While the Cannes Film Festival has served over 80-degree weather so far, that heat has yet to translate into the festival’s iconic film market.
Halfway through, Cannes 2021 did not see the wave of agreements expected at the festival’s simultaneous Film Market. The only significant sales came in the form of a whopping $ 75 million from STX for global rights to Gerard Butler’s upcoming sequel “Greenland” and a multi-million dollar pact from Netflix for low-horror. fi “CURS> R” with Asa Butterfield.
Many industry players who spoke to Variety noted slow sales in the field, especially given the many titles available shortlisted for buyers in June on the Cannes Virtual Market.
The best brokers, financiers and agents in the south of France, however, insisted that the market was rebounding after the pandemic restrictions were eased and that it was fully active – with just six days before visitors returned from Cannes.
“All of the major US buyers are there for all contest entries, and they are active,” said Stuart Ford, CEO of production and finance company AGC Studio. “There were agreements. Obviously for international buyers we had the virtual market, but I feel like there’s a lot of tracking here. In general, I think the wheels are turning, and it has been a really constructive exercise. “
Although optimistic, Ford admitted that it was a “somewhat quieter festival”.
Sources at major agencies expected several high-profile deals to be completed before the end of next week. There is no shortage of pedigree products for sale, a mix of finished films and pre-production packages. Directors like Alexander Payne, Todd Haynes, Todd Solondz and Andrea Arnold are selling their products. Films with renowned names such as Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Sean Penn, Dakota Johnson and Ewan McGregor are up for grabs. An interesting observation from Ford noted the continued struggle of independent productions to obtain expensive COVID-19 insurance, which can consume up to 20% of already meager budgets. It directly impacts mid-budget films, which will not be able to raise pre-sale funding without bankable stars.
Internationally, Asian companies have seen a limited physical presence in the Market. Although partly because of travel restrictions, buyers in the territories, including Japan, are banning travel on the express advice of managers or parent owners.
The biggest fear in these markets, according to knowledgeable insiders, is that border closures and quarantine conditions will prevent travel for many months to come. This could hurt the region’s fall film festivals in Busan and Tokyo, as well as the American Film Market in November and ATF Singapore.
Those who are fortunate enough to walk on the Croisette believe that it gives them a competitive advantage.
“As a buyer, you are more special if you are here in the field,” said Rocket Science boss Thorsten Schumacher. “You have an advantage over your competition. When it gets really serious, you have to be there. Schumacher defended the independent model at Cannes, but streamers will continue to be key players as the industry pushes its way out of the pandemic.
Without studios and SVODs, productions will not be able to adapt nimbly to ongoing coronavirus outbreaks and ever-changing protocols.
Many areas in Asia are suffering from third or fourth waves of COVID, forcing film and television shutdowns.
Australia’s unexpected new wave of coronavirus has led to dramatic precautions. Still, the region appears to be booming. Thailand, a major destination for midsize runaway filming, has also closed its borders. Some are continuing or planning to move forward (like Apple and Paramount’s “Shantaram”, for example).
With the threat of a production shortage and pipeline disruption for independent players, the stakes may turn out to be too high.
Patrick Frater, Manori Ravindran and Christopher Vourlias contributed to this report.