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I'm looking for a word that means the party being distributed to by a distributor.

I'm in the film industry. There are wholesalers and distributors. Even though both roles could be called wholesaling, functionally, they are never talked about that way within the industry.

The recipients of a distributed film are only referred to by category. For example, 'cinemas', 'retailers', 'churches'. I am looking for a hypernym to all those categories.

Any suggestions would be great!

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Probably not the word you are looking for so I'll just make a comment, but in my mind the opposite of 'to send' is 'to receive' and the opposite of 'to distribute' is 'to collect'. So 'collector' might fit. – Jim Aug 17 '12 at 2:34
@Jim That's got my mind going in a new direction. Thanks! – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 4:10
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The OED defines distributee as “A person to whom a share falls in the distribution of the estate of an intestate.” That may not be what you are looking for.

Typically distributors are wholesalers who distribute to retailers. Looking up synonyms for those might be more profitable in this instance.

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Yes, I was trying to avoid distributee but I hadn't thought of the retailers and synonyms. Thanks very much. – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 0:06
Wholesaler to retailers is certainly the ordinary model, but in many very large industries the distributor is not a wholesaler who buys and sells on his account but a provider of distribution services to co-ops or centrally-owned or -franchised retailers. . . but distributee is certainly too ugly to contemplate. – StoneyB Aug 17 '12 at 0:31
@StoneyB that's exactly my problem. I'm in the film industry. There are wholesalers AND distributors. Even though both roles could be called wholesaling, functionally, they are never talked about that way within the industry. The recipients of a distributed film are only referred to by category. For example, 'cinemas', 'retailers', 'churches'. I am looking for the perfect word do describe all those categories. I love the English language! – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 0:53
I don't think you'll find single word which embraces all relevant categories and none of the irrelevant ones. – StoneyB Aug 17 '12 at 1:04
@StoneyB You might be right. :( – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 1:36

If you're speaking of a person who receives goods from either a sender or a distributor—or a seller, a manufacturer, or anybody else—the normal term is recipient.

Since the advent of electronic communications, receiver has tended to be confined to the apparatus receiving an electronic signal; from this use evolved the very odd construction She spoke into the receiver. For much of the 20th century a "receiver" with no qualifying context would have been understood as a radio set. It will be interesting to see whether the trend is reversed now that most consumers receive signals through computers and mobile phones, neither of which I've ever seen called a "receiver".

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That is very interesting. I was tempted by receiver but it just doesn't feel right in this context (same with distributee). They both work in a fundamental sense, but lack the X factor. – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 0:28
@MFB: Define “X factor”; you mean sex appeal, right? – tchrist Aug 17 '12 at 1:05
@tchrist Well that's probably putting it a little strongly. Its not being used in marketing so it doesn't need sex-appeal. I mean not clumsy-sounding, I guess. – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 1:36

In the film industry, at least in some geographies, the end-user, after the distributor, is the 'exhibitor'.

This agrees with the class of businesses you call 'cinemas', along with private screening entities such as educational/ religious/ cultural, etc.

I am not very sure how far 'exhibitor' as a trade term is current in different geographies/ markets.

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Or perhaps, screeners? This might be interpreted as someone who filters for content, but in the industry, it might work. – bib Aug 17 '12 at 12:26

As well as synonyms for retailers you could also research synonyms for cinemas, since you are looking for the "end-users" of the film.

Playhouses might be suitable, for example, although you may need to contextualise it by introducing the term with "cinemas and other playhouses". I'm a bit surprised the industry doesn't have a generic term.

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Some more good ideas, thank you! The industry may have a generic term, but know one I know can put their finger on it. Funny thing about English is that we use terms as generic as "they", "them", "those guys" a lot more than we realise.. Even funnier is that we all know what each other is talking about! Its all about context, and some words just don't have enough context of their own. – MFB Aug 17 '12 at 8:00
This was my initial thought as well. What about re-distributors? Less ugly that distributees. – Benjol Aug 17 '12 at 10:30

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