Film Distribution: How It Works

Creative, commercial and professional skills are needed in all branches of the film industry, including distribution.

The film is released in the UK on 400 prints across multiplexes and some independents. Holdovers for the film will be negotiated readily based on if it has a successful start, good reviews, and strong word-of-mouth. Exit polls are then taken.

The distributor then decides based on the previous stage to spend more marketing money behind it on radio and online to support the success and to maintain its momentum for a week or two longer.

The steps below outline the overall lifecycle of a film:

  1. Producer/company acquires rights to film a story or treatment
  2. Screenplay is developed by one or more writers
  3. Production finance and cast and crew are confirmed
  4. Principal photography takes place, in studios and/or on agreed locations, followed by some months of post – production, editing and scoring
  5. Distributor invites exhibitors and journalists along to watch parts of the shoot, to build anticipation for the actual release.
  6. Distributor presents the film to British Board of Film Classification certificate (BBFC) to ensure no issues with certification. Then screens to exhibitors and negotiates bilateral agreements to have it shown in cinemas
  7. Distributor’s marketing campaign aims to create a ‘want to see’ buzz among the target audience and launches the film
  8. Following its run in cinemas, the film is released in other formats (home entertainment, television) and quickly becomes a catalogue title
  1. A Films’ run extends any number of weeks subject to demand, which may be augmented by additional marketing
  2. Digital Cinema Package (DCP’s) including the BBFC certificate are delivered to cinemas a few days before opening. Key Delivery Message (KDMs) issued
Film Distribution
More information regarding distribution can be found on the BBC Film Network website.