Too many specialty films being released, according to Miramax President Daniel Battsek.
Giving the keynote speech at Film London's second Production Finance Market (October 20-21), Battsek addressed the continuing problem of oversupply in a market that is not expanding.
Asked whether Miramax had been helped by the recent closure of Warner independent Pictures, Picturehouse and the restructuring of Paramount Vantage, he replied:
'Not significantly...the sector of the business was definitely overcooked. There were too many players. There probably still are too many players.'
'Even with the slight reduction of companies operating in this space, there are still too many movies being released. It is very, very difficult to get your voice heard,' Battsek said.
The Miramax boss added that during awards season, the pressure on specialty movies is even more intense. 'That, for us, is absolute make or break time.'
Battsek predicted that this year, the competition for awards will be even fiercer than usual. 'If there's a year like last year - the year of the independents, when No Country For Old Men won best film - that tends to result in a fight back from the majors.' he commented.
Under Battsek (who took the reins in late 2005), the Disney-owned Miramax has reduced its output to between eight and 10 movies a year. Battsek's aim is to develop around half of these in-house and acquire the others.
In an interview after his public Q&A, Battsek cautioned against making overly simplistic judgements about the ailing health of the specialty film business. Commenting on the period when he arrived in the US from London (where he had been managing director at Buena Vista International, UK), Battsek said,
'It was the year of Brokeback Mountain and Crash. There were articles about what is the point of the studios making their own hugely expensive blockbusters that have this massive risk attached to them - what they should be doing is funnelling all their care and attention into their independent, specialised units who make these very cheap movies that make these massive profits.'
Now, three and a half years on, Battsek feels 'the complete opposite story is being written.'
He suggested that what is needed is a 'middle ground' and argued that the recent closure of some companies shouldn't be taken as evidence that 'the whole (specialty) business model is somehow corrupted and can't succeed.'
Following Battsek's Q&A, producers and financiers were quickly locked into a heavy schedule of meetings. $1.6bn worth of film projects were being pitched at the 2008 market, up from $800m production value in 2007.
London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, voiced his support for the second appearance of the market, 'Some people might doubt the effectiveness of such a market in this very challenging global economic climate but we still need devices like the Film London Production Finance Market.' Johnson said.