Record Dealmaking for the European Film Market

Despite the need to take the market online once again, the second virtual European Film Market has reportedly seen a record number of deals signed. At a time when the future of indie film markets and festivals seems to be at a junction, it’s some positive news that’s sure to bolster everyone’s mood. Brandon Blake, festival expert and entertainment attorney with Blake & Wang P.A, elaborates for us.

Record Number of Deals

This information comes straight from EFM director Dennis Ruh. We mentioned last week that Tom Hank’s A Man Called Otto with STX International and CAA Media Finance backing had been snapped up by Sony Pictures for a reported $60M. This makes it the biggest-ever single deal for the festival.

Nor was it the only one to thrive. Many art house films, as well as more commercial fare, managed to make great sales. China’s Return to Dust went to theatrical distributors in Europe, with M-Appeal taking over their world sales, for example. After a couple of years of sluggish sales and pandemic-damaged attendance, it’s sure to be welcome news to many indie and smaller producers, who’ve been actively concerned that the market has turned to blockbusters only.

Overall Growth

Nor was the growth all about big sales. EFM 2022 saw 600 exhibitors from 62 countries take part, a growth of 96 companies and 2 nations last year. Plus, there was more than ever on offer, at 827 films total, and over 600 market premiers.

Not that this will be encouraging them to stay digital next year. The EFM also had record signups in December last year, before they were forced to move back to a digital space by tightening restrictions in the wake of the Omicron variant. While past performance is, of course, no indication of where we will find ourselves 11 months from now, it’s still a positive trend. The festival was also quick to affirm its commitment to remaining a ‘people’s business with a ‘specific meeting place’ to enjoy and foster trust through in-person deals.

While the European Film Market has managed to flourish despite the hasty retreat to online spaces, we still see uncertainty over Cannes, Berlin, and the American Film Market (Santa Monica) for 2022, and whether the festival uptake for 2022 will continue strong.

We’ve seen definite cases of ‘Zoom Fatigue’ among the execs who typically travel for these events, but their companies must like the reduced spend on exhibition space, flights, and hotel rooms and the bolstered bottom line it allows. We’ve also seen a shift in who wants to go where. Asian buyers, for example, seem to want only AFM and Cannes, but Europeans are still favoring Cannes and Berlin, which could have a longer-term impact on the festival circuit at large.

All the same, it’s a nice high note to kick off the Festival season for 2022, and it will be interesting to see where the momentum goes from here. At least it seems set to be a brighter and more dynamic space than it has been over the last two years.

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