Despite diminished funding, no law on the tax incentives, and a delay on the switchover to digital television until 2013, the film industry continued healthy growth with increased international sales and foreign productions still flocking to Romania.
Box office for Romanian films decreased, but festival screenings remained strong. Coproductions with wealthy partner countries supplemented national funding, with France, Germany, Italy, and Poland among the countries that contributed to the outstanding films of the past year.
The majority of Romanian films were coproductions over the past 12 months. MediaPro Pictures (www.mediapropictures.com) produced several comedies in a row, many of them independent productions, while Bobby Păunescu detached himself from Mandragora (www.mandragora.ro) and founded Mandragora Movies, launching himself on the international market by coproducing two features shot partialy in Romania and producing the first English film of Nae Caranfil,Closer to the Moon(an international coproduction with Vera Farmiga and Mike Strong).
Many important Romanian filmmakers shot new projects over the past 12 months, such as Cristian Mungiu -Beyond the Hills (După dealuri), Radu Jude -Everybody in Our Family (Toată lumea din familia noastră) and Adrian Sitaru -Domestic. More than 20 features made by Romanian directors were shot in the past 12 months (some of them having received support from CNC several years ago), and more than 10 began development or preproduction. There were 12 features produced in 2011, and more than 10 long documentaries produced over the past 12 months.
See our extended list of Romanian feature films in development or production over the past year.
Romanian films did well on the international market, with three films leading the pack: Mungiu'sBeyond the Hills (După dealuri, sales agent Wild Bunch,www.wildbunch.biz), Anca Damian'sCrulic - The Path to Beyond (Crulic - Drumul spre dincolo, sales agent Wide Management, www.widemanagement.com) and Alexandru Maftei's romantic comedyHello! How Are You? (Bună! Ce faci?, sales agent M-Appeal, www.m-appeal.com).
See the list of the Romanian films that have been sold over the past 12 months.
Two film studios, Castel Film and MediaPro Studios, handled the majority of the international films shot in Romania. MediaPro Studios (www.mediaprostudios.com) continued its collaboration with Motion Picture Corporation of America (www.mpcafilm.com). After the teleplayWilliam & Kate: A Royal Love Story, shot in Bucharest earlier in 2011, MPCA shot William Kaufman's action movieOne in the Chamberwith Cuba Gooding Jr., and Dolph Lundgren and Ernie Barbarash'sSix Bullets, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The list of the international films shot at MediaPro Studios over the last 12 months includes Pearry Reginald Teo'sThe Return of Captain Nemo, starring Hugh Bonneville and Hayley Atwell, the western-thrillerThe Timber, and Fredrik Bond's first featureThe Necessary Death of Charlie Countrymanstarring Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Rupert Grint, and Mads Mikkelsen. William Brent Bell'sWER, a horror with werewolves, was also shot at MediaPro Studios.
Castel Film Studios hosted the shooting of Kevin Reynolds's miniseriesThe Hatfields and McCoys: An American Vendetta, starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Powers Boothe and Mare Winningham, Louis Morneau'sWerewolf: The Beast among Us, with Stephen Rea, Roel Reiné'sDead in Tombstone, an American western starring Danny Trejo, Anthony Michael Hall and Mickey Rourke, and Michael Damian's telefilmConfections of a Discarded Woman.
In 2012 Bobby Păunescu launched Solar, an independent production company based in the USA, together with Jared Underwood, former Comerica Entertainment senior executive (www.comerica.com).
The fall 2011 grant round of the National Centre for Cinema (www.cncinema.abt.ro) alotted 2,381,000 Euro (10 million RON), with 15% to first feature films, 5% to short fiction films, 10% to documentaries, 10% to animated films, and 59% to long feature films, while 1% went for developing long features, documentaries and long animated films. The law states that there should be two sessions of grant funding each year, but in 2011 there was only one. In November 2011, Transylvania International Film Festival (www.tiff.ro) received the biggest grant, 144,418 Euro (621,000 RON) from the National Centre for Cinema for its 2012 edition.
No tax rebate law was approved in Romania in 2011 or 2012.
Admissions for domestic films declined. Twenty Romanian films were released in 2011, and eight were released in the first half or 2012. The comedyThe Bride Was Stollen (S-a furat mireasa), directed by Jesús del Cerro and produced by MediaPro Pictures (www.mediapropictures.com), reached 41st place in the charts with 16,874 admissions in four weeks (source: www.cinemagia.ro). The top Romanian film in 2011 was the comedyThe Godmother (Naşa), produced by MediaPro Pictures, which finished the year in 83rd place, with 26,788 admissions. By comparison, the top film of 2010 was Florin Şerban's hitIf I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier)with 55,858 admissions.
Three local films have penetrated the European Top 10 in the Romanian cinemas, members of Europa Cinemas network in 2011:The Godmotherby Virgil Nicolaescu and Jesús del Cerro, Cătălin Mitulescu'sLoverboy, and Alexandru Maftei's Hello! How Are You?. In 2010 Romanian films had admissions of just 2.5%, and European films of 8.1%, and the results were not better in 2011. In the local box office with 168 titles and a total attendance of 6.8m in 2011, European and Romanian films were at the bottom. The cumulative box office of 2011 was 28,396,859 EUR with just 264,112 EUR made by the Romanian films, and 947,883 EUR by the European films. Admissions for Romanian films were 108,884 (2011). 34 European premieres had admissions of 276,393.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tidestopped the national box office in 2011. The Romanian distribution companies which are distributing independent films are Independenţa Film and Transylvania Film. Both of them are struggling to keep going.
DISTRIBUTION AND EXHIBITION
The total attendance in Romania in 2011 was 7.2m. There were 241 screens and 110 among them were digital. The distribution market was still lead by Cinema City (www.cinemacity.ro) followed by Hollywood Multiplex (www.hmultiplex.ro). Cinema City had 106 screens and 19,370 seats in 9 cities at the end of 2011.
In December Cinema City (www.cinemacity.ro) announced the opening of its 12th multiplex in Romania in the city of Târgu Mureş, with 8 screens. In May, Cinema City opened its 13th multiplex, in Maritimo Shopping Center Constanţa (www.maritimocenter.ro). Grand Cinema Digiplex (www.grandcinemadigiplex.ro), which opened in September 2011 in Băneasa Shopping City (www.baneasashoppingcity.ro) in Bucharest, brought the widest flat screen in Romania (22m wide), 13 screens and over 2,600 seats.
In July 2011 Cristian Mungiu was elected as president of Europa Distribution (www.europa-distribution.org) for a three-year term.
The first edition of a new TV content market, the Golden Carpathian-Ploieşti European Film & Fair (www.goldencarpathian.com) took place 25 - 28 August 2011 in Ploieşti, România. The event was a regionally-focused business market for the TV and digital media content industries from Central and East Europe plus Middle East and Middle Asia countries.
The National Administration for Fiscal Administration (www.anaf.ro) blocked the accounts of the Romania's public television (www.tvr.ro) on 21 May 2012, due to debts accumulated since 2005, and the Council of Administration and the director/general manager of the public television were removed after the rejection of the activity report for 2011 by Parliament. The accounts have now been unblocked to allow the re-organisation of the institution. The deficit of the public television (which celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2011) was 36.7m EUR, a small decline of 0.71% from 2010. However, revenue from advertising was 7.4m EUR in 2011, down 24.06% from 2010.
Mezzo Live HD (www.mezzo.tv) launched in Romania on Romtelecom's Dolce platform (www.romtelecom.ro/en/business-solutions/tv/dolce) in September 2011. Swedish-owned Broadcast Text International acquired Chello Zone's (www.chellozone.com) operational studio business in Central Europe, including dubbing studios in Poland and Romania. At the end of January the Romanian channel Naşul TV (www.nasul.tv) became the first Romanian channel financed 20% by public shares, which launched a public offering (one share was valued at 101 Euro / 440 RON). The channel launched in April 2012.
UPC (www.upc.ro) expanded its portfolio with the package Bollywood, including Bollywood TV, Bollywood Classic and Bollyshow. Central European Media Enterprises (CME, www.cetv-net.com) launched its second telenovela channel Acasă Gold (www.acasagold.ro). HBO GO broadband video-on-demand service was launched on Dolce Romtelecom (www.romtelecom.ro). In April Romania became the second CEE country to introduce a digital TV card, following the Czech Republic. This card based on the CI+ technology was introduced by UPC Romania (www.upc.ro) for digital TV subscribers with compatible TV sets.
MediaPro Distribution (www.mediaprodistribution.com), the worldwide exclusive sales agent of the local programmes produced by MediaPro Entertainment (www.mediaproentertainment.com), closed sales deals for the seriesA Bet With Life(sold to Italy and in Latin America), the prime-time series In theName of Honour(Middle East and Canada), the moviesHo Ho Ho,The GodmotherandFire & Ice(sold to Italy, Slovakia and respectively Poland and in Latin America), the Croatian premium seriesLara's Choice(sold to Middle East, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania), Czech titlesDevil's BrideandSunday League(sold to Poland and Slovenia), and the 2012 Slovak seriesSecond Chance(currently on air in Czech Republic).
The second season of the seriesIn Treatment (In derivă)started shooting in Bucharest on 6 February 2012. The 35 episodes were directed by Constantin Popescu with the first episodes directed by Popescu together with Adrian Sitaru. The series is produced by Aurelian Nica and Gabriela Ceuţă from HBO Romania (www.hbo.ro) and the premiere is set for the end of 2012. Shooting was supervised by Antony Root, EVP Original Programming & Production HBO Central Europe (www.hbo-centraleurope.com) and by Wayne Henry, Consultant Production Executive HBO Central Europe.
The online ad market was 21.7m EUR in 2011, a 7.3% decline from 2010, but it is expected to grow to 30m EUR in 2012.
Reporting by Iulia Blaga.
Report produced by Film New Europe for Step In Locarno 2012