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By Hammad Zaidi | January 1, 2013

Welcome to 2013. Today is the first day of the best year since 2007. That’s what international film buyers believe, and they would know, because they have their fingers on the pulse of the international distributors’ wants and needs. Today we’re going to put our collective fingers on the pulse of key markers that will shape the film outlook for 2013. So, without further ado, let’s get into 2013 on a Geddy Lee high note!

Studios Land Massive End-Of-Year Investments
Studios raised at least $843 million from investment firms last month. On December 28, Variety reported that Fox was closing in on $400 million of “fresh financing,” some of which is expected to be spent on Avatar sequels. Ten days earlier, on December 18, Legendary announced a $443 million dollar investment raise, which put their total at $720 million in 2012. Remember, the $843 million was raised in December, which is not a traditionally active month. While the “fiscal cliff” probably accelerated the investments in order to avoid tax hikes, the investors still had to believe that film investments had a promising outlook, before they invested.

Sundance Will Set The Bar For Indie Film Sales
Every year, the Sundance Film Festival sets the bar for what buyers will pay for independent films. While the massive $10-$12 million dollar indie sales happen for less frequently than they did one decade ago, this year should show an uptick in values. However, the most telling statistic may be how the “middle of the pack” films do at Sundance. In recent years, Sundance’s biggest sales have taken all the pieces of the pie, and only left crumbs for the other 100 Sundance films. But, if we see a more respectable sales value for indie features that “cracked the bank, but didn’t break it,” then sales values for most independently made feature films should be on the rise.

Berlin Film Festival Will Signal Values for Art House Films
The Berlin Film Festival is commonly viewed as being the place where “highly anticipated art films,” go to get their critical acclaim and have their sales value set. With the world financial crisis destroying the values of all films, much less art films, since 2008, it will be interesting to see if 2013 brings healthier sales in world of art films. While I don’t expect a significant upswing in this area, if values for art films increase a hair, or at least stop plummeting, then signs will point a positive 2013.

European Countries Lift Bans On Outside Product
Last year, some countries in Europe placed a ban on distributing product made outside of their home country, in an effort to bolster their homemade productions. However, their audiences revolted, because they were being deprived of watching films littered with worldwide star power. So, viewership has plummeted and advertisers are spending their euros elsewhere, until the situation gets corrected. While nothing is official yet, we should expect the ban to be lifted rather soon. When this happens, indie films will once again access to these territories (like Benelux – Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg), which will increase values for independents.

China Becomes Hollywood’s Newest Playground
Don’t laugh, because this is already happening. DreamWorks has Oriental DreamWorks in China, and Disney/Marvel are doing the next Iron Man film with Beijing based DMG Entertainment, to name a few, and there are countless more film and television collaborations between the United States and China. Simply put, the “wild west,” is heading “Far East,” and the possibilities are limitless.  While the collaborations are on the studio tent pole film level right now, it’s just a matter of time until indie films receive similar opportunities.

Buyers Will Talk With Their Checkbooks At Cannes 2013
The Cannes Film Festival and the Cannes Film Market is the barometer of all barometers, when it comes to checking the health of the film sales world. Buyers from all over the world converge in Cannes every May to flex their checkbooks and decide how much films are worth. Thus, by the end of May, we should have a really good idea of how good 2013 will be. This is also true, because the bulk of all film sales are done by the end of Cannes, or soon thereafter. Furthermore, the summer tends to be quiet, and the last few healthy sales opportunities occur at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and MIPCOM at Cannes in October.

That’s what I have for you today. I’ve got a good feeling about the year ahead – a really good feeling, and you should too. Here’s to all of us having an unimaginably incredible year! Thank you for lending me your eyes on this first day of 2013, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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