While major sellers increasingly regard Mifed as a place to conclude deals begun at the London Screenings, buyers among the Fiera faithful may rest assured – the annual trek to Milan is still the main event for many L.A.-based indie film companies.
One of those heading straight to Milan is Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons with its multiple slate, including “Black Rose of Harlem,” a gangster pic starring Billy Dee Williams.
“We’ve been successful in the past at Mifed,” says C-NH Intl. head Pamela Abraham. “We feel we’ll continue to be successful this year.”
Saban Entertainment’s six-pic slate is screening only at Mifed and includes action-adventure, thrillers and the kiddie-friendly “Suzie Q,” starring Amy Jo Johnson of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fame.
Promark Entertainment also is going exclusively Milanese to offer its action and thriller slate, highlighted by “Cybertech P.D.,” toplining Lorenzo Lamas.
“Our feeling is that Mifed is where the real business gets done,” says David Carson, Promark VP of international distribution. “You’re not sitting around with tea and crumpets talking about what’s playing on the West End.” 3
Mifed-goers alone will get the first look at MDP/Alliance’s Rachel MacLish actioner “Ravenhawk,” if only because the print won’t be ready for London, MDP/Alliance topper Mark Damon says. A product reel of Abel Ferrara’s “The Funeral” will be available in both London and Milan, however, and Damon will be offering new projects, including two going into production from helmers David Cronenberg and Alex Cox.
The biggest action is likely to revolve around Summit Entertainment, which is selling two big-budget pics from Peter Guber’s Sony-based Mandalay, and Largo, which is handling two from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Disney-based banner.
For several new companies, Mifed ’95 will be a market debut. Despite yearly groans that the indie biz is tougher than ever, there still seems room for, niche players, such as 3-month-old L.A.-based Solomon Pictures, where Chris Bialek is head of international sales. A Mifed veteran, Bialek sees nothing but opportunity for sellers because many of the bigger players have left the scene altogether, such as Carolco Pictures, Bialek’s former employer. “Without Carolco,” he says hopefully, “there is more money left among distributors to buy more films.”
Segall Entertainment is another new entrant, premiering “Fa$t Money” at Mifed. The company is an offshoot of TV producer Stu Segall Prods., responsible for “Silk Stalkings,” and is trying to find a niche in the feature film market.
United Film Distributors, the newly minted international sales company headed by market veteran Ralph Alexander, will be making its first entry at the Fiera with four feature films, including one upcoming from helmer Ken Russell.
But for the most part, aggressive players such as Live Entertainment, the video distribber now moving into producing and acquiring films, will be giving London and Mifed buyers sneak peeks at product. In Live’s case, it will be three upcoming features, including the Charlie Sheen actioner “Shockwave,” now lensing in Mexico.
Some companies, such as New Line, will be attending Mifed primarily for marketing meetings with established overseas distribs. New Line’s international chief, Rolf Mittweg, says that while adjusting to new and larger quarters in the A1 building’s former bar area, he will also be seeking to nail down additional output deals with companies from Italy, Spain, France and Brazil.
The glut of major studio films presents more of an obstacle than ever for indies, however. Even before London, some buyers, such as Japan’s Nippon Herald, are close to their annual quotas. Sales agent Kathy Morgan, who first went to Mifed in ’73, says, “I bet the studios take a hard look at this. Perhaps all the mega-mergers will shrink things a bit and the pendulum would swing back toward the indies – I hope.”
At both London and Mifed, Morgan’s boutique operation is offering “Warriors of Virtue,” an animatronic action-fantasy pic helmed by Ronny Yu with a U.S. theatrical release from MGM scheduled for spring ’97.
Another market veteran bringing new wares to Mifed is Bobby Meyers, head of Village Roadshow Intl., who is offering two pics from Down Under, including “Deadheart,” now under way with Bryan Brown starring. Myers says he also will be buying films for distribution in Greece, as well as Malaysia.