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As production uncertainty looms, eager buyers are circling Cannes packages

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Source: Hubert Boesl

‘International Village, Cannes’

Heading into the first weekend there’s been no shortage of interest from Cannes buyers on the market’s starriest packages here, with some sellers claiming to have closed key territory sales after the first two days alone.

Interest is strong on Black Bear International’s Shell, Rocket Science’s Cliffhanger reboot with Sylvester Stallone, Millennium’s Infernus with Idris Elba, Village Roadshow’s Eternal Return to star Kit Harington and Naomi Scott, Bankside’s One For The Money, and Arclight’s Renny Harlin survival thriller Deep Water, among others.

A handful of sellers confided that while business has been slower than usual due to the sheer volume of scripts buyers have had to read – and there have been many as writers raced to hand in completed work before the WGA strike kicked in nearly three weeks ago – the expectation is this will fuel steady trade through the weekend.

The strike isn’t impacting negotiations on packages with completed scripts. In order to steer clear of the turbulent labour climate, productions have been scheduled for later this year or are going outside the US – for example AGC Studio has earmarked late 2023 starts in Australia for They Found Us and Origin Of Species.

However attendees are getting spooked the further down the line they look, especially if the armageddon scenario kicks. “If it’s a great project, I will not refuse to buy it,” said an Asian buyer. “But I will offer a lower price because of the uncertainty.”

All eyes too are on the streamers, who have withdrawn from the aggressive independent cinema buying sprees of several years ago, athough they can still be relied upon to pounce on a big market package despite financial belt-tightening.

With the streamers buying less, the indie sales market is starting to flourish again. “I haven’t seen so many pre-sold movies in years,” said a source who said Russian buyers were paying “insane prices.” “They are paying more than the asking price.”

The latest, untitled Guy Ritchie film sold by Black Bear International has caused a mini-frenzy in the Russian distributors. Some predict this could fetch $10m for Russian rights only.

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