UPDATE, 03/18, 4:30AM: Cannes just confirmed our scoop that the Marche will hold a virtual ‘pre-screenings’ event for industry this spring. It will be comprised of four days of online screenings at the end of May accompanied by virtual booths for sales, with access reserved for Marche badge holders, at no extra cost to the standard accreditation.
“Due to the unusually long delay between the EFM in Berlin and the Marché du Film in Cannes, many international sales agents have expressed the need for an intermediate event in the spring, which will allow them to do business and to network virtually, while awaiting the big rendezvous in July when the film industry will meet up again in large numbers,” the March said in a statement today.
Organizers clearly remain bullish that a physical event – both a festival and a market – will take place as planned July 6-15. In today’s statement it added that those unable to travel will be able to participate virtually in screenings and events.
The Marche also confirmed to Deadline today that titles from the 2021 Cannes program will not be screened in May, with the fest keeping those back to premiere in July. This will be a blow to distributors who had been hoping to release some of those Cannes-stamped titles into cinemas in the early summer.
Industry remains largely pessimistic about the possibility of an in-person event in the early summer due to ongoing Covid spikes and delays to the vaccine program in Europe. The May event will provide a platform for sales ahead of the summer months – key for both production and cinema releases – even if July cannot go ahead. The fest remains insistent that further industry-focused activity, such as conferences and networking, will take place in July.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 03/02: In what is an ever-evolving picture, the Cannes Film Festival Marche is looking to set up a three-to-four day “pre-screenings” event in May or early June in response to industry demand.
Deadline hears the event will be virtual and will be purely based around industry screenings, without a traditional physical market, and will feature market titles potentially alongside films from the festival selection.
The physical event, dated for July 6-17, is still being planned as a festival and market.
Sources said the reasons for Cannes’ move are twofold. Firstly, I understand that discussions had taken place for the staging of another film sales event in May, potentially run by IFTA (which runs the American Film Market).
Secondly, there has been intense pressure from both sales agents and French distributors for an event to take place early enough for the former to set up summer shoots, and the latter to launch films theatrically in the key summer months, with renewed optimism now for a brighter pandemic picture by then.
If the event does feature titles from the festival it will mean Cannes has to announce its program well in advance of the planned July 6-17 dates for the primary event. That’s a similar situation to Berlin, which had to unveil its program ahead of the European Film Market and long before its planned physical event in June.
How this affects Cannes’ plans for July is yet to be seen, this remains a constantly shifting picture. There were rumors that Cannes is exploring backup dates for the autumn if July is cancelled but that idea is complicated by the Palais being booked out in October by other events.
Deadline has contacted Cannes and IFTA for comment.