What a difference a year makes. In 2013, Cannes was deluged by wave after wave of high-profile movie projects, very often from the U.S., very often only semi-packaged, semi-cast. Very often they didn't get sold.
Cut to a week out from this year's Cannes.
"One of the things that's been building for about a year now, but that is now really coming into focus for people, is that there is a genuine lack of content coming onto the markets," FilmNation's Glen Basner commented.
Ivan Boeing at Brazilian distributor Imagem agreed: "Unless we hear of 20 new big announcements in the next 10 days, it'll be very different Cannes to last year. No question about it," he said.
"I think the buyers were expecting Cannes to be very busy, with more activity. As of May 7, I'm not sure it'll be as busy as everyone hoped for," added Bill Johnson at Lotus Entertainment, which will be showing footage at Cannes of Tom Tywker's Tom Hanks starrer "A Hologram for the King."
But four or five fairly substantial titles look set to be announced by May 12.
There will be a clutch of must-see titles for mainstream buyers. Voltage, for instance, hits Cannes with Eli Roth's latest, erotic psycho-thriller "Knock, Knock," with Keanu Reeves.
Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult star in "Equals," a futuristic love story from Mister Smith, with Ridley Scott among producers. FilmNation will arrive in Cannes with an Amy Adams sci-fi thriller "Story of Your Life," from Denis Villeneuve. Mel Gibson will star in Jean-Francois Richet's action thriller "Blood Father" for Wild Bunch, which is presenting "Spring Breakers: The Second Coming" and Mark Osborne's animated feature "The Little Prince." Colin Firth co-stars in drone mission thriller "The Eye of the Sky"," from eOne Intl.
"What's missing are the big tentpole films," said Constantin's Martin Moszkowicz. "There's always room for one or two surprise pictures. But I don't think there's going to be a huge amount of big movies happening."
A trio of very large films indeed will of course be brought to Cannes by Lionsgate Intl.: Denis Villeneuve's Mexican drug lord hunt "Sicario," with Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt; "The Last Face" starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem and directed by Sean Penn; and Juan Antonio Bayona's "A Monster Calls" with Liam Neeson on board to star.
To the frustration of big indie distributors in many territories, Lionsgate/Summit films are locked into output deals in very many places over the world.
So, six days out from Cannes, the market was shaping up sedately.
As at Berlin, many films coming onto the open market cut two ways: Cast-driven action thrillers and movies for older 40-plus auds.
Again, as at Berlin, the latter seem legion at Cannes. James Schamus, X Filme and Alison Thompson's Sunray are teaming on "Alone in Berlin," adapting Hans Fallada's anti-Nazi novel. FilmNation will start selling John Carney's musical drama "Sing Street," with U2's Bono and the Edge.
And there's more: EOne has taken international rights to the Bryan Cranston-starrer "Trumbo." James Franco will adapt Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury," with Franco and Seth Rogen, New Films Intl. selling. Atom Egoyan will direct Christopher Plummer in revenge thriller "Remember," from IM Global. Pathe is selling Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth," about two old friends nearing 80 but still with fire in their bellies. Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz star.
"In many countries, like Germany, there is a very, very reliable audience segment, 40-50-and-above, that goes to see these kinds of movies," he added.
"Male-oriented, action-driven movies budgeted around the mid-twenties make distributors comfortable. They may often be going straight to video and there is some value in Asia and Latin America," said Moszkowicz.
The Cannes Market boasts some highly attractive genre movies: IM Global will be offering the Blumhouse-produced "Sinister 2," which looks set to sell strongly after "Sinister" grossed $77.7 million worldwide.