Orange outlines six co-productions

Projects include Houellebecq adaptation

European telco Orange is forging ahead with its movie biz ambitions via Paris-based subsid Studio 37, which has unveiled half a dozen projects it will co-produce.

Movies range from author Michel Houellebecq’s “The Possibility of an Island” to vampire comedy “La nuit medicis,” with five French pics and one Italian in the mix.

Although Studio 37 hasn’t disclosed its budget, it is assumed to be generously endowed.

In a deal announced earlier this week, company is investing e2 million ($2.7 million) in the Gallic hip-hop toon “Les Lascars.”

Orange has been a partner of the Cannes Film Festival for the past seven years and, underscoring its ambitions to be a player, its Cannes HQ at the Noga Beach has been a hub of activity this year, used by rival French companies such as TF1, SND StudioCanal and even Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, for press conferences and lunches.

Orange will host its own party there tonight, attended by no less than parent company France Telecom’s CEO, Didier Lombard.

Showing that the company’s film biz designs don’t only apply to France, a month ago, Orange’s Polish operation announced it was going to invest in local film production.

Paris company was set up some six months ago with Frederique Dumas, formerly an indie producer of films such as Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land,” as its managing director. Projects unveiled this week rep the company’s first foray into production.

Houellebecq adaptation began lensing in Spain last month, with Benoit Magimel in the lead role. French indie shingle Mandarin is producing.

Studio 37 will also co-produce the political thriller “Une affaire d’etat.” Eric Neve’s La Chauve Souris is producing and Mars Distribution will release the film in France.

“La nuit medicis” is produced by Lombard Prods. and directed by a duo of tyro helmers known as “les Elvis.” Cast includes Sam Karmann, Francois Berleand, Tcheky Karyo, Julien Boisselier and Helene de Fougerolles. Pic will be distributed by Gallic web M6’s subsid SND.

“Ca se soigne” is a comedy about depression, starring Thierry Lhermitte as a down-in-the-dumps pianist. TFM will distribute and Roissy is handling international sales on the pic that began lensing earlier this week.

Studio 37 has also boarded an Italian production, “Once Upon a time in Sicily,” starring Gerard Jugnot as an anti-terrorist magistrate who encounters a young girl from a mafia background. Pic based on a true story will begin lensing this fall with Marco Amenta helming.

France’s Roissy is co-producing and selling the film internationally.

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