Causing a Scene: distributors

During my meeting with Merlin Cinemas (more about that here), I learned so much about the cinema industry as a whole. Now I love cinema, love love love it. It’s my go to on a rainy day when no-one else is around, it’s my favourite date night activity, it’s one of my favourite things to talk about. But, as it turns out, I have zero idea about how it works*.

Obviously, there are film studios/makers that make the films. That’s a thing. Then distributors, they distribute the films. Obviously. And then cinemas, who show us the films and make us want popcorn even though it gets stuck in your teeth and is basically just air. Each step takes a slice of the money. Seems fair so far.

In the meeting, Alex and the other chap who’s name has escaped me**, explained that they have to negotiate with the distributors to get the films they want, at a price that works for them. They negotiate how often they’ll show the films, predicted attendance and all kinds of other things. Again, seems reasonable.

But then someone said something that’s been bothering me ever since. There was a suggestion that distributors have been known to penalise cinemas for showing subtitled films, as they attract a smaller audience. Can this be true? I don’t know. I really don’t want it to be, but I have to check it out. So obviously, I emailed every single distributor in the UK and we’ll just have to wait and see who responds. I sent emails to massive, massive distributors as well as some that only release a handful of films each year. I’ll report back soon!

*my explanation of the process is by no means technical or, you know, particularly accurate. Absolutely take it with a pinch of salt.

**in the month between meeting Alex/the other chap and emailing the distributors, I moved house twice and spent ages getting really het up about subtitled cinema and generally being persuaded to start a big old campaign. That’s why I forgot his name. Sorry.

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