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The Cannes Film Festival Buyers Guide: Who’s Buying the Movies You’ll Watch

Which distributors will compete for the rights to Cannes' hottest titles? We break down the 16 U.S. companies invading the Croisette in 2017.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (8610445c)General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival Thierry Fremaux, left and Cannes Film Festival President Pierre Lescure attend a press conference for the presentation of the 70th Cannes film festival, in Paris, . A Civil War film by Sofia Coppola, a Ukrainian road movie and a film about AIDS activism are among 18 films competing for the top prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival, which organizers hope can help counter nationalist sentimentCannes Film Festival, Paris, France - 13 Apr 2017

Cannes Film Festival


IFC Films

Known for: Cast-driven English-language indies. IFC’s Sundance Selects brand often distributes well-reviewed foreign-language films, while IFC Midnight handles genre titles.

Key players: Jonathan Sehring, president; Lisa Schwartz, co-president of IFC Films/Sundance Selects; Arianna Bocco, EVP of acquisitions and productions.

Recent titles: Kristen Stewart vehicles “Personal Shopper” and “Certain Women,” Cannes prize-winner “Graduation,” and Isabelle Huppert-starrer “Things to Come.”

Cannes agenda: IFC entered Cannes with four titles last year, and bought just one during the fest, but it picked a winner in “I, Daniel Blake.” The film took the Palme d’Or, following up IFC’s 2015 Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan.” This year, IFC will screen its recent Tribeca acquisition, the Jamie M. Dagg thriller “Sweet Virginia,” at the Cannes market, as well as look for acquisitions.

“La La Land”


Key Players: Motion Picture and international chief Patrick Wachsberger, production president Erik Feig, and acquisitions chief Jason Constantine.

Known for: Aggressive genre-focused player making profitable acquisitions as well as financing through offshore sales; home to expired franchises “Saw,” “Now You See Me,” “Twilight,” “Divergent,” and “Hunger Games” as well as low-budget reliable Tyler Perry and the “John Wick,” “Red,” and “Expendables” series.

Recent titles: Oscar players “La La Land” ($443 million worldwide), CBS Films’ acquisition “Hell or High Water,” which played Cannes, and Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Cannes agenda: Look for commercial packages in the market.

Ismael's Ghosts Marion Cotillard

“Ismael’s Ghosts”

Magnolia Pictures

Key players: Eamonn Bowles, president; Dori Begley, co-executive vice president; Matt Cowal, co-executive vice president; John Von Thaden, vice president of acquisition

Known for: Award-winning documentaries and foreign-language films. The company has an output deal with Hulu, where its titles are made available for subscription video on-demand following their theatrical release. Magnolia’s Magnet label handles genre titles.

Recent titles: Magnolia partnered with Amazon on the Cannes entry “The Handmaiden” and turned Oscar-documentary contender “I Am Not Your Negro” into an indie theatrical hit.

Cannes agenda: Marion Cotillard stars in Arnaud Desplechin’s return to the Official Selection (after Directors’ Fortnight title “My Golden Days”) with opener “Ismael’s Ghosts,” co-starring Charlotte Gainsbourg. Cotillard’s been Oscar-nominated twice (“Two Days, One Night”), won once (“La Vie en Rose”), and could do so again. Magnolia also has the rights to Ruben Östlund’s “The Square,” and legendary Japanese director Takashi Miike’s “Blade of the Immortal.”


Key players: Tom Quinn, former co-founder of RADiUS, and Tim League, co-founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse.

Known for: Neon got off to a quiet start when the partners released Michael Moore’s 2015 underperformer “Where to Invade Next,” before the distributor had even announced its name. Neon made a big splash at Sundance, however, picking up the dramatic comedy “Ingrid Goes West,” starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, the teen drama “Beach Rats,” and the hip-hop drama “Roxanne Roxanne.”

Recent titles: Laura Poitras’s “Risk,” which hit theaters on May 5 and VOD just a week later, and the Anne Hathaway monster movie, “Colossal.”

Cannes agenda: Neon isn’t launching any movies at Cannes, but has the resources to compete in festival bidding wars.

Open Road Films

Key players: Tom Ortenberg, CEO; Lejo Pet, senior VP acquisitions; Elliot Slutzky, executive VP distribution.

Known for: Founded in 2011 and owned by AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group, Open Road is known for edgy dramas and smart action films. Though the company has reportedly lost at least $50 million each for AMC and Regal, Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg recently said Open Road is on good financial footing and does not need a capital infusion.

Recent titles: Oscar-winner “Spotlight,” acclaimed documentary “Gleason,” and Oscar-nominated “Nightcrawler.”

Cannes agenda: At last year’s Cannes, Open Road picked up the U.S. rights to “Before I Fall,” the Ry Russo-Young-directed adaptation of the popular 2010 Lauren Oliver YA novel. Look for the company to pick up a commercially driven drama this year.

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