Everything was online (again!) this year, but that didn’t stop the business from happening. Berlinit’s European film market concluded its second virtual European film market with a “record number of deals” signed at the 2022 event, according to EFM director Dennis Ruh, who pointed to Sony Pictures $60 million pre-purchase worldwide for tom hank project A man called Otto with STX International and CAA Media Finance, the largest single contract ever signed in Berlin.
“But art house films and films from the Berlin Festival lineup also did well,” Ruh said in an email to THR. “As the entrance of the Chinese competition, back to dustsold to several theater distributors in Europe [M-Appeal is handling world sales on the film]. Trade activity has regained a breath of fresh air in the wake of the easing and the lifting of restrictive measures [COVID-19] measures in Europe and the rest of the world.
More from The Hollywood Reporter
In numbers, EFM 2022 saw growth across the board, with 600 exhibitors from 62 countries showcasing titles on the EFM platform, compared to 504 companies from 60 countries last year. There were more titles on offer – 827 films compared to 821 last year – and more than 600 market premieres.
Despite this “virtual success,” Ruh believes there is still pent-up demand for in-person film markets. “We could see it in our December bookings,” when the EFM was still planning an in-person event, he says. “Business is also about mutual trust, and you’re more likely to build that by spending time together in one place than through strictly scheduled online meetings. It remains a matter of people who need a specific meeting place.
Whether Berlin, Cannes and the American Film Market in Santa Monica will continue to be the gathering places for the global film industry each year remains to be seen. While most executives complain about “Zoom Fatigue” after two years of digital markets, they have also benefited financially from not having to book flights, hotel rooms and exhibition space.
“We really only need to go to two markets a year,” noted a top US sales agent, “and buyers are also moving: Asian buyers only want to come to Cannes and the AFM, many Europeans would just like to do Berlin and Cannes.
Ruh, however, is convinced that the EFM “as the first film market of the year, with all the projects that are sold here, the high quality of the programming [and] the unique link with the Berlinale as [the world’s largest] public festival”, will maintain its position as a must-attend event for the independent industry.
As he notes, the number of “lucrative deals” at EFM 2022 is proof positive of the “benefit for most global sales companies” of making the trip to cold Berlin.