The Crystal Ball of CineEurope
Long an early predictor of how summer blockbusters will perform or not ("John Carter," anyone?), the annual film conference now also is featuring smaller fare.
A new venue -- Barcelona, Spain -- won't be the only key difference about this year's edition of CineEurope, where exhibitors and distributors will get a wide-ranging glimpse of upcoming movies.
With homegrown films accounting for a larger box-office share in local markets -- and some reaching blockbuster status -- CineEurope for the first time will showcase European independent films in addition to Hollywood studio titles.
The convention, which runs June 18 to 21, previously took place in Amsterdam and is hosted by Prometheus Global Media's Film Expo Group (Prometheus is THR's parent company).
"Although the bulk of box office is still from Hollywood, European films are becoming more and more popular in Europe," says Robert Sunshine, Film Expo president and CineEurope managing director. "We listen to our delegates, and they wanted to see these smaller titles, too."
One success story: French comedy The Intouchables has grossed an astounding $345 million worldwide -- much of it in Europe -- making it the fourth-biggest title of 2012 to date.
CineEurope's indie lineup includes Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner Amour, from Les Films du Losange; Momentum Pictures' found-footage horror pic Sinister; eOne's crime actioner The Sweeney, starring Ray Winstone; and Lionsgate International's Step Up: Revolution in 3D.
But Hollywood studio fare will continue to have a major presence at CineEurope. In addition to studios teasing their upcoming slates, three summer movies will screen in full -- Universal's Savages, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively; Disney/Pixar's Brave; and Fox's Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth entry in the animated franchise.
DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Rise of the Guardians also will be touted, with Jeffrey Katzenberg flying in to show 42 minutes of the fall tentpole featuring the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman (the latter is rumored to be joining Katzenberg).
Despite a summer season that includes the London Olympics and the Euro 2012 soccer championship -- events certain to keep European audiences glued to their TVs -- most local exhibitors predict a strong year, confident that the jump-start provided by blockbusters such as Marvel's The Avengers and Lionsgate's The Hunger Games will continue.
Among other studio offerings, Fox will host a dinner for Life of Pi, Oscar winner Ang Lee's 3D adaptation of the Yann Martel best-seller. Footage from the film wowed U.S. exhibitors attending CinemaCon, and Fox will show the same clips at CineEurope.
Says Rudiger Boss, acquisitions head at Pan-European broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, "Life of Pi will be a big draw, especially if Fox brings in Ang Lee."
At CineEurope 2011, the underwhelming response to Cowboys & Aliens, Battleship and John Carter presaged the collapse of those would-be blockbusters. James Cameron, on the other hand, wowed the crowd with exclusive footage of Titanic 3D and a sales pitch that would have made Don Draper proud, preparing the ground for the film's stellar $342 million take on rerelease -- 83 percent of which came from international screens.
Big or small, one thing is certain: Films that play well at CineEurope will likely clean up at the box office this summer and throughout 2013. "This is probably the most important [international] trade show," says Paramount Pictures International president Anthony Marcoly. "It's the one place where all the studios get together and show their reels -- or screen full films -- for exhibitors."
HONORARY MENTIONS: CineEurope rolls out the red carpet for the best and brightest in the global exhibition and distribution industries.
International Distributor fo the Year
- Paul Higginson, Executive vp theatrical, Europe, Middle East & Africa, 20th Century Fox Intl.
- Todd Huntley, Senior vp theatrical, Europe, Middle East & Africa, 20th Century Fox Intl.
UNIC Achievement Award
- Lene Loken, Managing director, Norwegian exhibitors' organization Film & Kino
International Exhibitor of the Year
- Jaime Tarrazon Rodon, CEO, Area Catalania d'Exhibidio
- Camilo Tarrazon Rodon, President, Area Catalania d'Exhibidio
International Director of the Year
- Juan Antonio Bayona, Director, The Orphanae, The Impossible