Mifed pace dizzying but deals slow

More pic deals likely after close of Milan confab

MILAN — Mifed dealmakers admit their heads are spinning.

But the one thing sellers exiting the 69th edition of the film market are sure of is just how tricky the indie distribution business has become.

In contrast to even recent years, sales announcements have fallen dramatically. But that may be because, after five days of frenetic meetings, sales agents have had little time to collect their thoughts or ink deal memos. Many Mifed deals are likely to go down after the market wraps.

“I feel I need to get away for a day and consider what offers I can make, and what state the market’s in,” said one U.S. distrib.

Sales companies came into Mifed with low expectations. The market was probably not as bad as they feared, although only slightly better than they hoped. Some clouds and rays of hope at this year’s Milan mart:

? Movies with major stars or major selling points, budgeted at accessible prices, cleaned up in most major international territories. These included Senator’s Sam Raimi-produced “Boogeyman,” MDP’s “11.14” and “Monster” and Lions Gate’s “Cabin Fever,” “Godsend,” “Wonderland” and “The Other Side of the Bed.”

? Films from top foreign auteurs — Wong Kar-Wai’s “2046,” Francois Ozon’s “The Swimming Pool” — did well in major territories. A U.S. domestic deal looks imminent on “Pool.”

? Prices offered by distribs are falling, and not just for Europe. Mifed boasted a clutch of acclaimed film screenings, led by Intermedia’s “Adaptation,” starring Nicolas Cage, and the Alan Parker-directed “The Life of David Gale.” Whether sales agents can get the prices they need on such titles is another question.

? Whammied by tumbling pay TV sales, France, Italy and Spain proved tough sells. But deals were seen in all three territories: Distribs still need to feed their release skeds. In France, smaller buyers reportedly were beginning to base deals on theatrical and video/DVD recoupment, factoring out TV.

Deals were done, of course. Of the latest ones struck, Lions Gate took North American rights to two French films from Wild Bunch: “Red Siren” and “Bloody Mallory.”

Capitol Films sold Robert Altman’s “The Company,” set at Chi’s Joffrey Ballet, to France (Metropolitan), the U.K. (Pathe and Momentum), Australia (Village Roadshow), Japan (K2/SPO), Scandinavia (Svensk) and Italy (Medusa).

Asia strong

“The Magdalene Sisters” sold to Japan and Filmax’s “El Cid” to Korea (Korean Screen), as Asian territories largely held up with regard to prices and the number of deals done. Mark Yoon at C.J. Entertainment reported $1.5 million in sales, many to smaller Asian countries.

Buyers were circling Summit’s Jackie Chan starrer “Around the World in 80 Days” from day one.

But the major impression left by Mifed was of unfinished business. “I’ve got a lot of offers, but not at the prices I want,” said one seller.

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