Film Festivals & Awards

A data-led analysis on how to survive the Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival and Market are simply round the corner. It’s a mad mixture of five-star films, five-minute meetings and five-Euro bottles of water.

To help attendees get the most out of their trip, I have gone by means of my archives of Cannes research, and carried out some new research, to see what a data-led analysis can reveal.

I’ve boiled down the key factors to simply eight primary takeaways, with hyperlinks to explore each in additional detail.

1. The opening weekend is the time to be there

Over the years, I have carried out quite a few research into when individuals attend prime movie festivals and the opening weekend all the time comes out on prime.  This yr meaning the 18th and 19th of Might.

In 2016, I interviewed 575 Cannes veterans to acquire an extended listing of ideas for attending the Cannes Film Festival.  Their attendance plans are revealed under, displaying just how a lot attendance drops off after the first weekend.

That research also confirmed that film consumers (i.e. distributors wanting to purchase movies) arrive sooner than most while film financiers tend to arrive later.

Further studying: Final ideas for attending the Cannes Film Festival.

2. Don’t fear for those who miss a shortlisted film as the overwhelming majority make it to public cinemas

Films nominated in Cannes have not often been seen by anybody outdoors the core filmmaking workforce, which means that ‘the buzz’ a few new movie can get out of hand.  With out crucial or viewers evaluations, the rumour mill goes into overdrive and everyone tries to get tickets for the small variety of screenings.  This could mean you could depart Cannes having missed out on some scorching new films.

However, worry not, there’s a excessive probability the movie will get a public theatrical release.

Over the past three many years, the variety of Cannes-nominated movies reaching UK and US cinemas has elevated.  In 1990, solely 56% of these movies have been proven in UK cinemas and 67% reached US cinema audiences.  Examine that to 2015, when all of them reached US cinemas, and 84% made it to UK cinemas.

That stated, the eventual theatrical launch is probably going to be a long time after Cannes and will not be in a cinema close to you.  The typical delay between Cannes and the US theatrical launch for Cannes-nominated movies was 286 days (or 9 and half months).  Plus, over half shall be released on fewer than 50 screens in the US.

Further reading: How many Cannes-nominated films get a theatrical launch? and How many festival-nominated films get theatrical distribution?

three. Cannes is dear for everybody, but most of all for these promoting

It’s attainable for cash-strapped European filmmakers to attend Cannes fairly cheaply.  Low-cost fights, taxi pooling, tenting or staying one city over and consuming from supermarkets can make a trip value beneath €500.

Nevertheless, those that have films to promote have far fewer choice to get monetary savings (without dropping face).  Having an official base from which to preview your films and negotiate deals start in the tens of hundreds of Euros and may shortly move up to tons of of hundreds.

As well as paying your employees, flying them to Cannes and feeding them, listed here are some options in your Cannes office:

  • The smallest booth in the least desirable a part of the market (9m2 in the Palais -1) begins at €4,650.
  • You’ll then need to promote your films, which may vary from just some thousand Euro up to €30,000 for a poster outdoors the Palais, the principal constructing.
  • Some sales brokers select to take over a lodge room in certainly one of the major lodges, stripping out the beds and turning it into an impromptu workplace.  A night time in The Grand lodge will set you back €980 throughout the pageant (the similar room every week earlier is half the worth).  Likewise, staying in an ordinary room at The Majestic during the pageant prices €815 per night time, whereas in the week before the pageant it’s simply €205 per night time.
  • It’s not simply those selling films who pay massive bucks to be seen in Cannes.  Along the seashore are a row of pavilions, selling totally different areas of the world.  The official listing worth for a small pavilion (25m2 inside and the similar again for a beach-front terrace) is €17,zero25.  However that’s just the ten-day lease; after that, you’ll need to furnish, employees and supply the tent. Between 2012 and 2016, the British Pavilion value a mean of £390,000 per yr to run.

Additional reading: How a lot does it value to exhibit at the Cannes Marché?

four. Some of the methods Cannes works are downright bizarre

In case you’re going to be attending for the first time, it’s value studying up on how Cannes works.  A lot of the guidelines and customs everyone follows are strange and far from widespread sense.

Amongst the Cannes contradictions are:

Once I surveyed 575 Cannes venturans I requested them to describe what Cannes means to them.  The word cloud under exhibits the words they used, with the most incessantly used phrases appearing the largest.

Additional studying: Cannes film pageant mysteries defined (by way of Nicolas Cage) and Ultimate ideas for attending the Cannes Film Festival

5. There’s a pretty even gender combine, though males hog the prime jobs

Ten years in the past, ladies accounted for 36% of people attending the Cannes market, whereas by 2018 this determine had risen to 45%. On the face of it, this is encouraging. It exhibits that we’re getting shut to equal representation and the development is upward (albeit slowly). Nevertheless, the satan is in the element.

In Cannes in 2018, 35% of the high-status jobs have been taken by ladies, together with 52% of mid-status jobs and 65% of low-status jobs.

Feminine illustration in high-status jobs is strongest among these working for movie commissions and in publicity, whereas males dominate high-status jobs in distribution and manufacturing corporations.

Cannes is a distillation of the greatest and worst of the movie business, crammed into a brief time period, in a small place and amped up to eleven.  Subsequently, it typically options lots of the seedier features of the business.  I have heard stories from female producers of how they are careful not to drink too much, not to get onto boats alone and to be wary of predatory males promising them the world. It might be naive to recommend that this won’t be current at Cannes this yr, but, hopefully, we’ll begin to see the effects of #MeToo, Time’s Up and the Weinstein revelations on peoples’ behaviour.

Additional studying: Gender variety amongst film professionals working in sales and distribution

6. Plan for solar however be prepared for rain

Certainly one of the nicest things about Cannes is that it takes place in the early summer time in the south of France. Consequently, it’s not unusual for individuals to get sunburn whereas operating between meetings. The typical temperature during the Cannes film pageant over the past decade was 17.7ºC (63.8ºF).

Over the previous ten years, it has rained on 29% of pageant days.  The worst yr of the past decade was 2012, which the Hollywood Reporter described as having a “London feel” due to the “rain, thunder and howling winds”.

Additional reading: Will it rain at the Cannes Film Festival?

7. The movies in Cannes are probably to be French dramas, represented by Wild Bunch

The Cannes Film Festival is usually referred to as the world’s prime movie pageant, and subsequently you may anticipate it to objectively treat movies from all over the world equally. Not so. Between 2000 and 2015, 84% of nominees have been dramas, 53% have been French and 19% have been bought by one firm, Wild Bunch.

One other fascinating development is that English has turn out to be the most ceaselessly used language among Cannes-nominated films, due partially to an increase in French films utilizing English.

I have not watched every Cannes-nominated movie (they’re subsequent on my Netflix record after I finish Queer Eye) but I was in a position to get the official plot summaries for each from the Cannes website. By eradicating widespread English words (like, the, of, a, and so forth) we’re in a position to get a snapshot of what’s going on in Cannes nominated movies (1939-2015) – the bigger the word, the extra fashionable it’s.


I used the knowledge to generate the “perfect” Cannes film, assured to impress the jury. It’s a French drama referred to as “Ma Vie Pour La Femme” (“My Life For The Woman”, for you English-speaking riff-raff), directed by Ken Loach and written by Jean-Claude Carrière. You possibly can learn more about this masterpiece, together with the plot, here, in the part entitled ‘Building the perfect Palme d’Or profitable movie’.

Further reading: What varieties of films win the Palme d’Or at Cannes? Is English turning into the de facto language of Cannes films? and What do Cannes-nominated brief films have in widespread?

eight. The producers are indignant, journalists contemptuous and publicists glad

Lastly, let’s finish on some number-crunching fun.  As part of their registration at the market, film professionals can submit a photograph to be publicly out there in the physical guide and on the official website.  Over 10,000 market attendees have completed so, which made me assume it might be enjoyable to see what these photographs can inform us about the varieties of people that attend Cannes.

I ran them by way of Microsoft’s Azure Emotion engine which I’ve beforehand used to catalogue emotion inside movie posters.  This device can detect faces and measure levels of various key feelings (anger, contempt, disgust, worry, happiness, unhappiness and surprise). There’s more detail on my methodology in the write-up for my poster analysis, including a hyperlink to where you’ll be able to attempt the device for your self.

Amongst the things I discovered was:

  • These working in production are the angriest, saddest and most fearful out of all Cannes attendees.
  • The happiest pictures have been of those of individuals working in publicity and PR.
  • Journalists are the most contemptuous, by a large margin.
  • Journalists and distributors present zero worry and the lowest levels of shock.

Obviously, that is only a little bit of enjoyable, quite than a profound look into individuals’s souls.  The photograph somebody picks to be their headshot reveals the version of themselves that they need to put out into the world.

So if we’re being exact, we will’t say that individuals who work in PR are objectively happier than those in production, slightly that their pictures convey more happiness.

Further reading: Utilizing facial recognition to monitor emotions on film posters and Measuring actors’ manufacturers by way of facial recognition


For each matter, I recommend following the hyperlink and reading the notes that go together with the analysis.  It will permit you to perceive the actual methodology, time-period and caveats for every.


As regular readers know, once I attend film markets I tend to hold a observe of some of the most egregious bullshit I hear.  So, on your delight and delectation, listed here are some selection phrases I’ve heard uttered in the UK pavilion throughout the Cannes Film Festival:

  • “Stick it in a box and people will buy it” “Cool, so a physical release on DVD?” “No, a metaphorical box”
  • “I’m doing a private screening this afternoon in my flat. I can see if I can squeeze you in, if you want to come?”
  • [Two people who have made enthusiastic small talk for about ten minutes – about the weather, parties, films – and then they got onto what they do for a living. It turns out they’re both composers. The disappointment in both of them was palpable and they parted ways soon after]
  • [Actor showing off about the films he’s been in] “And that film has just won an award at a major festival” “Which one?” “Best Editor”
  • “Who’s directing?” “[Says a name] “Great, great, I totally respect him, totally. Would you consider changing to someone else?”
  • “I love that party. Every year I go and get so much arse”
  • “I’ve discovered that during Cannes is the worst time in the world to be trying to sell a film”
  • “Your film is the exact type we finance” “So will you fund us?” “I’m afraid not”
  • “And then we discovered that the producer had been lying to us the whole time” “So what did you do?” “Well, nothing, because to be fair to him we hadn’t really been telling him the truth either. Still, what a bastard!”
  • “There’s two ways the script could go. Personally, I think the flashbacks slow the film down but we’re happy to do that if the investors want to spend more”
  • “[Huge Hollywood star] is very interested. In fact, he’s completely ecstatic about the script and his agent said that he’s in as soon as we have the money for his quote”
  • “There’s a big investor in the background of this one who is completely willing to fund it” “So it’s fully funded?” “Well, no, he wants to get other people to share the opportunity and he’ll be the last in”
  • “I haven’t actually read the script but I really do think it could be the next ‘The King’s Speech’”
  • “The good thing is that it’s the first of a planned trilogy”
  • “We’ve had a breakdown of the special effects and amazingly it came in at just £5 million, which is less than half the total production budget”
  • “It would be good to shoot in Asia so it will instantly have an original look. Or Malta”
  • “This is going to be a very original Richard Curtis style rom-com”
  • “It’s set in an ambiguously nowhere town but when you read the script it’s obviously London”