×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin Film Festival Kicks Off ‘Grand’ Indie Film Market

Wes Anderson's ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ — a U.S. indie made with a mix of global money — opens 64th festival

As buyers and sellers touch down in Berlin, the high-end pics in the European Film Market are now moving in two directions: cast-driven action thrillers and older-skewing prestige dramas with stars attached, budgeted around $20 million-$30 million.

This is exactly the budgetary range that Europe, led by France, dove into after Hollywood’s specialty divisions began closing and downsizing over the past several years.
But now the Americans have staged a comeback in that space, thanks to hits such as “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Mud,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “All Is Lost,” a thriving, if niche, VOD/theatrical scene and more money.

But there are still big pics coming out of Europe. Benedict Cumberbatch headlines Sergei Bodrov’s Altitude-sold action thriller “Blood Mountain”; Cillian Murphy plays opposite Bryce Dallas Howard in Jason Lew’s thriller “The Free World,” from Memento; “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto penned Embankment’s thriller “Galveston” with Mathias
Schoenaerts.

And the U.S. is now making much use of Berlin: High-profile titles include Voltage’s “Good Kill” with Andrew Nicoll directing and Ethan Hawke starring as a drone operator; Sam Worthington and Emma Roberts lead Jonathan Mostow’s Sierra/Affinity-sold action-thriller “For the Dogs”; FilmNation shops Participant Media thriller “A Most Violent Year,” with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, directed by J.C. Chandor; and Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart star in Synchronicity’s Vinny Pazienza boxing bio.

Of other high-profile titles, Daniel Radcliffe toplines Goldcrest “Brooklyn Bridge”; QED is selling Oren Moverman’s “Time Out of Mind,” with Richard Gere; and Voltage has drama “The Secret Scripture” with Chastain.

Mark Damon of Foresight Unlimited admitted that there’s a seeming lack of projects available in fest’s lead-up, so sellers can put together attractive packages, such as FilmNation’s Daniel Craig court-room drama “The Whole Truth.”

“People are probably being rightfully cautious at the moment. You definitely want to be sure that the material you’re bringing to the market is right,” said Exclusive Media’s Alex Walton.

There are several reasons for the absence of really high-rollers.

“The thing with bigger movies is that they usually come from bigger companies that often have distribution in place. You won’t find so many on the open market,” said Studiocanal’s Olivier Courson.

The Solution Entertainment Group’s Lisa Wilson noted that sales companies have to scramble to board projects, such as its own drama “Ten Thousand Saints” starring Ethan Hawke and Asa Butterfield. “There’s a very truncated window for getting contracts locked in,” she said.

Above all, perhaps, is the fact that the international biz is undergoing a big change. “There is less money available, for example, from hedge funds or local tax shelters. And local industries around the world are increasingly healthy,” said Constantin Film’s Martin Moszkowicz, citing German (25%) and Italian (30%) films’ market shares.

“Even three years back, distributors at least had a safety net in DVD revenue, but no more, making bigger movie distribution more difficult,” he continued, pointing to the U.S. and France.

The fallout, Moszkowicz said, is companies are cutting down on $25 million-$50 million movies that can’t buy superstars but are expensive enough that they’ll lose their shirts if the film fails.

Yet there are some bigger action pics in the market geared toward international screens: Nicolas Cage looks set for Paco Cabezas’ crime thriller “Men With No Fear,” being sold by the Exchange; Mister Smith will talk up Stephen Hopkins’ “Race,” about Jesse Owens’ Olympics triumph; Bruce Willis is starring in “Vice,” being sold by K5 Intl. and Aldamisa is hawking thriller “Captive.”

But the feeling of this year’s European Film Market hardly seems action-packed.

“There are very interesting titles, very high profile arthouse fare, but I haven’t seen any that makes my skin tingle,” said Ivan Boeing at Brazil’s Imagem.

More Film

  • IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for

    IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for ‘On The Job’ Franchise

    Filipino director Erik Matti is known for his eclectic body of work that includes “Honor Thy Father” and “Seklusyon.” His 2013 effort, “On The Job” travelled widely and won several awards including two at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and was nominated for an SACD Prize at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Matti is at [...]

  • Joan Chen attends the season premiere

    Joan Chen Talks Diversity in Hollywood, Welcomes #MeToo

    Chinese-American actress, writer and director Joan Chen says that she was flattered when Time magazine described her as the “Elizabeth Taylor of China.” When asked at an in-conversation event in Singapore on Saturday whether she paved the way for Chinese actresses to follow in Hollywood, Chen said, “We never go to work because we want [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen

    IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen Talks Performing, Producing and Public Pressure

    Macao’s Actress in Focus is a woman who has trained as a boxer, likes British actors, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Jeremy Irons, and is now setting out her stall as a producer. Yao Chen has built a career over 20 years thanks to TV shows including “My Own Swordsman,” and films including “If You Are [...]

  • Bradley Liew's 'Motel Acacia' Shoots After

    Cautionary Tale, 'Motel Acacia' Under Way After Four Years of Development

    Production has begun on Malaysian director Bradley Liew’s upscale horror film “Motel Acacia.” With a clearly topical message, the film features a hotel bed that eats immigrants. Actor, JC Santos called it: “A cautionary tale of what’s going to happen in the future.” Indonesian star, Nicholas Saputra said the he agreed to the role “because [...]

  • Jon M. ChuUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Honored at Unforgettable Awards: 'One Movie Every 25 Years is Just Not F—ing Enough'

    Fresh on the heels of its Golden Globe nomination, “Crazy Rich Asians” was the talk of the evening at Kore Asian Media’s 17th annual Unforgettable Awards. Saturday’s event, which celebrates Asian-American trailblazers and their achievements in the entertainment industry, honored a host of Asian actors, directors and influencers, including “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    'Roma' Named Best Film of 2018 by L.A. Film Critics Association

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. met today to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” List of winners below. Best Film: “Roma” (Runner-up: “Burning”) Best Director: Debra Granik, “Leave No Trace”(Runner-up: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”) [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content