Buying Film Rights

Did you know that showing a movie in front of a group of people outside of a home setting is illegal? Any screening of a movie outside the home is considered a public performance and requires a license. Even if you’re showing the movie for free, it still requires a license. All of these rules fall under the Federal Copyright Act and you can be fined a lot of money if you’re caught screening a movie without permission.

So what do you do if you want to screen a movie on campus? It depends on what movie you want to show. If you want to show a documentary or a low budget independent movie, you can usually contact the company that produced or released the movie directly. For larger Blockbuster type films, you’ll need to purchase the licensing rights through Swank Motion Pictures, the largest film licensing and distribution company in the United States. If you would like more information about this company, visit their website at

UPB spends about $1,000 per movie and we play two movies every week Wed-Sat. Older movies start from about $700. I order the movies a month in advance and they are shipped to our office every week. The company we use charges us based upon the attendance numbers we send them, our estimated attendance, and also upon the size of our school and theater. We are fortunate enough to have a budget that allows us to bring movies to students for $2.50, sometimes even less.

-Alison Goitia, Film Director 

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