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TFM distrib debuts with ‘Full Frontal’ Gallic bow

Pic preems at Deauville fest before October opening

PARIS — Steven Soderbergh’s romantic comedy “Full Frontal,” starring Julia Roberts, will be the first film released in France by TFM Distribution, the nascent joint distribution venture between Miramax and Gallic broadcaster TF1.

Pic makes its European debut at the Deauville Film Festival (Aug. 30-Sept. 8) before preeming on Gallic screens in October.

Scope of the release remains to be determined, but given the vehicle’s high-profile creative team, pic will probably open wide and mark TFM’s entry onto the Euro-distribution scene with a splash.

TF1 is flexing its muscles and in expansion mode. Besides diving into distribution and grouping all its cinema activities under ex-UGC topper Patrick Binet’s command, on Wednesday France’s biggest free-to-air broadcaster upped its 50% stake in satcaster TPS to 66%.

TF1 ponied up €160 million ($161.5 million) for the 25% TPS stake owned by Suez, which is selling off its communications assets to concentrate on its core business. TF1 then flipped 9% to broadcaster M6, thus burying the hatchet with its rival net. M6 now owns 34% of TPS.

“This modification illustrates the willingness of TF1 and M6 to unify their efforts to develop their position in digital television and in particular in satellite TV,” TPS said in a statement.

Eye on Canal Plus

Since neither TPS shareholder can own more than 15% of a competing platform, TF1 and M6 have joined forces with Pathe to create a consortium whose sole objective is to buy Canal Plus, when and if the Vivendi Universal-owned paybox goes on the auction block.

Though TF1 topper Patrick Le Lay says he doesn’t believe pan-European broadcasting alliances have a future, he also has his eye on Kirch Media, the core TV and rights division of the bankrupt German media giant.

“We have a team of 20 people in Munich right now analyzing the Kirch files,” Le Lay told Daily Variety on Tuesday. “But today it’s too early to say whether we’ll do something.”

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