Okay, so foreign pre-sales are a little harder to come by these days. Or at least, the amount you used to be able to get for Film X about five years ago is probably at a fifth of the dollar level. But still, let’s discuss.

Foreign Pre-Sales.

Your Package = your script + your attachments (read: cast, director, producer(s), anything high level that can bring high value) + your genre + your budget = a number of dollars that you can get before you shoot a single frame of your film by “pre-selling” the rights to your film outside of North America.

So, say you have Film X with this and that actor and a director and producer that are pros, and it’s a horror film (!!!)… you may be able to get a decent percentage of your budget by selling the rights to distribute Film X to Germany, Japan, India, and France.

That means, the companies you sell these rights to will guarantee you cash upon delivery of Film X before they’ve seen a single frame for the right to distribute in their territory. They are, in this case, betting that they’ll be able to take your movie and make money off it, and they’re buying the exclusive right to do it for where they are.

Cool!

Right?

Well, the downside is that, what if the movie is amazing and a huge hit when it’s done and shows in the States and you could have gotten way more for it than you did in Germany, Japan, India, and France? Tough. That’s the deal you made.

And, sadly, the value of what you can get overseas in pre-sales, even with big big big movie stars, has gone down exponentially since the mid-2000s.

But still, you can put together a chunk of your budget using foreign pre-sales, so it may be a worthwhile expenditure of energy.

You can actually submit your package to foreign sales companies for what we call sales estimates. Sales Estimates are exactly that – estimates of what this or that foreign sales company thinks they can get by selling your Film X around the world. They’ll usually give you a range – 25% (the low end) to 75% (the high end) – of what you can get, broken down by territory.

Foreign sales companies do this for a living. They take movies and sell them. That’s it. They do this, and you probably can’t, because they know the guy in Turkey who buys movies, and you don’t. In fact, they know they buyers in every territory, and you don’t. So they’ll take your film and sell it to the buyers all over the world and they’ll take a commission for doing so (usually 20%).

Different foreign sales companies have different types of films they’re looking for and deal best in. There are the big boys like Pathe and Wild Bunch, and there are smaller boutique outfits. A good way to know where you might fit is to find out what company did foreign sales on movies that are similar in budget, star power, genre, and other factors to your own. Then call them and submit your package.

See if you can rustle up some guaranteed money through foreign pre-sales, because while not the value they used to be, or even as prevalent and frequent, it’s worth it to have a contract to show a potential investor and also not to give up any equity for that piece of the pie.

Now buena suerte!