International movie release dates

What are the reasons for different Worldwide release dates of a movie?

Andrew Cripps (former president of Paramount Pictures International and United Internationl Pictures) wrote an Overview of International Film Markets and Theatrical Distribution:

Studios split the International market into three main areas:

  • Europe
  • Far East (including Australasia)
  • Latin America

The Distribution Process:

Distributors will consider their strategies from (at least) four perspectives:

  • Global: where will the film work?
  • Regional: how will we make it work in (say) Europe?
  • National: how should we release it in each country?
  • Local: are there any particular local conditions that need to be taken into account within each country?

The views of senior studio bosses and regional and local managers will also be sought, with screenings held as early as possible to help build up a picture of the film's estimated International performance.

Campaigns for each title are planned well in advance, taking into account such factors as:

  • US release dates
  • Competitors' release schedules (information is generally shared between the majors to avoid clashes wherever possible)
  • The distributors' annual budget and the rest of their slate for the year seasonal positioning (to take account of holiday periods, relevant awards ceremonies, other local factors)

The strategy and timing of the release will also take into account:

  • censorship issues – when and how must the film be submitted for classification?
  • translation for sub–titling and dubbing
  • publicity screenings
  • availability of key talent for promotional purposes
  • availability of key media in each territory
  • any promotional tie–ins and when the partners will be spending their money
  • any additional local factors

Day and Date Distribution:

With the various exploitation windows closing, there is an increasing trend towards films being released internationally on the same day as (or close to) their North American release.

This has the advantages of

  • reducing the opportunities for piracy
  • enabling marketing campaigns from the US to roll over into other territories
  • and allowing earlier exploitation of other windows.

On the other hand, day and date releasing requires new prints and means that marketing spend must be committed internationally before the studio knows how the film has played in the US.

It also reduces the time that the distributors have for sorting out dubbing, classification and other issues in each territory and makes it less likely that the talent will be available to promote it in as many markets.

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