© 2019

Gatekeeping in the Evolving Business of Independent Film Distribution

  • Develops a critical understanding of gatekeepers in the European and US film industries

  • Draws on interviews with 40 industry professionals, particularly executives of sales and distribution companies

  • Examines the disruptive influence of Netflix and Amazon


Part of the Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business book series (GMPB)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Part I

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 25-25
  3. Part II

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 79-79
    2. Roderik Smits
      Pages 81-100
    3. Roderik Smits
      Pages 101-121
  4. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 145-145
    2. Roderik Smits
      Pages 193-209
  5. Roderik Smits
    Pages 231-238
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 239-276

About this book


This book is about the business of distribution, around which the international film business revolves. Considering sales agents and distributors as primary gatekeepers, the book examines the networks in which they operate, how they operate, how their practices have evolved, and the power and control they exert over the business of independent film distribution. Critically, it also considers how they are affected by the powerful influence of Netflix and Amazon in the online era. At a time of disruption and change to traditional business models and industry professions, Roderik Smits argues that gatekeepers remain equally – if not more – crucial to the distribution and circulation of films in international markets.



Film distribution Film sales agents Film distributors video-on-demand VOD Film business Hollywood studio Netflix Amazon Studios Media industries

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theatre, Film and TelevisionUniversity of YorkYorkUK

About the authors

Roderik Smits is Research Associate in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York, UK. He is interested in the changing nature of the film industry and his research has been published in Poetics, Studies in European Cinema, Arts and the Market, Cultural Trends and the Journal of British Cinema and Television.


Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Gatekeeping in the Evolving Business of Independent Film Distribution
  • Authors Roderik Smits
  • Series Title Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-16895-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-16898-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-16896-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 276
  • Number of Illustrations 8 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Film/TV Industry
    Media Policy
    Cultural Policy and Politics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Situated at the intersection of Film Studies and Media Industry Studies, this is a much-needed examination of gatekeeping in the independent sector of the film distribution business. Smits uses highly original industry research to explore the little understood ways in which sales agents, distributors, digital content aggregators and online platforms enable (some) films to reach audiences.”  (Professor Andrew Higson, University of York, UK)

“This monograph is a much-needed addition to both Distribution Studies and Media Industry Studies. It provides an empirically rich exploration of some previously under-researched intermediaries (e.g. distributors, sales agents and content aggregators). The book also provides a fascinating discussion of the development of film markets (/festivals) and the political machinations that have led some to grow and others to falter.” (Dr Virginia Crisp, King's College London, UK) 

“This monograph is incredibly timely and critically necessary. It establishes a foundational understanding of sales agents and the gatekeeping role they perform in the screen industries at a time of significant disruption to traditional business models. Media industry scholars take note: we need more investigations like this one, not only for the benefit of our research, but also our teaching.” (Dr Kevin Sanson, Queensland University of Technology, Australia)