Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Business in Cannes

You can say that I’m “killing” time before the Cannes closing ceremony… but feel like sharing with you some news about the business side of the industry, as we all know that the Cannes Film Festival is not only about the Competition is also about the Marché.

So if you want to learn a little about the Cannes market from the American perspective, what better source than the Wall Street Journal? If you do then go here. But these are some highlights.

As I told a friend, critics went wild in all directions with Lars von Trier Antichrist, but this film was one of the first to be bought by what the WSJ calls as “the most active buyer”, IFC Films. The USA distributor collected scores of independent films to fill its theatrical release schedule and video-on-demand (VOD) pipeline. He also got the distribution rights for Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric.

Sony Pictures Classics was also active, but was “faster” as prior to the fest got the rights for Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky. Also got the “festival favorite” (and our prediction) A Prophet.

By the time the article was published, May 23, there were many movies that have not found a buyer and they mention Alain Resnais’s Wild Grass, Marco Bellochio’s Vincere, Agora, and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.

With solid sales, Film Department, Universal’s Focus, Summit International, Mandate International, and Hype Park International with movies like Twilight sequel New Moon, Unbound Captives (starring Hugh Jackman), Rabbit Hole (starring Nicole Kidman).

Then you have Variety that says that producers, buyers and sellers “found the biz experiencing deep structural changes in how business is done and money made from making movies”.

“Buyers are shifting to acquiring films a la carte instead of programming larger slates; private equity rather than debt is playing a bigger role in film financing; and distributors and sales agents are moving far more aggressively into production as a means to maintain creative control over projects and keep hold of the rights.”

The current model is vertical … the signs are a shift toward a horizontal model, where each part of the chain works together to make the film profitable and earn their cut from its sales.

To read the complete article go here. If you saw the Almodovar press conference you have a better idea about the differences between American and European author rights for film; after reading the Variety article, I’m really glad that the differences exists, as I would definitively hate the idea of Europe to start producing mainly/only commercial films where EVERYONE’s opinions tend to destroy/damage/badly-modify great stories and films.

Then not long ago I remember reading about India buyers (the largest market in the world) that declined to buy a thing if sellers did not “lower” the selling price and conditions…

But there is hope, as “good cinema” is alive and well… as long as Europeans co produce films from allover the world; for some examples browse Canal Plus Films and sites for their co production films that are and will be on the big screen. Obviously there are many more European producers sites where you can check the great films in the pipeline.

Well, I do not want to get “depressed” reading about the (big) world depression we are currently living and the consequences to cinema. So I’ll stop and find something better to do (that will cheer me up) while I wait for the Award Winners… lol!

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