While championing classic films remains a labor of love, in Europe, several outfits’ experiments with new distribution models have uncovered new revenue in releasing vintage treasures.

At Lyon’s Lumiere festival, Europa Distribution — a network gathering of 120 indie distribs — will spotlight the ins and outs of classic film distribution, bringing together a panel of execs from Germany’s Reelport (which runs Europe’s Finest, a service that supplies digital prints of classic European films to theaters), France’s theatrical distributor Les Acacias, U.K.’s popular and inventive Secret Cinema and French org ADRC. Fest topper Thierry Fremaux will also attend the panel.

“For obvious reasons and unlike with new films, the release window schedule does not apply for classics,” says Adeline Monzier, founder of Europa Distribution. “This allows distributors specialized in classics to market and release their films in theaters but also across multiple platforms and reach different audiences.”

Citing the success of “Les Femmes entre elles,” a lesser-known Michelangelo Antonioni pic released in theaters over the summer, Jean-Fabrice Janaudy at Paris-based Les Acacias contends, “Our approach has changed in the past few years: We’ve started marketing classics like new releases, placing an emphasis on the poster, and we’ve been choosing more recent features — post-1970s — to attract younger crowds.”

France has become a competitive market for such pics, including the recent run for Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard”: The territory boasts the biggest concentration of specialized distributors, including Les Acacias, Solaris, Splendor Films and Carlotta.

Various factors have accelerated this upward trend in classics distribution, explains Janaudy. In addition to the local subsidies and support offered by Gaul’s national film board CNC and other orgs, Janaudy says, the major accelerator has been the switch to digital cinema, which has allowed for high-quality film restoration.

Classic pix step into Lumiere