Screening out London

Push is on to bypass Screenings for Milan

MILAN — Some leading U.S. and U.K. sales companies are now actively trying to kill off the London Screenings.

Intermedia president Jere Hausfater is organizing a consortium of top sellers to bypass London next year and take their films straight to the Mifed market in Milan.

Hausfater and Jane Barclay of Capitol Films will meet Mifed reps later this week to signal the willingness of Americans and Brits to abandon the London Screenings in return for guarantees from Mifed of fair pricing and decent facilities.

The London Screenings is an informal gathering that takes place simply at the pleasure of the companies that show up for it: Were the leading U.S. and U.K. companies — the ones with most of the films to sell — to pull out, the event would crumble.

Companies supporting the move to ax the London event include Summit Entertainment, New Line Intl. and Myriad Pictures.

Miramax Films and Good Machine Intl. are both absent from this year’s Mifed, but are normally strong supporters of the Milan event; they are expected to throw their weight behind the campaign.

There also are plans for a meeting in Milan this week of the national export bodies from the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and other Euro countries to address the London/Mifed challenge, with the overwhelming majority in favor of scaling back London and reinforcing Mifed.

The London Screenings evolved as a way for the major sellers to premiere their big theatrical movies in the classier ambience of the British capital, ahead of doing deals at Mifed.

But the London week has grown into an unwieldy monster, which most sellers and buyers find both inefficient and hugely expensive.

“We had dinner for six here in Milan last night, and it came to under $250,” said one American delegate. “Every night in London we were spending over $1,000.”

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