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Bac Films grabs Allen’s ‘Celebrity’

$4.4 mil largest amount ever for French rights

PARIS — Bac Films, one of the few independent distributors to be holding its own in France, has ponied up $4.4 million for Woody Allen’s latest film, “Celebrity,” a figure that is believed to be the highest ever paid for French rights for an Allen pic.

Bac president Jean Labadie, who has already released “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Everybody Says I Love You” and “Deconstructing Harry,” will launch the film in January and is hoping to beat his best Allen performance so far — “Everybody Says I Love You,” which drew an audience of 1.5 million people.

Given Allen’s continued pulling power in France and a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith and Kim Basinger, exhibs contacted by Daily Variety believe that Labadie will achieve his goal.

Meanwhile, the Bac topper is continuing to study the idea of bringing in new shareholders. To date, Labadie has 55% of the company, with giant group Vivendi (ex-Compagnie Generale des Eaux) holding the remaining 45%. Thirteen year-old Bac, which is estimated to be worth around $17 million, has tended to finance its business by a series of short term loans.

Now Labadie wants to alter his financial footing either via an injection of funds from Vivendi or by introducing new backers who could take part of the Vivendi stake.

“Given our financial structure we need to have seven hits out of every 10 films at the moment, and I don’t think there are many distributors in the world who have to hit that ratio,” noted Labadie.

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