In the fourth part of Screen International's analysis on the effect on the industry of the Sept 11 attacks on the US, the threat of recession on film and television markets is assessed.
Abstracted from Screen International
Film and TV markets
Nervous flyers and recession threats have already taken their toll on the markets. Although none of the autumn's big trade events have actually been called off, MIP-COM and Mifed are expecting smaller numbers of delegates. MIP-COM reports a handful of exhibitor cancellations and no-shows by a number of Asian and Australian buyers. It is forecasting 10,700 delegates compared with 11,800 last year. Some companies have deemed the cancellation of parties to be appropriate responses to the horrors of Sept 11.
Security is certainly expected to be tighter at MIP-COM, with entrances restricted and better guarded. Bag-searches are to become routine. Next January's NATPE says it is too early to tell whether it will suffer from lack of interest or benefit from American buyers sticking to US soil. "We have all been advised to carry on 'business as usual'. We have had conversations with convention centre security in Las Vegas and with our own security company about plans for the convention to ensure the safety of all those on site."
While initial concerns have been about participant numbers and degrees of security, buyers and sellers are also asking themselves about the volume and value of deals at the coming markets. "As has been seen in the airline business, September 11 will be used by some as an excuse for cutbacks. And stories in foreign papers of London as a ghost town could not be further from the truth. But if some of the peripheral players are absent, the key people will be at London and MIFED," says Lolafilms' Nicole Mackey.
"We fully expect to finalise deals on films being given first time screenings at MIFED. We are continuing to greenlight films in Spain - why wouldn't we after the success of Torrente 2 - while in the UK the threat of action by [actors' union] Equity is a headache."
San Fu Maltha, managing director of Dutch production and distribution combine, A-Film, says; "Toronto had been a very healthy market with competition for new titles until the terrorist attacks. There is a lot of pent up demand as I know that a lot of distributors did not buy enough at Cannes." But despite that he warns that prices will be lower. "Share prices got a reality check, now it is the turn of film prices. Some sellers have not sold enough at the last three markets and will be doing deals at any price. Germany had been an inflator for everyone. First it dragged prices up. Then, when the German companies slowed their acquisitions, buyers in other territories were asked to compensate. That is over."
Miramax's Rick Sands says: "The dollar is dropping which will make it easier for all rights buyers. On the other hand, for us when we act as a studio and distribute ourselves, we are earning less back on the same number of tickets."