Whether a film is a new release or a repertory title, you’ll need to promote it to your audience. Here’s a list of the types of promotional materials distributors produce to help you generate an audience for their films, as well as sources for information to support you when compiling your brochure or online listings.
Trailers & posters
For a new theatrical release of a film, the distributor will usually produce a trailer and a poster. Typically, posters are available in quad format (30″ x 40″, landscape) or one-sheet format (30″ x 40″, portrait). Distributors will organise for the trailer and poster to be sent to venues in advance of their screenings so they can be displayed early to generate interest and help sell tickets. Some distributors manage their marketing materials in-house (for a list of distributors, click here) but many, including all studios, outsource this process to an external servicing company such as The Delta Group (formerly MPD) or Deluxe.
Companies like these manage the preparation and distribution of films, trailers and marketing materials for a number of distributors. They receive posters and trailers from production companies and distributors and oversee despatch to cinemas. Trailers are colour coded according to the film’s certificate and supplied to the cinema with instructions detailing which films they should be played with.
The easiest way to source online trailers to add to your website or post on social media is via YouTube, where UK distributors tend to post their official UK trailers first (as well as on their own websites). For a list of distributors and links to their websites, click here.
If you would like access to a higher resolution file, the marketing department of the relevant distributor should be able to supply.
In addition to posters, distributors may have other printed materials available including (for studio releases) cardboard displays or standees, and postcards (for smaller releases) to display in your venue. It’s always worth asking distributors or their servicing companies if any other materials are available.
Social media content
Most distributors create specific social media campaigns to support their films. This is obviously standard for bigger budget releases, but is also often true of smaller films, whose distributors may make up in ingenuity what they lack in funding.
Distributors will often supply you with content specifically for social media (e.g. specific images, videos or gifs) and if so you should ensure it is used. Even if they don’t, do check if the film has its own dedicated Twitter handle, Facebook or Instagram page; what kind of content is being posted, if there’s a specific film hashtag and how you can co-opt content for your audience.
Read our full guide to social media marketing.
The main industry sources for film stills are Image.net, Picselect and Digital Media Services’ Panther. A large number of distributors use these searchable websites to host images for their upcoming releases. To access the stills on these sites, you will need to register for an account to indicate that you are a legitimate exhibitor, and will only use them to promote screenings.
In addition, many distributors have dedicated web press sections or publicity microsites. Some are publicly available, for others you need to register. See links below for details:
If stills aren’t available to download online from official sites, request them from the relevant distributor’s marketing or publicity team once your screening is booked.
Copy, reviews and quotes
Offering clear, accessible, accurate and enthusiastic film copy in your cinema brochure or online film listings is an essential part of promoting screenings to audiences. When putting copy together, think about the film’s key selling points – a big name director and/or stars, awards nominations or wins, its status in the film canon (e.g. is it a classic?) or within its particular genre – and about the audience you’re trying to attract: how can you write about the film in a way that will appeal to them?
You’ll need to list key filmographical information (title, director, key cast, certificate, running time, language). See the previous page for details on sourcing this.
Film distributors often put approved synopses on their websites or on microsites dedicated to specific film releases. These can be useful as a starting point.
Reviews can also be extremely helpful for writing copy; both in giving a description and flavour of the film if you haven’t seen it (though ideally, you would have!) and for sourcing quotes or ratings to reinforce your copy. If a film is getting a UK theatrical release, it will likely be reviewed in the national press on the Friday of the week of release (this is usually the day of release), and around date in magazines and online outlets. Pre-release reviews may be already be online from festival screenings, if the film has had any. These may appear in mainstream film press or in trade publications such as Screen, Variety or The Hollywood Reporter. Bear in mind that for blockbuster films there is usually a complete embargo on press prior to release. When selecting quotes, think about the types of print your intended audience will likely read.
Here are some good sources for film reviews, including Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, which aggregate all available reviews to produce average scores per film: