They came, they saw, they (largely) didn’t buy.
So the verdict is in: Of all international territories at the 2002 Cannes Intl. Film Festival, Spain won the prize for the sharpest distrib market downturn.
As of Wednesday night, Sogecable’s Sogepaq, formerly grabby Manga and artpic outfit Alta Films had not closed on one single film.
Other formerly robust buyers bought sparingly: Antonio Llorens’ Lauren Films reportedly closed on the Hanway-sold “To Kill a King” (a.k.a. “Cromwell & Fairfax”); TriPictures is believed to have taken Francis Veber’s “Ruby et Quentin” from UGC Intl.
There’s a clear reason for caution: Sogecable and Telefonica’s proposed merger of their pay-per-view TV operations, announced just one week before the festival.
That will leave Spain with one premium movie channel and one pay-per-service, forseeably slashing demand for international indie fare.
But until a merger goes through — which could take six months — the pay TV market is uncertain, which prescribes caution.
And tougher demands. “One problem for sales to Spain is that both sellers and buyers are really sticking to their prices. So deals are taking longer to close,” says Jorge Tuca, Filmax head of acquisitions.
But as most distribs step away from the plate, one or two remain active.
Filmax was the only Spanish distributor to dig deep into its pocket, closing on Carousel’s action adventure “George and the Dragon,” sold by MDP Worlwide, and Kevin Costner Western “Open Range” from Cobalt. Prices were reportedly sturdy and, according to sources, Filmax has not concluded its big-pic haul.
Aurum boarded Italo Eagle’s $25 million “Genesis Code,” an English-lingo thriller, with Rupert Wainwright in talks to direct.
Project could form part of a longer-term partnership between buying consortium Eagle, Aurum, Germany’s Concorde and Film Office/Hachette in France.
Adding some action to a dismal scenario, DeAPlaneta took Spanish rights to “Confidence” from Lions Gate Intl. and Fortissimo scarefare “The Eye” in a five-pic shopping spree.
The former deal — on a Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, Ed Burns movie — marks a further step up by Planeta into more commercial fare.