Welcome to Going Bionic, #213, and more importantly, Greetings From Cannes! The 2014 edition of the Cannes Film Festival and Cannes Film Market have been the most robust I’ve experienced since 2007. This is significant because 2007 was before the world financial crisis deeply depleted the value of independent films being sold internationally.

On the festival side, Oscar buzz has suddenly surrounded the most unlikely of candidates, and the opening night film lost its distributor days before its premiere, and then got their distributor back soon thereafter.

On the film market side, the offers from buyers are rising (especially from smaller territories), the number of buyers who are actively purchasing product has risen, and the newest buyers on the block are exercising their checkbooks. Thus, Cannes is finding itself in a really good groove this year, which should trigger a healthy 2014 for independent cinema.

So, let’s look into the lens of this year’s Cannes experience (so far).

The Festival de Cannes
The 2014 Cannes Film Festival kicked-off when the opening night film, Grace of Monaco, served up an epic helping of controversy. First of all, it was deeply panned from critics, citing lack of truthfulness (it’s supposed to be a biopic) and accusing the picture of inciting more cringes than smiles.

Secondly, the Weinstein Company dumped the film hours before its opening night premiere. Apparently, the Weinstein Company wanted to release the picture’s shorted version, while director Oliver Dahan insisted on his director’s cut.

Thankfully, like most Hollywood endings, everything worked out in the end when Oliver Dahan not only got his distributor back, but he was also granted the right to screen his version.

However, such a win never comes without a price. It is widely believed here in Cannes that The Weinstein Company lowered their purchase price of Grace of Monaco of $5 million, down to $3 million, in exchange for allowing the director’s cut to be released in the USA.

Side Note: Filmmakers – ask yourself: Is releasing your “director’s cut” worth getting $2 million less on your distribution deal when the world’s critics are bashing the film to a pulp?

As for the immediate Oscar buzz surrounding an unlikely actor, that actor would be none other than Steve Carell for his performance in Foxcatcher. This Sony Pictures Classics release is slated to hit screens in the United States on November 14.

The Marche du Film
The Cannes Film Market has also enjoyed a solid increase in the number of territories making healthy offers, film values, and the frequency of outlets that are looking for independent product. While the values aren’t back to 100% of what they were back in 2007, they certainly are climbing back to about 65%-70% of what they used to be range – which is a sharp increase when compared to the last six or seven years.

The VOD Factor
One reason prices are bouncing back is because VOD rights are wrangling far greater numbers than they did even as early as last year. This is great news, because VOD rights are only going to keep climbing in the foreseeable future and beyond.

The Netflix Rumor
My favorite rumor so far is that Netflix is going from sales booth to sales booth and is offering $1.5 million for VOD rights of a film or a slate of films (the rumor varies). While I’m sure there is some truth to this rumor, it’s also just as possible this rumor has ballooned from a little while lie, to a limitless galaxy of exaggeration. Who knows, maybe Netflix did drop $1.5 million on a slate of indie films. Then again, maybe that number was actually $15,000. Like I said, who knows….

Okay, kids. That’s what I have for you today. As always, I’d like to thank you for lending me your eyes, and I’d be honored if you would allow me to do so again next Tuesday. Until then, have a great week!

I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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