Fox, TVA ink 6-pic deal

'Two of Hearts' first project in slate

MONTREAL — Group TVA, Canada’s leading French-lingo broadcaster, has set up an international production and distribution company, TVA Intl., and is kick-starting its production slate with a six-pic deal with the Fox Family Channel.

Fox Family Channel has acquired a package of six TV films from Montreal-based TVA Intl., with TVA retaining all international rights and U.S. video rights to the titles. The first pic in the slate is the romantic comedy “Two of Hearts,” which will begin lensing in Vancouver in two weeks.

Group TVA, which has annual revenues of more than C$200 million ($132 million), has committed a fund of $33 million for the first phase of international production, and it will be a new long-term focus of the company, said Group TVA president and CEO Daniel Lamarre.

Until now, TVA has concentrated almost exclusively on local French-language production, spending roughly $26 million annually on production.

This is the first time that a French-Canadian broadcaster has committed to English-language programming in such a big way.”We found that there was a lack of movies made for television, particularly family films,” said Lamarre. “It’s a major initiative for our company. We needed the $33 million fund to show the market we were serious.”

TVA tested the international-sales waters last year with the family pic “Shadow of the Bear,” starring Allan Thicke, which sold well for the company.

“We are pleased to begin our association with TVA Intl., a company that has already distinguished itself as an important new player in the area of family filmed entertainment,” said Lance Robbins, president of motion pictures and television at the Fox Family Channel.

The TVA pics will be produced by Francois St. Laurent, vice president of production for TVA Intl. The new outfit has also hired Nancy Wells, formerly an executive with the media and entertainment division of the Royal Bank of Canada.

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