Film executives cast hopeful eye on Cannes market

Mon May 11, 2009 8:38pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movie executives will gather this week on the French Riviera for the Cannes film festival, and despite the dark cloud of recession hanging over the world's largest film market, players seem somewhat sunny.

Festival attendees from mostly independent film companies say the global credit crunch means fewer people are headed to Cannes and fewer deals buying and selling films for theaters, television, DVD and other outlets may get done.

"Everyone has concerns. It's a good time for theatrical revenue, but not such a good time in the DVD arena. You'll find companies being careful," said Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. "That is not to say deals won't be made, because deals will be made."

But with less money for financing and distributing movies, market players said the films that do get produced may be better because only quality stories will get funds, and once made they will face fewer rivals at box offices.

High on the list of industry concerns will be new 3D movies, digital projection and Web-based video-on-demand. But first on everybody's mind will be the economy.

Industry players will be looking to see if key markets in Europe, North America, Asia and other territories will rebound from last November's American Film Market in Los Angeles.

Cannes and AFM are two of the world's major movie markets, and in 2008 as banks teetered on the brink of collapse, AFM was filled with uncertainty and a general business malaise.

AFM reported slightly more than 1500 registered buyers. Attendance from Asia was down 10 percent, from North America by 14 percent, while participation from European Union countries slipped a marginal 1 percent.   Continued...

<p>A worker sets up a canvas of the official poster of the 62st Cannes Film Festival May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>