The going rate
Estimated prices for all rights to theatrical films in overseas markets.As American sellers bring their films to the Cannes market, they are confronted by a glut of product and stepped-up competition from foreign homegrown films. "There are so many pictures out there, and there's just so much the market can absorb," one foreign sales expert says.
Indies -- aiming to pick up 50%-70% for foreign rights to a film -- complain that their business is in jeopardy as they find it tougher and tougher to get their product to international audiences. Via their trade association, the International Film & Television Alliance, the indies have gone to Washington for assistance in easing entry into some territories, fighting the increase in media consolidation and providing some form of tax incentives that would help them finance their films.
According to reports received by IFTA, Australia is said to be paying 30% less for video rights because of the availability of local product, Germany is paying less for DVD rights because of a drop in unit sales there, Italy has almost given up on acquiring independent films, and the Russian market appears to be "leveling out." Japan remains a selective market, and prices are good if a sale can be made.
Foreign distribution consultants say the first signs of a drop in prices came after November's American Film Market. Many indie companies grumbled about substantial sales erosion, blaming the overabundance of films in the market. Smaller-budgeted films, with the possible exception of horror pictures, suffered the most. Prices tumbled in all of the European markets as well as in other parts of the world.
The prices listed here, for all rights to an indie film, aim to provide a broad guide for launching negotiations. They do not have the support or sanction of any industry organization. Sales by independents to some countries listed on this chart are rare, but suggested prices are there for just-in-case situations. Many films are not sold in all markets, and some never find a buyer anywhere. There might be cases where sellers have to unload films at prices below the estimates listed here; at the same time, an unexpected hit can strike a jackpot.
Distribution consultant and former AFMA chairman William Shields, Compliance Consulting president Rob Aft and Global Cinema Group/Sooner Worldwide head Peter Elson assisted in this analysis.
|Figures in thousands. * indicates regional sales|