European art-house films face tough times

By Cineuropa • Published on February 14, 2013
Still from Looking for Eric

Still from Looking for Eric

Due to the acquisition stop of European TV stations, even very successful European art-house distributors are facing a difficult situation, reported Birgit Heidsiek from European Film Market at Berlinale 2013.

In Germany, TV buyers such as ARD Degeto no longer acquire any art-house films, even passing by Oscar or Golden Bear winners.

“The main TV stations stopped buying films two years ago,” said Licensing & Acquisition Managing Director Ira von Gienanth at the Munich-based arthouse distribution company Prokino. “Until 2017 they don’t have any slots for art-house films.”

A year ago, a group of 24 independent distributors cited their protest in an open letter, but did not receive an official response.

While there is now less TV money coming in, the costs have not gone down although many cinemas have been digitized. “In Germany, 70% of art-house cinemas have digital projection so that we still need to do an inter-negative,” underlined von Gienath. “Meanwhile, it is becoming hard to find a lab.”

Another problem is the growing over-production that is also flooding cinemas. In 2012, there were more than 600 films released in Germany but the box office results for the films have been shrinking. “It is a problem for the audience to decide which films they want to see,” emphasised von Gienanth. Among the releases were films that had no more than two admissions per screening. On the other hand, arthouse films have to compete with films such as Skyfall which also attract art-house viewers.

For all these reasons, it becomes much more risky to release art-house films. “A bid for a film such as Looking for Eric as we had in Cannes would not happen anymore,” von Gienanth added.

“Only a franchise film such as Skyfall is easy to predict,” added Spanish producer Adrià Monés from Filmax. “A producer has to put himself in a position to find his own audience.”

(Birgit Heidsiek for Cineuropa.org)

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