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CANNES 2000: International Alliances and Dotcoms Highlight Market

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire May 19, 2000 at 2:0AM

CANNES 2000: International Alliances and Dotcoms Highlight Market
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CANNES 2000: International Alliances and Dotcoms Highlight Market

Sandy Mandelberger


The Cannes Film Market, filmdom's most chaotic and
varied film circus, is again a hotbed of deal making
and announcements, despite grumblings that this year's
event was notably slow. The word from international
sellers is that Asia continues to recover from its
economic doldrums and is an active buyer (particularly
Korea, which has its first ever film in the
Competition section, Im Kwon Taek's much-appreciated
"Chunhyang").


On the other hand, Europe is falling behind, with
theatrical attendance figures falling, pay television
slowing down its rapid expansion and home video
faltering. In addition, the weak euro, which has
dragged down all the European currencies, is making
the prices for films (determined in U.S. dollars) even
more inflated. However, the real story is the
overwhelming presence of a new generation of Internet
companies and the unveiling of several key
international alliances that will reshape the
landscape for some time to come.


U.S. Action


In a rare split-rights arrangement, Miramax and
Paramount Pictures jointly acquired North American and
Australian distribution rights to the British comedy
"Lucky Break" which will be directed this summer by
"The Full Monty's" Peter Cattaneo (according to
Monday's Screen International). It was also reported
that Miramax will split rights with Artisan
Entertainment
to produce the sequel to "Dirty
Dancing,"
reportedly to star Latin sensation Ricky
Martin
.


Lions Gate announced the creation of a genre label
(similar to Miramax's Dimension Films) that will roll
out up to 10 films per year while rumors were also
floating around that the distributor will buy out
indie distributor Trimark Pictures ("Slam," "Eve's
Bayou,"
"Romance") and will consolidate operations
between the two companies (Variety). In spite of the
few domestic sales announcements of films in and out
of the market, U.S. deals have been few and far
between. More acquisition news is expected soon on
some of the Asian films that have had an unprecedented
strong showing in all Festival sections.


Sony Pictures Classics, usually one of the most active
buyers of foreign langauge films, is keeping a lower
profile this year. Michael Barker recently told
indieWIRE that "he is still looking." Sony does have
two films in the festival (Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon
" co-produced by Sony Classics, Good
Machine
and Columbia Productions Asia, and Andrucha
Waddington
's Brazilian pic "Me You Them"). While the
company will continue to try to find films for its
arthouse pipeline, Sony reps said they planned to
spend most of their time in Cannes meeting with
producers, directors and reading scripts.


International Alliances Announced


Several key international alliances have been
announced. Fine Line Features closed a deal for the
North American rights for three upcoming projects from
Zentropa, the Danish production company behind the
films of international favorite Lars Von Trier, it was
reported in last week's trades. The three films will
be shot in English by Zentropa Internationale, the
company's new international production arm, according
to Variety: They include "The Last Born," a sci-fi
thriller set in France and Germany, "Through A Glass
Darkly,"
a teen drama directed by Susanne Bier, whose
"The One and Only" was Scandinavia's biggest hit last
year, and an undisclosed third picture.


European companies have announced key pan-European
alliances to challenge the dominance of the American
majors on their home turf. France's Bac Films is
joining forces with German powerhouse Kinowelt to
create a distribution network within Europe. Kinowelt
is also partnered with Canada's Alliance Atlantic in
Momentum Pictures, which will release films in England
and other English-speaking markets (Hollywood
Reporter
). Also reported in Screen International, was
a strategic alliance between Kinowelt and Spain's
leading producer Andres Vicente Gomez that will give
his Lola Films rights to at least the first five films
from Kinowelt USA, the newly announced Los Angeles
production unit headed by long time producer Chris
Sievernich
. UK's Redbus Film Distribution is forging a
pan-European video-on-demand syndicated with German
companies Helkon and Intertainment. The company also
plans to actively pursue Internet rights for future
broadband downloading applications.


Meanwhile, another UK/German giant may emerge from the
alliance formed by Germany's Constantin Film and the
UK's Propaganda Films. According to Sunday's Screen
daily, the partners will co-produce and distribute
films in the UK and Germany, with an expansion into
France, Scandinavia, Italy and Spain in the coming
years. The venture will have access to Propaganda's
roster of directors, including Spike Jonze, Simon
West
, Mark Pellington and Dominic Sena, and actors
such as Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey.


Dot Cannes


Internet business-to-business companies, most making
their initial debuts in Cannes, are among the most
visible and talked about companies along the
Croisette. With marketing war chests that are
staggering even by Cannes standards, the Internet
upstarts have blanketed the Croisette with giant
posters, enormous banners, multiple office suites and
corporate logos on nearly every napkin, coaster,
ashtray and svelte model in sight. It is all part of
an aggressive campaign to create industry awareness
and dominate market share.


The current industry leader is Reelplay.com, a Los
Angeles based company that has the deep pockets of
SoftBank, a venture capital firm set up to launch
Internet companies. Reelplay.com boasts the largest
database of films available for sale, presenting text
information, promotion materials and downloadable film
trailers for international film buyers to access at no
fee. Reelplay.com also has the largest number of
registered film buyers and is tracking how the system
is being used to facilitate sales and acquisitions.
Co-President Stephen Liu has announced an initiative
to assist Independent Producers to access potential
financiers and distributors via the system.


Other b-to-b companies making their mark on the
Croisette include: Filmbazaar.com, which launched a
similar service at the American Film Market and
includes editorial coverage of film events and markets
via a network of over 30 international writers;
ShowbizData.com, which in collaboration with the
Cannes Film Market and film tracking service Film
Finders
inaugurated the official Cannes Market website
(www.cannesmarket.com) to help buyers and sellers find
each other and transact business in the Cannes mayhem;
Screen Exchange, a London-based promotion and tracking
service that includes both film and television
programming on its site; and OnLine FilmSales.com, a
newly announced venture that is part of the
InternetStudios, a provider of original programming
for the Internet, and that has the pedigree of two top
executives from JVC and Polygram Films International
at the helm.


With all the companies aggressively going head to head
to lock up buyers and sellers, and all offering
similar services on a no-fee basis, it is pretty
certain that not all will survive an expected shake
down. All the companies acknowledge that there is
limited room in the marketplace and that in the next
year we'll find only a couple left standing. Stay
tuned.


[Sandy Mandelberger is the President of International
Media Resources, an international marketing, promotion
and editorial content provider who works with
independent producers, distributors, sales companies
and film festivals to promote their films and events.]