Joel Perlman from Village Roadshow gives a full report on Current Distribution for Movies in the Australia

indie filmmaking Blog Podcast explores the best ways for you to produce direct and get your film seen by the biggest possible audience

Roadshow Films has been responsible for releasing box office epics The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, American Sniper, Red Dog, Paper Planes, and six-time Academy Award winning film and monster box office hit, Mad Max: Fury Road.  I attended a Screen Producers event at Fox Studios this morning and the session was illuminating and informative

This is a report of what Joe Pearlman, head of Village Roadshow spoke about at the event.

Joel Pearlman

Listening to Joel’s take on the film distribution in Australia brought me personally up to date on what is happening with film distribution in 2017.  With our feature film/ movie Tabernacle 101. in advanced postproduction, distribution in the Australian Market will soon be a priority.

Firstly, a film distributor job is to maximize the audience and gain the maximum platforms that the film can be seen on. Also, they do their very best to get the best $ return on the films that they distribute.

The Distribution landscape has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Even so, theatrical (cinema) box office in 2016 was a record box office year. However, for boutique art style films, the cinema market has become more challenging.

DVD Rentals at Blockbusters is now more or less extinct, DVD still has a considerable market. Sell Thru on DVD at various shops such as JB HI Fi and Hoyts Kiosks has ensured that there is still plenty of market opportunity in DVD.  Even though, it will never hit the market heights of the 90s and early noughties, the market has stablised and is now growing. It will stay and come stronger just as Vinyl has in music. People love to own a solid physical version of the film.

The big change is in Streaming namely  Netflix, Amazon Prime and Stan in the Australian Market. Many of you may be already members of some of these sites. This is  where many Australian Films find market and they will only come bigger and more dominant over the next decade.

Also a movie star with a great following will always help the film find audience.  Joel gave the example of Dwayne Johnson who is always placing photos on Instagram.

For Australian Films to succeed in the cinema and streaming market, it is important more than ever, to make exceptionally high quality content. Audiences have more choice and are more savvy and producers have to make excellent films to attract an audience. The bar has moved higher. Back ten to twenty years ago, content could be average and still find marketplace. Not anymore.

One of the most interesting facts is how much Roadshow spends on P&A  This is called Prints and Advertising. P&A is what persuades people to go and see the movie. (Special Note: Prints are no longer used in cinemas. But the term is still used.)

In Australia, the the P&A costs per movie released in the cinema are as follows.  (Advertising in all media and online.)

  • Low = $400K to $500K  ( not very effective and films usually do not breakthrough on this amount.
  • Mid =  $1 million to $1.5 million  (much more effective
  • High = $3 million (for big movies (Very effective in Australia.)

Word of mouth with Cinema Releases is far less important as films are given a weekend to one week to perform and if they do not perform in Week 1, they are taken off screens.

It does not matter how good the film is. If it performs poorly week 1, the film dies. However, if they do perform on Week 1 , word of mouth must be urgent and must be exceptional. An example is the Australian Film Lion.  Everyone who has seen it is raving about the film and is telling all of their friends to go and see the film.

This kind of word of mouth works. “You must see Lion it. It’s fantastic” .
This sort of word of mouth has no effect.  “Lion yeah,It’s a good film. Yep I liked it”
This word of mouth while good, does not get people to the cinema unless they are a regular cinema goer.

So what does this mean for the Australian Producer  with Australian Movies.

  1. Make great and exceptional content.
  2. Make sure that you have a international name (star) in your film who has exceptional online presence on Instagram and Twitter. Build a following on Facebook and other social media and get as many emails as possible for people interested in your film and update them regularly. Keep showing photographs from the film on your Facebook and instagram.
  3. Work with a great distributor such as Roadshow and make sure they spend mid to high on P&A

Producers that build online presence via their star and their followings are really helping their chances of success when the film is released.

Till next time

Colm O’Murchu – Director

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Colm O'Murchu - Host

Colm O’Murchu is a passionate Indie Filmmaker and owner of the production company, International Film Base. He has directed and produced three successfully released feature films worldwide and one documentary.  

His most recent film Tabernacle 101 has been released in 2019 in the US and will be released in Australia in late 2020 premiering at the Sci Fi Film Festival. He is currently in development on his next feature film Absolute Freedom, an action adventure film set in the outback.

He has spoken at Indie Film Seminars all over the world and created online and offline film courses 

 He lives in the Blue Mountains NSW Australia and loves the outdoors and the mountains.

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