Why is the British release date for American movies, are much later than

the US release dates?


They are always. Some films, like the Matrix and the LotR movies have had a worldwide release date and opened literally at theatres everywhere.

But you are correct that they usally are released later.

Distribution is a funny, and difficult business. Doing a world wide marketing campain, that is set to reach a peak on one certain day, all over the world is really difficult. (getting the approval of all the people who have a say in the project on each version of the poster, preview, tv ad, print ad, ect. ect.

Then you have the stars of the film. In America, the week before a film opens the stars will do as many talk shows as possible to promote the film. I’m sure they do this in the UK as well. So, it would be difficult to have the stars do Leno, and GMA and Regis, and Dave and then fly off to the UK to do, what ever it is they do there.

Then you have to pick the right weekend.

In the states, this is a three day weekend. Not a huge one, but a good weekend to release a movie. In fact, many of our ‘best weekends’ to release a film are holiday related. Like, the 4th of July, which I don’t think is a holiday in the UK. So after getting a good weekend here, I’m sure they have analyzed the UK calander and they know what the good weekends are for each type of movie. So a ‘family’ film might be released in the US and it won’t be awile for a good release weekend in the UK for a while so they wait for that.

(I work in North American Distribution for a major Hollywood studio)

Not as such. Can’t think why.

Traditionally (i.e. 40 years ago) releases worked like this. First a major premier is held at a single theatre, almost always in Hollywood or New York. For a space of perhaps three weeks, the movie plays only at that one theatre. After that, it expands to one theatre in every major city in America. Then it slowly moves out to theatres in smaller towns, drive-ins, etc… Expansion to the foreign markets was the last stage of the release. At that time a typical Hollywood movie made more than half its box office in hte United States, so the studios didn’t care too much about foreign releases.

These days things have changed. Foreign gross almost always tops domestic gross. Marketing strategy is totally different. Back then, studios wanted hype to build up for several weeks between the premier and the nationwide arrival of the movie. Nowadays, hype builds up over the internet, and the studios promote it using trailers and talks shows and such. But they’ve decided that they get the most money by releasing the movie simultaneously everywhere. I imagine that ten years from now, every big movie will be released in America and the foreign markets on the same day.

if it’s released everywhere simultaneously they need to have more prints made. We often end up with used US prints.

Good Riddance Day?

Frankly, it’s stupid, and probably a significant cause of piracy. For instance, it is very easy for me to obtain episodes of Battlestar Galactica (you’ll understand if I don’t). That’s full TV quality. They’re only a few clicks away. But I won’t. I’ll wait another few months until the DVD set is out.

Originally it was to save printing costs. Print one set of film reels, show in one region, ship to another, show there. The logic is less clear now, particularly with increasing use of digital media.