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Cannes market up 15%, but will it sell?

More than 2,000 pix scheduled

This year, 7,000 participants from 70 countries will be taking part in the Cannes Film Market, which kicks off today. That’s up 15% from last year. But, after the last few lackluster international film markets — Berlin, AFM — will Cannes be any different?

“There’s no doubt that since Sept. 11, the market has been strange,” market topper Jerome Paillard told Daily Variety recently in Paris. “There was very little product and deals done at AFM and few announcements of new films. But I think people really have been waiting for Cannes.”

This year more than 2,000 films will be flogged at the market (compared to 1,400 last year), one-third of which are in the can and will be screened. Since those 700 finished pics represent 100 more than last year, additional screening rooms around town have been added, bringing the total to 35.

Half of all films screened at the market this year will be world premieres. Of the films screened, 18% will be American pics, up from last year’s 16.5%.

Paillard said that this year’s films confirm a “radicalization with regard to film budgets,” a phenomenon already noted in many European countries such as France and the U.K.

“There are big-budget and small-budget films, but mid-size budget films have diminished,” Paillard remarked. In Europe, that breaks down to few films in the 5 million-10 million euro ($4.5 million-$9 million) range.

“Co-production partners only want to be involved in high-profile films,” Paillard stated. “In Europe it’s harder and harder to get a TV sale without real theatrical value. Canal Plus, Kirch — no one is buying mid-budget films.”

Paillard also noted that the number of English-language films has progressed, “even in the European countries.”

“The films are more and more international,” he states. “Even many of the American films are international co-productions.”

This year, 450 sales companies will be installed along the Croisette at the Riviera, the Palais and various seaside hotels. The Riviera, quickly becoming the heart of the market, now boasts eight state-of-the-art screening rooms, including two digital facilities.

And the International Village has grown to 17 tents. After the addition of South Africa, Germany and Hong Kong in 2001, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey now boast venues as well.

The market website, cannesmarket.com, has been completely redesigned and in the weeks prior to the festival has accommodated more than 2,000 hits daily. Catering to the market participant, the site has lists of buyers, screenings and will be updated daily.

The site has an interactive component that allows users to build their own lists of specifically targeted buyers or sellers. Sellers can also received lists of the addresses in Cannes of the people who attend screenings of their films. The site also has Palm download capabilities.