Goteborg: Festival’s Nostradamus Report Analyzes Who Will Create Film Culture, and Cinemagoing

High-end studio fare will dominate theaters in the next five years,” according to the Göteborg International Film Festival’s third Nostradamus report

Violetta Kovacka, Nostradamus
Courtesy of Goteborg Film Festival

”Expensive studio fare will increasingly dominate mainstream cinemas three-to-five years from now – this is clear from the high-profile releases already announced through to 2020,” concluded this year’s Nostradamus Report – the annual study of Sweden’s Göteborg International Film Festival anticipating the close future of film and television.

Cia Edström, head of fest’s Nordic Film Market and the Nostradamus Project, and Finnish author-editor Johanna Koljonen and their group of experts have this time in particular focusing on distribution, exhibition, virtual reality and the emergence of new global majors.

”One hot topic we have not covered is Europe’s Digital Single Market – but besides the fact it seems unlikely that the current financing system would collapse without any functioning replacement, its development is currently too difficult to predict,” they observed.

At a Feb. 4 festivakl seminar in Göteborg’s Biopalatset, the Nostradamus Project presented its third annual predictions. Koljonen moderated a discussion with creative director Anna Higgs, of Nowness, former head of digital at Film 4, Cannes Marché du Fim head of industry programs Julie Bergeron; Mathijs Wouter Knol, director of Berlin’s European Film Market, and Justxine Powell, senior vp of London’s iROKO Global.

”Online, services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO and a handful of others will operate globally or near-globally and demand exclusive global rights for their content. Tentpole titles on screens both big and small will increasingly have global releases,” said the report.

”All films and programming will have individual sales, distribution and marketing plans. Often this work will happen closer to writers, directors and other key talent, as best practice in audience development and immersive storytelling continues to migrate from the ‘transmedia’ space to mainstream film and TV production,” the study went on.

”Sales, distribution and marketing will start early, happen in parallel, and increasingly be provided by the same companies, driving some out of business and everyone to change how they work.”

While innovative practices explored by arthouse cinemas are pointing a way for a cinema renaissance, many films will still not be able to secure theatrical releases. ”Release strategies from digital games should be studied as alternative circulation models are designed.”

”One key question is whose job it is to create film culture and a culture of going to the cinema. In Europe, public funds are currently investing in a large number of feature films that will never attain theatrical distribution. Supporting diversity in the cinema marketplace, festivals, cinema in schools, and innovative screening environments might be a better investment for the survival of the industry,” Nostradamus argued.

”Admittedly, the report is more optimistic than it has been before, and that comes directly from the industry, from the people we speak to,” Koljonen told Variety. ”I think in the last three years people in strategic positions – decision-makers – tend to be more optimistic than people on the production side, mainly because the changes in how financing operates have hit producers very hard.

”Unfortunately, I think there are a few more hard years to come, because we will have to try in this new market place to find out what works and what doesn’t. But the good news this year is that we can now clearly see what will come out of it – a renaissance of independent cinemas, but also a new type of players, of exhibitors, of collaborators, less bound by the traditional window model.

“It is a fact that there are just not enough cinema screens for all the films that are being produced. We have to start thinking about different ways of creating interest other than the traditional premiere. These could be screenings at a festival combined with a VOD-platform, could be an event with a broadcaster. But the most important thing is you must be excited about [the industry], because it changes all the time,” Koljonen added.