PARIS — With the annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema now well underway and its month-long MyFrenchFilmFestival about to kick-off, UniFrance has announced an ambitious slate of measures designed to more fully support French productions on VOD platforms in 2019.
“Digital distribution is part of everything we do now,” said Quentin Deleau-Latournerie, the organization’s aptly titled head of digital distribution. On top of his responsibilities co-managing the MyFrenchFilmFestival, Deleau-Latournerie will oversee an expanded portfolio intended to leverage UniFrance’s existing partnerships and to expand the French industry’s digital footprint.
The promotional body will execute its plan on three fronts: Introducing new financial incentives; rolling out a yearlong marketing campaign; and offering members extensive data and analysis.
In terms of financial incentives, the organization will allocate part of its promotional budget to its digital arm. UniFrance has long partnered with international distributors to cover P&A costs on theatrical releases; while continuing this program, it will also reserve a portion of those funds to pay upfront fees on royalty-sharing TVOD platforms like iTunes and Google Play.
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“Contracts with VOD platforms take time, and these services often want a revenue-share model instead of flat fees or minimum guarantees,” added Deleau-Latournerie. “We want to create initiatives to ease that placement.”
Once on such platforms, the films face a different concern. “Discoverability is the key issue in VOD,” says Deleau-Latournerie. “A VOD platform is like a supermarket. Some items get put on prominent display, while others get buried on the bottom shelf.”
In order to enhance visibility, UniFrance is teaming with iTunes Canada and Mexico’s Cinépolis KLIC to create yearlong promotional verticals called ‘French Cinema Rooms.’ With the Gallic fare consolidated in one access point, the digital team will then run geo-targeted ad campaigns on various social networks to promote those ‘rooms.’
“We’ll say, ‘hey, you live in Canada. How about watching a French film this weekend?’ And then provide a link,” Deleau-Latournerie explained. “We’ll pay for a campaign with the intention to drive royalties, and hopefully spur the platforms to carry more French films.” For the time being, UniFrance will test the model in Canada and Mexico, with the hopes of expanding to other markets should it bear fruit.
Finally, Deleau-Latournerie plans to assemble the data culled from nine editions of MyFrenchFilmFestival into a detailed index of the international marketplace, available to all UniFrance members.
“MyFrenchFilmFestival can serve as a B2B tool thanks to the stats we collect,” he noted. “We can know who the audience is, where they are, and what interests them.”
“Because we collect that data, we can then re-use it for different purposes. We can give it to sales agents, so that they understand what works in what market, and to what extent different platforms are adept with French cinema.”
Deleau-Latournerie plans to release a study that encompasses the digital festival’s 50-plus partners by the end of the first quarter, and hopes it will clarify a complicated international scene.
“Some traditional distributors are evolving slower than the VOD market, so it’s our job to scout for potential platforms and for new opportunities,” he remarks.
“Plus, there’s just a lack of data right now, in terms of who buys what and where. The objective is to put that information together in a simple, transparent way. And ideally, by 2020, 2021, everyone will have the right info, and they won’t need us anymore.”