Universal pacts with Studio Canal

Duo create home entertainment venture

PARIS — Universal Pictures International Entertainment and Studio Canal are teaming to create what will be France’s leading home entertainment distributor, they jointly announced Wednesday.

As a solo entity, Universal Pictures France held a 8.5% share of the Euros 1.5 billion ($2.05 billion) home entertainment market in France. The new joint venture, which will become operational in January 2008 as Universal Studio Canal Video, will also distribute new films from Studio Canal and titles from the French film company’s 5,000 strong library.

Pact represents yet another example of a new rapprochement between Universal and Studio Canal, erstwhile partners in the ill-fated Vivendi Universal merger. Vivendi, Studio Canal’s parent company via its ownership of Canal Plus Group, also still owns a 20% stake in NBC Universal.

Earlier this year the two film companies renewed a worldwide video and TV distribution deal, excluding the U.S., which sees Universal handle international sales on Studio Canal’s behalf.

UPIE also handles sales marketing and distribution of Studio Canal DVDs in various territories, under a deal set up in 2003 and recently extended to 2010.

Studio Canal is also Universal’s partner in Working Title.

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