Martin Milinkovic • Distributor, Continental Film
by Vladan Petkovic
09/09/2010 - Founded in 1991, Zagreb-based Continental Film was the first company to sign a distribution agreement for the territories of Croatia and Slovenia with a Hollywood major, then Columbia TriStar Pictures. Today, Continental has contracts with BVI, Fox and Sony and also distributes independent and European films in Bosnia, and through its partner companies in Macedonia, UNMI Kosovo and Albania. Continental’s latest acquisitions include such high-profile films as Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [trailer], The Four Times [trailer, film focus], Certified Copy [trailer], Route Irish [trailer] and Potiche [trailer].
Cineuropa: How do you balance the distribution of Hollywood majors and independent films?
Distributing both US majors and independent films is actually ideal because of the variety of the line-up: audiences are automatically offered a large number of films to choose from, so everyone can find something for their taste. That way, in one week they can choose between the latest animated Disney film, a blockbuster from Fox or a festival title from auteurs such as von Trier or Haneke. This gives us a wider field to work in, particularly in organizing some very successful revues of European and independent films.
Together with your partner Megacom Film from Belgrade you buy rights to European films as equal partners, meaning that when one partner acquires a title, the other automatically has it as well. How much of an advantage is this?
It’s a big advantage. Besides having one company doing business for two distributors, the biggest advantage is the connection between companies and business relations that are very rare. This is particularly important today, when the economic crisis has weakened relations between companies in different countries.
How is the market for European film in Croatia? What is the state of distribution of European film in comparison to Hollywood fare?
The audience for European films in Croatia is growing by the day. It’s important to note that it’s a much more demanding audience, which doesn’t expect the distributor just to screen the film, but also requires a certain kind of promotion, a premiere event, a revue and festival outing. It’s necessary to have direct communication with this audience in order to make them feel that we are really addressing them exclusively. Our goal is to show the most quality films so that this audience will grow. Best results came from films such as The White Ribbon [trailer, film focus], Antichrist [trailer, film focus] and Let the Right One In [trailer, film focus].
In terms of a comparison between the distribution of European and Hollywood films, it’s natural that US blockbusters sell many more tickets. We can increase the number of European films in distribution, but in the end, it’s up to the audience to decide what they want to see.
How do you see the future of distribution of European cinema in Croatia and the Balkans?
It will certainly grow over the years. Box office results already show that the interest in European cinema this year is greater than in 2009. Two things are particularly favourable for this: the spreading digital network and VoD, with which we already have impressive results.
What do you expect from the San Sebastian forum?
The San Sebastian forum is an opportunity for Continental Film to present itself as the leading distributor in Croatia to potential sellers. It is also important to connect with as many people as possible, particularly producers and sales agents, and we are very interested in VoD and digital platforms.