Created at the 1959 Cannes International Film Festival, the Marché du Film is now the indispensable venue for negotiations about most productions distributed in theatres, on television, at festivals or on internet platforms.
At that time, it started out in an informal, low-key way. There were a few dozen participants and one projection room made of wood and canvas on the roof of the old Palais, on the Croisette which held about twenty people. But it created an immediate buzz. Many producers, distributers and exporters met through the sale and acquisition of rights and productions. Cinemas on the Rue d’Antibes were hired for the occasion. By the late 1950s, the newspapers reported: “The Festival de Cannes begins this week. As much business will be done there as in six months of normal professional life in Paris.”
Bolstered by its success, the “Marché International du Film” was officially integrated into the Festival de Cannes on May 10, 1961. This worried those who were keen to preserve the glamour of the red carpet: “Cannes is committing suicide. It is doomed in its current format. In another two or three years, it will be no more than a film market,” they said. However this economical approach opened new development horizons for the Festival. Very soon it was apparent there were strong connections with the industry, that their fates and their future exploits were closely linked. They continue to be so today: the Marché du Film often shows itself to be the adventurous side of the Festival.
On the eve of this 60th anniversary, the Marché du Film has confirmed its leading position, having already announced figures which are strongly up on last year: 7,600 participants registered to date, compared to 6,158 at the same date in 2018, which is an increase of 23% in registrations. These are particularly encouraging figures in the light of the results of the international markets so far this year.
This is even more the case because the Marché du Film has once again distinguished itself with the diversity of its participants, with more than a hundred countries represented. The accredited professionals can be divided into three equally-sized groups: producers, distributors and other film professionals. The latter includes almost 10% of festival programmers from all over the world. More than half come from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and China. This international flavour is reflected throughout the entire festival.
In 2018, of the 40,000 accredited professionals who converged on the Croisette, more than 12,400 attended 1,500 screenings of 3,000 films presented in 33 theatres in five different locations, including the cinemas on the Rue d’Antibes.