How complex do movie channel contracts need to be?

Sumit Raut, Sanjeev Swami, Eunkyu Lee, Charles B. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The motion picture industry is characterized by a dynamic market environment, limited shelf space and product category management, and consequently, complex channel contracts specifying the split of box office revenue between distributors and exhibitors. Although such a contracting practice creates a considerable administrative effort and channel conflict, it is not clear whether such complexity is necessary for superior channel performance. This study investigates this question by analyzing the impact of movie contract structure on movie scheduling and channel member profitability. We develop and analyze a game-theoretic model using the genetic algorithm approach and a decision support system, SilverScreener, to capture strategic behaviors of channel members in a complex market environment. We find that simpler two-part tariff or 50/50 split contracts perform as well as the current contracts. Thus, the complexity of the market environment need not be reflected in the complexity of the channel contracts. Channel contract structure has significant impact on channel member profitability and the exhibitor's movie-scheduling behavior. In particular, our results indicate that the flat rate contract structure represents an attractive alternative to the current practice for distributors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
JournalMarketing Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Channel contracts
  • Game theory
  • Movie industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


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