Four-walling is when a filmmaker directly rents a theatres to show a film, keeping the ticket sales for the production while the theater keeps the money made from sale of popcorn, snacks and other products from the concession stand. This way the film production company makes money directly from ticket sales instead of going through distribution companies or sharing proceeds of sales with movie theaters.
The term ‘Four-walling’ is derived from the four walls of a movie theater. Four wall distribution is a popular method especially among small film production companies. This is a common practice in Nigeria’s Nollywood industry both among small and big production companies. Movie producers always want to make money from theatres before shifting to open market sales. Four-walling is a process whereby a film company spends for instance, a couple of weekends renting a movie theater from the facility’s owner for an agreed flat fee, and paying for every seat. Film producers like this strategy a lot because it ensures that they receive all of the box office revenue while the theater keeps sales from popcorn and concessions. This is different from the more conventional or common method where ticket sales are split between theaters and distributors after screening.
The distributor who bought the right to a movie could also decide not to split the ticket sales with theater owners. The distributor then adopts the four wall distribution by buying out the screens where the film would play, paying the cinema a flat fee for the period of time the movie will be showing. The distributor would then get to keep 100% of the ticket price. For the cinemas, this is still a very good deal because they make money from it and the risk of not earning from ticket sales is removed from their shoulder. The film maker or distribution company shoulders the risk by buying out cinemas and selling tickets directly. If the movie is a block buster the production or distribution company reaps the rewards.