EXCLUSIVE: In a smart move that aligns international film sales business closer to this year’s Cannes Film Festival, leading sellers and packaging agencies have agreed to stage their main summer pre-sales business as a virtual market between June 21-25, the same dates which the Cannes Marché today announced it is moving its “Cannes pre-screenings event.”
The update comes as the industry still wonders if the festival will be able to follow through with its plans to hold both the Cannes Film Festival and a Cannes Market on the Croisette in July, with the global Covid pandemic lingering.
As we reported two weeks ago, the loose alliance of dozens of leading sellers and the main agency packagers have been in discussions for weeks to figure out the best course to be able to carry out their virtual business on pre-sales packages.
Their decision is a welcome move to avoid having Cannes-associated events in three separate months. As we reported earlier today, the Cannes Marché is scrapping its ‘pre-Cannes screenings’ (largely aimed at completed non-festival films) in May in favor of a June 21-25 event.
The Marché issued this statement earlier today: “Following the request from sales agents to have an event between the EFM and the Marché du Film in Cannes in July, the Marché du Film announced a few weeks ago the Pre-Cannes Screenings in May.
More recently, some sales companies voiced their preference to hold the event later in June. We therefore decided to launch a wide survey to all buyers and sellers. More than 700 answered: a vast majority confirmed their participation in the Pre-Cannes Screenings and 66% voted in this new context for moving to 21 June.
Listening to and answering the needs of the industry are key values of the Marché du Film team. Therefore, we have decided to run the online Pre-Cannes Screenings from 21-25 June, two weeks before the Marché du Film in Cannes (6-15 July).”
The prospect of a Marché-led pre-Cannes screenings event in May, a U.S.-industry-led virtual market in June and then the Cannes Film Festival and market itself in July, was always going to be overkill.
Three Cannes-type events in quick succession is still on the cards, however. Though it remains to be seen whether, or how, the Cannes Film Festival and market will take place in July, given the ongoing high rates of infection in Europe and slow vaccine rollout.
Last year’s Cannes virtual market, considering that the country was shuttered and the film business in dry dock, had bright spots. The biggest was an auction of the Antoine Fuqua-directed Will Smith-starrer Emancipation, which Apple acquired in a deal pegged around $130 million. That movie just made headlines as it exited shooting in Georgia because of the restrictive election statutes signed into law. It will instead be shot in Louisiana, where a slave’s dangerous journey to freedom actually happened.