Mainstream genre titles ruled a generally solid European Film Market as leaner but more aggressive buyer contingents scoured the market for quality tentpoles.

The phantom projects and ill-conceived fare spawned by the pre-crash profligacy have been replaced by a demand for real projects, which have been dominated by must-have high-concept fare often boasting name talent.

Riddick 3, Larry Crowne, The Grey, Skyline, LOL, The Fields, Centurion and Panorama hit Red Hill were the hottest English-language product on offer and all sold well. Looking to the future, IM Global chief Stuart Ford’s sales alliance with Reliance Big is banking on the crossover potential of Bollywood.

Acquisitions executives are still aware of the challenges posed by the depressed TV and DVD markets; if there is theatrical potential buyers have been aggressive but if not, they are awaiting the expected influx of new product from Cannes.

While a glut of 3D projects has raised antennae, producers and sales agents know that audiences have been spoilt by Avatar. For mid-budget material, with prestige elements but without broad commercial appeal, the strategy has shifted, acknowledging that a US deal may come in late in the day.

“It’s about focusing on Europe and finding the right fit for the major territories and using that as your business analysis,” said Affinity International chief Brian O’Shea, adding that he had closed major territories on John Cameron Mitchell’s drama Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as grieving parents.

“We had some bright spots here, some pretty good sales,” Fortissimo co-chairman Michael Werner said. “I don’t know if there is a strong trend to say everything is improving, but there seem to be bits and pieces of light at the end of different tunnels.”