SAN SEBASTIAN – Top International business execs gathered on Tuesday at a rooftop venue, glistening in the Basque sunlight, for the second Creative Investors Conference at this week’s San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The second panel of the day at this two-day confab, The Global Film Industry: State of the Union 2023 round table, was moderated by Roeg Sutherland, co-head, CAA Media Finance. Speakers took in Pete Czernin co-chairman of Blueprint Pictures, David Flynn, head of global drama at WIIP, Fionnuala Jamison, managing director of MK2, and Vincent Maraval, president of Goodfellas.
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Today, international is not just about recouping costs on American films but also about the discovery of new talent. Said Maraval: “What you need to succeed is the exception. The exception is coming from everywhere today. I think the market has become more global and less American.”
Added Czernin: “I think our awareness of global voices has increased.”
The streamers have changed the importance of international voices.
Said Flynn: “It’s a different analysis. Streamers are trying to get more viewers in their territories. Viewers will actually take a punt on something they don’t know today.”
“It’s exciting to see a younger audience open up to international films,” added Jamison:
In such a challenging business, part of what keeps industry vets going is this changing nature of the global business.
One example is changes to the pre-sales business to international territories – something that has long been key to the business.
“Today, to pre-sell you need a film to be an event by itself,” said Maraval. “The majority does not pre-sell. Japanese animation. Genre. Projects with strong IPs do. It’s more difficult for first time directors. Comedy. Certain types of films pre-sell.
The cost of the film has increasingly become an important key for pre-sales because if it’s too much for each territory, the film will not happen.”
The same rules must apply internationally as in the U.S. to succeed.
Said Flynn: “I think you have to make a film that’s really good. I saw a guy watching ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on his phone on the underground. That’s the mindset of the younger generation. Make it really good and get someone to see it. I don’t think you can really be fussy in 2023 about how they see it.”
Another question posed by Sutherland was how do you get people to leave the house?
“It’s incumbent on all of us to make films that make you leave your house,” said Czernin.
Added Flynn: “We made a film a few years ago about three friends and a donkey. On paper it was really silly. But it worked. Challenge people. Make good movies.”
Said Maraval: The theatrical market is recovering quite well after COVID. The audience is there. It’s about giving them something exceptional and a reason to get out of the house.”
The exchange and balance between international and domestic is key. And both markets depend on each other for different input.
Said Flynn: “I think most people think the most original stories are from outside the U.S. today.
Added Maraval: “For a lot of stories coming from the U.S. market, we feel very far internationally. I feel I see the same film 20 times at Sundance. I think the world is changing in a way that makes everything more local.”
Added Czernin: “We need to take the best parts of the U.S. and international systems and put them together. I think the development system in the U.S. is rigorous and some of that needs taking over into the international space.”
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