Two subsids take StudioCanal name

Vivendi-owned StudioCanal is taking one more step toward European studio status, rebranding its U.K. and German subsids Optimum Releasing and Kinowelt with its own moniker.

The new single nomenclature kicks in Sept. 1, just as Kino-welt transfers its offices from Leipzig to Berlin and a fortnight before Thomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” — produced by Working Title, but fully financed by StudioCanal — sees its first commercial release Sept. 16 in the U.K. “Tinker, Tailor” will be the first film to carry StudioCanal’s new moving logo.

Optimum CEO Danny Perkins will become CEO of StudioCanal in the U.K.; Wolfgang Braun will take up the same position at StudioCanal in Germany.

The decision to bring Optimum and Kinowelt under the same-name banner was made in part for clarity. “I’ve talked to producers and filmmakers who didn’t even know Kinowelt was part of StudioCanal,” said StudioCanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson.

The rebranding also underscores a reality: In structure, range — with direct distrib ops in Europe’s three biggest markets and a powerful international sales division — as well as size, owning a 5,000-plus movie library, StudioCanal is now the nearest Europe gets to a Hollywood studio.

Over the past 12 months, moreover, StudioCanal has reinforced its brand value as one of the world’s indie heavyweights.

Since 2010, StudioCanal has bowed a clutch of three-territory releases including “The Last Exorcism,” which it fully financed; “The Tourist,” which it co-developed and co-financed; Joel Silver production “Unknown,” which it also co-financed; plus “Sammy’s Adventures.”

“Each market has its own specific characteristics. But the three countries form a really big domestic market for StudioCanal and possess some kind of homogeneity,” Courson said.

With Stefan Ruzowitzky’s “The Blackbird” — financed by 2029, produced by Mutual Film Co. and unveiled at Berlin — the company, owned by Vivendi paybox Canal Plus, has begun to buy international and French, U.K. and German rights on U.S. pics. It introduced the Joel Silver co-financed “The Last Photograph” to buyers at Cannes.

StudioCanal has seen large hits with “The Last Exorcism,” which cost under $2 million but grossed $41 million in the U.S., and Ben Stassen’s 3D toon feature “Sammy’s Adventures,” which has cumed $79 million worldwide and counting. StudioCanal is focusing on animation and “elevated genre,” in Courson’s words, as two production priorities.

Starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, “Tinker, Tailor” is “really representative of a key priority for us: ambitious productions with great European talents and a European feel,” Courson said. Its “high-quality mid-range budget (below $30 million) is “a good example of what we’re looking for.”

Two-thirds of StudioCanal’s revenues now come from outside France, Courson said. Revs for 2011 are tracking 10% up on 2010, he added.

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