Movie Makers Face a Changing Distribution Channel

At Sundance, New Routes to Finding an Audience (New York Times)

Gaining distribution for a product is often viewed as only a problem for marketers of products sold in retail stores.? But this issue impacts many businesses including companies selling goods in the business-to-business market and those selling services. This story offers a nice example of problems marketers face when seeking distribution channels for their products.? Yes, the products here are movies, which in some ways are really classified as services (i.e., entertainment) when shown in movie theaters and then become goods when made available for purchase (e.g., DVDs, digital download), but the problems experienced here are common to many types of marketers.

As the story discusses, for movie makers the distribution options appear to be shrinking.? Many movie theaters have closed, and the vast majority of those that remain are likely to only be interested in showing movies considered to have large revenue potential.? This has left many producers of niche-oriented or “artsy” movies struggling for an outlet to show their films including exploring different distribution options.

With more art-house theaters closing and most of the big studios no longer interested in distributing specialty films, a theatrical release is becoming increasingly hard to secure. So some filmmakers are trying to turn that system on its head, using Sundance not just as a sales tool but also as a platform for immediate digital delivery.

Is technology changing to the point where it will be common for new films to be released through in-home distribution at the same time as these are released in theaters?

Image by Erik Charlton