Motion picture distribution is hands-down the most counterintuitive thing I've ever been exposed to. The only thing I know is that you should know who your buyers are before you make your movie. I'm not saying we always do this. I'm saying this is what you should do.
By and large this is how our movies get distributed. There are "two" markets:
- North America (which is actually just the United States and Canada)
- The Rest of the World (which usually includes Mexico)
We sell to the N. American market ourselves. We have a sales representative who handles the rest of the world.
North America is one sale. One sale to one buyer who distributes the picture anyway they choose.
Now, the thing is that I'm lying. There are a gazillion markets in the world. But we don't sell to those markets directly. Most of the world is divided into "markets" according to language. In other words the "GAS" is "Germany, Austria, Switzerland" and is usually considered one market. (Yes, we're aware they speak like 8 languages in Switzerland, the whole system is a tad weird.)
A market has (hopefully) a number of buyers.