×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Will Hollywood Mega-Mergers Impact Cannes Film Market?

The U.S. movie business is undergoing a wave of dramatic consolidation.

Major studios are being swallowed up and indie players are dropping like flies. Though the Cannes Film Festival is unfolding an ocean and several time zones away from Hollywood, the aftershocks from the mega-mergers and bankruptcies currently roiling the entertainment industries will likely be felt by the executives and agents prowling the Croisette in search of movies to buy.

“There aren’t a lot of U.S. distributors, period,” said Martin Moszkowicz, CEO of Constantin Film, the producer of “Resident Evil.”

Twentieth Century Fox Film has been subsumed into Walt Disney Studios as part of a larger $71.3 billion deal. Under its new ownership, it is expected to release fewer than six movies annually, roughly half of what it once fielded in a typical year. That means that the number of major studios have shrunk from six to five. The independent film world seems to be teetering. Broad Green and Open Road have gone belly up, Annapurna is dialing down its ambitions after a series of flops, and STX and Lionsgate are flailing as they search for new film franchises.

Those companies that have survived this period of dramatic change won’t find many splashy titles for sale. There are a smattering of big-budget films on offer, including Roland Emmerich’s epic “Moonfall” and a “Cliffhanger” reboot that will trade Sylvester Stallone for a female protagonist. But these films have to contend with a new reality. Hollywood’s studios are taking fewer risks and releasing fewer films.

“You are certainly not going to see too many flashy big-budget movies being touted, just because the market can’t really afford that kind of budget,” said David Garrett, founder of the sales company Mister Smith Entertainment.

If studios do buy domestic rights to a movie, they often want part of international as well, which makes dealmaking more complex. Hardly any of even the big movie projects bowing at Cannes have U.S. distribution. Until they do ink a U.S. deal, which would guarantee an impactful marketing campaign, many foreign-based distributors will hold off on purchases. Buying at Cannes will, as a consequence, almost certainly remain as targeted as the movie projects themselves.

In contrast, this year’s Sundance Film Festival was red hot despite the systemic issues facing the movie business. Amazon Studios returned to dealmaking with a vengeance, while Netflix was also active. However, the Berlin Film Festival, unfolding just a few weeks later, was notably slower and smaller when it came to sales.

A few films are drawing buyers’ attention. It’s expected to be standing room only when Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios unveils Emmerich’s “Moonfall,” which is budgeted at $150 million, in an intimate presentation to buyers on May 15 at the Carlton Hotel. AGC Studios’ Michael Rothstein said the film is “in the spirit of ‘2012,’ with Roland wreaking joyful cinematic havoc on our planet as only Roland can.”

Also drawing interest are Michael Polish’s hurricane-set actioner “Force of Nature” with Mel Gibson and Kate Bosworth, and Voltage Pictures’ action-thriller “The Minuteman” with Liam Neeson.

But “the number of higher-profile films seems significantly reduced from years past — and there are absolutely (fewer) big-budget films,” said Rothstein.

Most of the films for sale aren’t on the level of “355,” a spy thriller with Jessica Chastain and Lupita Nyong’o that captivated buyers at last year’s Cannes. But what the market lacks in sizzle it makes up for in depth.

“It’s better than over the last two years in volume, and quality,” said Moszkowicz.

“Despite all the uncertainties, it is actually an exciting time if you have capital and access to talent,” added Harold van Lier, at Anton.

With the U.S. market looking dicier, some foreign territories could help plug the gap. China, for instance, has a growing appetite for science-fiction movies and family fare. But in a risk-averse environment, many of Cannes higher-profile movies are keeping a tighter rein on costs. Many have budgets below the $20 million to $25 million range.

These include Bankside Films’ “Let Me Count the Ways,” with Emilia Clarke as poet Elizabeth Barrett; See-Saw Films’ “The Power of the Dog” from director Jane Campion with Benedict Cumberbatch and Elisabeth Moss; and the STX Intl. thriller “I Care a Lot” with Rosamund Pike. As for family entertainment, Kate Winslet voices the horse in Constantin’s “Black Beauty” and Mel Gibson plays Santa Claus in Fortitude’s “Fatman.”

“Cannes is unique,” said Rocket Science founder Thorsten Schumacher, the producer and sales agent of the “Cliffhanger” reboot. “In a very small place, in very short time, a lot of people with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, ambition and resources come together. You cannot beat that.”

More Film

  • Bill Murray

    Bill Murray to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award From Wes Anderson at Rome Festival

    The Rome Film Festival will celebrate Bill Murray with its lifetime achievement award, which will be presented to him by Wes Anderson. Anderson, who has directed Murray in some of his most iconic roles, most notably in “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and in several other films such as “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Grand Budapest [...]

  • CLOSE QUARTERS – In Disney and

    'Toy Story 4': 5 Takeaways From Opening Weekend

    Despite arriving below expectations, “Toy Story 4” did huge business this weekend with ticket sales surpassing $118 million in North America. As sequels hailing from beloved franchises continue to flounder at the box office, Disney and Pixar’s cartooned fourquel is a much-needed win for the movie business. It now ranks among the top debuts for [...]

  • Prince Death

    Prince’s ‘Batman' at 30: How the Film Saved His Career From ‘Horrible’ Financial Straits

    As the movie that ushered in both the modern-day superhero genre and a new peak in the art of saturation marketing, Tim Burton’s “Batman” has a legacy that’s hard to overstate. Virtually everything associated with the 1989 comic-book adaptation became a cultural phenomenon, from Burton’s mischievous, mainstream-goth aesthetic to the meta-narrative of the film’s record-breaking [...]

  • Lucrecia MartelVenice Film Festival 2017, Italy

    Argentina's Lucrecia Martel Named Venice Jury President

    Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel has been named the president of the jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the event’s 76th edition. Venice chief Alberto Barbera praised Martel as “Latin America’s most important female director and one of the top female directors worldwide,” adding that she had achieved this status with just “four feature films [...]

  • NEW TOY? – Everyone’s favorite pull-string

    China Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' Beaten by Old Animated Film 'Spirited Away'

    Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” has debuted to record-breaking opening weekends all over the world – but not in China, where it was soundly beaten by a nearly 20-year-old Japanese anime classic, Ghibli Studios’ “Spirited Away.” While “Toy Story 4” made film history in territories around the world with the largest-ever three-day opening for [...]

  • The Wolf Hour

    Shanghai Film Review: 'The Wolf Hour'

    Run a finger along any of the surfaces in Alistair Banks Griffin’s sophomore feature “The Wolf Hour,” and it will come up slicked with sweat, grime and the residual soot of the city. It is the summer of 1977,  and it’s hotter than hell. June Leigh (Naomi Watts) perches on the window sill of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content