Kate Gerova • Head of Distribution at Soda Pictures
by Vaerio Caruso
12/03/2010 - Cineuropa met with Kate Gerova at Cartoon Movie 2010 in Lyon, to ask her about the state of distribution in the UK.
Cineuropa: What is the situation for independent distributors in the UK?
Kate Gerova: Independent distribution in the UK it is quite tough. There are a lot of films released every week, so it's quite a crowd in the market. Like in other countries, the self studio product is still dominant. Nevertheless, I think, at least in London and in the major cities around UK, you have a vibrant independent scene, where independent and European films can still do quite well.
The distributors need to put in place some smart marketing campaign and address to the right cinemas. There is definitely an audience still for independent and European cinema, but it is very difficult when you are releasing films in the UK to make your film distinctive and stand out. Advertising and marketing a film is quite expensive, so it's quite hard to recoup the cost of the money that the distributor spent.
What were some recent European successes in the UK?
Over the last couple of years, recent successes have been, for example, A Prophet [trailer, film focus], The White Ribbon [trailer, film focus] and Waltz with Bashir [trailer].
How much do you spend, on average, to distribute a film?
Well, the cost varies from film to film. There's no easy answer. If you're doing a very small campaign you need to expend between £30,000 and £40,000 [€33,000 and €44,000]. That's for a sort of basic model of prints and advertising. Thanks to the UK Film Council [UKFC], which has a fund to help distribution to cover P&A costs, budgets can rise to €80,000 or even €120,000 for a moderate release. With this kind of budget distributor can hope to raise enough awareness for the film.
What are some distribution trends? How do you see the digitalisation of screens?
We already had a look to digital screens because the UK Film Council funded the rollout of digital screens. The UKFC is quite active and they are making sure that distributors make use of the digital screens. For independent distributors the big threat would be multiplexes like Odeon, View and Cineworld, who are all self-funding in digitalisation. That will definitely have enough effect on the UK because they will be charging distributors a Virtual Print Fee.
When a distributor will releases a film he will have to pay a fee to the cinema so that they can recoup the cost of the digital equipment. Anyway, the transition is inevitable because more and more films are being produced in 3D. I think there will be a period of transition and difficulty for the independent market because digital has not meant complete flexibility yet.
For example, lots of our releases are a mixture of digital and 35mm. We work with small film theatres and they still need films on 35mm. We still have the print cost and we have the digital cost, and now we have to pay the Virtual Print Fee. It's still quite expensive for us to release in that way.