Alan Finney’s Cannes Report #1

Blue skies on the French Riviera

AFI Chair Alan Finney,  is currently attending the 2011 Cannes Film Festival (11 – 22 May) as a producer and member of the Australian film contingent. As an industry insider since the 1960s, as a filmmaker, distributor and exhibitor, Finney has been to Cannes many times before, often with a view to sourcing films to bring back to our local screens. But as he tells us in the following report, it’s been a while since he walked the Croisette, and this visit is different in a number of ways.  Here are some snapshots and first impressions.

Festival-goers on the steps of the Palais beneath this year's face of the Festival and honouree, Faye Dunaway (photographed in 1970)

Not having been at the Cannes Festival since 1997, it’s a strange experience returning, especially not being a “Buyer” and attending endless meetings with Sales Agents, attending screenings  and schmoozing with smart practitioners who were incredibly friendly, but at the same time always seemed to be casting their eyes on your company cheque book.

First impressions involve memories of things that are exactly the same but gradually one realises that also there are substantial changes in the Festival as a significant industry event.

Yes, there are more “Star moments”, accompanied by lots of limos, plenty of police protection, blocked off roadways and tons of swooning fans…. and Yes (again)…these are mainly Hollywood “icons” (which means anyone that’s been in at least one movie previously.

Queuing up outside the Palais

Maybe its just my fading recall but I don’t remember as many people at the Palais at 7:15am lining up for screenings surrounded by others holding signs asking for tickets for screenings

This strength of the international box office is due in part to a growing middle class in four key markets: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

What is obviously new is the sheer volume of product from so many territories and an often heard question from Aussie friends here is “What is going to happen to them all?” as there’s no way they’re all going to make it onto the big, perhaps even the little, screen.

On a more positive note, there seems more confidence in the independent film market [in relation to] mainstream product and also (as covered in the Hollywood Reporter) several films that have underperformed in the US in recent months have done huge business overseas, from small independent films to studio tent-pole titles. This strength of the international box office is due in part to a growing middle class in four key markets: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Stalls at the Marché du Film (Film Marketplace) which runs alongside the Festival

Overall there seems to be an optimistic mood for the future as the World Theatrical Box Office for 2011’s first quarter was only 7% of last year’s record breaking result and whilst the major US studios experienced a drop internationally of 24% for the first three months of this year, mainly due to the absence of equivalent titles such AvatarAlice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, the total international market for all films was up 1% on last year mainly fed by the strong performance of indigenous movies.

It’s also been great to catch up with a lot of Australians enjoying the Festival and more about that in the next report.

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4 thoughts on “Alan Finney’s Cannes Report #1

  1. It’s great to get a down-to-earth perspective on what’s happening in Cannes this special, star-studded, filmic time of year. I’ve been to Cannes just once before, but suspect my experience was nothing like yours!

  2. Pingback: Alan Finney’s Cannes Report #2 | AFI blog

  3. Pingback: Alan Finney’s Cannes Report #3 | AFI blog

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