The Seed Of The Sacred Fig

Cannes 2024 Recap Part Two: Hot Titles And Busy Buyers In The Festival & Market

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Heading into this year’s Cannes Marché, there were several reasons to believe business would be muted, with slow box office recovery nearly everywhere in the world, rising interest rates and the hangover from the Hollywood strikes and pandemic all cited as reasons for a depressed market. And yet there was a steady flow of sales to North America and some other territories to offer encouragement.

But business did not feel like it was back to pre-pandemic levels. We’re at this awkward stage post-pandemic, both in North America and internationally, in which audiences are really demanding novelty and buyers are scared to take a risk (especially when there’s doubt around Pay-1 deals to back up theatrical). Meanwhile, sellers are trying to compensate for soaring star salaries since the Hollywood strikes ended by increasing their prices. While the strikes were mostly a North American problem, rising talent costs are an issue in many territories around the world.

Streamlined long ago gave up asking people “how was the market for you?” because if you’re a seller, it very much depends on which films you are selling, and if you’re a buyer, you’ll never admit that you’re happy with the product on offer or the price. But while it’s difficult to take the temperature of the market, the summary below of business reported in the trades during the Marché du Film should give an idea of what was selling from Official Selection and the market. The links round-up focuses on sales reported for films from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

US Buyers Cautious Except For Neon, A24 & Mubi

While there was little action from the traditional big US buyers such as Sony Pictures Classics, Paramount, Lionsgate and Focus Features – there are now three mid-sized buyers in the arthouse and specialist films space, along with two emerging smaller buyers.

Neon was on a tear at this year’s Cannes Marche, buying Sean Baker’s Palme d’Or winner Anora and Mohammad Rasoulof’s Special Prize winner The Seed Of The Sacred Fig [PICTURED ABOVE], along with a bunch of hot market titles, including Stephen King adaptation The Monkey, French feature The Unknown, starring Léa Seydoux and directed by Anatomy Of A Fall writer Arthur Harari, Julia Ducournau’s Alpha and Joachim Trier’s Sentimental Value.

Neon can boast that it’s acquired five Palme d’Or winners in a row following ParasiteTitaneTriangle Of Sadness and Anatomy Of A Fall. Some of these films also went on to Oscars success, which is also likely for Anora, although there is zero chance that Iran will submit The Seed Of The Sacred Fig as its submission for best international feature.

Mubi is also becoming more active as a North American buyer, in some cases taking US rights to films being handled by sales agent The Match Factory, which it acquired in 2022. From this year’s Cannes crop, it acquired North American rights to two competition titles sold by The Match Factory…

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