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France Telecom gets into pic co-prod biz

Division will co-produce 10-15 films a year

PARIS — Gallic telco France Telecom has created a film rights division to co-produce 10-15 films a year and acquire libraries, it said Tuesday.

Film subsid will be set up in the first quarter of 2007 by Frederique Dumas, who produced Oscar winner “No Man’s Land,” Jan Kounen’s “Dobermann” and Golden Lion winner “Before the Rain.”

It will be part of France Telecom’s content division, headed by Patricia Langrand.

Last December, France Telecom, along with other players, pledged to invest in film production in a video-on-demand deal signed with French film industry bodies.

Pact set a revenue level above which VOD operators would be obliged to invest, mirroring Gallic broadcasters’ obligations.

Michel Gomez, director of the ARP, an organization repping filmmaker hyphenates, on Tuesday described France Telecom’s new film activities as “a logical move, in keeping with the way the industry is evolving.”

“It’s only right that they should financially support the film industry,” he said.

However, the wealthy telco’s move into the film biz will excite mixed emotions elsewhere in media circles. New outfit will compete for rights with an array of existing heavyweights, including the Gallic majors and the broadcasters’ own film subsids.

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