Screening films in community cinemas

04 Access to content

You've chosen your films - but how do you access them?


Usually, community cinemas can only screen films quite a while after they first screen in cinemas; mainly because titles are not made available on DVD or Blu-ray until a few months after their theatrical release. The most common formats used in community cinemas tend to be DVD or Blu-ray because their kit needs to be affordable and transportable; and the digital projectors used to screen films from DCP (the standard professional cinema format) tend to be too costly and too big to be moved on a regular basis.

Most distributors are reluctant to shorten their traditional release windows and make films available for booking on DVD or Blu-ray earlier because of the ease of pirating these formats. However, since the arrival of VOD (Video On Demand), release windows have become more flexible and some titles are now made available concurrent with their theatrical release.

Watch before you book!

It is always best to watch films before you programme them, making you better informed and giving you the knowledge and confidence to both market the films and discuss them with your audience.

To this end, we organise preview film screening events for cinemas and community exhibitors called Screening Days, where exhibitors of all kinds can come to watch a selection of key titles due for release in the next few months. These are always great events to get to if you can, as you can watch films, network with other programmers and exchange ideas, opinions, experiences and tips.

How to book

Once you’ve decided on your films, you will need to book them.

Visit our What licences do I need section for all details on how to book films non-theatrically, including booking via the main UK non-theatrical distributors, Filmbankmedia and MPLC. In addition, for community cinemas and film societies, Cinema for All offer a booking scheme with a catalogue of pre-selected films, as do rural cinema networks like Flicks in the Sticks and Moviola.

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