Independent Film Distribution 101 w/ Michael Arrieta

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Independent Film Distribution But Were Afraid to Ask

Legion M loves its investors and members! 

Part of our commitment to you includes education about the entertainment industry and an opportunity to take a “peek behind the curtain” to learn how the entertainment industry works.  

To that end, Legion M produces a series of online, interactive Shindigs on the third Thursday of every month.  We invite experienced entertainment industry professionals to teach us about everything they know – well, as much as we can fit into a one-hour Q&A session at least!

Our first Shindig featured Boom! Studios co-founder and TV writer/creator/showrunner AndrewCosby (Haunted, Eureka), who talked about being a writer and how he broke into Hollywood.

Our second Shindig will be held on Thursday, April 20th at 5pm PST, and will feature former Sony executive and current Legion M consultant Michael Arrieta, who will be discussing independent film distribution and taking questions from The Legion about everything you ever wanted to know about film distribution but were afraid to ask.

There are no dumb questions like… 

Question:  What is “film ultimate?”  Is it the best movie ever?  

Answer*:  Ummm, no, no it isn’t.

Question:  What is a “negative pickup?”  Is it when a scuzzy dude uses the lamest line ever to try to ask you out?  

Answer*:  Uhhh, not when you’re talking about film distribution.

*Answers will be really detailed and informative when we have Mike on, so tune in to find out!

Michael Arrieta is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment industry who has served as a strategist, dealmaker, operator and industry visionary.  Michael has a proven track record of identifying trends in both traditional and digital media and finding ways to derive value and profits through building, acquiring or investing in ideas and companies that have transformed the media landscape.

Most recently Arrieta founded the transformative film marketing and distribution company Big Air Studios.  Arrieta saw a need in the film industry for a solution to the growing problem of declining profits and escalating costs, and a specific need to help the growing independent film marketplace monetize investments in films that were increasingly unable to garner the attention of the Major Studios.  

As its CEO, Arrieta built the distribution company from the ground up, executing coveted agreements with over 30 outlets for filmed entertainment, including AMC Theaters, Cinemark, Redbox, Netflix, iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Walmart, VUDU, YouTube, Hulu, DirecTV, InDemand, Showtime and others.  Through these agreements Big Air can reach virtually all film consumers on all platforms an all business models spanning Theatrical, DVD, Television, PPV/VOD, SVOD and other digital means.  To differentiate the Company and address the systemic marketing problems facing the film industry, Arrieta created a deep strategic relationship with Oracle and built the film industry’s first and only Big Data platform that enables data capture, CRM, direct marketing, direct commerce, fulfillment and loyalty -- the impact of which will be the resurgence of independent film via reductions in marketing, the creation of new revenue streams and the establishment of an empowered and connected consumer base that creates streams of valuable data for Big Air to capture and utilize to further improve the economics of film distribution.

Arrieta also saw a need for a quality digital retail storefront to sell and deliver filmed entertainment in places where no other service exists. To address this market need, Arrieta built Film Fresh, an end-to-end digital retailer offering over 25,000 films from Major Studios and independent distributors and supported by a proprietary delivery platform that enables seamless purchase, delivery and playback across all consumer devices, including computers, mobile phones, tablets, IP connected TV’s and OTT platforms.  

Prior to founding Big Air Studios and Film Fresh, Michael spent 12-years at Sony Pictures where he served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of its digital division, spearheading the studio’s move into the future through Corporate Development, M&A, Venture Investments and creating multiple new divisions and lines of business spanning online and mobile distribution, gaming, social media, ad sales, content production and technology development. 

As Executive Vice President of Sony Pictures Digital Distribution and Mobile Entertainment Group, Arrieta created and oversaw multiple divisions: 1) Digital Distribution – encompassing all digital sales and licensing of Sony’s library across such outlets as iTunes and Netflix 2) Digital Production Group – encompassing the creation of digital films and web series for exploitation online as well as via traditional platforms 3) Digital Video Networks – encompassing Sony’s move into OTT channels, 4) Mobile Entertainment – encompassing the creation of mobile games, applications and new mobile video services including PIX, the first mobile video movie service and 5) Advanced Platforms/New Technology – encompassing the technology development and R&D capability of the studio that paved the way for digital downloading, direct to device streaming, anti-piracy and other key innovations that have enabled the rise of the digital industry.  Through these divisions Arrieta was responsible for generating long term revenue streams for the studio as well as for establishing and maintaining distribution relationships with companies that include Apple/iTunes, Walmart/Vudu, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, all of which led to the creation of new lines of business and revenue streams for the entertainment industry.

While there, Michael also served as Senior Vice President of Sony Pictures Digital Sales and Marketing, where he was tasked with globally extending the sales, marketing, licensing, distribution, alliances, ad sales and integrated promotions of Sony’s vast resource base across all traditional and digital platforms.  In this role, Arrieta oversaw the creation and maintenance of over 400 websites, 50 film/television/online series, 75 cross-platform games, the creation of Sony’s casual online and mobile games business, the formation and maintenance of Sony Pictures Digital Ad Sales Group and the creation of its Strategic Alliances Group that maintained all of Sony’s key partners spanning Microsoft, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Verizon, Blockbuster, Best Buy, Walmart, Vudu, AOL, Yahoo!, and many others.  

Arrieta was also central in Sony Pictures' Business and Corporate Development efforts. During his tenure, he identified and executed strategic opportunities for the company across platforms and borders, including the launch of several international cable properties and large-scale M&A discussions.  Arrieta was also tasked with sourcing and closing strategic investments for Sony from its $100M investment fund, ultimately making strategic investments in a broad range of companies that have been instrumental to the foundation of today’s media landscape, including TiVo, GAIA Online ((Virtual Worlds), IFILM (Online Content Network), Packet Video (Mobile Streaming), Wild Tangent (Online Gaming) and Sonic Foundry (Software for editing and online sharing).

Prior to joining Sony Pictures, Arrieta worked for 20th Century Fox and Morgan Creek Productions between 1994 and 1997.  Prior to 1994, Arrieta served as a strategic consultant in the Entertainment Group at Price Waterhouse where he was responsible for providing accounting, tax and business advisory services to the Major Studios, production companies and leading executives in the industry.  Michael received both his B.A. in Economics and M.B.A from the University of California, Los Angeles and is a California CPA.

Please join us for this unique interactive Shindig and be ready with your questions for an expert in the industry.