Filmmakers Embrace Digital Distribution | Morgan Spurlock Asks: Where Is The Revenue?

1 min read

Online video and digital distribution has opened up the world of independent filmmakers to a larger audience. The option is now there to eschew the big players in the industry and go it alone. However, getting a film out there is one thing, seeing revenues from it is quite another.


The big Hollywood movie studios are being quite cautious when it comes to online video and digital distribution. Some are yet to climb on the bandwagon, others are doing so slowly, maybe offering only older films, while others are starting to realize the potential there, certainly alongside DVD and Blu-ray as a third option for consumers.

You can understand Hollywood’s reticence to a certain degree. The movie studios have a kind of monopoly and work together to ensure a strong movie line-up throughout the year, and hopefully big box-office returns as a result. Digital distribution is therefore a second string option in order to Hoover up any remaining money that can be made from a film.

Independent Filmmakers

Life is a little different for independent filmmakers, those enterprising souls who aren’t trying to make the next big blockbuster full of special effects and with a multi-million dollar budget to make that a possibility. Instead, they make intriguing or arty films that usually appeal to a niche audience.

While some are lucky enough to have their films picked up by a key distributor and shown in theaters around the world, most have trouble getting their work seen by a large number of people. Which is exactly why online video and digital distribution is a welcome addition to the options these filmmakers have for getting there work out there.

Show Me The Money

There is one small problem however, the fact that the revenue generated by these methods of distribution are tiny compared to what can be expected from cinema screenings, DVD sales, and television syndication. At least according to Morgan Spurlock, best known for Super Size Me, his documentary on how eating McDonald’s for a month affects the body.

Spurlock Speaks

Spurlock was talking at a panel at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. He said:

“The reason numbers aren’t released (for digital distribution revenues) is because the numbers are pathetic. The numbers are sadly low in comparison to what we expect from film and television.”

“If you’re looking to pay your rent, not so much, if you’re looking to pay your phone bill, you have a great chance. It’s getting to a point where it’s down the road from being profitable, but we’re just not at that point yet.”


While using outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, Joost, and even YouTube may get the work out there, it’s really not worth it financially. Yet. But revenues are a problem all across the online video sector, and the issue will have to be figured out before long if the sector stands any chance of truly becoming dominant.

[Via CNET]

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