Lukewarm with spots of sunshine
by Annika Pham
Just like the weather, the temperature of the 2008 Cannes Film Market was rather lukewarm for most sales companies, but sunny for the dozen outfits that had strong titles in official selection, such as A Christmas Tale [+see also:
film profile], Gomorrah [+see also:
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile], The Class (Entre les murs) [+see also:
interview: Carole Scotta
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile] , Waltz with Bashir [+see also:
film profile] and Three Monkeys [+see also:
interview: Zeynep Ozbatur
Buyers seemed to have arrived late and left early, staying only three-four days, and everyone agreed that foot traffic at the market was lighter this year. Many sellers blamed the tougher market conditions on the weather, weaker dollar to, stronger local products (notably in Japan), weaker DVD/TV markets and overall skyrocketing P&A costs. Latin America, Middle East, Asia (apart from Japan) and smaller European territories were very active as a whole (in particular Switzerland, the former Yugoslavia, Portugal and Greece).
Elsewhere, buyers were very selective. US distributors were all in town, with IFC showing the biggest appetite, followed by The Weinstein Company. Among the top five European countries, UK and French buyers were very active, often bidding aggressively for similar titles. But Spanish, German and Italian buyers were more cautious.
“US sellers are more aggressive with their titles, and national products are stronger,” stressed Thorsten Ritter from Bavaria. What’s left for us is a smaller margin on the marketplace.”
Rasmus Ramstad, CEO for Scandinavian major Svensk Filmindustri, voiced buyers feelings about the marketplace: “There is a lot of product out there but very few titles that we are going for. The market is more and more polarized with bigger films getting bigger. Niche films can work, but the middle films are getting really difficult.”
Once again, the increase in attendance announced by market organizers reflect the growing presence of producers/financiers, not of acquisition executives. The build-up of production and poor sales over the last few markets has resulted in a bottleneck situation and shifted the focus from production to acquisition/distribution.
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