CANNES — All the elements are in place for a successful Cannes film market after several subdued pandemic years, with a record line-up tempting buyers who are counting on a vibrant international market to eclipse weakness in the United States.

While the Cannes Film Festival conjures visions of glamorous celebrities on the red carpet and yacht parties, the main attraction is the film market, where industry players, big and small, gather to do business.

That market, which opened on Tuesday and runs until May 22, is set to welcome a record number of participants, over 15,000 from more than 140 countries.

In addition to films with Oscar potential, such as director Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice, about a young Donald Trump, there is a large number of not-yet-made films up for grabs due to the Hollywood strikes.

“The line-up is very strong,” Kent Sanderson, president of independent film distributor Bleecker Street, told Reuters.

And it includes more English-language films and established directors this year, such as Paul Schrader and Francis Ford Coppola, Mr. Sanderson said.

“The list is better and of a higher level than I think I’ve ever seen,” especially for films yet to be made, that have been held back due to the strikes in Hollywood, Scott Roxborough, European bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter, told Reuters.

“That, combined with the fact that the independent market in the United States, the distribution market, is still quite tough” will put the spotlight on Cannes, he said.

Still, the mood is cautious following the earlier pandemic years, said Mr. Sanderson, whose Bleecker Street acquired the Cate Blanchett-led Group of Seven comedy Rumours, showing at Cannes.

A big question is whether the US will match its foreign counterparts in terms of sales, said Mr. Sanderson.

While there has been some recovery in the years since the COVID-19 outbreak, with Europe doing better than the US, “nobody really sees a trajectory that would take us back to the level of ticket sales and the revenue that we saw in 2018, 2019,” Mr. Roxborough said.

Ticket sales in the United States and Canada peaked at $11.9 billion in 2018. Last year, they came in at $8.9 billion.

“Whether that has to do with a shift in habits, that people just don’t want to go to theaters in the same way, whether it has to do with the fact that we’re past the sort of boom of the Marvel films, I’m not quite sure,” said Mr. Roxborough, who doubted there would be “another $11-billion year.”

Box office researchers Gower Street Analytics predict 2024 global ticket sales of $32.3 billion, 3% lower compared with last year based on current exchange rates.

Better sales prospects overseas have prompted filmmakers to turn to the international market before the United States, Mr. Roxborough said.

Just this month, MadRiver Pictures, led by Chief Executive Officer Marc Butan, closed a deal with key global distributors that sees it pre-selling rights to those partners, and allows MadRiver to bankroll and approve films before selling in the US, reported The Hollywood Reporter.

The venture will focus on action, thriller, and adventure features and will aim to produce two to three films a year.

“For a lot of the independent distributors, there’s a kind of insatiable demand for those types of movies because the supply isn’t there,” Mr. Butan told Reuters.

According to Mr. Butan, the changes in viewing habits spurred by streaming companies have been accompanied by higher-end commercial film studios shifting toward the larger-budget tent pole movies — films that are nearly guaranteed hits — leaving the mid-budget space to the independent studios.

For films outside the mainstream with “great scripts, great cast, great directors that are made at the right price — I think there’s a real market for those,” said Mr. Butan.

However, “the stuff between those two zones, when you get kind of into the $15-40 million space or something like that, it’s really, really hard,” Mr. Butan said.

Clement Magar, of the China-focused Fortissimo Films, has also seen the market for small titles dry up.

Instead, he said, companies go for big theatrical releases to earn money, or seek deals with larger platforms like Netflix — which tends to just buy big, mainstream Chinese titles.

“It used to be a small market; now it’s zero market for small titles, and there’s only space for big titles,” said Magar, whose company is launching the animated Chinese feature, The Umbrella Fairy, at the Cannes’ market this year. — Reuters