Cannes market adjusts as indie pic trends shift

As the film world readies for the Riviera, Jerome Paillard, Cannes Market exec
director, sees reason for optimism. “With a growing attendance in Cannes this year
we’re seeing some signs of health and dynamism,” he says, noting that overall it’s still
a tough market where finding a distributor has gotten more complicated. He also
notes that it’s difficult getting films into theaters. “It’s not easy for films that aren’t
mainstream, crossover features to get released theatrically and stay in theaters long
enough to find an audience. Distributors, for the most part, have become risk-averse
and have restricted their minimum guarantees.”

Paillard addresses other shifting trends in the market.


“TV and video sales are tough to clinch, and while VOD is growing, it hasn’t yet
replaced video. On the upside, VOD negotiations are usually non-exclusive, but they
don’t give minimum guarantees whereas video did.

“In countries like China, the expansion of the VOD market represents a great
opportunity for foreign cinema: Films can now access the Chinese market directly
through VOD. Even if the prices paid remain small it’s encouraging.”

Digitization of screens

“We have yet to see if the digitization of theaters will benefit smaller films — there is a
risk that it will make it easier for exhibitors to program films that work well in
multiple screens.”

New distribution models

“For certain movies that have a limited theatrical potential, the traditional film
distribution chain is way too long. We’re seeing a growing interest for non-

commercial circuits, such as festivals, cinematheques and film societies. Some
companies like the Festival Agency in France are now specializing in these types of
sub-distribution, by helping filmmakers and right-holders get their movies on the
festival circuit and collect fees.”

Digital models

“There are too many films that don’t travel outside their country of production, co-
production and sometimes France (where there are about 350 foreign films that
come out every year and about half of them sell less than 15,000 admissions).

“Using digital technology, filmmakers can have their films seen and create mini-
events at a lesser cost — publishing expenses are very small and the cost of
advertising, taking into account the weight of social networks, is also very low. These
films can build an online community, access distribution via viral marketing and
social networks and ultimately get programmed in theaters through on-demand

Reality bites

“Documentaries now represent more than 14% of the completed films at the market,”
Paillard says. “One of the reasons behind the popularity of documentaries is that that
they can be promoted via social networks: each documentary can address its own
community in a way that a fiction film seldom can.”

Market innovations

The doc corner: A dedicated space at the market, it boasts a screening room focused
on feature-length documentaries and a meeting area for sales agents and buyers who
are exclusively seeking docs.

After the market, the docs will be available to buyers and sales agents on’s Screening Room, where films can be downloaded. Site is run by the
market. The Doc Corner will also host about 10 mini-conferences for a group of 20
documentary producers and filmmakers. Each panel will feature leading figures of
the documentary world, from festivals toppers to doc commissioners and sales

Producers’ Workshop: The Producers’ Workshop is growing in its second edition.
It will address some 250 producers who have experience making local films but have
not yet been involved in international co-productions. There will be six conferences
discussing how to approach sales agents, how to co-produce with international
partners, what funds are available in Europe and elsewhere. There will also be a la
carte coaching sessions for producers.

“We’re telling producers, especially those from Asian or Latin American regions
where international co-production is still uncommon, that it’s crucial for them to not

wait to have a film in selection to come to Cannes, as they must build an
international network even if they won’t activate it right away,” Paillard says.

3D: The market has 17 3D-equipped screens (three more than last year) and some 50
screenings in 3D, which is about the same as last year, had been confirmed as of
April 15.

“Sales agents and distributors are finding that 3D movies, apart from animated
features, aren’t attractive enough to justify their bigger asking prices,” Paillard says.

New Partnership: The Cannes Market has signed a deal with Europa Cinema, a
network of European independent theaters, to allow distributors and producers of
films available on Cinando to connect directly with exhibitors.

Participation: The biggest growth in participation at the market comes from
producers. “I think that underscores the importance of co-production in this market,
as well as the fact that Cannes offers the best platform for co-production,” Paillard

The market had registered 8,480 participants as of April 23, a 9% increase on 2011.

“The rise in participation is well spread geographically, with the biggest spikes
coming from Asia and Latin America,” Paillard says. “Another encouraging sign this
year is the fact that companies will send slightly larger teams to Cannes.”

More than 250 producers will attend the Producers Workshop — 40% more than last

As many as 3,300 market titles, including 1,800 completed films, are set for the
market as of April 23. Documentaries rep 12% of all titles.

By ELSA KESLASSY Mon., May. 7, 2012. Cannes Preview 2012

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