DIY distribution is the most time consuming, expensive and risky of all the DIY windows for the indie producer to undertake; however, it still is a viable option.
For DIY Distribution, the Producer literally rents (Four Walls) each screen from each exhibitor for a flat fee, typically for one week (day or weekend), sometimes with an option for additional weeks depending on the picture’s success. Exhibitors (theater owner) require the producer to cover the ‘house nut’ (the exhibitor’s overhead cost to run that screen for one week), of approximately $5,000 – $10,000 per screen for a 7-day run. The exhibitor’s incentive is concession earnings. As a producer, you need convincing marketing strategy likely to fill seats and sell concessions. The producer receives 100% of all ticket sales. Below is a basic list of what it takes to do your own distribution.
- Producer books one or more markets himself.
- This is very sophisticated work. It requires knowing each venue including its screens,
- Selling a theater circuit on the picture’s marketing campaign (designed, carried out and financed by the producer), sufficient to convince them of their likely box office profitability and
- The ability to negotiate acceptable terms,
- Service the relationship through the play-dates,
- Reach a settlement with exhibitors and
- If the film performs, the exhibitor will most likely agree to extend the run to successive weeks until ticket sales drop below alternative pictures.
You also have the option of hiring a distribution team (Rent-A-System) to book and administrate all the exhibitor negotiations and collections. This also can include the producer using the distribution team’s services for media planning and buying. The service company typically takes a flat fee retainer plus a percentage of collections.
The producer advances all the costs of advertising, as well as prints or digital formats.
Although a more costly option of all the DIY’s, this can be extremely beneficial as the distribution team has years of experience in setting smart release patterns, has seasoned relationships with theater circuits and individual exhibitors, can negotiate optimal percentage deals, and, as they are distributing other picture’s through these exhibitors, have leverage for final settlement amounts and exhibitor collections.