What Distributors Want

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019

Discover what type of films independent distributors want to acquire in their own words.

The acquisition market for completed films at TIFF and beyond is going to be extremely difficult, as most buyers and sellers sit on the sidelines until 2020 to see if the streaming services will step into the fray.

See what elements 26 U.S. distributors are searching for when they acquire rights to a film at TIFF or elsewhere.


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.

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.”


Access hundreds of advances for films that screened at TIFF, Cannes, Berlin, and more.

Global Advance Report (Series)

The Film Advance Series gives you access to 941 advances made by 464 distributors at a film market, as a presale, or out-of-market.

Uncover how much distributors like A24, BIM, Eagle, eOne, Fox, Golden Scene, Hopscotch, Italia, Koch, Lionsgate, Madman, Mars, Mongrel, Odeon, Sony, Vertigo, Wild Bunch and others paid for the rights to 75 diverse films with budgets from $600,000 to $61 million.


Page Two includes… 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.

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