I'm curious to know how revenue stream works for:

  1. The creator of the movie (movie production studios)
  2. The presenter of the movie (movie theaters)

Is there a 50-50 split, or a lease agreement? This is regards to the movie itself, and not revenue from food/drink. This does also include trailers, do movie theaters make money for showing trailers to the movie?

  • 2
    You've forgotten about the distributors. There's a three party process production-distribution-presentation. In 1948, the Supreme Court of the US decided that studios could only control two of the three sections of this process and they opted for studio and distribution, letting separate companies control the presentation side of things.
    – Catija
    Dec 7, 2015 at 19:18
  • So bullet 1 should be creator/distributor? Dec 7, 2015 at 19:24
  • 1
    That's really your call. Studio/distributor are often the same company - like Disney... But Disney also holds the US distribution rights for other studios, like Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki's studio. What you may notice here is that a film may have dozens of different distribution companies all over the world, each getting a different deal, often. So, what you should decide is, how deep do you want this question to go?
    – Catija
    Dec 7, 2015 at 19:33
  • You might help limit your question a bit by limiting the country you are talking about or limiting your question to a specific type of film... For example, a distributor and theater chain may get a smaller cut of an American blockbuster but a larger cut of a small foreign film simply trying to get screenings.
    – Catija
    Dec 7, 2015 at 19:33
  • 2
    Simple answer: creators = ticket sales, presenters = popcorn sales.
    – DA.
    Feb 25, 2016 at 6:49

1 Answer 1


The Movie's producers are charged simply with making the product: the movie itself. At some point during the movie's production (or often, nowadays, before work has even commenced), the producers will negotiate with distributers.

For a more detailed answer to how producers earn their fee, check this out.

Often, a film can have a domestic and international distributor, and a 3rd for handling residuals (DVD and post Box Office). Increasingly, and with a big budget product (like Star Wars), all this is handled by one powerhouse distributor.

Distributors will agree to cover print movement, distribution and often marketing: in exchange for either a percentage of box office, a fixed nominal fee or sometimes rolling points on the movie itself. Depending on the type of movie and how wide it is opening (the scale of its release), different methods of payment can offer different returns, so this changes.

Finally, a exhibitor will take the product from the distributor and show it on their screens. They will also take a healthy cut from Box Office, as they have to factor in the overheads of actually getting people to pay for the product.

It is never anywhere near a 50/50 split, but it does change drastically depending on the movie. For example, an Indie that is desperate to be shown would happily agree to lose 60% on Dist, with 20% of that going to exhibitors just to get the film seen.

Spectre, in comparison, was a sure thing, so its producers could barter a lot stronger in the returns %.

Many Cinemas, especially Multiplex chains, have an agreement with a set distributor for trailers. They don't get paid per trailer, but will receive an annual fee for playing the adverts and trailers chosen by the distributors. Typically, distributors will only feature adverts that they are distributing themselves, and also that will be released in the cinema they're being played in to avoid conflict of interest. The amount paid to an exhibitor depends on the size of the venue and prospective audience, but it's not really as much you'd imagine; maybe only £7K ($10K) per screen, per year.

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