“Our model might differ from most sales agents, as we are, first and foremost, producers”
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
Sophie Cabon, Nadine Rothschild • Sales agents, Coproduction Office
The two professionals spoke about their focus on auteur-driven films, their carefully designed strategies and how the role of the sales agent is developing within Europe
Cineuropa caught up with Sophie Cabon and Nadine Rothschild, sales agents working for the Paris- and Berlin-based outfit Coproduction Office. During the interview, Cabon and Rothschild discussed how the company’s production background affects their sales work, their editorial policy, their marketing strategies and how their work has changed over the last few years.
Cineuropa: Could you talk to us about your editorial policy?
Sophie Cabon: The films that Coproduction Office is selling are auteur-driven. Philippe Bober [the outfit’s founder] has developed a long-standing relationship with the likes of Ruben Östlund, Jessica Hausner, Ulrich Seidl, Roy Andersson and Michelangelo Frammartino, whom we also produce through our sister companies in France, Germany, Denmark and the UK. Our catalogue is made up of films by auteurs who are pushing the envelope of cinematic language, while also engaging audiences. Over the last couple of years, we have also started acquiring classic films – the first movies from our directors, but also 11 films by Roberto Rossellini, which were restored in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna and Luce Cinecittà.
How is the company staffed?
SC: We have two offices in Paris and Berlin, and approximately 20 people working full-time for our companies. In the sales department, there are six people, and we usually have one or two interns.
How many titles do you represent each year? How many do you have in your catalogue?
Nadine Rothschild: As we mainly sell the films we produce, we handle two or three films per year, on average. This allows us to dedicate ourselves fully to each film, to make a sales strategy perfectly adapted to each one of them and to find the right distributor in each territory. For the last few years, we have also focused our work on restoration. In 2022, for instance, we had Lou Ye’s Suzhou River in Berlinale Classics. In our catalogue, we host approximately 100 films.
Do you invest in films from the production stage, or help to fund movies?
SC: We are involved in most projects from the script stage – sometimes even from the idea stage – as producers, co-producers and sales agents. If we acquire a film from a new director, we usually come on board during the post-production phase, and if needed, we can raise additional funds to finalise it.
How has your work changed over the past two years?
NR: Luckily, we did not have any films ready to premiere before Venice 2021 and have had an exceptional year in 2022 with the success of Triangle of Sadness [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile] by Ruben Östlund, in terms of both sales and the box office, so our daily work has not changed drastically owing to the pandemic. As we have very few films, we have always limited our travelling to markets, but this is even more the case now – this year, the sales team only went to the two major markets, Berlin and Cannes.
SC: We’re doing a lot of online meetings in between markets, discussing our slate, the marketing and the release strategies with our distributors. For our marketing strategy, we are taking into account the fact that the more traditional arthouse audience has not returned to cinemas, and we’re working on this with distributors. But of course, we’re very aware of the impact of the pandemic on exhibitors and distributors.
How is the role of the sales agent developing in the European context?
NR: Our model might differ from most sales agents, as we are, first and foremost, producers. Our sales activity is there to support and nourish the work we do in production. We believe it’s still essential that our films are released in theatres. Triangle of Sadness was sold to 40 different distributors and will be released theatrically in over 60 countries. We’re not opting for worldwide deals with platforms, so this drastically limits the possible income from the digital rights for direct sales. For us, it’s important to develop long-term relationships with the auteurs, but also with the distributors, and we aim to strengthen those with each film.
SC: In parallel, we’re also focusing our attention and resources on our catalogue so that the previous films by our directors are watched, and in the best possible conditions. For instance, we have now started the restoration of Hotel [+see also:
film profile] and Lovely Rita [+see also:
film profile] by Jessica Hausner, with the support of the FFA, and we’ve just completed the restoration of Il dono [+see also:
film profile], Michelangelo Frammartino’s first film, in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna.
How do you work on guaranteeing a variety of voices and content within your slate and within your firm?
SC: We’re a very European and international company. During the recruitment process, we are extremely careful to bring on board people from various backgrounds, holding different points of view. Within the sales team, we have colleagues coming from Switzerland, Austria, France, Argentina, Italy, Thailand and Jordan. Within the whole company, we have 11 different nationalities represented. This diversity of backgrounds and voices can be found in our slate as well.
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