AGC Studios has advanced EFM screenings of the Sundance premiere Observer and will begin showing the horror title to international buyers on Friday to capitalize on the growing buzz surrounding the film.
Screen understands that independents and buyers around the world are chasing Chloe Okuno’s solo feature debut which premiered last week in the US Dramatic Competition. Maika Monroe stars as a married woman who moves to Romania for her husband’s job and suspects she is being stalked by a neighbor. Cinetic and UTA Independent Film Group oversee US rights.
“As we navigate these virtual markets, it makes sense for us to project such an extraordinary response from Sundance this week right away,” said Crystal Bourbeau, president of global sales and distribution for AGC.
The development comes as executives from US-based sales, production and finance companies – most of whom will not be traveling to Berlin after the physical market was canceled due to the Omicron surge unless don’t have a film at the festival – are preparing to engage remotely with buyers ahead of the official online market dates of February 10-17.
With no restrictions on flight, hotel and restaurant reservations, many US and UK counterparts plan to hold the bulk of talks with buyers during the week of Feb. 7-11 to avoid the weekend. which falls in the middle of the official online market race. Executives have tended to avoid back-to-back online market meetings on weekends during the pandemic.
That’s not to say the conversations won’t continue past February 11, and of course festival activity is expected to be robust over the weekend and into the following week.
“We are all planning our meetings to start so [February 7] and make it a done deal,” said the head of one of Los Angeles-based key sales, production and finance teams. A leading buyer from the international space added, “When sellers want to sell and chat, we’ll be there.”
As of this writing, heads of the agencies’ in-house business teams have not responded, though they are likely to engage in the online marketplace on the same dates as their freelance counterparts.
Meanwhile, the general consensus in the US hasn’t changed from what it was before the AFM: everyone’s goal is to attend Cannes when, hopefully, levels of Covid infection will have receded from winter highs.