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  • Writer's pictureArmen Dilanchian

The Struggle for Film Distribution: Navigating the Profitability Maze

Updated: Jul 21, 2023


In the realm of filmmaking, the process of creating a masterpiece is an art in itself. However, as rewarding as this journey can be, there's a harsh reality that filmmakers face: the daunting challenge of finding a suitable film distribution deal. With the constantly evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, it's becoming increasingly difficult to secure profitable distribution avenues. In this blog, we'll explore the reasons behind this hardship and understand the vital role distribution plays in determining the success or failure of a film project.

The Changing Landscape of Film Distribution

In the past, filmmakers had a more straightforward approach to distribution. They could rely on traditional methods like theatrical releases, DVD sales, and TV syndication. However, with the rise of digital streaming platforms and the ever-increasing demand for online content, the dynamics of film distribution have undergone a radical transformation.

While the advent of digital platforms has expanded the potential reach of films, it has also created intense competition and oversaturation. With thousands of new movies and series released each year, cutting through the noise and capturing audiences' attention has become an uphill battle for indie filmmakers and even some established production houses.

The Struggle for Visibility

One of the most significant challenges faced by filmmakers in the modern era is getting their films noticed amidst the sea of content available online. Even with an impressive product, without a strong distribution strategy, a film can easily get buried and go unnoticed. It's a cruel irony that many outstanding films fail to gain the recognition they deserve simply because they couldn't secure an adequate distribution deal.

The Impact on Profitability

Film distribution isn't just about getting the movie in front of an audience; it's also about making a profit. The distribution process involves significant costs, including marketing, promotion, and platform fees. Without a well-structured distribution deal, the financial burden often falls on the filmmakers themselves or their investors, leading to financial losses.

Securing a Profitable Distribution Deal

Finding a profitable distribution deal is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. For independent filmmakers, it's even more challenging, as major distribution companies tend to focus on high-budget, star-studded productions that are perceived to be safer bets. To navigate this tough landscape, filmmakers have explored various options, including self-distribution and film festivals. While self-distribution allows for greater control over the release, it requires an in-depth understanding of marketing and distribution, which many filmmakers lack. On the other hand, film festivals offer a chance to showcase a movie to a targeted audience, but the chances of securing a lucrative distribution deal from such events remain uncertain.

The Importance of Negotiation

When a filmmaker does manage to attract the attention of distribution companies, the negotiation process becomes a crucial make-or-break moment. Filmmakers must balance the desire for a fair deal that benefits both parties and the need to recoup their investment and generate profits for their investors. Unfortunately, due to the industry's competitive nature, distributors often hold more negotiating power, making it difficult for filmmakers to secure favorable terms.


The struggle for film distribution is a complex and ever-evolving challenge faced by filmmakers worldwide. In an industry overflowing with talent and creativity, it's disheartening to witness many excellent films falling into obscurity due to the lack of a robust distribution strategy. As the landscape continues to shift, filmmakers must adapt, exploring new distribution avenues while preserving the integrity of their vision. Finding that elusive profitable distribution deal is the key to success, not just in terms of financial gains but also in ensuring the filmmaker's art reaches its intended audience and leaves a lasting impact on the world of cinema.

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