Distribution: What is Four-Walling and How Can You Do it?
Four walling is a type of self distribution. Basically, the owner of the film will rent a theater and then show the film themselves. The theater will keep any profits made due to concessions. There are many factors that should factor into the four walling process. This type of distribution is not overly difficult though negotiating the terms can take some finesse.
Find the Theater
There is more to renting a theater then going to the nearby cinema and renting it. Generally it is easier to rent a theater that is in the local area. Check out the local art house cinemas besides the multiplexes. Will your movie be the only title on the marquis or are you sharing with 15 other films? What type of audience goes to each theater? Choose a theater that has good capacity and attracts the type of audience that would want to view your film. A little bit of research can go a very long way.
There are no set deals or standard operating procedures for four walling. There will be a rental fee but you can negotiate about who keeps the door or ticket sales. It may be possible to negotiate to be able to sell merchandise such as t-shirts, posters and DVDs. It may be necessary to hire a projectionist though the theater may provide someone to run the box office and concession in the rental fee. Many times if the film owner likes the film then you can get a great deal.
It will be necessary to think about when the release date is. Press releases will need to be released and you will need to make sure there is plenty of time to meet any deadlines. Make sure there is plenty of time to get everything done before showing the film.
Depending on the negotiations additional equipment may be needed. The format of the film may require a special projector. There are companies that will rent different projectors. Make sure you have all the equipment necessary and that it is working properly before you show up to the theater. It can be a lot easier to use any equipment that the theater has. Inquire about this when you are doing up the four walling contract.
The Press Kit
Now that all the technical details are done it is time to put together the movie press kit. There are several different formats that can be used for the press kit. Find which one you like best and use it. Make sure that you explain exactly who you are, what you are doing and why your movie is worth the publicity and notice. Promotional items can be a great way to build hype as well as providing high quality screeners for any editor you contact.
When contacting reporters and editors, make sure you take into account lead times. A weekly story will actually have all of the stories completed 3 weeks prior to release. This means it will be necessary to contact the paper about a month in advance.