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He was looking forward to the future with the poster’s return, the theatrical return (sort of) – The Hollywood Reporter


Upgrade your DeLorean and check out your old flux capacitor because Cannes 2023 feels like a trip back to the future.

After the upheaval and near devastation wrought by the COVID pandemic, and fears that a rising tide of global banners may wash away the business model for independent film distributors worldwide, buyers and sellers are arriving at Croisette this year in a flurry of good(ish) news about the return of theatrical business and a group An abundance of big blockbusters, both blockbuster and art house, are for sale at the Marché.

The North American box office is very close [to pre-pandemic levels],” notes Rob Carney, Vice President of Sales at FilmNation, referring to first-quarter numbers that showed domestic revenues of $1.8 billion, just 25 percent of the record highs for 2019. Last year’s EU and UK box office totals were also reported by the Observatory. European audiovisual, it rose 70 percent from 2021 figures, to $5.6 billion, although it was 28 percent lower than average pre-pandemic levels.

“Internationally, the play has recovered in some places faster than others, but I think we’ll have a very healthy market for the projects we do, which reflects more optimism about the theatrical business,” said Carney.

The Cannes Film Festival slate ranges from Nicolas Cage to the obvious commercial star warlords, The sequel to the 2005 hit War Lord, with Cage reprising his performance as a conflicted international arms dealer; Horror adaptation Stephen King Chuck’s life Starring Tom Hiddleston and Mark Hamill – to the most specialized Travelersa romantic biography of Gloria Bell Director Sebastian Lelio stars Andrew Garfield and Daisy Edgar Jones as famous astronomer Carl Sagan and his collaborator and co-producer, Ann Druyan.

“There’s a huge range in what works, and the range is huge,” says Alice Lavelle, Vice President of Sales for FilmNation. “But I think the projects that distinguish themselves in the market are those that are clearly theatrical performances, clearly different from films that one can easily watch at home.”

The only thing that meant the stars were back in style. A talent with built-in fan bases and a proven track record at the box office – Cage, Keanu Reeves, Diana Keaton, Florence Pugh, Mark Wahlberg – plus fast-rising next-generation names – Eiza Gonzalez, Bella Ramsey, Zar, Amir Ebrahimi and Daisy Edgar Jones saw their stock soar in value with Buyers return to focusing on filling theaters rather than supplying broadcast equipment.

This year’s Cannes could see the return of one-time global box office champ Johnny Depp, who will not only walk the Cannes red carpet in Maïwenn’s opening night film, Jane du Barry, in which he plays King Louis XV, but he’ll also be bustling at the Marché, meeting buyers to showcase his next directorial effort, ModiglianiBiography of the Italian Amedeo Modigliani, starring Riccardo Scamarcio, Pier Nene and Al Pacino.

The shift in strategy by global broadcasters, which has seen Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and others buy fewer independent films and show more willingness to share the rights with local distributors rather than buy the entire world, “created a space for independent buyers,” says Todd Brown, partner and president. Acquisitions at genre specialist XYZ Films There is now a clear demarcation [the streamers] You have a very clear fence about what kind of content they want, which leaves room for independents to counter shows and provides an alternative to what broadcasters do.”

XYZ uses Cannes to launch a new, fresh visions, slate of ‘out-of-the-box’ international genre films – including Pakistani horror films on firea Czech science fiction title restore point and Irish Folk Horror All you need is death Targeting is like counterprogramming.

“I would be afraid, in this market, to try a traditional crime thriller, most rom-coms or a major off-beat comedy, because operators do all of that at a very high level, with a very high cast in multiple languages,” Brown says. “But there’s still plenty of room around that for other things.”

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.