Last week we talked about the Sundance feeding frenzy and the buy low, sell high philosophy.
Then we went right into Berlin and EFM, the first major actual market of 2017.
For those of you who haven’t been following along in the trades I’ll give you the punchline which is Netflix and Amazon are buying up all the completed films (again, Tier 1 festival) which leaves the smaller distributors trying to cobble together a release slate from whatever is left.
The shift I’m seeing happening as a result is that all these domestic distributors (aside from the aforementioned SVOD players) are being forced into pre-buying. Yes the execution risk may be high with pre-buying, but the reality of the market right now is that most Tier 1 films are already picked up by the time they are completed.
And then these distributors have nothing to build a release slate off of…. #outofluck
So suddenly you’re seeing this situation whereby domestic distributors are revisiting packaged projects at the financing stage and digging into heir pockets to secure rights in advance.
I happen to the be recipient of such activity right now with a film I’m producing and let me tell you, what a difference a year makes! A year ago it didn’t matter if you had a great package – domestic distributors were content to wait till the film was completed and maybe Netflix would take a look.
Now the opposite is true – Netflix doesn’t need to pick up at the packaging stage, it’s content to wait till the film is completed and premiering at a Tier 1 festival where they can outbid everyone else. And all the other distributors are taking a more serious look at good packaged films and saying I can’t afford to wait till it’s finished!
Mind you, the project I’m currently experiencing this on is packaged with high level talent, so there’s that…. in fact, it’s a film I’ve worked with clients on for over a year to attach talent piece by piece….so we definitely put in the work.
We’re not in a market where distributors are picking up at the script stage – its definitely at the packaging stage. But I consider that a big turn of events from even jus ta year ago!
So that’s Berlin in a nutshell….
As for me, I’m focused on getting two features into production right now plus overseeing the distribution for my film premiering at SXSW next month … all while being on a month long round the world shoot for a project I can’t talk about yet but which is very different from anything else I’ve done so far. Stay tuned for more on that!
What about you?
I’d love to hear what you’re up to and what your thoughts are on all this – let’s continue the discussion in the comments below…