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Cannes 2023 – Marché du Film

Industry Report: Market Trends

Cannes NEXT welcomes the experts working on the CRESCINE European research project


CANNES 2023: The ambitious three-year initiative, backed by Horizon Europe, aims to empower and transform the film industries of seven small European countries

Cannes NEXT welcomes the experts working on the CRESCINE European research project
l-r: Indrek Ibrus, Jaka Primorac, Vejune Zemaityte, Jakob Isak Nielsen, Tim Raats, Manuel José Damásio and Sten-Kristian Saluveer after the event (© Erlend Štaub)

On 22 May, the Marché du Film’s Main Stage hosted the presentation of CRESCINE, a groundbreaking, three-year research project backed by Horizon Europe, which is set to empower and transform the film industries of seven small European countries or regions – Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal, and Flanders in Belgium.

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The event saw the participation of Manuel José Damásio, head of the Film and Media Arts Department at the Lusófona University, and FilmEU and CRESCINE coordinator; Indrek Ibrus, professor of Media Innovation at Tallinn University; Jakob Isak Nielsen, associate professor at Aarhus Universitet; Tim Raats, associate professor and lead researcher at Brussels’ IMEC-SMIT-VUB Vrije Universiteit; Jaka Primorac, of Croatia’s IRMO Croatia; and Vejune Zemaityte, also of Tallinn University. The session was moderated by Sten-Kristian Saluveer, strategic advisor and head of Cannes NEXT.

Damásio said that CRESCINE is one of the three Horizon projects funded by the EU (see the news). Its overall objective is to enhance the competitiveness and the cultural diversity of the European film industry by focusing on small markets and transforming them through original research and the piloting of the results in the seven aforementioned countries. The project is based on close collaboration among experts from academia, industry reps and policy makers, which Damásio defined as “a triangle essential [to involve] at a time like this”.

The study covers several areas of research: policy and regulations, film data pool and analytics (also known as “FIDA”), small film markets, innovations, and audiences and diversity. Ibrus, in charge of FIDA, touched upon the importance of collecting data from platforms, databases and other reliable sources (for example, the European Audiovisual Observatory, Cinando, IMDb, Eventival and so on) in order to make comparisons between the small markets in question, identify common trends by cross-linking datasets, and ultimately gain new insights into a number of topics, such as festival programming, audience reception, VoD, training and skill-development initiatives, and public-funding measures. Ibrus expressed confidence in the project, adding how it can be beneficial to all stakeholders – including data providers – as all of the research findings will be made public.

Nielsen stressed how the findings would most likely be useful not just for the seven countries involved, but also for Europe as a broader territory made up of rather small markets in comparison with other, bigger international players. Together with Primorac and Zemaityte, he showed some slides focusing on the aspects they are analysing, and these include production volumes, infrastructure figures (such as the number of cinemas, screens per capita and so on), domestic market shares, the attractiveness of film incentives, the impact of service productions on so-called “film tourism”, workforce availability, and the making of local projects.

Raats later spoke about the topics of distribution and audiences. He underscored how the increasing potential of SVoD is mostly benefiting scripted content and is not sufficient to cover costs. Working with SVoD platforms has also prompted a series of new challenges (for example, in terms of transparency). Meanwhile, people are slowly going back to theatres, but cinemagoing is shifting, as are the windows – from “one size fits all” to customised release strategies. “We’re all looking at what’s happening in each other’s markets, but we’re lacking context and we need to look at differences between small markets,” he added.

CRESCINE’s efforts will therefore focus on “getting more insights into film on global and domestic VoD” by identifying “patterns in what works for streamers and what doesn’t”, and on analysing the “film sales market” and the “power dynamics in global distribution networks”. The team will also examine “experiments and pilots with different release windows” as well as “business models and partnerships that enable viability as a movie theatre” and the “economic and cultural value of alternative film distribution [channels]”.

This extensive research work will culminate in the launch of the State of European Film platform, an unparalleled data-insight tool that offers comprehensive, actionable data, insights and recommendations to invigorate these European audiovisual ecosystems. It will be updated annually and is set to be launched next February during the Berlinale.

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