Cécile Gaget • Exporter, Gaumont
by Fabien Lemercier
27/06/2011 - Interview with the head of international sales at Gaumont, who gives an overview of the international film markets’ state of health and a close look at the assets in her company’s line-up.
Cineuropa: Have the international markets emerged from the tunnel of the financial crisis?
Cécile Gaget: Berlin went very well and Cannes even more so. For the past two years, distributors had been operating a wait-and-see policy, but they realised, in Japan for example, that they had nothing left in their line-ups. And they need films. Moreover, in the past few years, lots of US films made for the wrong reasons have flooded the market. Many of them were scrapped and this model with an investment fund and a risk-ridden United States has collapsed. As for European films, particularly French, they still represent a very attractive diversity for buyers.
The volume of business has picked up, but what about film sales prices?
It depends on the territories. The UK, Germany and Scandinavia are quite stable. Italy and Spain are still very complicated markets with a specific situation in Italy because foreign films are losing market shares there. Rai has, moreover, just announced that it is going to sharply reduce its foreign film acquisitions budget. In Japan, prices are not at the level they were a few years ago, but at least buying has picked up again. On the other hand, there is an incredible surge in prices in China where you nonetheless need to be vigilant during negotiations, particularly with regard to the quotas system and censorship clauses.
How can European films’ chances of breaking into the US market be improved?
On the whole, French and European films are rather well circulated in the United States, and the English-language films produced in recent years by French studios have done quite well there. Alternative models like Magnolia and IFC with simultaneous theatrical and VOD release are excellent news. Some of our films have already been distributed like this with increased takings, including MR73 [trailer], A French Gigolo [trailer] and High Lane [trailer]. And Point Blank [trailer] will be launched on July 22.
Besides The Conquest [trailer] which sold very well at Cannes, what other titles in Gaumont’s line-up did particularly well?
We had great success with A Happy Event by Remi Bezançon (news), following on from his previous film, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [trailer], which did really well on some territories, particularly Germany. At Cannes, we sold A Happy Event, a beautiful romantic comedy, with quite a long promo-reel (five minutes). It was bought for lots of territories, including Germany, Spain and Italy, as well as some small countries, which wasn’t the case for The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.
At Cannes, we also showed eight minutes of Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s film Untouchable, which is bound to cause a stir and which we sold to all the big territories. The only way comedies can cross borders is if their script steers a path between situation comedy, strong stories and a big slice of emotion. But we also did well with Olivier Marchal’s Le Gang des Lyonnais (see news), which is a sort of saga about a gang of big-hearted thugs and quite a deep psychological thriller. We also started sales for Comme un Chef, starring Jean Reno.
How did Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, whose sales rights you share with Wild Bunch, end up in your line-up?
We met Nicolas through Yves Chevalier who bought the Pusher trilogy for France. We saw and loved Bronson [trailer] and we wanted to work with genre films. Wild Bunch had sold Valhalla Rising [trailer, film focus] and instead of competing with each other, we decided to join forces, in a mutually beneficial way, for Only God Forgives which will be a very violent European film, on a tight budget.