1. MPAA. Want your movie to play outside of the art house circuit? Chances are you will need to pay to have it rated. Here’s the link if you want to see how that works (http://www.mpaa.org/CARASubmittalPaperwork8.doc). It is not cheap.
2. Box office split or four wall. These are the two basic arrangements you are likely to face. In the first scenario, box office split, you will simply share a certain percentage of the box office with the theater owner. In the second scenario, you will pay an upfront fee basically to rent the theater. Then, in return, you will receive a share of the box office, usually much higher than in the box office split scenario.
3. Paid ads. Depending on the market, some theaters will obligate you to spend a certain amount on advertising your film if you want them to show it. I’m trying to avoid these places wherever I can.
4. DVD window. Just got off the phone with one of the larger theater chains and they want to obligate me to a four month window, which means in theory I can’t sell DVDs for four months after playing there. But it is part of my hope and plan perhaps to sell DVDs during this whole theatrical run. What to do?
5. Booking a theater. Convincing a theater owner to take a chance on you is just like convincing a potential investor to give you money for your movie: You have to sell them. The thing they are most interested in knowing is how you plan to promote the movie in their area and who your audience is.