies was the biggest it's been in decades, Fithian said. "

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/yhoo/story.asp?guid=%7B3CE4934A-48F7-4FA1-ADCA-037847F0C150%7D&siteid=myyahoo&dist=myyahoo
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 01:34 AM   #10
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Parsed carefully, there's nothing mutually exclusive about those two statements. 1.52 billion movie tickets were sold in 2003 in all of North America; in 1922, 40 million movie tickets were sold in the US every week, that number doubling by 1930. Keeping in mind the population was 130 million at the time (less than half its present magnitude), nearly two-thirds of the country was going out to see a movie every week, drawn en masse to fill luxurious picture palaces by the spectaculars of DeMille, the swashbucklers of Fairbanks, and the gangster dramas of Valentino. Nowadays, North Americans see five movies a year on average, a fact that, since the 1970s, has prompted studios to put all their eggs in one early-summer basket known as the blockbuster, on the theory that "if you're only going to see one movie this year, we need to make that movie!" (More than the repeat viewings by Japanese girls swooning over Leonardo, the titanic box office of Titanic was attributable to the fact that it was pulling people to the theaters who hadn't gone to see a movie in years.)

Ticket sales are way up since the advent of television, but Americans may never go to the movies together in the same numbers they did in the 1920s--to say nothing of the proportions.

(I don't have the stats, but I wouldn't argue that worldwide attendance beats all previous years' records, film markets being more saturated--and consumers more affluent--on a worldwide scale than they were in 1930.)
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