EXCLUSIVE: The movie industry’s leading independent film companies and talent agencies are banding together to devise a virtual market in the event that the Cannes Film Festival and market are canceled due to the coronavirus.
Hollywood agency CAA has been leading the initiative, which also has buy-in from Endeavor Content, UTA and ICM Partners. The initial wave of sales companies to have signed up to the online plan includes (in alphabetical order): 30West, AGC Studios, Altitude, Anton, Cornerstone, Endeavor Content, FilmNation, IMR, Lionsgate International, Miramax, Mister Smith, Protagonist, Rocket Science, Sierra/Affinity, Solstice Studios, STX Entertainment, Voltage Pictures and Wild Bunch.
This is a non-exhaustive list and other companies are welcome and likely to join, we understand.
The virtual market, which is only a contingency plan should Cannes not go ahead in the next few months, would take place in early May. The market, which is still being thrashed out, would include coordinated movie screenings, buyer presentations from filmmakers and talent, video meetings, and promo and sizzle reel screenings.
The dealmaking wouldn’t be confined to agency packages and there wouldn’t be a registration fee to take part. It could also potentially include movies that are selected to take part in any scaled back version of the festival.
Travel restrictions permitting, movie screenings could take place in cities across Europe, the Americas and Asia, or they could happen online. Multiple video conferencing platforms are being considered to host the online market. The idea is that if the coronavirus were to eat into film markets in the fall, movie companies could also revert to this virtual market then as well.
Amid a sea of depressing news stories relating to the film business over the last few days, this is a positive update demonstrating the industry’s entrepreneurial spirit and pro-activity. A “Cannes do spirit,” you might say.
We understand significant packages are already coming together and multiple projects could be sent to buyers as early as this weekend. A number of international buyers have been made aware of the plan, we hear.
“The Cannes market is happening, it’s only a question of whether it is virtual or in person,” one of the sellers told us. “We must continue to be in business and we don’t want to wait until Venice or Toronto. Technology has made this easier than it would have been in the past. We are all motivated to make it work. There is usually a lot of competition between us, but in a moment of crisis the independents are coming together to try to work as a community. Amid so much scary news we see this as a positive thing.”
“This is about leadership, not exclusivity,” another said. “This is just a first wave of companies with whom we have started to have a conversation. If other companies want to join us, we welcome that. The more the merrier.”
“This is not about replacing the Cannes market in future years,” a sales vet commented. “This is about trying to keep business going as usual. Think of it as a hospital for movies. Nothing is going to replace the physical meetings you can do at markets.”
Cannes festival and Marché du Film organizers are hoping that the Riviera event in early May will go ahead, but France is currently in lockdown. Fest organizers are due to announce their definitive plan in mid-April, unless authorities cancel the confab before then.
Spring festivals and entertainment events have faced near-total cancellation or postponement due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 100,000 globally and killed thousands. Most of Europe and the U.S. is on lockdown.
The organizers of Cannes’ market are understood to be considering their own online market scenario, which would presumably include a registration fee. Cinando would be a logical platform. National film organizations have also been weighing up alternatives.
French TV event Series Mania this morning announced an online mini-market for industry to view pitches. The Series Mania Digital Forum, which goes some way to replacing the cancelled Series Mania festival, comes with a registration fee of €90 ($100).