A key element of a films distribution plan is WHEN it is released. Traditionally, children's films are released around school holiday time. The big blockbusters often cluster around summer and Christmas too, while romantic comedies may appear leading up to Valentine’s Day, and suspense films may come out for Halloween

Chris Besseling | Director of Marketing | Pathe UK


Each distributor will carefully track the competitors’ release schedules, when they are publicly announced, aiming to ensure that they do not go head to head with similar types of film. They will look for a ‘window’ when their film may sustain a run in the very crowded cinema marketplace (in 2015 more than 700 feature films were released to UK cinema audiences)

Mark Jones | Film Distribution and Publicity Consultant

One Chance

The distributor has only one chance of selling a film in its theatrical release. Once the film has opened in cinemas there is no possibility of completely changing the marketing campaign or changing the film itself if the audience is not coming to see it.

It’s a one shot chance! And everything can depend on a film’s opening weekend. The first day or two that a film plays in a cinema can quickly indicate whether it will be a box office success or not.

Opening Weekend

In general it is the weekend when a film will earn the most money (two-thirds of cinemas’ box-office takings are collected from Friday to Sunday). If box office is poor then the film will never recover and will be taken out of cinemas. If it is good, then the chances are that the film will generate positive word of mouth, thus attracting more audiences in the following weeks, and the film is more likely to be kept on screens.

Sustaining a film in the marketplace.

The advertising has to hold the release as well as launch it. The reviews from critics and bloggers influence opinion too, of course. The distributor has a team who not only try to sell the film to cinema operators and persuade them to play it on screen, but also have to convince them to keep it on screen when, each successive week, a further batch of new titles are released.

This is why some films only play once or twice a day, rather than the ‘full house’ of four or even five showings – it is to try to accommodate the sheer range of titles in distribution at any one time. Thus, the opening weekend is vital to a film – the distributor can then argue that the film is popular and should remain on screen as long as possible

Chris Besseling | Director of Marketing | Pathe UK