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Film distributor

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Film distributor

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A film distributor is an independent company, a subsidiary company or occasionally an individual, which acts as the final agent between a film production company or some intermediary agent, and a film exhibitor, to the end of securing placement of the producer's film on the exhibitor's screen. In the film business, the term "distribution" refers to the marketing and circulation of movies in theaters.

The primary agenda of the distributor is to convince the exhibitor to rent, or "book", each film. To this end the distributor may arrange a private screening for the exhibitor, or use other marketing techniques that will make the exhibitor believe he will profit financially by showing the film. Once this is accomplished, the distributor then secures a written contract stipulating the amount of the gross ticket sales to be paid to the distributor, collect the amount due, audit the exhibitor's ticket sales as necessary to ensure the gross reported by the exhibitor is accurate, secure the distributor's share of these proceeds, and transmit the remainder to the production company (or to any other intermediary, such as a film release agent).

The distributor must also ensure that enough film prints are struck to service all contracted exhibitors on the contract-based opening day, ensure their physical delivery to the theater by the opening day, and ensure the prints' return to the distributor's office or other storage resource also on the contract-based return date. In practical terms, this includes the physical production of film prints and their shipping around the world (a process that may soon be replaced by digital distribution) as well as the creation of posters, newspaper and magazine advertisements, television commercials, and other types of ads.

Furthermore, the distributor is responsible for ensuring a full line of film advertising material is available on each film which it believes will help the exhibitor attract the largest possible audience, create such advertising if it is not provided by the production company, and arrange for the physical delivery of the advertising items selected by the exhibitor at intervals prior to the opening day.

If the distributor is handling an imported or foreign-language film, it may also be responsible for securing dubbing or subtitling for the film, and securing censorship or other legal or organizational "approval" for the exhibition of the film in the country/territory in which it does business, prior to approaching the exhibitors for booking.

This is an incomplete and general overview. The actual practices of film distributors may vary from this model at different points in time during the history of film, and according to different national business practices affecting film distribution. Thus, a full explication of this topic must account for all periods and nations since the beginning of film, or limit itself to the study of specific times and lands.

In the days of the classical Hollywood cinema, the studios used the studio system, producing and distributing their own films to theatres that they also owned a practice known as vertical integration. The studios' control over distribution was greatly weakened in the U.S. when, in 1948, the court case United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. forced the major studios to sell all their theaters. Today, major studios and independent production companies alike compete for screens in theaters.


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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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