What is Theatrical Distribution?


Distributing Your Film Online


Lesson Info

What is Theatrical Distribution?

So we're going to move on to theatrical distribution I'm just going to touch on that I'm going to go too deep into it because the likelihood of getting picked up for distribution in the theaters is pretty pretty small and if it then if it does get picked up by your film gets picked up, say at a festival to go to the theater, you lose money like it cost so much to rent the theater and do the ads and get it out there that you actually interestingly enough, sometimes the return is so low coming back from ticket sales that then you go into the dvd market or the online market this I'm talking about a standard distributor, they spent so much money and marketing it, and they still don't get a return that when you push really hard on the reports, they might actually say you kind of owe me money, you owe us money because we've spent so much money on your film and never received a penny we've never had we barely made a dent and what was it bad marketing? Is it just that they haven't accepted the...

fact that it's really hard to get anyone to go to the theaters, justice, even the best films? I mean, think about it some of the great films that are in the theater, there's just people watching home, they've incredible tvs and they pay for their cable or their internet connection, and you could have a great time watching someone home with people in your living room, so a theatrical distribution, you know, I like getting it through the festivals, and we'll touch on that. So I believe if you want to do a theatrical distribution, it should be event driven it there should be a reason you should go there beyond even the filmmaker being there find another reason your film might actually be a great reason to find a theater or a public, then we're sticking to theater, but me, I would actually go outside the theater and do it in a much more sort of and warm and cozy place that actually had a lot of success doing live screenings when he was in in cairo during during the second part of the revolution. He would actually do the live screening in tahrir square of his film, and it was the perfect audience, and yeah, it was it was wonderful because he got direct feedback from people. Yeah, I actually did a well, this right here, like, think about why you want to do it. I'm a filmmaker. We all wanted a bigger than life in the dark with a whole room full of people experiencing this movie, but, um just just just put a little thought into it. Costs a lot of money. You don't get a lot of return. You can deal with people who do like you get a service deal who will take a service deals where you're gonna pay a flat amount and go out. So they're not going to incur a whole bunch of marketing costs, which would, which is what the studios always encourage, which is why you never see any money, because any money you make even the money you make from dvd and online has to pay for all the money that they spent marketing your film in the theatrical arena and there's just it's, a tough, tough place er, to get your film scene a lot of work and not a lot of people get to see it so you could set up a theatrical screenings yourself to tug, gather a service deal. Um, and you can also just d'oh other kinds of releases outside of the theater, so really ask yourself. I have a hard talk with yourself. Do I want to do a theatrical release of my film? I think in the old days, it really meant that you'd arrived. It meant that your film was worth something that is not the case anymore. In fact, I think more and more people say, oh, yeah, I'm going to the theaters, and we all kind of know in the back of our minds who they're not going to see much money from their film, at least for three or four years if it continues to do well off line. I mean, online, they might make up some of the money that you spent doing a theatrical. Where does ah, like the limited release fall in this whole spectrum and how much money, you know, like, sometimes I think it was one that pops in my head. Uh, fruitvale station, I guess, did really good. Oh, yes, we'll be, like, sent last year's sundance lover, and I think it had limited release in certain so limited releases just pretty much excuse me small a small few. If you select theaters, that wide release means it's, it rolls out and it's across the country does that cut down on call? Someone does cut down on costs, but it only comes, doesn't the marketing budget and spend is pretty much the same in the sense that you have to come up with a campaign you got. You're just not buying as many ads in his many cities, but you're still spending the bulk of the money whether it's limited or wide, the nice thing is with limited you want to show box office that's your measure of success, so if you had twenty theaters versus one hundred theaters, twenty theaters and you got this much money looks really good. Big fish, small pond if you have a wide release your like fiftieth in box office minnow in a big pond, you're not going up your ancillary rights for in other words, people used to do theatrical in the day because if they did well in the theater or if they even just did a theatrical, it meant you were good enough. You should get a bigger licensing fee from netflix or for your dvd rights, but that doesn't really even like do it anymore. Netflix will actually actually look at you as a filmmaker and look how big your social network is if you've come a hundred thousand people that follow you care about what you're doing, you've gone to some film festivals and you never did a theatrical, you're more likely to get a higher licensing fee for your content because you have a built in audience the theatrical you could've paid for you might be someone with deep pockets. You paid for theatrical. Nobody saw it. It doesn't mean it doesn't translate anymore. There's. A disconnect there.

Class Description

Your film doesn’t have to appear in theaters to find its audience. Distributing an indie film online is an effective way to increase the visibility of your movie, get compensated for your efforts, and validate your work.

Maverick independent film entrepreneur Scilla Andreen was done with the one-sided deals brokered by the big guys. She wanted independent filmmakers and producers to have more options, so she built one: IndieFlix.com – a platform for DIY film distribution that Variety magazine calls, "The Netflix for Indie Films." In Distributing Your Film Online, Scilla will detail the distribution landscape and teach you how to find your audience online. You’ll learn:

  • How to distribute your film online
  • The benefits of online distribution
  • How to monetize filmmaking

Scilla will discuss the no-nonsense architecture of online film distribution and help you reduce and navigate the layers of distraction between making a film and having people actually see it. You’ll learn how the IndieFlix model works and how it, and other online distribution platforms like it, make money for independent filmmakers.

If you are ready to find an audience for your indie film, Scilla Andreen can show you how it’s done online.


a Creativelive Student

This course is only an introduction to online distribution for films. It doesn't go deeper in any aspect nor gives you concrete steps depending on your film project. So if you've never heard or thought about distribution is a good place to start in a few hours, but if you are looking for a deeper analysis or information to reinforce the online distribution of your film, it isn't there in my opinion.


Was this an instructional video, or a plug for a commercial enterprise. Light in detail, this series does offer a few gems for those searching for answers. It did put into perspective the odds of finding distribution in a marketplace crowded by competition where everyone is looking for ways to maximize a return on investment and offers alternatives to those wishing to tackle the job of online distribution themselves. Because "once a film is completed, the real work begins." it is important to know what these alternatives are. David W. King, Michigan Movie Media 2.0