Cannes Film Festival: Distributors To Watch

Buying is already getting underway in Cannes with films acquired on the eve and first day of the market. There is a lot of quality product out there and many distributors with already packed slates are eager not to miss an opportunity. Execs are calling it a buyer’s market, but one important company may be sitting this one out. Here’s a look at some key players in town this year:

The Weinstein Company: Harvey Weinstein often sets the pace of the market here in Cannes. When he spends, everybody else seems to also. If that holds true this year, it will mean vibrant activity on the Croisette. On the eve of this year’s Cannes, The Weinstein Co announced it had picked up Wayne Blair’s The Sapphires, the Australian feel-good film that’s screening in official selection. They’re also close to a deal on hunt for Bin Laden pic Code Name Geronimo. The company has 2 pictures in the competition, Lawless, which it acquired last year (when it was still called The Wettest County In The World), and Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly (which also used to go by a different name, Cogan’s Trade). The timing of the Sapphires announcement is reminiscent of the Weinsteins’ pick-up of The Artist last year. TWC has a packed roster for 2012, but COO David Glasser tells me, “Last year we had a busy slate going into the market and we ended up buying. We’ll buy for this year if the picture is there, but we also have a keen eye for 2013.” Last year, TWC’s deal on The Artist came after the company already had Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master in its pocket, but that didn’t stop pick-ups of The Iron Lady and Lawless. “We’re as aggressive as the product allows us to be,” says Glasser. TWC also has August Osage County with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts and David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook coming up.

Related: Cannes 2012: Producers To Watch

Lionsgate: Patrick Wachsberger is looking ahead to 2014. The takeover of Summit by Lionsgate which was announced in January has had the international biz concerned the consolidation would eliminate an important supplier of product as well as an important US partner. Wachsberger tells me at Cannes he doesn’t think “we’re up to a lot and the why of it is we have something like 18 movies to release. So, frankly, we have no need for product. Of course if there’s something really great, we’ll go for it.” The ‘new’ Lionsgate also recently greenlighted a handful of movies that includes sequel RED 2, the Dirty Dancing remake and has Hunger Games follow-up Catching Fire which is finalizing deals in the remaining foreign territories. Wachsberger says that the influx of new sales companies with such a variety of product leads him to wonder where the films are going to go domestically. “There’s not that many companies. We might have great opportunities of picking up movies that we like, but buyers are going to be able to tell distributors they’re going to have to put up their own P&A. For us and the other domestic distributors it’s gonna be fantastic.” He adds that for 2014, “we definitely need product. We’re loaded for 2012 and I don’t think we have any room left for 2013, but you always find room for something great.”

Related: Cannes 2012: Directors To Watch


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