Film exploitation

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Film exploitation (or film exploitation ) refers to the fifth and last phase in the phase structure of a film production and includes the possible forms of revenue for a film . In general, film exploitation is about the sale of usage rights to the product film.

Film exploitation chain

The film exploitation chain describes the order in which a finished film appears when it is fully exploited - that is, taking into account all revenue opportunities in the financially most profitable order. The presentation of a film at film festivals usually takes place before the cinema release and is not counted as part of the exploitation chain.

A complete film exploitation chain looks like this:

  1. movie theater
  2. Blu-ray / DVD / Video for hire
  3. Blu-ray / DVD / Video on sale
  4. Pay TV
  5. Free TV

According to a study published in September 2000 by the investment bank ABN AMRO , around 26% of the proceeds went to theatrical exploitation, 46% to VHS / DVD exploitation and 28% to television exploitation.

Recovery window

In order for the film exploitation to run optimally, the time windows - the so-called exploitation windows - play a particularly important role between the appearance of a film in the cinema, on image data carriers (DVD, video), on pay TV and on free TV. After all, the rights holders have a great interest in ensuring that the highest possible income is achieved at every stage of exploitation. For this, the time window must neither be too short nor too long.

If a film were to appear on DVD at the same time as the cinema, many interested parties would forego going to the cinema and buy the film on DVD straight away - the income from the cinema would be lost. If the time window is too large, however, it is possible that the general interest in the film has already subsided too much and fewer people buy the DVD than would be the case if the DVD had been released earlier.

How big a time window is depends primarily on the film distributor, but in the case of productions funded with public funds it can also depend on legal provisions.

By the film distributors agreed in collaboration with the respective users value chain for movies with the original once promised so-called recovery windows or English release windows is as follows:

  • Cinema release windows ( Theatrical window ): at least 6 months
  • Blu-ray / DVD / Video utilization window ( Video window ): for at least 12 months
  • Pay TV window : at least 12 months
  • Free TV exploitation window ( Broadcast TV window ): 30 months after cinema release at the earliest

According to the Film Funding Act (blocking period regulations § 53 FFG), the following evaluation periods / windows apply:

  • 6 months of image carrier evaluation after the start of regular film theater evaluation in Germany (can be shortened to 5 or 4 months),
  • 9 months for evaluation by individual access and retrieval services (can be shortened to 6 or 4 months),
  • 12 months for pay TV (can be reduced to 9 or 6 months) and
  • 18 months of free TV after the regular premiere (can be shortened to 12 or 6 months).

The shortened periods are only to be granted upon request. However, these exploitation windows only apply to subsidized films. However, since a large part of the cinema films is funded, these periods can be regarded as generally valid.

Due to the spread of CD and DVD burners and the associated increase in illegal film copies , the agreed times for the exploitation chain have recently been barely adhered to by the distributors. Since the films quickly find illegal distribution after or even before the release date, the intervals between the theatrical release and the video or television broadcast have been significantly shortened. Nowadays it is no longer unusual for movies to appear on DVD three or four months (instead of the original six months) after their cinema debut. Further cuts are being discussed, although some distribution companies are already planning to schedule the cinema debut and DVD release on the same day (“day-in-day”) or even to release DVDs before the cinema debut. The increasing spread of video-on-demand services such as Netflix and new distribution channels such as electronic sell-through (EST) will further accelerate this development. In 2014, industry expert Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted that theatrical release would be shortened to just a few weeks in the near future. Immediately afterwards, the films would be offered to customers via video-on-demand.

Shortened film exploitation chain

A shortened exploitation chain is generally possible if the film in question has not been funded under the German Film Funding Act.

TV production

In the case of a TV commissioned production , most of the exploitation takes place when the order is placed. The producer often only has the option of selling usage rights abroad.

Direct-to-video production

A direct-to-video production is produced exclusively for the video / DVD market. Films that were / are not shown in cinemas in Germany, for example, and that appear here immediately on a DVD are also called "video premieres".

Other use of the term for "film exploitation"

Since the early 1960s, printed handouts for schools have often been called film evaluation . This was intended to provide educators, seminar leaders, etc. with material to discuss films after the (usually non-commercial) screening. The best known are the worksheets for film evaluation from the state education center of North Rhine-Westphalia . The term indicates a relatively high level of uncertainty among teaching staff in dealing with the (for schools) new medium, which should be given help with it; at the same time, the medium penetrated the schools to a greater extent, which can be seen in their technical equipment, the establishment of circle picture offices and the like. showed.


Individual evidence

  1. Project development  - pre-production  - shooting  - post-production  - film exploitation . Based on Josef Steiff: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Independent Filmmaking . Alpha Books, 2005. pp. 26-28.
  2. The Monster That Ate Hollywood - Anatomy Of A Monster | PBS - FRONTLINE | PBS. Retrieved April 13, 2018 .
  3. Jeffrey Katzenberg Predicts 3-Week Theatrical Window in Future at, accessed June 4, 2014