Sperry’s in Focus with prod’n deal

Exec serves as adviser to Canal +, U Pix, StudioCanal

Stephane Sperry, one of the last survivors of Jean-Marie Messier’s Hollywood regime, has taken a first-look producing deal at Focus Features, a division of Universal Pictures.

Sperry was co-prexy of the U.S. arm of Canal Plus before it was dissolved earlier this year in the wake of Vivendi’s acquisition of USA’s film and TV assets. Sperry since has served in an informal advisory capacity at U Pictures.

In his new role, working under his aptly named trans-Atlantic production banner Liaison Films, Sperry will continue to serve as an adviser to Canal Plus, StudioCanal and U Pictures.

He’ll retain an office on the studio lot and divide his time between Hollywood and Paris. The Liaison Films office in Paris will serve as Focus Features’ French branch office.

“Stephane Sperry is a good friend and an even better business partner,” Focus co-prexys David Linde and James Schamus said in a statement. “His formidable knowledge of the international film business and his creative relationships around the world are invaluable and perfectly in tune with the Focus mandate.”

In his most recent job at Canal Plus, Sperry oversaw all film content investments domestically for the company. Before that, he was exec VP of programs and strategic development for the subsidiaries division of the French company.

Sperry came to Canal Plus in 1987, and as head of acquisitions helped shape the company’s library of 5,500 films.

“After having spent 15 years implementing creative and corporate partnerships,” Sperry said, “I am happy to be returning to my roots in film production. I’m particularly excited to be working with James and David, who have demonstrated their commitment to bringing the work of visionary filmmakers to audiences worldwide. I look forward to working with them to increase Focus’ profile in Europe.”

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