Classic Films Get a Market of Their Own

blackmail Classic Films Market

Grand Lyon Film Festival's unique bazaar stokes heat around revivals

Already featured at Cannes and Venice film festivals, classic pictures were overdue for a dedicated market, and now they have one at Lyon’s Lumiere Festival.

Launched by Lumiere fest director Thierry Fremaux (who is also Cannes film fest topper and creator of Cannes Classics), the three-day market is conceived as “a new meeting point for classics’ right-holders, sales agents, producers and laboratories looking to show what they’re up to, promote their work and/or conduct business deals,” says Fremaux.

Lyon’s oldies market next to the Lumiere Village, running Oct. 16-18, is the first of its kind in the world and it is attracting such international players as Japan’s Shochiku, which restored Yasujiro Ozu’s films.

“Our goal is to show that there’s a market for classics,” Fremaux says.

In the U.S., the classics biz has been hurt by the collapse of homevideo revenue. “The ability to amortize the preservation costs through a DVD or Blu-ray release is becoming less and less likely,” says Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

To balance out that homevideo decline, Fremaux says, “VOD presents a viable distribution avenue for classics, even if we still need to come up with a better way to monetize streaming. Television is another interesting avenue.”

Classics are big in Gaul. “France hosts over a dozen distributors of classic films and more than 100 theaters that show classics because there’s a cinephile audience for these films.”

The U.S., France and the U.K. are the top three markets for these treasures of the past, says Vincent Paul-Boncour, topper of Paris-based classics’ distributor Carlotta Films, which recently bowed an international sales division in France and will soon create a distribarm in North America.

“The spotlight drawn by prestigious international festivals like Cannes or Venice on classics and the digital switch have energized this industry, and especially in the U.S.,” says Paul-Boncour.

What:  Lumiere 2013 Grand Lyon Film Festival
When:  Oct. 14-20

Oct. 14: Opening Night Screening – Henri Verneuil’s 1962 “Un Singe en hiver” (“A Monkey in Winter”) with star Jean-Paul Belmondo in attendance

Oct. 16: Lumiere for Kids screening – Nicolas Vanier’s “Belle and Sebastian” world premiere

Oct. 16: Cine-Concert – Alfred Hitchcock’s silent “Blackmail,” with live performance by the National Orchestra of Lyon

Oct. 18: Lumiere Award presented to Quentin Tarantino

Oct. 19-20: All-night screening – “The Follies of Monty Python”

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