Film business booms at Cannes amid flurry of deals

Mon May 16, 2011 1:37pm EDT
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By Nick Vinocur and Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The business of cinema is roaring back to life at Cannes after a prolonged bout of gloom, finding renewed strength in money from China, the return of Hollywood studios and the pulling power of A-list stars.

Movie executives at the Riviera festival, which doubles as a huge market for films from around the world, say distributors are spending more freely on new projects now that a period of tight financing due to the global financial crisis has eased.

Among the signs of renewed health are the presence of artists like Kanye West and Lady Gaga at the festival's glitzy after-work parties, as well as the willingness of big studios to splash out on lavish entertainment for their customers.

Leaving austerity behind, U.S. studio Miramax has hired a fleet of speedboats to ferry executives from the Cannes film festival to a private beach at nearby Cap d'Antibes, to meet company chiefs and actor Rob Lowe, also a film investor.

"I am sensing this optimism because people are starting to realize that opportunities are growing," Mike Lang, chief executive of Miramax, the studio behind films including "Trainspotting" and "No Country For Old Men," told Reuters.

"Over the next 10 years I think you will see something much bigger than what we saw over the last 20 years," Lang added. "There are more pay TV channels, emerging markets etc, and we have not even talked about China."

He said Miramax had more than 70 new projects to tout, in addition to its existing library.

"Things are so strong in that area (library) that we've been able to talk about new product quicker than we were thinking."   Continued...

<p>A bodyguard walks on the red carpet before the screening of the film 'Habemus Papam' (We Have A Pope) in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>