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Why so pessimist about distribution?

I think you're close here but not quite right. Do we have any evidence that the studios are taking a larger chunk (percentage-wise) than ever before? I would guess it's quite the opposite - movie studios are pulling in a smaller chunk of a larger market than ever before.

While it's only Box Office numbers (and also remember, we're only 5/6 through 2013) and the box office numbers also fluctuate based on the offerings, you'll see that there is an obvious trend towards what I was mentioning. The higher end studios are raking in more, with less, leaving everyone else a smaller share, with even more competition. In my opinion, it's the cost of marketing that is causing this.

It becomes even more pronounced when only look at the top 5 as opposed to the top 7 or top 10. If you took the top 150
Summary: Total Box Office (Billions) Top 10 Total Gross (Millions) Movies Tracked (Top 10) Movies Tracked that Year (Top 10) Top 7 Total Gross (Millions) Movies Tracked (Top 7) Movies Tracked that Year (Top 7) Top 5 Total Gross (Millions) Movies Tracked (Top 5) Movies Tracked that Year (Top 5)
2013 8526 $8,013.70 150 103 $7,167.20 119 79 $5,900.20 85 56
2012 $10,822.00 $10,117.00 192 151 $9,511.80 158 123 $7,572.00 118 94
2011 $10,174.00 $9,436.00 190 150 $8,727.80 150 116 $7,338.30 121 93
2010 $10,567.00 $10,014.90 176 140 $9,264.40 143 113 $7,859.20 114 90
2009 $10,619.00 $9,902.50 190 151 $9,034.10 154 122 $7,661.30 122 96
2008 $9,631.00 $8,731.00 183 147 $8,128.90 151 124 $6,680.40 114 92
2007 $9,664.00 $8,986.70 228 171 $8,119.60 167 125 $6,614.40 126 96
2006 $9,210.00 $8,406.40 214 176 $7,761.60 173 141 $6,615.00 133 107
2005 $8,842.00 $7,804.10 187 152 $6,914.50 147 118 $5,580.50 120 97
2004 $9,380.00 $8,304.80 188 141 $7,099.70 146 111 $5,578.00 109 83
2003 $9,213.00 $8,399.80 217 159 $7,331.40 160 121 $5,903.30 119 90
2002 $9,155.00 $8,263.60 240 189 $7,175.70 178 139 $5,630.40 140 110
2001 $8,121.00 $7,555.00 209 159 $6,159.50 174 134 $4,818.50 110 84
2000 $8,121.00 $6,973.80 204 159 $6,123.10 159 120 $4,718.30 108 78

If you look at the whole offerings in 2013 (5/6 of the year), there has been 691 movies (total) tracked in the box office through 138 distributors. The bottom 128 distributors held 5.4% of the box office.

2012 numbers has 805 movies (total), 149 distributors outside the top 10 holding 6% of the box office.

2008 numbers has 728 movies (total), 137 distributors outside the top 10 holding 9.10% of the box office.

Historically, if you look at the box office numbers of all time, the top 10 studios brought in 202 billion of a total 228 billion. That's a little less than 90% of the market. They're now in the 93 to 95% range.

Especially now, it's so easy to make a feature film. More and more people are releasing them now than ever before. To me, it's showing an obvious trend. The studios are taking an even larger share with less leaving the independents fighting with more competition for a smaller share.

No wonder people are pessimist about distribution.

You called me out Donned, so your turn now, do you have evidence supporting your position?
 
No, I don't - I'll have to do some more research to see if there are numbers back up my impressions, although I'm not exactly sure where I'll find those as they aren't as clear-cut as something like box office.

But I do think you're absolutely right about box office - clearly it's skewed towards the big studios, and only going further in that direction. I wasn't referring to theatrical box office though - I don't think that's ever been a big source of revenue for low-budget independents, so whether the studios are getting 90 or 95% of the overall take the results are mostly the same from our perspective.

I was thinking in terms of the overall market for entertainment, which has outpaced theatrical ticket sales significantly in terms of growth over the past decade. That's opened up a lot of new possibilities for independent production, and a lot of it doesn't fit neatly into traditional categories of film/television/games/music/etc.

For instance, where does something like "Video Game High School" fit? It's a successful web-series, distributed through YouTube, produced independently for a very low budget (relative to television or films). It's been successful and profitable for the creators. It doesn't fall into the the home video market, because it's not sold on physical media, or even VOD because it's streamed for free on youtube. It's mostly ad-funded and episodic like television, but it's clearly not a traditional television show and likely would never succeed as such. Both seasons have been successfully financed through crowdfunding. The sell a good deal of ancillary merchandise as well. The audience is heavily skewed towards gamers - an audience & market that has grown dramatically over the past decade to become a significant slice of the overall entertainment market. Millions of man-hours have been spent watching it, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a decade ago it never would have happened - let alone succeeded.

So that's the kind of thing my perspective is based on. I think we have to look well beyond the old-school routine of making an indie feature, hitting the festivals, and hoping to be picked up for theatrical and/or home video distribution. I think that's a losing proposition on every level, more so than it's ever been - although honestly for most it's always been little more than buying an expensive lottery ticket.

It's basically time for indie filmmakers to stop playing the lottery and get a job. We should be taking approaches that are more akin to bootstrapping a tech startup than to the traditional studio filmmaking process. Taking a long-term, iterative approach. Planning for disruption, rather than mere distribution. I don't think the opportunities to do that have ever been better than they are right now.
 
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For instance, where does something like "Video Game High School" fit? It's a successful web-series, distributed through YouTube, produced independently for a very low budget (relative to television or films). It's been successful and profitable for the creators. It doesn't fall into the the home video market, because it's not sold on physical media, or even VOD because it's streamed for free on youtube. It's mostly ad-funded and episodic like television, but it's clearly not a traditional television show and likely would never succeed as such. Both seasons have been successfully financed through crowdfunding. The sell a good deal of ancillary merchandise as well. The audience is heavily skewed towards gamers - an audience & market that has grown dramatically over the past decade to become a significant slice of the overall entertainment market. Millions of man-hours have been spent watching it, but I think it's pretty safe to say that a decade ago it never would have happened - let alone succeeded.

Just be aware, it's not distributed by Youtube, it's shown on Youtube. It's similar to saying that Ironman was distributed by the Cinemas showing it, but really that's splitting hairs.

While I really like the series, and I wasn't aware that they did a crowdfunding campaign for season 1 (but if memory serves right, they did pick up about 400k for season 2, a tidy sum). The problem with it is, by all means, the show has made maybe $2 mil tops though all means they they've used to raise funds/advertising/merchandising? They've made a great product with a reward that would be unlikely to pay minimum wage for everyone involved on the project. I could be wrong.


So that's the kind of thing my perspective is based on. I think we have to look well beyond the old-school routine of making an indie feature, hitting the festivals, and hoping to be picked up for theatrical and/or home video distribution. I think that's a losing proposition on every level, more so than it's ever been - although honestly for most it's always been little more than buying an expensive lottery ticket.

It's basically time for indie filmmakers to stop playing the lottery and get a job. We should be taking approaches that are more akin to bootstrapping a tech startup than to the traditional studio filmmaking process. Taking a long-term, iterative approach. Planning for disruption, rather than mere distribution. I don't think the opportunities to do that have ever been better than they are right now.

I suspect you're coming to the conclusion that it's time to take action and distribution is going to take a lot of work for the filmmaker these days, most particularly the production team of a film. If that's so, then yes, I agree, though it's been like that for a while. The thing to be aware of is there are more options that we can use these days than every before and the technology used to make films is mostly cheaper for more accessible for the general populous!

Cinema release, 4 Walling, Home Entertainment, TV, Cable TV, Internet, PPV, advertised subscribed, VOD, DVD's on Demand and so on. They're all part of the strategy. The only thing is if you get a distribution deal, someone else takes care of it. Not to mention the marketing and advertising.

It's called Show Business for a reason. The industry isn't called Art. If we want to get paid what we think we're worth, we need to treat it like a business. Distribution is just euphemism for selling your movie. Another word for getting money in your pocket and getting a reasonable rate of return for your investors.
 
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