Group points out that it's all in the distribution

CANNES — At Variety‘s “Worldwide Marketing and Distribution” sesh Monday, a panel of international heavy-hitters mulled the challenges of territories’ varied tastes, the rising costs of Internet marketing and tricks for getting maximum marketing values with minimum bucks.

The lively panel discussion, moderated by Variety publisher Charles Koones, drew a large crowd to the Variety Pavilion as execs identified the hazards and solutions of global distribution.

Panelists Wouter Barendrecht of Fortissimo Film Sales, Larry Gleason of MGM, Jere Hausfater of Intermedia, Michael Barker of Sony Classics, Marian Koltai-Levine of Fine Line Features, Tom Ortenberg of Lions Gate and Neil Davis of America Online were drawn from several areas of the biz including foreign sales, marketing, international distribution and the Internet.

Barendrecht pointed out that differences in distribution patterns between territories can make a radical difference to a film’s career. In Japan, specialty films often play on only one screen in Tokyo for several months, and “every arthouse is booked until the end of summer 2002,” he said.

Davis discussed whether marketing on the Internet has become influential, saying that studios are now spending significant amounts of money to try to get awareness and intent to see on the Internet.

He cautioned that the days of getting inexpensive exposure on the Internet are numbered, however, since within three to five years sites will need to have television-level production values.

Barker broke down the strategy for drawing wide audiences to Sony Pictures Classics’ blockbuster “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” on a limited budget, explaining that three different trailers were made to appeal to different niches. Sony purchased commercial airtime on cabler ESPN, Barker said, which is much more reasonable than networks and draws young male viewers.

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