The current model of distributing movies (i.e., the use of “release windows” to ensure that films don’t eat into each others’ businesses and the staggering of the release of material across cinema, TV, home video, etc) is repeatedly dissed as archaic and incongruent to present day trends where people live their lives, shuffling from one screen to another. Chris Jones, who runs the London Screenwriters’ Festival, has an interesting blog post about the same topic, in which he lists down the key problems plaguing film distribution today:
1. The high impact life of your film is 14 days, max. Any buzz you create, any momentum you build, is now created on a global scale. Social media does not know boundaries – posters, trailers, interviews, articles – all go global in a moment, and ideally viral. I believe that you can only get REAL buzz for your project for a few weeks… After those two weeks, internet dies back considerably.
2. It follows then that you need to get your movie out as quickly as possible, and in as many territories as you can, and finally on all devices (TV, web, phone etc.). Ideally this would happen on the same day too.
3. If we create buzz and then fail to deliver an easy way for people to legally watch our films, we are simply begging people to rip and upload our films to share. I don’t believe these people think of themselves as pirates. This isn’t about money, it’s about us promising something amazing and then failing to deliver a way to watch the film legally and easily.
4. No single platform, aside from iTunes, seems to work well as yet. And iTunes being Apple owned, is housed a ridiculous walled garden.
5. Forget theatres, they are operating in a different century.
As a film maker, all this means that I will get very little back from current distribution methods and my film will get seen mostly via illegal downloads.”
Given that film distribution is a complicated quagmire, some great films don’t end up getting distributed at all. For instance, late last year, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s blog FilmComment had put together a list of the 50 best undistributed movies in 2012. The list (click here to see the entire list) features movies from across the world and is an eye-opener in many ways.
We at TCRC are huge fans of anything cinema and it’s always a joy to see the internet ensuring that we hear of such little-known (or distributed) gems. Follow this space, for we intend to showcase many more of these undiscovered beauties!