Saturday, October 1 2022

No feature film has it easy in the modern theatrical and digital landscape, but 2022 has been particularly difficult. Warner Bros. Sheds pricey titles like “Batgirl” outright, Netflix has returned to the drawing board thanks to its stock market stumble, and Amazon is focusing its resources on rolling out its nearly $1 billion TV series “Lord of the Rings.” “. .

For fledgling indie films hitting film markets, like the one currently underway in Toronto, streamers were once a safe and lucrative bet for distribution. As these now-legacy companies scramble to cut costs and increase subscriptions to please shareholders, the independent film industry complex has once again been forced to pivot.

“It feels like we’re at the end of a waiting period,” said John Sloss, founder and CEO of trade agency Cinetic. “I think there was a reset this summer, and we’re all waiting for the fall season to see what the future looks like.”

Roeg Sutherland, co-director of CAA Media Finance, said the market “is constantly changing. What we saw in Cannes is that the overseas sales market has come on in a big way. We have sold two films to streamers, otherwise all the other films – almost 25 – were edited with international funding and equity. Money is not lacking. Owning IP is the path to success.

Indeed, the old guard stepped up in the form of international territory sales to help fund incomplete films as well as bolster the finished product. Completed films awaiting distribution at TIFF this year include Venice hit ‘Other People’s Children’, ‘Saint Omer’ and coming-of-age tale ‘Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. “.

“It’s so easy to fall into the negativity of what could be. I think the weather in Los Angeles is much more concerning than what’s happening with the independent film market right now,” Sutherland said, referring to the gate-slamming heat at his Hollywood home.

In addition to overseas sales, equity financiers are still opening their portfolios to help make smaller films. Sloss said, however, that some are “capricious because it’s theater-related” — meaning the ongoing pandemic and looming recession may hurt movies in cineplexes (mainly those not made by Marvel). Yet another top movie broker optimistically pointed to smaller digital players that are becoming increasingly aggressive, like the Criterion Channel streaming service launched in 2019, and Roku (which has the wacky film Weird Al Yankovic at TIFF ).

The eternal silver lining, said CAA Media Finance Co-Head Benjamin Kramer, is that the right film can be transformative.

“A remarkable film can come from anywhere and fully brand or rebrand a company. When a film delivers to its audience – whether in theaters or streaming – the film is as valuable as it got. never been,” he said.


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