Market numbers spike, buyers expected to bite

Participants now able to register online

Much to his surprise, Cannes market topper Jerome Paillard is seeing a rise in numbers this year — both for participants and films.

“It’s a little bit unexpected with the economy and the worldwide situation,” he says. “We expected it to be lower this year.”

Compared to the number of registrants in late April last year, total participation is up 7% and films offered at the market have increased by 25% for the 2003 Marche du Film, running concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival (May 14-25). So far, the largest participant increases over 2002 have been among the British, Germans and Japanese.

Paillard is equally pleased with the digits on companies registering online. For the first time, exhibitors and other participants were able to fully register and pay via the Internet at Cannesmarket.com. “More than 30% are using it — for the first year that’s quite good,” he says, adding that most of the online uptake came from the Americans, the least from the French.

Another Paillard pet project has been to get all sales companies and biz participants surrounding the film festival to register with the Marche du Film — whether they exhibit with the official org or not. He estimates about half of the biz (some 120 exhibs repping 220 companies) sets up shop in the Marche areas (Riviera, Palais des Festivals and adjacent tents, see map). The other half — mostly bigger production-sales shops and studio reps — inhabit the main hotels (Majestic, Carlton and Noga-Hilton), with the remainder taking private apartments and office space in buildings nearby.

“Obviously, we don’t collect a fee on their office,” says Paillard of the latter groups. “But they are totally registered. The biggest reason to be part of the market on the whole is that they are listed in the guide and invited to screenings.”

The market helps program some 1,400 screenings in 28 venues: eight screens in Riviera, 10 in the Palais, and 10 more in commercial theaters (Olympia, Arcade and Star) on the street behind the Croisette.

Among the Marche’s new amenities this year is a video/DVD library where buyers can view product at leisure; a short film market counterpart to the fest’s shorts; and more extensive tech support and facilities for digital projection, last-minute post production and subtitling.

Overall, Paillard is optimistic about the biz prospects for this year’s mart. “At AFM, I had a lot of conversations with buyers and sellers and they expected great things for Cannes,” he says. “AFM wasn’t very strong; there wasn’t a lot of product ready.”

Just a couple of weeks before the market start, industryites were backing up that sentiment.

“I think it’s going to be good,” says Miramax chief operations officer and international sales veteran Rick Sands. “Distributors are running out of films. They need to feed the machine.”

Sands also predicts that the market calendar, which currently involves three meet-and-greets (L.A.’s AFM, Cannes and Milan-based Mifed), will collapse to two major dates. “It is going to be much better when it goes to two markets, which I think will happen. People are selling 12 months a year now. We don’t need three markets.”

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