Berlin: Buyers Not Worried About Slow Market, Expect Better in Cannes

Courtesy of Revolution Films
"The Face of an Angel"

A scarcity of buzz titles and big-ticket deals during this year’s EFM left sellers and buyers all looking to Cannes in May to ignite a flurry of deal-making dynamism.

Berlin – A scarcity of buzz titles and big-ticket deals during this year’s EFM left sellers and buyers all looking to Cannes in May to ignite a flurry of deal-making dynamism.

Market goers cited numerous reasons for the slow down at a market most had predicted would throw up at least some big-ticket titles ahead of it.

Too close to Sundance and a proximity to the AFM were among the reasons and meant that the EFM felt the squeeze, as no amount of scrambling resulted in packaged projects hitting the German located market in time.

“There really hasn’t been a lot of projects, certainly no massive title that everyone is raving about,” said Christian De Gallegos, International Film Trust sales chief.

Added Synchronicity sales chief Ruzanna Kegeyan: "It feels like buyers are confused and waiting for Cannes. There weren't the big-ticket items like The Wolf of Wall Street."

Kegeyan heads up the sales division of The Solution Entertainment Group, which targets moviegoers under the age of 30. Synchronicity is a division of The Solution Entertainment Group that targets younger moviegoers, with films including horror pic Cooties, which made its world premiere at Sundance last month.

The thin list of early stage projects that did spark buyers’ interest included M. Night Shyamalan’s Labor Of Love, with Bruce Willis in talks to reteam with the The Sixth Sense filmmaker.

And modestly budgeted projects were also attracting interest and deals.

The Solution Group enjoyed brisk business with two of its 2014 Sundance Film Festival titles, Laggies and Infinitely Polar Bear, while Kegeyan continued to sell Cooties.

Mister Smith Entertainment’s Love, Rosie with Lily Collins and Sam Claflin is likely to sell out.

Open Road Films nabbed U.S. rights to both John Hillcoat's upcoming heist thriller Triple Nine and Rock the Kasbah, the all-star comedy being directed by Barry Levinson starring Bill Murray.

FilmNation brought three new titles that sparked interest: The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, the Daniel Craig courtroom drama The Whole Truth and John Carney's next film, Sing Street.

"We had an excellent market," said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner. "Strong sales across all three of our new titles and our promo reel screening for The Imitation Game not only resulted in the larger-ever U.S. deal in Berlin but was also the highlight of the market itself.”

German buyer Telepool managing director Thomas Weymar said: “But what's bad for Berlin is good for Cannes.”

German distributor Concorde picked up three titles: period drama Suffragette starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter from Pathe and Michael Winterbottom's The Face of an Angel and starring Stephen Herek's The Great Gilly Hopkins from WestEnd Films.

“We're satisfied. It was a good market for us. We got everything we wanted from Berlin this year,” said Concorde managing director Markus Zimmer.

Market-goers cite several reasons for the slow but sure activity with the shadow of Cannes looming large in most attendees’ thoughts.

Weyman said German TV is buying fewer films -- the TV market is at an extremely low level and it is not being compensated by growth in VOD. “So we are buying less and we have to buy more carefully. We can only buy for primetime. So that means a FSK 12 (12 and above rating),” he said.

Still some attendees were blunt about the quality of market titles.

“The quality of projects being offered at the EFM this year is the worst it's ever been. It's horrible. There is nothing new. We won't be buying anything,” said one top European-based buyer.”

Scott Roxborough contributed to this report