BAC’s Labadie launching Mars satellite

Distrib to release 12-15 pix per year

PARIS — Jean Labadie, president of the respected Gallic indie distribution company BAC Films, is launching a distrib, Mars Films, destined to release 12 to 15 pics per year.

The distribution entity, which is separate from BAC, “will be based on arthouse movies, and at the start will tend to buy finished pics. As we progress, we will buy on script,” Labadie told Daily Variety. In contrast, BAC’s distribution slate swings from mainstream to more arty fare with such releases as “Pulp Fiction,” bug docu movie “Microcosmos” and local smash comedy “Un Air de Famille.”

Mars has already picked up French rights to eight films, including the Netherlands’ foreign-language Oscar-winner “Character,” Berlin fest Golden Bear-winner “Central Station,” Marc Levin’s Sundance Grand Prize-winner “Slam” and Michael Moore’s “The Big One.” The new company is 95% owned by Labadie’s exhibition holding company, Majestic, in association with Adeline Lecalier and Alain Rocca of production house Lazennec. Majestic has a 95% stake in Mars Films.

Labadie’s expansion plans aren’t confined to distribution. Since being launched three years ago, Majestic has five cinemas in Paris and is investing some $8.3 million in a seven-screen miniplex in Lille and an 11-plex in the Brittany-based city of Lorient. “We’ll keep on investing in cinemas where we identify that there is a need for them,” Labadie noted.

The third major push from the BAC topper is the $3 million tech and structural facelift being given to the Biarritz Elysees, a defunct cinema off the Champs Elysees that Labadie has had converted into a 250-seat auditorium with a swanky reception room underneath capable of catering for 300 guests.

“What we wanted to do was give directors a chance to look at their films in the best possible conditions prior to being released,” Labadie said. “It’s also a chance for the critics to watch films in proper conditions rather than the private screening rooms they are currently being offered, which tend to have appalling sound and screens the size of a postage stamp.”

The new private screening complex will be completed by mid-July and will be available to the industry in mid-August.

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