Cannes Film Business is Buoyant — If Films Are Made for a Price

Variety | 5/18/2019 | John Hopewell
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“The dead don’t die,” Constantin CEO Martin Moszkowicz joked on Thursday afternoon on Cannes’ Grand Hotel terrace, one of the Cannes Film Festival’s favorite industry haunts.

Moszkowicz wasn’t just quoting the title of Jim Jarmusch’s Festival Cannes opening movie, a zombie film set in small-town America. He was also implying that there are more movies coming to Cannes with commercial potential. And the good news for distributors like Moszkowicz is that these movie are cheaper to buy. To be sure, that’s not such a positive development for producers hoping to make a big profit on their latest projects.

Years - Cannes - Signs - Number - Movies

After several years of cautious dealmaking at Cannes, there are signs that a larger number of movies are being sold at this year’s festival. Whether that points to full market rebound, however, is questionable. The larger picture is mixed. You could almost hear the industry collectively exhale on Friday when in the space of a few hours Amazon Studios ponied up $1.5 million for U.S. rights to “Les Misérables,” writer-director Ladj Ly’s feature-length narrative film debut, and Paramount paid nearly $50 million for the rights to the Chris Hemsworth and Tiffany Haddish comedy “Down Under Cover.”

“This will be our second year running with record sales during Cannes,” said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner, who sold “Down Under Cover.” “It feels like there is some stabilization in the market, but focused primarily on films that are clear theatrical propositions.”

Down - Cover - Project - Cannes - Distribution

“Down Under Cover” isn’t the only big project that will likely leave Cannes with major distribution deals. Roland Emmerich’s “Moonfall,” sold by AGC Studios and CAA Media Finance, had been bought in such major territories as Latin America and Germany, despite carrying a $150 million budget. The movie was originally set up at Universal, which later put it into turnaround, prompting the filmmakers to piece together funding independently.

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