Indie sales top $3.18 bil, IFTA says


Figures compiled by the Independent Film & Television Alliance show that the trade group's member companies generated $3.18 billion in international sales in 2006, up from $3.08 billion in 2005.

The annual foreign-sales survey of members companies -- now assembled at the IFTA-sponsored American Film Market -- is said to provide the best indicator of how the independent film community is faring in an ever-changing and highly competitive market.

On its official Web site, where the annual survey is posted, the trade association said the figures "enable IFTA to evaluate shifts in distribution by territory and to demonstrate the membership's economic importance to both government officials and key industry players worldwide."

The most dramatic shift in the sales of filmed entertainment -- including theatrical, television, pay TV and developing digital-age new media -- came from Eastern Europe where purchases in 2006 are said to have reached $266.79 million compared to 2005's $195.62 million. In 2005, Russia, with $75.54 million, was No. 2 to Poland ($80.31 million). In 2006, the former Soviet Union soared to first place with $127.72 million; Poland fell to second with $77.69 million. Eastern Europe's percentage of international sales climbed to 8.5% from 6.3%.

Western Europe, with $1.89 billion in '06 sales, once again was the leading customer for indie product in 2006, equal to 59.38% of total international sales. Overall sales in 2006, however, were scarcely ahead of 2005, with Germany (including Austria) the leading buyer of indie product with $475.27 million, followed by the United Kingdom, $359.29 million; France, $309.43 million; Spain, $231.34 million; Italy, $188.28 million; Benelux, $118.75 million; Scandinavia, $102.68 million; and Other (Greece, Portugal and Switzerland), $100.87 million.

The Asia/Pacific region, excluding Australia, brought in $444.34 million (13.99%), slightly less than 2005's $454.73 million (14.8%). Japan was the region's top buyer with $292.59 million, followed by South Korea, $48.99 million; Thailand, $28.13 million; Taiwan, $21.90 million; and Hong Kong, $16.04 million.

The Latin American total of $268.22 (8.45% of international sales) came mainly from Brazil ($149.97 million) and Mexico ($63.44 million).

Sales to Australia/New Zealand came to $142.78 million, to Israel/Middle East, $55.96 million (down from 2005's $76.18 million); South Africa, $227.41 million. Overall sales in Other Territories, which also includes Canada ($24.05 million) and India ($7.56 million), increased in 2006 to $310.64 million from 2005's $293.99 million.

The IFTA annual surveys show steady year-on-year increases in indie sales in the past five years -- 2002 ($2.31 billion), 2003 ($2.64 billion), 2004 (2.91 billion), 2005 (3.08 billion), 2006 (3.18 billion).

The major portion of indie international sales appear to come from the larger IFTA member companies, including the specialized affiliates of the major companies. Their films, usually backed by star power and major-company domestic distribution, frequently are in the spotlight during Oscar time.