Audience Cultivation And Diversity: Insights From Cannes 2023


The recent 76th Cannes Film Festival held in May showcased captivating films, celebrated remarkable talent, and provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of film. As we share some of the highlights from the business side of this prestigious event, several key trends and strategies emerge surrounding distribution and audience engagement.

The conference sessions at Cannes 2023 delved into crucial aspects of audience cultivation to address the ongoing challenge of enticing people back into cinemas since so few countries find themselves at pre-pandemic levels. Conference panels focused on the need for producers to better connect with people through captivating stories and to deliver diverse cinematic experiences while navigating what has become a very polarized market post-COVID. Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussions:

Varying Audience Needs

One popular session emphasized the importance of film packaging and identifying trends to meet audience preferences. A notable trend highlighted in the session is the dominance of big films, seemingly monopolizing cinema audiences. In contrast, other films struggle to reach pre-COVID audience levels. This trend underscores the need for a collaborative approach between theaters and streaming platforms to maximize revenue and ensure smaller films can thrive.

The resurgence of the theatrical window also emerged as a significant topic of discussion. The panel discussed the need to balance theatrical releases and streaming availability to improve a film's success.

Identifying trends and seizing opportunities was noted as crucial as well, including the need to repackage and tailor films to meet different global audiences. The nature of artistic films and their varying theatrical release seasons across different countries were also examined. The panel noted that the approach to audiences must differ based on cultural nuances, necessitating tailored marketing campaigns and strategies across regions. 

However, one panelist shared the challenges distributors face when running projects with video on demand (VOD) agreements between countries. The compromises required often result in purchasing films that do not align with their vision and cater to the "lowest denominator," deviating from their preferred selection criteria. 

Back to the Cinema

Another conference panel dissected the challenge of enticing audiences back to movie theaters. Employing early marketing initiatives was highlighted as a way to ensure a receptive audience. Involving people in the production process with special teasers and running campaigns like candid production staff, director, and actor spotlights can resonate with people and start building audiences before films are done wrapping up. 

Another interesting topic discussed was how the diversity of actors helps build audiences. Drawing lessons from TV dramas, the panel emphasized the importance of reaching different target groups through casting, helping to tell human stories that appeal to everyone and yet also reach niche, underrepresented groups.

Teeing Up Interest for Distributors

Across several conference panels at Cannes, micro-targeting and social niche marketing campaigns were noted as effective tools for building interest and engagement. And engaging people during production (even pre-production), goes a long way in boosting early followings and helping distributors capitalize on momentum when they start promotion. These efforts assist distributors when they start to market films, enabling them to build on an existing following and interest. 

Many session discussions centered on reaching audiences with diverse stories, highlighting the need for inclusive representation and narratives that connect with different demographics. Festivals, including Cannes, were also recognized as continued valuable platforms for connecting with distributors and industry professionals, facilitating audience discovery and distribution opportunities.

Cannes 2024 Dates Announced

We had an absolute blast connecting with friends and meeting new ones in Cannes this year.


cannes 2024The festival has already officially announced the dates for its 77th edition, which will take place May 14-25, 2024. 

Canne's prestige and influence extends far beyond the glamorous red carpet. As media and entertainment continues to evolve, Cannes remains a vital event, propelling the industry forward, fostering collaborations, and celebrating the art of cinema. Our team hopes to catch you at Cannes 2024!

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This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of FilmTrack. FilmTrack does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of FilmTrack. Please cite source when quoting.

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