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International Filmmakers: Selling Your Movie To The American Market

As an international filmmaker, one of the most important things you need to do in order to successfully sell your movie to the American market is to understand what American audiences want. This means conducting extensive research into current trends and popular genres, as well as understanding how different cultural influences will impact the way your film is received by audiences in the US. But also, understanding what elements of your film will bode well with the American audience.

The above can be summed up like this:

Cultural Knowledge and Selling Strategy. In this order.

Cultural Knowledge

You must understand your culture as it relates to the culture you want to reach. Meaning: You need to know the differences that separates two different cultures so you can look for ways to bridge both cultures.

Another important consideration is the use of language. To successfully reach American audiences, you will need to ensure that your film is either entirely in English or at least has subtitles or other translation options available for those who do not speak the same language. Consider, however, transcreation and not translation when making your film accessible in different languages.

What is transcreation

It's taking a concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language.

Transcreation is highly thought of in the global marketing world. It is the process of adapting a message from one language to another while still keeping the original meaning and style. In the world of film, transcreation can be an important tool for selling movies to international audiences. Transcreation can also help to overcome any challenges that come with dubbing or subtitling a film. If you look at the above diagram, you can see how it can relate to your film and the strategy you put into place to sell it to a different market. Carefully consider any cultural references or jokes that may not be as widely understood by American audiences and make any necessary adjustments to your film to ensure that it still is accessible and entertaining.

Selling Strategy

You are more than likely already thinking about the various distribution channels that are available for you to pitch your film. You're thinking of whether you'd be working with established independent distributors or you're exploring alternative options such as digital platforms or streaming services to reach the widest possible audience. This is obviously important. But you cannot consider the distribution channels that are available for you to pitch in that market before considering the market, first.

Here's what you do: Once you are confident in your understanding of the cultural differences and how they can be bridged, understand how to use them in your sales strategy. This means you build your talking points about your movie that pertains to what the market is a) looking for and b) is willing to welcome. The first is based on research and the second is based on insights; insights into the market and the people in it.

By taking the time to understand the American market and what audiences are looking for, you can give your film the best chance of success when selling it in the US. With careful planning and execution, you can ensure that your film finds the success it deserves. Whatever route you decide to take, it is important to ensure that your film is properly promoted and marketed to attract the attention of potential viewers.

We've talked about what you need to study: the market. And we’ve talked about how to use this knowledge towards your selling strategy. But there's one other thing...


This section is either meant for you – if you are marketing your own film – or you, someone who is part of a distribution company that bought an international film and now you must market it effectively.

When tailoring a film's marketing campaign to specific cultures, it is possible to make it appealing to any audience. By developing new versions of key marketing materials, such as trailers and posters, you can ensure that a film's advertising will be readable and understandable for viewers in other countries. In today's global marketplace, transcreation is an essential part of any successful film selling strategy when selling to a distributor and then, when selling to the audiences.


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