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Film Distribution: Connecting Films with Audiences

Discover how your favourite films make it to your local cinema or television screen, through the film distribution process.

23,156 enrolled on this course

Audience in a cinema watching a film

Film Distribution: Connecting Films with Audiences

23,156 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
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    $189.99 for one yearLearn more

Get an introduction to how the UK film business works

With over 800 films a year being released, the choice for cinema goers is massive and ever-changing. How do we, as members of the film audience, find out about films? What methods are available to film distributors to attract our attention to specific films in the digital age? In such a crowded marketplace, how do films find their audiences?

Through this online course, you’ll discover the ways in which films make their way to cinemas and beyond through the film distribution process. You’ll find out how film distributors play a pivotal role in connecting films with audiences.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds DAVID PUTTNAM: Hello, I’m David Puttnam. I’ve spent many, many years of my life as a filmmaker, a film producer. And I had certain amount success, but I certainly enjoyed those 30 years, as no other point in my life. I’m also, happily, the president of the Film Distributors’ Association of Great Britain. And that gives me a fantastic insight into what’s happening in film distribution. I had it, as it were, as a collaborator, participant, for 30 years. For the last 10 years, I’ve had this wonderful, wonderful bird’s-eye view of what’s happening in distribution as distribution has moved from an analogue to a digital age. It’s been very, very enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds And part of what I learned is, I hope, going be contained in the series of lessons– the series of weeks that you’re going to spend learning all about the exciting world of film distribution.


  • Week 1

    Audiences, films and distributors

    • Welcome to Film Distribution – Connecting Films with Audiences.

      Over the coming weeks we will be looking at the ways in which films find their audiences and audiences find films. Key to this is the pivotal role of the film distributor.

    • You and film

      We assume that you are part of the cinema going public and/or view films though other channels. We want you to think about the films you choose to see, how you find out about them and what influences your choice.

    • Film distribution and the film chain

      We will look at the different types of film distributors, what they do and and see how they fit into the overall film industry.

    • Acquisitions, markets and festivals

      Film distributors need to acquire films to distribute. The ways in which they go about this differ from the major studios to the independent studios.

    • The crowded marketplace

      One of the biggest challenges facing any distributor is finding a place for their film (when and how to release it most appropriately) in an overcrowded marketplace with over 900 films being released in any one year..

    • What is the attraction?

      Before any planning of a campaign the film distributor needs to carefully consider what type of film they are dealing with and who the potential audience might be.

    • Starting to plan

      Bearing in mind the genre of the film and the potential audeince for the film the film distributor is ready to start planning a distribution campaign.

    • It’s a wrap!

      Week one summary.

  • Week 2

    What, who and when

    • Welcome to Week 2

      This week we will look in detail at the next set of key questions that the distributor must ask about a film on its journey to the screen.

    • What is this film?

      In starting to develop a marketing campaign the film distributor has to decide what are the elements of the film that will appeal to audiences.

    • Genres and franchises

      We are sure that genre (the type of film) was an important issue in what attracted you to certain films. Here we examine the ways in which genre and franchises are important for the film distributor in their campaign planning.

    • Who is the audience?

      When we talk about the target audience for a film, we are referring to the specific largest group of people who might want to go and see it.

    • Releasing a film

      A key element of a film’s distribution plan is WHEN it is released.

    • Conclusion – and cut!

      Summary of this week's activities.

  • Week 3

    Creating the Campaign

    • Welcome to Week 3

      This week we’ll look at how selling points are turned into a multi-dimensional marketing campaign that will bring the film to an audience’s attention and (hopefully) make them want to see it.

    • Elements of a marketing campaign

      Marketing encompasses a number of essential disciplines – creative/production, online and offline publicity, digital/social networks, media advertising, promotions and events.

    • The costs of a campaign

      The distributor must also determine how much to spend on advertising and publicity.

    • Marketing methods

      An examination of the various tools available to film distributors for creating awareness of a film

    • Film classification

      The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is responsible for the national classification of films shown at cinemas and on video in the UK.

    • Conclusion – and running!

      Congratulations on reaching the end of Week 3.

  • Week 4

    On screen and beyond

    • Welcome to Week 4

      In this final week, we’ll look at what happens when a film is finally released in cinemas and a film's life beyond its theatrical release.

    • Reviews, festivals and awards

      Film critics and their reviews, as well as the performance of a film at festivals and during the awards season can influence potential audience's decisions as to whether to see the film or not.

    • Film in the cinema

      The moment comes when the films need to be booked into cinemas and then released to the general public. The opening weekend of a film’s release can define how long that film might stay on cinema screens.

    • Beyond the cinema

      Films have a long life after their cinema release - on television, DVD, subscription channels etc.

    • Copyright

      A film is a piece of intellectual property and its rights need to be protected from piracy and illegal exploitation.

    • Conclusion

      The course team would like to thank you for being part of the course. We hope you’ve enjoyed the last four weeks exploring how UK film distribution works.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply your own experiences of film consumption to the methods of film distribution.
  • Identify the key decisions made in the distribution business process, and gain a greater understanding of how the UK film business operates.
  • Compare the ways in which different types of films are distributed in the UK.
  • Discuss the apparent effectiveness of different types of film campaigns.
  • Reflect on the various ways in which audiences consume films and investigate the effects that the experience of consumption have on the mode of consumption.
  • Explore the different ways in which films are brought to the attention of potential audiences – the differences between advertising and promotion.

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone interested in the world of film and film distribution, but may be of particular interest to students and teachers of media and film studies.

Who will you learn with?

Ian is a teacher, author, producer, screenwriter and director and has worked on a number of European projects, including the Framework for Film Education. He has won 2 BAFTA's.

Who developed the course?

Film Distributors' Association

Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. (FDA) is the trade body for theatrical film distributors in the UK - the companies that release films for UK cinema audiences.

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Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$59/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 2 Mar 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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