DVD Distribution

DVD Distribution is still one of the important markets for generating revenues for your film. Some love to proclaim that “DVD is dying” or “DVD is dead” — and that moviemakers shouldn’t even bother with DVD distribution. But this simply isn’t true. (Please note that in my posting here, when I say “DVD,” I’m speaking about both DVD and Blu-ray.)

The slide in consumer demand for packaged media has mostly leveled off. In fact, preliminary numbers are showing sales of physical product higher this year than in 2011. The fact is, the studios don’t want to see DVD dead — because it is such a HUGE revenue generator for them — and services like UltraViolet are bridging the user gap between the packaged media world and the digital delivery world.

So DVD distribution is still alive and profitable, although it has become less of a “cookie cutter” market, where any DVD distributor could in the past comfortably rely upon consistent revenues from any title. That’s not a given now, and how well a movie or documentary does depends upon a number of factors.

Certainly with less brick & mortar stores that rent DVDs, this has impacted the market. While the immense growth of Redbox and their kiosks has offset some of the rental decline, there are only a limited number of slots in those kiosks, unlike the endless wall of new releases at the local Blockbuster. However, Blu-ray sell-through continues to climb, which partly offsets the losses in the rental market.

So when you’re looking for DVD distribution, one major question you should be asking a potential distributor who’s interested in your film is, “What is your success rate at getting movies you pick up into Redbox?” “What is your success rate at getting movies into Walmart, Target and Best Buy?” And, “What are the prospects for my film?” If you’ve made an independent film, Redbox is NOT out of the question for you. But, there are only a limited number of slots in the Redbox kiosks for indie films.

This may be obvious to some, but one reason that DVD distribution is an important market, is because the profit margins are higher for a movie that is packaged, versus a digital file. There’s a higher perceived value for a DVD or Blu-ray, and thus a higher price point. One cannot sell a VOD viewing of a new release for $15 or $20 (with some exceptions), but you can for a DVD or Blu-ray.

Another factor is that there is still a sizable percentage of the U.S. that either: a) still does not have high-speed internet; or b) does not have their television connected to the internet. For these people, DVDs are still very important. And if people are relaxing at home and decide to watch a movie, they generally prefer to watch it on their high-def televisions rather than watching it on their iPad or other portable, connected device. (While some of you may be tech savvy enough to have connected your television to the internet long ago, most Americans are not, and it takes years for a large percentage to “migrate” to the new ways.)

A note about DVD distributors. When you’re about to make a deal with one, you should know that many of them currently are asking for most domestic (U.S.) rights to your film. They not only want the DVD distribution rights, but also VOD, television, and internet. My general advice is this: If they want all of these rights, then there better be a respectable monetary advance. If there isn’t, then I’m not giving them all these rights. Some I will hold back and not allow to be included in the deal. (For more about this, attend my live class or get my 3-Day Program on Film Distribution.)

Right now, there are over 67,000 physical outlets for DVD & Blu-ray. This includes both rental stores, kiosks and sell-through locations. Plus, there are all the online stores for DVD. So… I’m not trying to sell you a pipe dream about DVD distribution. Just recognize that this market still has real strength, and earning significant revenues is still possible. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the film excerpt on Home Video, from my 3-Day Program here: http://www.Distribution.LA/Film.html

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