"Done on a hunch"
by Fabien Lemercier
- TFM, the French distributor of My Summer of Love, has been riding a wave of success which ushered the company to first place in the list of French distributors
Since the beginning of 2005, TFM, the French distributor of My Summer of Love [+see also:
interview: Jean-Paul Rougier
interview: Pawel Pawlikowski
interview: Tanya Seghatchian
film profile], has been riding a wave of success which ushered the company to first place in the list of French distributors. Besides the French comedies Brice de Nice (4.2 million paying customers) and Iznogoud (2.5 million), TFM also recorded the sale of 878 000 tickets to see the full-length German film The Downfall [+see also:
interview: Bernd Eichinger
interview: Joachim Fest
interview: Oliver Hirschbiegel
film profile]. With the release on Wednesday 22 June of the Pawel Pawlikowski British production, and of Io non ho paura [+see also:
interview: Gabriele Salvatores
film profile] (I’m Not Scared) by Italian Gabriele Salvatores on 3 August, the French distributor has two very big eggs in his European cinema basket. A few words of explanation from TFM’s Managing Director, Jean-Paul Rougier.
Cineuropa: Why are you distributing My Summer of Love in France?
Jean-Paul Rougier: We saw and bought the film at the Toronto Film Festival. We did so on a hunch, although we were familiar with Pawel’s previous work. The film was then selected for various other festivals and when it was voted Outstanding British Film of the Year, we reckoned that our choice had been vindicated (laughter). We decided upon a release date of 22 June as that’s the date that marks the official start of summer. In addition, the Fête du Cinéma which kicks off on 26 June will be the ideal showcase for the film, and there’s the added advantage of releasing it in a week in which there is no real opposition from other art house productions. We are distributing around sixty copies of My Summer of Love to both independent and big chain cinemas in the original version only.
What strategy governed the film’s release?
We showed My Summer of Love to a lot of cinema owners, embarking, in particular, on a tour of the provinces with two French films and a mission to make the art house cinemas aware of Pawel’s abilities as a maker of full-length films. In addition, this type of film has to be launched in close collaboration with the press; for example, we had to find partners such as the daily newspaper, Libération, that were willing to publicise release of My Summer of Love. We also produced a customised trailer for France and a French poster, as those used for other countries didn’t appeal to us. Lastly, we launched a poster campaign covering kiosks in Paris and elsewhere.
Several producers declare their sympathies with those French distributors who hesitate to commit themselves to qualitative European films because of the inherent risks therein. What’s your take on this? Well, releasing films like My Summer of Love is not a risk-free process, because the film has a price and it has to be purchased. We got the calculators out and worked out our break-even point, but that is dependent on box-office takings, which start to become interesting once the 100 000 mark has been hit. We have no particular strategy with regard to the nationality of the films, choices are made on a case by case basis. We buy films in accordance with their quality and sales conditions. If we like a film, the next stage is to convince everyone else that it’s worth seeing. And don’t forget that, in France, you have the problem of a very high number of weekly releases.