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Nicolas Brigaud-Robert • Sales agent

"Today, the market is getting back into shape”


- Analysis of market trends by Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, manager of the French international sales company Films Distribution

Nicolas Brigaud-Robert • Sales agent

A few days before the European Film Market of the 64th Berlinale (February 6 to 16, 2014), encounter with Nicolas Brigaud-Robert who manages with François Yon the very active Parisian international sales company, which always has a great presence in important festivals.

Cineuropa: What is your analysis of market trends for European films?
Nicolas Brigaud-Robert: We are coming out of a period during which the market was slightly without direction because of the economic crisis in general and the technological changes of our sector in particular with the dematerialisation of medias. Buyers didn’t know which films to bet on. Today, the market is getting back into shape with a stabilisation of the distributors’ anticipations: they know what movies they will make money on with VoD, for which ones they can hope to attract audiences in theatres, what budgets should be invested, what costs are involved in the release, on what they can count or not, with the stabilisation of purchasing costs. It isn’t about volume, but rather a clarification of the way in which distributors who buy European films can then make their money back through various medias.

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Has your acquisition strategy evolved with the increasingly difficult access to the market of quality independent films?
Films Distribution maintained its goal: focusing on "cross-over" films. We always thought of our work as serving a public of movie-lovers, but we don’t keep ourselves from going with films that have a potential in terms of audiences but aren’t necessarily destined for selections in festivals. We also always make sure to be "director driven" with filmmakers whom we follow when they move on to more open films. This strategy enabled us to bypass the lack of demand for purely author cinema. The Dark Valley [+see also:
film profile
is a perfect example: it’s a film with a director’s vision, style, a formal outlook, but it targets a wider audience. In our line-up, you can always also find at least one animated film, such as Wolfy, the Incredible Secret [+see also:
film profile
this year, with still this strategy of offering a different cinema, which doesn’t pretend to be from Hollywood but without the budget and which accepts itself as an alternative to that cinema and doesn’t however forbid itself from pleasing the crowds.

How many films can you integrate in your line-up?
We try to arrive at a market with a maximum of three or four new films, because films are sold over a minimum period of two years. With the number of films arriving on the market, the urgency of it all, the succession of festivals and markets, there is a saddening feeling of things becoming obsolete and that is also why we have a limit because when you have too many films, you don’t have time to take care of them over time and you reinforce this feeling that one film is chasing another away.  

In your opinion, have certain companies overpaid for films and disturbed the market?
The debate over the right price to pay for prototypes is a constant debate: how to fix the price of something for which we ignore nearly everything? What’s sure is that when players arrive on the market with a second profitability problem compared to an exposure issue, when they have to showcase renowned names and great films, to satisfy potential investors for example, to show that they are dynamic and that their line-up is increasing, and that they buy for other reasons maybe than their sales estimates, this can disturb the market.

What about VoD?
All countries, including latecomers like Japan, are progressively moving towards a system where VoD profits are taken into consideration when purchasing films. On the other hand, it’s an illusion to believe that VoD is the new salvation of author cinema, that the fact that everything is constantly available on VoD will enable films that previously had no exposure to be sold. We have to be careful with this paradigm because we find with VoD the same linear strategies that are not very different from those we knew with DVDs in big stores: the focus on VoD continues to foster the Top 10.

(Translated from French)

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