Battle Afoot For Cannes Market Screening Space As Star Cinema Shutters?

For over a century, it’s been a fixture of the Rue d’Antibes, and for many years has played host to packed buyer screenings during the Cannes Film Market which runs concurrently with the Cannes Film Festival. But last week, the Star cinema closed its doors following a protracted dispute with its landlord over a rent hike. With no new cinema expected to be built until 2018 in Cannes, will sales companies have to jockey to show their wares?

On the sidelines of the Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema here in Paris, Loic Magneron, founder of indie sales house Wide, tells me he sees the situation as setting up “a complete war for screening rooms.” The Cannes Film Market has 33 rooms with capacities of 9-340, but international sales outfits will have to battle one another for space now that the four Star rooms are gone, Magneron predicts. He adds, however, that he has “total faith” that Market organizers will work to help sales companies. Pyramide’s Eric Lagesse similarly tells me here that it “will be a squeeze.”

FilmsDistribution co-founder Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, whose Son Of Saul was nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar on Thursday, says, “Yes, the closing of the Star will have an impact.” But he suggests that sales companies may be doing fewer in-theater screenings.

He’s right, according to a new rule laid out by the Cannes Market. Sales companies will now be allowed only two screenings during the event rather than three as in previous years. That’s in line with the guidelines of the European Film Market in Berlin. Chief programmer for the Market, Danièle Birgé, tells me she doesn’t expect “too many problems.” The process for requesting rooms opens next month.

Auditorium space has been an issue that raises its head every few years in Cannes. Extra room has been made in the Palais which has helped funnel some of the traffic — also during the TV markets which are increasingly stuffed with panels, speeches and screenings.

Some complain the Star was in need of a refurb, but other locals and businesses have been upset by the closure. A popular cinema conveniently situated between the Palais and the Carlton Hotel, it programmed largely first-run Hollywood and French titles when not serving marketgoers.

rue dantibes cannesAfter the flood that hit Cannes in October on the eve of the Mipcom TV market, this is further bad news for commerce on the Rue d’Antibes. That devastating deluge left shops inundated and facing costly repairs. It also essentially took down all payment processing systems. Adding to the difficulties, there was only one working ATM in town so access to cash was a problem and many business owners and restaurants were left with a series of IOUs from TV biz pros who won’t be back in town until April’s Mip-TV.

It is possible a new cinema replaces the Star (at a rent of about 19K euros per month). But it’s expected to be several years before that happens. A new multiplex is also planned for 2018 in Cannes La Bocca. In the meantime, at the next Cannes Market in May, buyers will find themselves in the Palais and at the nearby Olympia and Les Arcades cinemas, but not the Star.

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