As expected, the buyers at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival spent much of its first weekend milking the wait-and-see tactic to great affect. By Sunday, many sales agents were lamenting to me that they weren’t getting any traction at this “market” and were expecting it to be somewhat of a bust. Buyers, however, are human too and can only maintain their collective composure for so long before they began picking up product on Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s still a buyers’ market and this approach has effectively turned recent festivals into Dutch Auctions, where the price is reduced until a buyer is found. A conspiracy theorist could assume they all got together at Cannes and collectively agreed not buy anything the first weekend.
This festival may not be a feeding frenzy, but at least deals are being made and some traditional bidding is going on. I’m hoping that this Toronto, plus the upcoming AFM in November, will be the final shakeout of any remaining films that were produced during the 2005-2009 hedge-fund, super-gap heyday. It’s taken a lot of Market-Strength Drano to clear this massive clog — most of which ended up going straight to video. It can be hard to accept that this is a healthy correction when it’s your film (and livelihood) that’s hanging in the balance. But the good news is…time marches on.