Film distribution

Three parties are leading in film distribution: film producers, film distributors and cinema operators. The producer is responsible for the supply; the distributor is responsible for distribution and the related marketing; the cinema operator puts the film on the screen.

Distributors and sales agents

The distributor draws up a release plan. He lays out a marketing strategy for the general promotion of a film, the release of the film in as many cinemas as possible, on pay TV, video on demand (VOD), dvd and blu-ray and ordinary TV. The distributor also determines when the most favourable release date will be.

The distributor concludes an agreement with the producer, the sales agent or the film studio per film. This agreement contains the rights relating to the release, the promotion, or the local editing or modifying of the film. The distributor shows the film to screeners and concludes separate agreements for its screening in cinemas.

If you bear in mind that there are around 800 screens in the Netherlands and that an average of 400 films are released in the Netherlands each year with sometimes as many as 200 copies, you can imagine what a game of musical chairs is involved. The distributor is highly dependent on the cinema operator; after all, irrespective of the films he shows, the operator primarily wants as many of his seats to be filled as possible, while the distributor wants only his film to be screened for as long as possible at as many cinemas possible.

A distributor always works in a national market. Many distributors in the Netherlands are engaged in the distribution of films. There are majors and independents. The five majors, who account for roughly 75% of the Dutch market, are distributors who have close connections with the big Hollywood studios. The films that they distribute are usually obtained through these studios, whether they are (international) coproductions or not, but Dutch films that target a large audience are also released by majors, such as Pietje Bell (Buena Vista) and Minoes (Warner Bros). The independents, on the other hand (such as Cinemien) have to go out looking for their films and are themselves responsible for the marketing and release of those films.

Release plan

The distributor draws up a release plan. He lays out a marketing strategy for the general promotion of a film, the release of the film in as many cinemas as possible, on pay TV, video on demand (VOD), dvd and blu-ray and ordinary TV. The distributor also determines when the most favourable release date will be.

The distributor is highly dependent on the cinema operator; after all, irrespective of the films he shows, the operator primarily wants as many of his seats to be filled as possible, while the distributor wants only his film to be screened for as long as possible at as many cinemas possible.