Cannes Launches Virtual Market to Run Alongside Physical Event

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The Cannes Film Festival and the Marche du Film are, at the moment, still scheduled to take place as planned.

The Cannes Film Market, the Marche du Film, has announced plans to set up a virtual market to "run alongside the physical event."

Cannes' online initiative is set to run May 12-23, during the market's scheduled dates. The Cannes Film Festival and the Marche du Film are, at the moment, still scheduled to take place as planned, though it is looking more and more likely that they both will be canceled amid growing concerns, and government shutdowns, because of the spread of the coronavirus.

"Some or many people will not be able to attend [the regular market], so it is important for them to have the same tools to continue to do business," Jérôme Paillard, executive director of the Cannes Market, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Cannes' digital plan would see the Marche offer an online platform for film companies to screen completed features and promo reels and conduct video conferencing meetings. The digital market would be open to all regular attendees of the Marche. Those unable to attend the physical market would be given a 50 percent discount for the online-only version.

Cannes' digital market will be based on the Cinando platform, the film industry site the festival already uses to facilitate promo reel and catch up screenings for its attendees.

Paillard said the Marche du Film has been in talks with major film companies for several days now on a digital version of the market but was pushed to announce it on Wednesday after news leaked of plans for an alternative online film market being set up by leading U.S. and U.K. independent companies.

The alternative model is the brainchild of CAA, which has gotten UTA, Endeavor Content and ICM Partners on board, as well as major indies including FilmNation, Lionsgate, Miramax and STX Entertainment. Their proposal would see film companies do virtual pitches with talent for upcoming projects, as well as facilitate online screenings and deal negotiation via video conferencing, in the event Cannes gets canceled.

Paillard told THR he hoped Cannes would be able to coordinate its new digital service with the CAA model, saying they could be “complementary."

The Cannes Film Festival and the market are still insistent that they want to hold the regular bricks-and-mortar event from May 12-23. But with most of European on lockdown and new regulations blocking most foreign travel into the European Union for the next 30 days, the Cannes festivals are looking increasingly untenable.

Cannes' digital market proposal follows similar moves by other industry events, including the French TV confab Series Mania and the film and tech fest SXSW, which have rolled out digital alternatives after they were forced to cancel over COVID-19 health risks.