Credit Crunch Saps Funding for Indie Films

Drop-off in foreign rights sales leaves producers looking for cash
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2009 2:00 PM CDT
In this image released by Fox Searchlight, Mickey Rourke is shown in a scene from, "The Wrestler."   (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Niko Tavernise)
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(Newser) – Independent film producers are losing a once-reliable source of funding, the sale of foreign-distribution rights. Traditionally, the demand for American movies has been so high that producers can sell the rights to distribute the film—in many cases, even before it’s finished—in order to cover costs. But the credit crunch, rampant piracy, and burgeoning local production are conspiring to make distribution rights a tougher sell, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The euro’s fall against the dollar has also made American movies more expensive for foreign distributors. Producers also used to count on Wall Street financing to make up the budget gap after distribution sales—but that has dried up as well. "You always had economic woes somewhere, and you could make it up by selling movies to another country," laments one producer. "Now it's on a global basis.”