DIFFERENT MARKETS FOR DISTRIBUTION
Once the post-production phase of a film is completed, a producer has many options for how they are going to get their movie out for viewing. Some independent producers manage to negotiate a favorable and exclusive contract with a studio or distribution company which takes care of all matters related to marketing and distribution, but these kinds of deals are becoming more and more rare as the film distribution market changes and new forms of media emerge. Now, producers may make separate deals with different companies for each type of distribution, which can necessitate substantial legal support to make sure that distribution rights do not overlap or conflict with each other.
Theatrical distribution is the traditional and most commonly recognized method of getting your film publicized and available for initial public viewing. Opening a film in theaters can be a good way of getting publicity in local papers, reviews, possible social media presence, and quotes from audience reactions to the film.
HOME VIDEO COMPANIES
There are hundreds of home video companies which provide films to the public in the form of DVDs, Blue-rays, and digital distribution by companies like Hulu and Netflix. Sometimes this option will become available only after the theatrical release, or, at other times, producers choose to pursue this avenue as a primary option.
VIDEO ON DEMAND (VOD)
Video on demand or pay-per-view services is growing as consumers are more interested in buying a movie for viewing instantly in their own home. These services can be very successful and exciting in terms of getting your movie out to a wide audience; however, they require substantial marketing to get a company interested in buying the film.
Producers may choose to initially, or eventually, sell the rights to broadcast their film on television to certain distribution companies that specialize in television. Contracts with these distributors may include the period of time that the company will be able to market the film, the way the profits are shared between the distributor and the producer, and what edits or changes to the original film are allowable for its new format.
In order to enter the international film market for distribution, producers will most likely need to contract a foreign sales agent or international distributor. These agents have special knowledge of foreign markets and can help frame the film in the best way for specific international communities.
LEGAL NEGOTIATION OF FILM DISTRIBUTION
Pursuing any of the preceding avenues for film distribution will require negotiation and legal support. A production attorney can guide you through the legal advantages and disadvantages of each form of distribution and support you as you move forward with your particular plan for getting your film seen. Solid and comprehensive agreements with companies that will distribute your film not only dictate your rights to profits from a certain relationship, but also your ability to make contracts with other distribution companies in the future. It is important to maintain control over your film to whatever extent that the circumstance permit.