The Cannes Film Market, or Marché du Film, has long been the place where deals for the biggest independent movies come together. In 2018, FilmNation and CAA Media Finance sold their sexy spy thriller The 355 (at the time just a scriptless concept) on the back of a dramatic photo op on the Carlton Beach featuring the film’s A-list cast of Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and Fan Bingbing. The next year saw the launch of $150 million Moonfall by AGC Studios and CAA, which also presold worldwide in Cannes before a second’s worth of footage had been shot. But the lackluster performance of those two would-be tentpoles (The 355 has grossed $28 million worldwide to date, Moonfall some $43 million) and shifts in the international marketplace — including a rise in global buyout deals from streaming giants like Netflix and Apple TV+, which tend to buy finished films, not scripted packages — have turned the Marché’s focus toward smaller, more art house titles.
“The presale market still exists, but there are fewer packages out there,” notes Jonathan Kier, president of Upgrade Productions and Bron Releasing. “Part of this has to do with the streamers and studios, which don’t necessarily buy different films, but they tend to buy finished films, not at script stage.”
Kier also points to the commercial success of art house titles such as Drive My Car ($15 million global box office to date) and The Worst Person in the World ($16.5 million), both of which sold as finished films in Cannes in 2021. “It pays to have a diverse and eclectic slate,” he says.
“Diverse” and “eclectic” are two words to describe the buzziest films heading to the Marché this year, which in place of cookie-cutter action movies has dramas, thrillers and comedies featuring the likes of Julia Garner, Juliette Binoche, Woody Harrelson and Parasite star Song Kang-ho.
DIRECTOR Shane Atkinson
STARS Steve Zahn, Jared Harris, John Magaro
BUZZ High-concept thrillers are a mainstay of indie distributors worldwide, who will be checking out this title, which promises to give a comedic twist to the hit-man genre: First Cow star Magaro plays a down-and-outer who is mistaken for a hired killer and decides to play along, only to run into trouble when the real pro (Harris) arrives, demanding payment.