“I just cancelled all of my meetings,” a distributor firmly ensconced in a plush lobby chair at the Majestic Hotel told me today while it was pouring outside. “So I’m buying over the phone.” So much for the face time that Cannes usually affords.
Thrashing wind and rain have been streaming steadily all day today after an on-and-off couple of days that haven’t been much better. And if forecasts are to be believed, there’s no sign the deluge will end before Thursday. An exec tells me, “I’ve been to 19 Cannes and I can’t remember the cold rain and wind like it’s been.” I second that. Of my 15 fests, this one is definitely an anomaly.
Early on, the deal pace was slow with many expecting business to heat up next week. But one exec tells me the weather “absolutely has an impact” on dealmaking. “I think when sellers are sitting on the lawn of the Grand Hotel, the sun is shining, they’re having a glass of rosé and pitching their movies, there’s a difference.” With the rain forcing people indoors, they might see more films, but a foreign sales agent says, “The adrenaline you usually feel isn’t there.” Another seller reported he was having trouble getting buyers to come see his films, while a bullish US sales agent said, “We would never let the weather stop us. We’d bring our films” to the buyers.
And what about all of the companies that have rented yachts to entertain clients? “No one wants to go to a boat in this weather,” says one fest habitué. Events are under-attended, or constantly shifting venues, and an official out of competition screening tonight was cancelled. Referring to Lars von Trier’s end-of-the-world drama that ran in 2011, someone today suggested this would have been the perfect year to screen Melancholia.
The gloom may not mean all is doomed. A series of deals trickled out over the past few days, many involving The Weinstein Co. I hear foreign deals are closing in the market, but the consensus is that buyers are waiting on the bigger films regardless of the weather, with execs expecting a lot of activity in the coming week. A buyer tells me, “It’s a little slow so far, but I think next week there will be some surprises. This world is not what it once was, I think people are a little more careful but in the end, they have pipelines to fill and will say they’d better pull the trigger.” And they better have an umbrella.
(Photos of Isabelle Huppert ascending stairs at Amour premiere and of empty tables at outdoor cafe by AFP and Getty)