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Brisk business not dampened by Netflix effect

Glorious weather on the Croisette played its part in driving strong trade and casting a warm glow over the market to temper fearful talk of the Netflix effect, for now at least.

Yet the streaming giant was never far from people’s lips. The keynote talk by Ted Sarandos dominated the dialogue when people were not chewing over the festival’s strict dress footwear policy, the arrival of well-heeled new financiers and a flurry of spectacular theatrical deals.

Universal Pictures and Focus Features’ $20m worldwide buy on Nocturnal Animals starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams served up the major buy of Cannes, ensuring FilmNation echoed its success with Story Of Your Life in 2014. CAA also represented US rights.

Open Road’s $4m deal for Bleed For This was one of the more notable US buys alongside SPC’s move on Truth, Our Little Sister and Son Of Saul, Lionsgate’s acquisition of A Hologram For The King and TWC’s deals for Hands Of Stone and Three Generations.

Bleed For This inspired one of the bigger international responses for The Solution Entertainment Group and there was heavy action on Celluloid Dreams’ official selection Dheepan, Salt’s Miss You Already and eOne International’s It’s Only The End Of The World, as well as strong all-round business by Sierra/Affinity and IM Global.

The Solution brought a 12-minute reel of Bleed For This to Cannes and, as with other market promos on Truth, Three Generations and Hands Of Stone, it did the trick.

“Miles Teller is one of the brightest young stars in the firmament,” said co-founder Lisa Wilson.

That he may be, but the challenge for the independent space will be to prevent the studios from snatching him away.

Studio appetite was healthy in Cannes. Universal’s move on Nocturnal Animals was the most emphatic example and Sony bit large chunks out of Bleed For This and November Criminals.

Packaging new product in time for markets continues to be a challenge, yet the results can be striking. “We’re seeing really attractive packages and the studios want them,” said Lotus’ Bill Johnson.

Lotus anticipates sell-outs on A Hologram For The King, Kidnapped and Fallen and also reaped the benefits of the US deal on Hands Of Stone.

Similarly Content did a roaring trade on Callas. “We had very, very high expectations about the picture and felt we had an opportunity to entice top-tier buyers and we have done that,” said film president Jamie Carmichael.

One buyer noted how it was easy to find money today but hard to make it. For many US players, day-and-date distribution could be the answer and there is a belief that Europe and the rest of the world are primed to follow.

That will be music to the ears of Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who told producers that day-and-date means “more movies will be seen.”

The question is, how will the business define “movies” a decade from now.

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