Feel-good factor for Madrid Film Screenings

Remake fever heats up local Spanish titles

MADRID -- The Madrid de Cine Spanish Film Screenings drew to an end Tuesday with no closed big sales to announce, but with an overall good feeling for buyers and sellers that the event has reached an age of maturity.

"There are lots of talks going on," said Sogepaq sales executive Gorka Bilbao. "And there are acquisition execs with decision-making powers. They are just not making the decisions to buy right now."

Buyers and sellers alike raved about the new set up that saw buyers easily accessing sellers in a large room at the Melia Princesa Hotel set up with videos and stands, rather than trying to snag the right person randomly or through pre-arranged meetings.

"I think the organization is getting better and better and everyone was very pleased this year with the structure," said 6 Sales' Marina Fuentes. "As an event that creates local action and helps to set up meetings, it is super positive. We've had a lot of interest in our Spanish titles."

But apart from meetings, screenings and negotiations, increasingly the event -- Spain's only film showcase for international buyers -- has gained a loyal following of buyers that look to Madrid de Cine to help them keep up to date on the Spanish film industry.

"It's not that I necessarily want to buy something right now," said Ivo Scheloske of Germany's Anolis Entertainment. "But I don't want to miss anything. And this gives me a chance to see everything."

But most agreed that overall market conditions don't lend themselves to frenzied buying activity.

"I've never seen it this bad," said Imagina International sales director Geraldine Gonard. "Buyers that used to take five films, now only want one and it has to be the best because they are very cautious. And on top of it, they want to pay a fraction of what they would have paid a couple of years ago."

One potentially hot sub-market? Remake rights. Layoffs at U.S. majors have sent freelancers out into the market with an eye to capitalizing on their connections to help turn a Spanish production into a U.S. remake.

At least two Spanish titles at the screenings have stirred interest in U.S. remake possibilities.