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  • Writer's pictureArmen Dilanchian

AFM 2023 - Exploring the Landscape of Independent Film Acquisitions and Minimum Guarantees

Independent films have always held a unique and cherished place in the world of cinema. They often serve as a breath of fresh air, offering fresh perspectives and unfiltered storytelling. But in recent years, the landscape of independent film acquisitions and minimum guarantees has been undergoing a transformation. This blog aims to examine whether acquisitions and minimum guarantees are still prevalent for indie films and provide insight into the percentage of independent films that secure such deals.

The Changing Landscape

Independent films have long been an attractive choice for distributors and streaming platforms looking for unique and compelling content. However, the rise of streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ has reshaped the landscape. These platforms have the financial power to produce their own original content and are increasingly selective about acquiring independent films. This has left many indie filmmakers questioning whether acquisitions are still a viable avenue for their work.

Minimum Guarantees: What Are They?

Minimum guarantees are financial commitments made by distributors or streaming platforms to independent filmmakers during the acquisition process. These guarantees ensure that filmmakers receive a set minimum amount of money, regardless of how the film performs. They provide a level of financial security for indie filmmakers, making it possible for them to continue creating new and innovative content.

Current Trends in Independent Film Acquisitions

To determine whether acquisitions and minimum guarantees are still happening for independent films, we need to consider the following trends:

  1. Streaming Platforms vs. Traditional Distributors: Streaming platforms have taken center stage in recent years, leading to fierce competition for acquisition deals. Traditional distributors are still in the game but are more selective. As a result, indie films may find it easier to secure acquisitions with streaming platforms, especially if their content aligns with the platform's brand and audience.

  2. Film Festival Circuit: Film festivals remain an essential platform for independent films to gain recognition. Acquisitions often occur following successful festival screenings, and festivals like Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto International Film Festival remain pivotal in this regard.

  3. Digital Self-Distribution: Some indie filmmakers choose to self-distribute their films on digital platforms like Vimeo On Demand or YouTube. While this approach offers creative control, it may not lead to acquisitions or minimum guarantees unless the film garners significant attention and a loyal fanbase.

  4. Genre and Marketability: The genre and marketability of an independent film play a crucial role in securing acquisitions and minimum guarantees. Films with niche appeal, strong storytelling, and unique selling points are more likely to attract distributors' attention.

The Percentage of Indie Films Securing Deals

Determining the exact percentage of independent films that secure acquisitions or minimum guarantees is challenging, as it varies year by year and depends on multiple factors. However, we can draw some general conclusions:

  • A relatively small percentage of independent films secure lucrative minimum guarantee deals, especially for wide theatrical releases.

  • The majority of indie films that secure acquisitions end up on streaming platforms, offering them broader exposure.

The world of independent film acquisitions and minimum guarantees is evolving, with streaming platforms playing a significant role in shaping the industry. While not every indie film will secure a minimum guarantee or a distribution deal, there are still opportunities for filmmakers with unique and marketable content. Success often hinges on the film's quality, festival exposure, and the ability to target the right distribution channels.

Independent filmmakers should remain vigilant, seek out opportunities, and adapt to the changing landscape while continuing to create the diverse and authentic content that has made independent cinema so special.

In conclusion, acquisitions and minimum guarantees are still happening for independent films, although the percentage of films that secure these deals varies. Independent filmmakers should continue pursuing their passion and exploring the changing avenues available to showcase their work in today's cinematic landscape.

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