The Venice Film Festival’s market kicked off Thursday with the distinction this year of being the place to be for online giants Netflix and Amazon — not just to launch movies, but also to do business.
Netflix, which has six films premiering in Venice, has the largest contingent of executives on the Lido — about a dozen, including L.A.-based director of original film Matt Brodlie and development and acquisitions executive Funa Maduka, whose focus is non-English-language movies. Amazon Studios has a team of six, led by motion picture production chief Ted Hope.
Pascal Diot, the manager of the market, known as the Venice Production Bridge, says that the two platforms “are increasingly developing local distribution,” and that he believes the next step for Netflix would be “stepping up international co-productions.” That makes Venice a good place to meet with European executives, especially after top Netflix leaders skipped Cannes in May because their movies were shut out from competition there.
This year’s Venice fest is also likely to go down as a moment where a clearer picture of Netflix’s new philosophy regarding theatrical distribution surfaced. At least four of their titles launching from the Lido — “Roma,” “22 July,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind,” which has taken 48 years to complete — will be screening in “select movie theaters and on Netflix,” as posters for “Wind” all over the Lido put it.
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Since most of the films world premiering in Venice are already pre-sold pretty much everywhere, Diot says that, unlike at Cannes, industry folks who make the trek to the Lido do so to buy and sell projects in development. The Venice Gap Financing Market, which helps European and international producers secure the final portion of financing for their projects, is the core of the Production Bridge, which Diot launched in 2012. It has doubled in attendance since. There are more than 2,200 registered execs so far this year, which is 200 more than at the end of the last edition.
The increase is partly due to the presence of new industry professionals from companies such as Google, Oculus and Sony, and of a large Chinese contingent attracted by the still-available titles in the virtual reality competitive strand, which is unique to Venice and is putting the world’s oldest film festival ahead of the curve.