2011 FILM FESTIVAL RUNS FEB. 10-20
Variety posted a report today from John Hopewell about how larger independent companies are finding a "sweet spot" for the type of mid-budget motion pictures that Hollywood has gotten far away from. The article anticipates the market at the upcoming Berlin International Film Festival, which takes place February 10-20. Hopewell notes that SBS Producttion's Saïd Ben Saïd will be introducing buyers at Berlin to Brian De Palma's upcoming Passion (a remake of Alain Corneau's Love Crime, pictured). "Movies of this kind are very difficult to make today in the U.S.," Saïd is quoted, "because the U.S. doesn't have co-productions and the studios are not interested anymore in making them." Below is an excerpt from Hopewell's article:
Big markets -- and Berlin, after Cannes, is Europe's biggest -- prompt deep thought about the state of the international business, and many mavens are heading into the European Film Market pondering lessons learned in the past three years: Don't leave home without a marketable concept, get marketable talent for that marketable concept and always create a manageable budget.
It also helps to accept that prices, having largely plunged, are stable but not crazy, and to recognize every territory's strengths and weaknesses.
That said, the game is clearly starting to change for the better for the larger indie players, which are seeing an opportunity for bigger budgets.
"With the studios greenlighting fewer midbudget films, a small circle of independent companies that can mount their own $30 million-$40 million movies are accessing quality material more easily and enjoying a less-crowded U.S. distribution landscape," says IM Global's Stuart Ford.
That aspect of the indie business, he says, is the most notable and most vibrant. "More than ever, foreign buyers need films for their TV packages. As the ancillary market struggles through its evolution away from DVD to VOD, bigger buyers need movies that will potentially generate theatrical profit," he adds.
Exclusive Films sold George Clooney-helmed "The Ides of March," which it co-financed and co-produced, at AFM, and struck deals with distribs like Sony in the U.S. and eOne in Blighty. The branch is also fully financing and producing the Miley Cyrus action comedy "So Undercover," while Exclusive's Hammer label Under Hammer Films, has Daniel Radcliffe starrer "The Woman in Black."
Alex Walton, Exclusive Media Group international sales and distribution prexy, says that while the marketplace has always been competitive, there's now a place for independent films that was previously filled by minimajors.
"I think there's definitely an argument to (be put forward) that 'Ides of March' was a film that should have been made within the studio system, and now we were lucky enough to be able to partner on it," Walton says. "Indies have put themselves in a position to capitalize on these gaps. There's been a complete turnaround."
And in an ever more global film economy, more European companies are angling to access U.S. talent, producing films the studios have largely given up making.