Hard times for European art-house films
by Birgit Heidsiek
- EFM Industry Debate on crisis in Europe
Due to the acquisition stop of European TV stations, even very successful European art-house distributors are facing a difficult situation. In Germany, TV buyers such as ARD Degeto no longer acquire any art-house films, even passing on Oscar or Golden Bear winners. "The main TV stations stopped buying films two years ago," said Licensing & Acquisition Managing Director Ira von Gienanth (photo) at the Munich-based arthouse distribution company Prokino. "Until 2017 they don't have any slots for art-house films." A year ago, a group of 24 independent distributors cited their protest in an open letter, but did not receive an official response.
While there is no less TV money coming in, the costs are not going down although many cinemas have now been digitized. "In Germany, 70% of art-house cinemas have digital projection so that we still need to do an inter-negative," underlined von Gienath. "Meanwhile, it is becoming hard to find a lab." The VPF is also causing trouble: "We have the first case that we had to pay an VPF but the film was not even played in this theatre."
Another problem is the growing over-production that is also flooding cinemas. In 2012, there were more than 600 films released in Germany but the box office results for the films have been shrinking. "It is a problem for the audience to decide which films they want to see," emhazised von Gienanth. Among the releases were films that had no more than two admissions per screening. On the other hand, arthouse films have to compete with films such as Skyfall [+see also:
film profile], which also attract art-house viewers.
For all this reasons, it becomes much more risky to release art-house films. "A bid for a film such as Looking for Eric [+see also:
interview: Cannes 2009
interview: Steve Evets - actor
film profile] as we had in Cannes would not happen anymore," von Gienanth added. "Only a franchise film such as Skyfall is easy to predict," added Spanish producer Adrià Monés from Filmax. "A producer has to put himself in a position to find his own audience."
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.