Film Distribution and Marketing Case Study – Beyond Biba

Beyond Biba is a documentary film by filmmaker James Colie. It features the life of Barbara Hulanicki, a UK fashion designer and founder of Biba, and was made for a budget of $25k. Since the film needed to start making money right away, the producers couldn’t afford to wait and hope for festival screenings, so they closed a deal with the Picturehouse Cinema in Notting Hill for a 35/65 box office split. A Digital Cinema Master would be required at the cost of $2,000 which would allow the film to be delivered to each cinema on a hard drive.

The screening sold out four weeks in advance and made $1,200 in merchandise alone, as well as $1,000 in box office share. Hulanicki also gave a talk at the screening. As a result, Picturehouse gave the film one-night screenings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Leeds and Brighton. The film kept being screened around the UK for a year, and sold over a thousand DVD’s.

Barbara Hulanicki’s departure from London and Biba also helped serve as a marketing hook for the film, and soon after the screenings started, national newspapers started featuring the film, getting the word out. Having a  marketing hook of sorts is essential when attempting to promote an independent film.

The producers then sold the UK TV rights to SKY TV and partnered up with 3DD Entertainment, a London-based sales agent, leading to sales across a number of territories including Sundance Channel who bought the rights in over 20 countries.

This mixed approach to distribution has proven very beneficial for the film, bringing in good revenue and excellent contacts within the film industry.

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