Knocking down the walls of territories… a good thing or death to indies?

I’ve not been silent in my opinion that the concept to geo locking releases is hated by consumers. It comes about because a different company is responsible for each territory and some may take longer than others to release a film in their area (for whatever reason). Geo locking is (in my opinion) the #1 factor that drives piracy – people want a film (or worse TV show) they have no other access to.

So in Europe there is a plan afoot to put an end to this and to create Europe-wide licenses. Great, right? Well, now we see the flip side – pre-sales. As detailed in this article from the Hollywood Reporter, many mid-budget films rely on pre-sales to numerous territories to generate cash to make the film. Hence the term ‘pre’ sales – the film isn’t made yet.

There seems to be the feeling that if licenses are now Europe wide the combined sticker price is a) going to be lower than splitting it up and b) few companies will be able to stump up enough cash, thereby reducing the buying pool to bigger concerns who are probably making their own product and thereby less likely to buy from outsiders.

Faced with the possibility of, on one hand getting what they wanted, producers have come to the shocking realisation that there is no such thing as a free lunch! Whereas before the geo system was the reason that smaller areas were not getting films, now the absence of geo locking seems to be that smaller consumer interests will not be catered to.

I have to call ‘bullshit’ on this. I’m sorry.

What is now being said is that this is another move by multinationals to strangle the little guy. That prices and budgets will be driven down. That films for niche audiences will not get sold. That smaller communities will not be considered in programming.

In other words, the same shit that producers have been complaining about will continue. Which I find hard to believe. Maybe it will get worse for some and better for others. Maybe the consumer (who? what?!) will be happier because the film they want to see they can see right away and the piece of shit low budget dredge fest will not be available.

What irks me is the inability for producers to see that this is a natural extension of the current situation and if you want things to change then propose a solution. Perhaps another distribution method, or finance method, needs to be looked at.

When started growing other bookstores had a chance to take them down. The reason they didn’t? In essence because they could not re-tool their distribution from shipping to their stores to shipping to the customer.

Right now every producer gets a hard on for selling to Netflix/iTunes, which is the modern equivalent of getting a cinema distribution deal. i.e. nothing has changed, ever, in the cinema world.

I don’t have a solution, but, for the consumer – who is whom we should be servicing in this ‘film business’ of ours – will be better off. Or at least the majority will be. We need to focus on the customer. If we do that right then the profits might come but just because there is a gap in the market doesn’t mean there is a market in the gap.

Distribution is a fact of life. It is a free market economy. Prices go down for the majority and up for the minority. And you are not owed a living.

Sorry, I’m rambling.

Here’s your article.

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Phil Smy

I am currently a student in the Raindance Film Degree Masters program. This site comes from the research I am doing as I learn more about film production and distribution.

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