If you're a toy manufacturer, kids are your consumers, and parents are your customers. You agree that you need to sell your toy to both groups, right?
A kid might want all loud and destructive and expensive toys, while parents might want quiet, less expensive and more educational toys. Unless there's an unhealthy power imbalance, they'll probably come to a compromise.
Well the same can be said of the film industry: audiences are your consumers, and international distributors are your customers. You need to sell your film to both but — here's the problem, you guessed it — they're each looking for different things.
Audiences are looking for something that's interesting and novel and remarkable and niche. Distributors for the most part are looking for mass-market, meat-and-potatoes, broad appeal to the masses kind of stuff. This disparity is the reason we have the current independent film industry we do.
So how do you sell your film to both groups? There has to be a lot of crossover, or else either group could reject you. Anyone with experience of film sales will agree that many good films fail to find a distributor in every territory, and mediocre films seriously struggle in the marketplace. If you don't sell to German, Japanese or US distributors, then it's unlikely that 'pester power' will see audiences there changing their distributors’ minds.
Films are too expensive for anyone to make this mistake very often — and competition is growing rapaciously.* What solutions exist to make your films competitive again? What can make it attractive to distributors and audiences? What tools are you employing to test your market or identify your niche?
These are questions I ask myself daily. Is someone on your team responsible for asking them?