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The 68th Cannes Film Festival has come to a finish and, with the exception of a heels-only controversy, it was another successful year for both the festival and the many distributors that attended. For those of us that didn’t make it, Cannes is a time to fantasize about the glamour, the beaches, the sunshine, and the plethora exciting films we can expect to see in the upcoming year. But with Netflix and Amazon making their presence known at this year’s festival, we may be seeing more of these films at home on the small screen rather than in theaters.
There is a general assumption that Cannes attendees are mainly high profile celebs, writers, and directors. But the LA Times explains that, in reality, “Sales agents and buyers … pour into this coastal French town to do business at what's informally known as the market. The market serves as a bazaar of international rights for a wide range of movies that are not screening as part of the official festival selection, functioning as a sort of trade show distinct from the upscale proceedings going on nearby.” While every filmmaker -- renowned or not -- is strongly encouraged to make their dream trip to Cannes a reality, here are some noteworthy deals from this year, large and small, worth knowing about in the mean time.
Cannes is certainly not just a festival for finished films. Deals are made with short reels and by mentioning which stars are involved. It is has been reported that with only 10 minutes of footage, The Weinstein Company spent $6 million this year on the rights to “Three Generations” -- starring Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, and Susan Sarandon.
Variety reports that the major French film studio, Gaumont, showed an eight-minute promotional reel of “Chocolat” to get some major attention from European buyers. The film has a theatrical release in France on February 3rd, but the period piece, made for $21 million, has already been pre-sold to Germany (DCM), Benelux (Paradiso), Scandinavia (Miss Label), Switzerland (Ascot Elite), Greece and Romania (Odeon), Poland (Kinoswiat) and Portugal (Lusomundo).
Other noteworthy acquisitions include Focus Features securing the North American rights to “The Coldest City,” written by Kurt Johnstad and starring Charlize Theron, and the Focus Features/Universal $20 million worldwide rights acquisition of Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals.” For $4 million dollars, Lionsgate acquired the U.S. rights to “Genius,” which stars Colin Firth and is about Max Perkins’ career at Scribner. Check out more major acquisitions here.
While many deals were made in the same way they always have, this year traditional models are beginning to be challenged by Netflix. Netflix made its first buy at Cannes, and sales agents expressed, “Producers are sometimes less likely to agree to a traditional studio deal if they think a big payday from a digital player is looming.”
Of course, a deal with Netflix means no theatrical release. Deadline reports that “In its splashy pre-buys so far, Netflix has paid up to 130% of the budget in getting financiers to bypass theatrical as its port of entry” and raises the question, “what would happen if Netflix or Amazon gets hold of a film that wins Best Picture?” There seemed to be reports of a combination of excitement and caution about what these changes will mean and what future impact they will have on traditional film distribution.
You can find more news, reviews, and interviews from Cannes 2015 at 2015 Indiewire Cannes Bible. Or to hear about the amazing films from this year’s festival that have yet to receive distribution, check out Indiewire’s article, “Memo to Distributors: Buy These 2015 Cannes Film Festival Movies.”