Entertainment behind the scenes
The 2009 Cannes film festival reaches its finale on Sunday night when the coveted Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) trophy is awarded to the best film among the 20 in competition. That movie, and current frontrunner is French movie “Un Prophete” (“A Prophet”) will likely find success in theaters around the world.
But critics have been widely mixed with their reaction to the overall slate of films screening at Cannes this year (read a wrap up here). The lack of a clear thumbs up, or thumbs down, also has been a hallmark of the Cannes’ movie market in 2009, where buyers and sellers of film rights from around the world meet to do business. Read about that, here. And while 3D films were a big part of Cannes after the festival opened with Disney’s animated “Up,” the reality is that for independent filmmakers, making a 3D film is a mixed (there’s that word again) proposition. For that story, clicke here.
What does it all mean? At the mid-point of ’09, the worldwide independent film industry is in flux. After funding for movie production froze in the waning months of 2008, a glut of films is expected to work itself off by the end of this year, and that means that financiers — with a little more visibility on the future economic outlook — are once again beginning to look at movies in which to invest for 2010. But the capital flow into the market, for now, is just a trickle. If you’re a seller and you have a good, “A” movie with marketable stars, then you might find theaters to screen it. If it’s a straight to video title with “B” or “C” stars, times remain difficult because your primary market is DVD retailers (sales are down) or TV (ad revenues are dismal).
The next big meeting for the global, independent film industry is the American Film Market in Los Angeles, starting Nov. 4, and it will provide a fresh look at the business of indie movies. On the art front, look to the Telluride, Venice and Toronto film festivals that start in late August and run into early September to see what’s on the minds of filmmakers.
Sure, Penelope Cruz will be on the Cannes film festival’s red carpet, and Brad Pitt will be there too. But the festival is not all big stars and glamorous premieres. There’s real business that goes on, too. Buyers and sellers of rights to independently made movies — those made outside Hollywood’s major studios — meet up to do deals.
For the past few years, the indie film business has been in a funk as a glut of expensive movies failed to do big box office and, more recently, the global financial crisis dried up financing to make movies. But major players here say tough times could be nearing and end. While film promotional parties are down, the ranks of company staffs in Cannes are thinner, and restaurateurs and hoteliers have said business is down some 30 percent, many company executives say they have been pleased with the amount of business that has been done.