What Distributors Want



In Their Own Words…

Abramorama, Bleecker Street, Breaking Glass, Cohen Media Group, eOne, FilmRise, Freestyle Digital Media, Gravitas Ventures, Greenwich Entertainment, Gunpowder & Sky, IFC Films, Indie Rights, Juno Films, Magnolia Pictures, Music Box Films, Neon, The Orchard, Prolific Pictures, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn, Seed & Spark, Sony Pictures Classics, Strand Releasing, Vertical Entertainment, Virgil, and Well Go.


Article by FILMTAKE

1. Abramorama

“We describe our films as ‘tribal’ in that they all have pre-existing audiences—fans of a band, supporters of a cause, etc.—and our job is to identify them, inform them, and activate them.”

2. Bleecker Street

“First and foremost, we look for great filmmaking, performances and want to support a director’s vision. Since all our releases are in theaters, we really focus on acquiring films we believe have a core audience that goes to cinemas and can act as ambassadors for the film.”

3. Breaking Glass

“First, we look to see if there’s an audience for the film. We also look for elevated titles, genre, and LGBT focused titles. It’s very easy to get on the festival juice and get caught up in the moment. But, outside of the festival, will the film have the same appeal? When looking at titles, we almost always have a phone call with the producer/director. We like to hear their vision. We want to make sure it’s a good marriage.”

4. Cohen Media Group

“The film needs to be of a very high caliber and have awards potential. Also, CMG is director driven.”

5. Entertainment One

“In the domestic space, something we think can really find audiences in a multitude of ways. Obviously much of the conversation nowadays is focused on new forms of distribution and consumer viewing habits. Looking for material that can have life on digital, VOD, SVOD, AVOD is very important to us because it’s harder than ever to capture audience’s attention. When we look at our global footprint in our international territories, we tend to partner with wide U.S. distributors whose U.S. releases can really push international box office numbers in a meaningful way. Also, stories that feel universal and aren’t domestic in nature are always vital.”

Uncover how much eOne paid for distribution rights in Australia, Benelux, Canada, Spain, and the U.K., including on a $26 million drama sold by Sierra/Affinity, a $4 million drama sold by Solution, a $570,000 horror film sold by Versatile, a $7 million comedy sold by WME, and many more.

6. FilmRise

“We like to champion uniqueness, identify films with built-in audiences, and also consider whether we are a good match for the producer’s goals.”

7. Freestyle Digital Media

“For our theatrical/VOD day-and-date titles we look for films with name cast and all genres. We like to see films that have a cast with a large social media following. On our straight to VOD titles, we are open to any genre with or without name cast.”

8. Gravitas Ventures

“Gravitas looks at the quality of the film, the cast, whether it is timely, and whether there is a clear or established audience for the film or documentary. Having released thousands of films, we have a very good sense of what type of films and docs work overall as well as for our specific VOD and home-video clients.”

9. Greenwich Entertainment

“We are primarily looking for films that can work theatrically, but are open to narrative features, documentaries, and foreign language films across genres. Also, do we love the film? Releasing a film properly takes a lot of time and energy so we want to be passionate about the film. Is the filmmaking exceptional? Positive reviews and word-of-mouth are critical for independent films to succeed. Is there an identifiable audience and can we effectively position the film so they’ll go see it? This core audience should become the film’s evangelists. Are we on the same page as the filmmaker? We are a collaborative company and welcome a director’s input, but we need a shared vision even as the release strategy may evolve.”

10. Gunpowder & Sky

“We’re typically looking for content that’s younger skewing—young, loud, irreverent, and culturally relevant. We typically look to acquire specific genres—horror and thriller/sci-fi/comedy/rom com/music oriented films. Open to other films if there’s an interesting and unique vision. We really like working with first and second time filmmakers supporting them and building those relationships.”

11. IFC Films

We cast a pretty wide net when it comes to the content we acquire as we are actively programming for three distinct labels with different brand identities. IFC Films is predominantly English language, cast-driven narratives; our Sundance Selects label focuses on documentaries and foreign language titles; and IFC Midnight is a genre label. The scope of our brands as well as our ability to release films in a variety of ways has given us the flexibility to not only provide a platform for new, emerging voices, but to also be a home for internationally acclaimed and established directors.”

12. Indie Rights

“Great story, great acting, great production value.”

13. Juno Films

“We acquire films that bring a new perspective and new voices to audiences with an emphasis on aesthetics. We prioritize cinematic films, especially for our theatrical releases, as opposed to journalistic docs or action films. Recent acquisitions include Barbara Rubin and the Exploding NY Underground, Arcadia, the classic Indian film Shiraz: A Romance of India, Sew The Winter to My Skin from South Africa and Ever After, a German feminist zombie film that premiered at TIFF. We like to acquire films before their festival premiere in order to work with filmmakers to shape an effective festival strategy.”

14. Magnolia Pictures

“We have a remarkably eclectic slate spanning all genres. Generally, beyond strength of storytelling and filmmaking, we’re always looking for unique voices.”

15. Music Box Films

“Music Box Films is dedicated to curating a diverse repertoire of films and television from around the world. In partnership with the iconic Music Box Theatre, Chicago’s premier independent cinema, it is our mission to engage audiences with exciting alternatives to mainstream entertainment. Among the things we look for in an acquisition prospect is an identifiable audience that we are confident we can reach and motivate through a creative and cost-effective marketing campaign. Other factors we consider are originality, critical reaction, festival history, and our passion to share the artist’s vision with an appreciative audience.”

16. Neon

“We’re totally agnostic to things like budget, scale of release, genre, and language. If I can describe it to a room full of non-film industry people and it generates conversation, that’s a good start.”

17. The Orchard

“We’re looking for unique voices and viewpoints, innovative filmmaking, inspiring storytelling—films that we’re excited to work on and filmmakers that we’re eager to collaborate with. We work with established auteurs as often as up-and-coming filmmakers, and we’re always looking to expand our brand and push ourselves to release content that energizes and impassions audiences.”

18. Prolific Pictures

“We have two criteria for acquiring a film: 1) we feel the film is of high enough quality, which includes production value, directing, performance and above all storytelling, and 2) we feel we can help the filmmaker recoup what they spent to make the film. We are interested in longterm partnerships, and the success of our filmmakers is as important to us as our success.”

19. Roadside Attractions

“A film that speaks to us on multiple levels. We are seeking artistic and commercially minded acquisitions with a strong point of view. We must feel like we can identify the audience for a film and have confidence that we know how to reach that audience. Positive reviews are also important, or films we anticipate will be critically embraced.”

20. Samuel Goldwyn

“We are looking for a number of factors when we acquire a film… First and foremost, we look to find films that we feel have an audience that we can reach. But we also like to work with burgeoning talent and on films that we feel have a strong voice.”

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