It is popular to say in Hollywood that “Content Is King”, but if it is, distribution is the king maker. Distributors, whether they are theatrical, television, online, or disk, decide what content the world gets to see and what remains on the shelf. There are about 15,000 films made in the English language every year, but only about 700 will ever see the inside of a movie theater. That’s just fine for the hundreds of other films that were never meant for a theatrical release, but are still enjoyed by millions on broadcast/cable or direct to the consumer through Netflix, Redbox, or any of the dozens of other digital or physical distribution points.
A veteran producer knows that he or she has to package their film according to its intended distribution platform and audience. This sounds logical, but many producers are so intent on getting their films produced that they lose sight of how the end product will be distributed. At IFFA, once we find an interesting script, the first thing that we do is determine how the film will be disseminated. It dictates everything: Your choice of cast, director, CGI, production values, shoot location, even the level of sexuality or violence that would be acceptable. We also have to consider the way foreign markets will respond to the subject and the actors.
Movies are essentially stories set to film. But the medium and the method of delivery affects everything to do with how that story is told. Content distributors play a vital role of selecting the right stories to entertain and enlighten their audiences. Content is not “King” until a distributor says that it shall be so.