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Distribution: Marketing by David Sin


image of poster from Dracula (1958)

A successfully marketed film: Hammer's Dracula (1958)

The marketing of a film release revolves around two key questions: 'When?' and 'How?'

In the UK, new films are released theatrically on Fridays. The schedule for forthcoming releases is coordinated and published by the Film Distributors Association. A distributor will assess this schedule to identify a Friday release date where there are only a few films scheduled for release. Finding a 'light' week will ensure that there will be both screen space and adequate review column inches in the press allocated to any potential release. A further consideration for scheduling a release is the seasonality of the film. For example, it is widely assumed within the industry that specialised films have the greatest potential to reach audiences during the academic year. Finally, the distributor will try to position the film distinctively and avoid a release date occupied by other films with similar traits (story, subject, country of origin). In recent years in the UK, these two aspects of release planning have become increasingly difficult, as the release schedule has regularly featured over 10 new releases in a week.

After setting a release date, the distributor works towards the theatrical release, investing in the materials and the marketing campaign to support it.

The costs of theatrical distribution, met by local distributors, are often referred to as 'P&A', or Prints and Advertising. P&A are the nuts and bolts of marketing and distributing films into cinemas, the tools used by the distributor to create a public for its film. P&A also represent the bulk of the distributor's investment, after paying the initial fee for rights, and can range from less than £1,000 to over £1 million for the release of a film in the UK.

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