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Paris Cinéma (1/3) : y a-t-il encore de nouveaux modèles économiques ?

août 23, 2010

Europa Distribution, le réseau de distributeurs européens, a tenu ses traditionnelles conférences sur le marketing, la production et distribution indépendantes au niveau européen, en juillet dernier, durant Paris Projects, la plateforme professionnelle du Festival Paris Cinéma.

Le premier panel a donné lieu à une réflexion générale sur les nouveaux modèles économiques dans l’industrie du cinéma (ces trois posts ont été écrits en anglais).


Moderated by Michael Gubbins and Antonio Medici

In this first Europa Distribution work session, Michael Gubbins, journalist and Screen former editor, and Antonio Medici, from the Italian theatrical distributor BIM (which has been at the origin of Europa Distribution with Les Films du Losange‘s Régine Vial) introduce the panel on new business models, by enhancing the fact, that distributors are still distributing movies as they used to do 15 years ago…

Michael Gubbins is immediately provocative, saying that the problem with new business models is that we speak a lot about them, but from our current point of view, like if they were science fiction. So we try to transfer our current business ideas, our ways of living in digital. But it will automatically be a failure. You need to think that Google or Wikipedia are pure internet creations, they could not have existed without internet. That’s the same thing with movies: you need to change your way of thinking, now people watch movies on every different screen, computer, home video, mobile. Here is the new era.

By presenting the vicious circle of revenues declines, Michael Gubbins insists on the idea of time: no matter you can pour a lot of contents in every platform, you won’t still have time to watch them. That’s why the business models are not DVDs or VoD versus movie theaters, but movies versus all other possible hobbies!

This fragmentation leads to a new trade breakdown – or at least a changing one – because producers have the impression they could keep a better control on their movies if they self distribute it, but they don’t realize they don’t know the audience… And 3D is coming and will devour a big market share in theaters… so what’s going to happen to indie movies? At that time, a distributor intervenes with this striking reaction “we agree but we might not like it”… Now, Itunes is striking paneuropean deals for VoD with sales agent, that means that, in certain cases, distributors want to buy a movie to a sales agent, won’t have the VoD rights: it will end up not buying the movie or paying less. Furthermore, festivals are progressively changing their roles too, by becoming content providers, distributors (like Sundance or Tribeca). They will become less important for producers and distributors because deals are already done. Everyone wants to get involved in the whole chain.

Then, by showing the existing differences between analogue (windows => rights => industrial => borders => closed) and online (immediate => access => democratic => global => open) age, Michael Gubbins enhances the idea that when you buy something, it belongs to you. But now there is gratuity, and an incredibly strong piracy. When you have so many choices, you end up with the most conservative choice, with the American blockbusters always being the hits. A British distributor intervenes by saying that the local movies have never been so strong, because they become an alternative to the big US movies. The main stake is to have access to the projects, to be in the loop to be able to choose them.

One of the main concerns for the distributors still remains the VoD. An Italian distributor raises the problem of the lack of VoD platform in Italy: all the distributors should gather and put their movies in the same plaftorm in order to manage the rights, like French VoD platform Universciné tries to do with producers. You need to build a high value. Comes the example of music industry ones, like Spotify (which doesn’t earn any money for now), which show that maybe we don’t need all these DVD boxes… How is it going to impact the idea of ownership, the existing business models? One distributor jumps into the debate by confirming that teenagers don’t care to own DVDs. Indeed, music industry is shifting to rights management: is it going to be the same for cinema? Thus, if you know you can have access when you want to what you want, you don’t need to own it anymore… Still, the fundamental work on a VoD platform (more than convincing people to go there), is to market the titles: audience needs to know what’s existing, to have recommendations. What’s the audience?

The transparency in the royalties report doesn’t exist for now unfortunately, who is going to have the control? The producer? The distributor? The VoD platform? So many questions, but no clear answers yet. No new business models yet…

To conclude, Michael Gubbins says that the situation in movie industry is now changing, either you like it or not: the way the audience is behaving (with the end of ownership), the collective need to work together (pricing and value are different, not based on physical material). Indeed, the voice of distributors needs to be heard louder, and producers, distributors and exhibitors urgently need to discuss about their ways of working, to facilitate commitment of each partner. Rethinking where you fit, as a distributor, between the analogue and digital sides.

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