Eric Lagesse • Seller
by Fabien Lemercier
04/05/2009 - On the eve of the Film Market at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival (May 13-24), the managing director of French company Pyramide International analyses for Cineuropa the current economic situation from his point of view as an international seller and distributor.
Cineuropa: What are the prospects for the Cannes Film Market in a tense international economic climate?
Eric Lagesse: As a seller, I can say there is a real crisis with fewer and fewer sales, and territories in serious trouble. There’s still a need to buy films, but with greater caution. Buyers remain competitive, but they discuss the maximum prices not to be exceeded for certain territories. It’s more difficult to push up sales prices to unprecedented levels. Some films may rocket in price, but they’re one-offs. There’s a risk that buyers will say: I paid such a high price for this film that I can’t afford to buy any other French films. If a film sells for an overvalued price, everyone suffers in the end. Apart from a few remarkable exceptions, sales prices have fallen sharply in Europe, as they have done in the rest of the world.
This Cannes market is thus all the more crucial for sellers?
It was very sluggish last year and could well be the same this year. But when you have the film that everyone wants, you enjoy a successful market. All the attention is focused on a few films and the number keeps getting smaller. You could say that the market for auteur films is shrinking: their theatrical admissions have decreased, so distributors are trying to adjust acquisition prices. But competition on French territory is still intense with many distributors on the market.
Cannes remains a privileged launching pad for French sellers with films from all over the world on their line-ups.
French sales expertise, numerous companies and lots of support from the National Film Centre (CNC) and Unifrance contribute to France’s reputation for exports across the world. Producers from all countries ask us to handle their films and others try to co-produce with France. French cultural policy ensures that sales activity remains dynamic in France, whereas it is half dead in some countries and in great difficulty in others. So Cannes is indeed ideal: it takes place in France, on familiar territory, with lots of French films represented. But not all of them will sell: there is nothing but surprises. You just have to try to market and showcase the films as well as possible. Buyers from all over the world gather at Cannes: when you have everyone close to hand, you’re a happy seller.
What are Pyramide’s main assets on the Croisette this year?
As an international seller and French distributor, we have Axelle Ropert’s The Wolberg Family in the Directors’ Fortnight and Alain Cavalier’s Irene [trailer] in the Un Certain Regard section. We are also handling distribution for Serbian director Vladimir Perisic’s Ordinary People, which has been selected for Critics’ Week.
At the market, we have high hopes for Emmanuel Mouret’s Please, Please Me!, a hilarious comedy in homage to Tati and Blake Edwards; and for Yves Hanchar’s French/Belgian co-production No Hard Feelings!, a film in the same vein as The Choir [trailer]. We will also continue pre-sales on the basis of the screenplay for Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch, which was unfortunately not selected in competition at Cannes and is a gift for forthcoming festivals; and for Catherine Corsini’s Leaving, whose trailer we’ll present; not to mention Eran Riklis’ next film The Mission of the Human Resources Manager.