Here's a run down of types of films you might want to book at your own indie cinema and a list the indie distribution companies who you can book films from.
Types of Films:
These are films that have recently been released in theaters and have not yet been released on DVD, Bluray of Video on Demand (VOD).
Because people are only able to see these films in theaters, and since they’re usually riding a wave of publicity, first run films generally pull large audiences.
Back in the days of celluloid, a “second run” film was a film reel that was making it’s second run through the cinema circuit, and the print was usually scratched and banged up from a lot of screenings.
In the digital age, a second run film is one that has already been released to Bluray, DVD and VOD streaming websites. Because viewers have an array of viewing options for second run films, there’s less of a pull to see these films at your theater, making them a little more risky for you as a film booker.
These are old films—films that are long past their theatrical release. Many f the best films ever made are in this category, and as film booker you might want to show some “classics” at your theater. These films are the most risky, because viewers have probably seen them already. But people like to see their favorite films on the big screen, so reparatory films are often worth the risk (for example, two of our most successful films at Indywood have been Down By Law and The Fifth Element).
Here’s a list of “indie” distribution companies who you might want to book film from:
These are the biggest indie distribution companies. They have the most money to market their films, and thus their films typically pull big audiences. They only distribute first run films on DCP, so at Indywood we have to wait for their films to be released on Bluray before we’re able to play them.
Radius TWC (the indie wing of the Weinstein Co.)
These are Indywood’s favorite distribution companies, because they will book first run films on Bluray.
Many of the major distribution companies outsource their theatrical distribution of older films to the companies below. These are great resources for booking “classic” films:
Some filmmakers distribute their films independently of distribution companies. It’s often hard to make contact with individual filmmakers. Thus, it’s a good idea to become friends with the curators of a local film festival, because they typically have contacts with a lot of filmmakers.
Good ol’ Clint and Jolene of the New Orleans Film Festival have helped us a bunch in making contact with filmmakers.
Why we Fail Sometimes
It took me about six months to build up my rolodex of contacts with distributors.
Establishing and then managing relationships with distribution companies has been the most difficult part of becoming a film booker. Especially since each distribution company has their own system for charging licensing fees, reporting ticket sales, accepting payment, and delineating first-run and second-run media formats.
Of course, I’m not going to publish the list of email contacts that I’ve cobbled together. But if you’re interested in booking a film through any of the distributors listed above, I’d be happy to make an email introduction for you.
There you go. Start booking films at your own DIY cinema!