Earlier in the week, France Telecom's Orange had announced a new cinema series that would be comprised of six channels and provide feature films to TV, PCs and mobile phones. In short, Lombard said, 'People ask us if we have become a media company but that question is no longer relevant. Everyone is now media.'
Late Wednesday, meanwhile, it was announced that News Corp.'s MySpace had made a deal to give ShineReveille International, a division of Elisabeth Murdoch's UK-based Shine Group, exclusive rights to distribute video programming from the social networking site on broadcast TV outside the US. MySpace retained the right to distribute content from MySpaceTV online and over mobile networks worldwide and on broadcast networks in the US.
Elsewhere, the action was rather subdued this year. Spotlights were aimed at VoD and content delivery via various platforms while new territories also figured in the play.
Microsoft had a strong presence with its Xbox Live Marketplace, which recently launched in key European territories to allow for film rentals. The service started off strongly following its December debut and has, in France for example, secured deals with Warner Bros., Paramount and local producer Luc Besson's EuropaCorp. Plans for the service to launch in other territories are currently underway.
Although Xbox is seemingly synonymous with a young male demographic, Xbox Live Europe director, Robin Truchy, told ScreenDaily.com that Besson's family CGI feature Arthur And The Minimoys had been perched at the number one spot for rentals for several weeks during its run, indicating that Xbox isn't just for boys and their toys.
Indian feature film producer and distributor Studio 18 made its debut at Mip this year. Head of UK and Europe, Tanuj Garg, told ScreenDaily.com he had been impressed by a number of new territories showing interest in Indian films. Having set up meetings with some of the countries that traditionally do not show Bollywood fare, he said, 'Most of them understand the value proposition that Bollywood has to offer and the momentum it is gaining with Asian and non-Asian audiences. It was heartening to see how receptive and appreciative they were of our industry.'
New visitors to Studio 18 came from such countries as the former Yugoslavia, Romania, Hungary, Turkey and the Baltic states. 'I've seen a growing interest from Eastern Europe which is very exciting. These nations love Bollywood presumably because of their proximity to Russia; which has had a history of a huge number of Bolly fans. Furthermore; the economy of these countries is growing at an appreciable rate,' Garj explained.
Still, he added, 'There are a number of players and countries that will take time to thaw. They acknowledge the popularity of Indian cinema, but are hesitant to bite into it just yet. But I foresee a change on that front soon.'
The company is also branching out into more international, non-Bollywood fare via such films as the Mira Nair-produced, English-language title Little Zizou and the Hindi- and English-language Road Movie, directed by Dev Benegal and produced by Ross Katz.
Independent producer Emilio Ferrari was present with his sales outfit Entertainment 7. The company was busy proffering the currently-posting Baby On Board, starring Heather Graham, John Corbett and Jerry O'Connell. Ferrari, who says he enjoys Mip because he can sell TV rights only while waiting for the Cannes Market to make theatrical deals, said he expected to close about $350,000 worth of contracts this week.
His other latest film project is also his most expensive. The $15m For Love Alone is currently being cast and will be directed by Ferrari himself. The film, based on the story by Dr. Anyes Van Volkenburgh, is about a veterinary student who refuses to participate in the school's programmes where live, healthy animals are used for testing.