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Film Dealers — Film Distribution in Croatia — A Personal Review

The author of this article was, in the second half of the ’80s, the advisor for repertoire in distribution department of big film screening company Kinematografi. At that period there were 13 companies in Yugoslavia that actively imported and distributed international films, two in Croatia (Croatia film and Kinematografi), seven in Serbia (Morava film, Avala Pro film, Inex film, Centar film, Union film, Zvezda film and Kosova film), one in Slovenia (Vesna film), one in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Kinema), one in Montenegro (Zeta film) and one in Macedonia (Makedonija film). Films were imported through business society Jugoslavija film, whose expert services agreed upon the prices of licenses with foreign partners. The system prevented competition and contention for prices among domestic distributors. Each distributor had its own import list and if certain film was on it, they had exclusive right to that particular film: only if this distributor gave up his rights, the other could put it on his list. There was a real competition in putting the films on the lists, so the job of repertoire adviser was really interesting and creative in those times. The system also prevented big American companies, so called majors from pumping up the prices: the price of the licenses ranged from 8 to 40 thousand dollars for a period of four years.
Having a presentiment that the end of socialism is near, in the spring of 1989 the majors announced that from that moment on they only want to work for percentage and chose their local partners, mostly the companies with strong cinema network. Instead of 70: 30 for the screening companies, a gross income form ticket was distributed in 60: 40 ratio. The majors usually covered all expenses, including advertising and copies, and gave 15-20 (later even less) percent of their profit to a local distributor. Most distributing companies were marginalized, but new appeared, springing from piracy businesses that made deals with independent American companies. After the fall of Yugoslavia, most Croatian companies still do business with Slovenia: and these days there is a tendency for a local company that deals with the majors to distribute films in larger areas of south-east Europe.

Nenad Polimac

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