Agility is key amid changes in Covid-19 market, tell MIA panel distributors and sales agents | New

Staying flexible and nimble is key to connecting independent films with audiences in a market forever changed by the Covid-19 pandemic, distributors and sales agents told a panel at the film and television market MIA in Rome on Saturday October 15th.

Thania Dimitrakopoulou, head of sales at The Match Factory, said she doubts the traditional independent feature film release model, based mostly on a windowed approach starting with a theatrical launch, will ever return in the same way.

“Something has changed so the recovery isn’t bringing us back to where we were before, it’s moving on right now,” she said. “During this time, people have become more familiar with the use of platforms, even at older ages, which have traditionally been the audiences for arthouse and independent films.”

Giving an overview of the current situation from a sales agent’s perspective, Dimitrakopoulou said many of his clients are struggling with how to clear a backlog of titles.

“What comes to us from distributors as sales agents is first that there are so many films, and then how to program them and put them online to get them out. The cinemas have been closed for so long. The distributors had films that they couldn’t get out on time. In the meantime, they continued to buy new films.

She said there were a variety of approaches, with some distributors waiting for theatrical releases, especially for big investments, while others took the digital distribution route early in the pandemic, then continued to experiment with windows and different platforms when cinemas reopened.

“Movie releases need to be tailor-made at this point. Some films require larger releases than others. It also depends on where the distributors are located because the regulations in each country are different, ”she added.

Olivier van den Broeck at Belgian distributor The Searchers, which has films including The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Copshop, Pig and Spencer on his upcoming list, agreed that the market was unlikely to return to the pre-Covid-19 status quo, and suggested the old model of a three- to four-month cinema window was under pressure growing.

“The rigidity of cinemas and their emphasis on old-fashioned windows has been overturned. The shift in power is clearly there. For decades, cinemas were unwilling to review their windows and a few major studios took advantage of the Covid situation to push their agenda forward, ”he said.

“We see big movie chains being, I’m not saying sung, but no longer in a position of strength… against their will, [they’re] having to adapt to a situation where nothing is certain.

He noted that as audiences returned to theaters, box office success so far has been limited to a handful of productions such as Dune and No time to die and unexpected breakout titles.

“Mid-range commercial titles, which were once the bread and butter of the independent industry, seem to be suffering theatrically and one wonders if they present enough must-see event to get people out of their homes.”

He suggested, however, that there may be more opportunities for these films on traditional broadcasters and national and regional platforms due to the fact that global platforms such as Disney + and HBO Max are retaining the titles that ‘they used to license their new European services.

Speaking specifically of The Searchers, van den Broeck said the company had licensed a number of its titles to platforms in the wake of the pandemic. He noted, however, that he had successfully experimented with a hybrid version with The green knight, with a 10-day theatrical release in Belgium ahead of its launch on Amazon Prime Video on August 21.

Eve Gabereau described how her company Modern Films launched a virtual distribution platform, Modern On Demand, in cooperation with theaters at the start of the pandemic and continues to take an innovative approach now that theaters are open again in the world. UK.

“The UK market is quite flexible and we have a lot of freedom to experiment with media timeline and windows and being in the independent business we don’t depend on multiplexes. We have 10 years of experience in day and date and digital release with cinema so [Modern On Demand] was a natural extension of what we were doing, ”she said.

Launch in March 2020 with The perfect candidate, Modern On Demand allowed the customer to select an independent theater at the point of purchase, which would then receive an undisclosed percentage of the ticket price.

“I don’t know what the future of that is and in fact we are now working as theaters reopen to make this hybrid model where you can buy a scheduled ticket for a time and place, or you can buy it at the cinema and watch it how you want and when you want. We don’t yet know how that will play out in terms of marketing to the public, ”she said.

In terms of audience return to theaters for independent feature films, she suggested that “event” screenings with a discussion or subject angle have also proven to be effective in attracting audiences.

“There must be a reason to go to the movies. We find that when we have events or discussions, or talk to particular niches or interest groups, they will come out, ”she said.

Gabereau noted that the company was gearing up for a more traditional theatrical release of Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film. Drive my car on November 19 in the UK, which she hopes will be backed by good reviews from Cannes and strong British following for writer Haruki Murakami whose book is based on the film.

“We’re looking at 50 to 60 draws for the opening and we’ll try to do that through December as well. We give it a theatrical window, but it’s shortened – 31 days – then we’ll have a PVoD virtual cinema window for a few weeks, and then it’ll go to consumer digital players, ”she said.

Looking ahead to the next few months, van den Broeck said he expected the market to continue to evolve rapidly and suggested that distributors should continue to adjust their film-by-film approach.

“The change is happening and maybe it is not just a phase but a permanent state of the industry,” he said. “The best independent companies will be the ones that know how to quickly seize opportunities and switch drastically from one release to another, from one week to the next. I think the conclusion might be that each type of release and each movie will require a different strategy.

About Dwayne Wakefield

Check Also

Sleek stables tucked away in one of Dublin’s most desirable locations on the market for €1.35m – The Irish Times

Address: 24 Morehampton Lane, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 Price: €1,350,000 Agent: DNG View this property on …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.