Studio Canal inks U.K., Dutch distrib’n deals

Euro studio, U announce partnership

PARIS — StudioCanal’s European empire is expanding, as the company on Tuesday announced distribution deals in Britain and the Netherlands.

News of the deals with Pathe Distribution in the U.K. and the Dutch Fu Works came as the Canal Plus subsid posted net profits of euro 24.9 million ($23.3 million) for the first half of 2000 compared with $940,000 for the same period last year. Interim revenues stood at $122.6 million, an 11% increase on the first half of 1999. Movie business surged 122% thanks to the success of films like “American Pie,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Taxi 2.”

The fledgling European studio also announced its first cooperative venture with Universal, under which U will distribute video and DVD versions of StudioCanal pics in France.

Pathe Distribution, headed by Francois Ivernel, will manage theatrical distribution of pics whose rights are held by StudioCanal. Arrangement follows co-acquisition agreements in C+P, the two companies’ jointly owned subsidiary.

Partnership will go into effect in 2001 with the releases of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Enemy at the Gate,” Frank Oz’s “The Score” and Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Numbers.” Pathe and Canal Plus will share distribution costs, but each will retain marketing responsibility for their respective features.

Fu Works, led by Dutch movie producer and distributor San Fu Malta, will manage theatrical, TV and video distribution rights for the Netherlands and video distribution rights for Flemish-speaking Belgium.

The first theatrical releases under the deal will be “Chicken Run” and “Lucky Numbers.” StudioCanal has a two-year option to acquire Fu Works and a 50% stake in A Film, Fu Works’ theatrical distribution company.

The latest deals suggest that the Vivendi-Seagram deal has not harmed the studio’s prospects, despite earlier speculation to the contrary.

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