To Go Foreign Or Not

In the Unites States, it is a question every independent filmmaker asks himself. Should I go into foreign markets with my movie? Honestly, the answer is most of the time made for them.

Here is what I mean. Depending on what genre, actors or director chosen, and budget of the production will determine which distributors will be interested. Different distributors will have different areas they can serve (ie home sales such as DVD, Bluray, digital distrobution, theatrical distribution etc). They will look at these factors above and determine how much they believe a project may make in revenue. They will determine if there is profit to be made and offer some figures.

Basically they will use so much money to market and ditribute it in foreign markets. Then, when the box office figures start to roll in they will start calculating the percentage agreed upon to pay you from the gross, but then deduct the fees and costs. So, even if you do get a deal, that doesn't mean you will make money from that deal to go foreign. And even if the film makes money in the foreign market, it doesn't mean you as the Producers or the investers will make money from it either.

Knowing who the film will play well to, the market and demographics will help the Producers decide if finding foreign distribution is worth it. Some movies just focus on the domestic market and know that is where it will play best. Take a movie like “Unplanned”. It is an independent film made for around $6 million (not including promotion). Because of the genre and story it isn't going to try and even worry about a foreign market. It knows it strengths are within the US. That it needs to focus its efforts here in order to be successful.

It has grossed $12 million at the box office over its first ten days. It hasn't started to make money yet. It does look like it may make some money for the producers and investors depending on the way they structured the distribution deals and how much they get for theatrical (usually somewhere between 40 and 50%) and non-theatrical distribution. They still have a bit more to go for a profit though, unless they managed to get a good deal from television sales at a network that this story plays well for, which is possible.

Large budget movies are more likely to go for a foreign market simply because studios make movies that will have more of a broad appeal and that can find legs in foreign markets as well in order to maximize profits. So you are much much more likely to see a large budget film go foreign.