Gaumont Celebrates 100-Year Anniversary of 'Fantomas'

Gaumont is attending Lumieres' inaugural classic film market

Gaumont is throwing a plush screening bash to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Louis Feuillade’s classic crime pic “Fantomas” on Halloween night at Paris’ Chatelet Theater.

The company, which will be turning 120 in 2015, is set to unspool “Fantomas,” a five-part silent film, with original live music scored by Yann Tiersen and performed by a live orchestra.

The orchestra will feature international musicians, including James Blackshaw (U.K.), Amiina (Iceland), Loney Dear (Sweden) and Tim Hecker (Canada).

The film was restored in 4K by Gaumont in collaboration with Eclair Laboratories and the CNC.

On top of paying homage to Feuillade’s film, Gaumont is looking to build a media event ahead of its Blu-Ray re-release skedded during the first semester of 2014, following the broadcast on Franco-German net Arte in January.

The event is part of Gaumont’s aim at showcasing its rich film legacy and library, which comprises over 900 titles and ranks as Gaul’s second biggest (after Studiocanal).

Yet, Gaumont only splurges on select classic titles. “Not every one of our library films gets restored and re-released on Blu-ray,” explains Ariane Du Plantier (daughter of famed French producer Daniel Toscan du Plantier), who oversees the company’s library and restoration activity. “We want to pay tribute to ‘Fantomas’ because it’s a true masterpiece that has captivated French audiences for a century, and in many ways it’s timeless.”

When it first bowed in 1913 at the 3400-seat Gaumont Palace theater, “Fantomas” attracted a record 80,000 moviegoers. The fictional character of Fantomas, a master of disguise and a sociopath who enjoys killing in a sadistic fashion, was created by Marcel Allain in 1911 and was featured in 32 volumes of graphic novels. It was then adapted to the bigscreen, television and stage.

Since its launch in May 2009, Gaumont Classic, the shingle’s restoration label, has re-released 79 homage films.

George Lautner’s crime comedy “Monsieur Gangster” (“Les Tontons flingueurs”) ranks as the company’s best-selling Blu-Ray re-release, followed by “The Great Spy Chase” (“Les Barbouzes”) another crime comedy helmed by Lautner, and Yves Robert’s “War of the Buttons.”

“Timing is essential to spark anticipation from audiences, even when you’re releasing a heritage film,” points out Du Plantier.

“Buttons'”s Blu-Ray re-release was promoted at Lyon where Gaumont hosted the premiere of the restored version. It was also well-timed as it came out in Jan. 2012, after the two “War of The Buttons” movies, directed by Christophe Barratier and Yann Samuell, respectively, rolled in theaters. It sold over 3000 Blu-Ray units and 10,000 DVD’s.

At Lyon, Gaumont is unveiling a 15-minute showreel highlighting upcoming releases of classic titles, including Jean Renoir’s “French Cancan,” Pierre Richard’s “The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe,” Frederico Fellini’s “City of Women” and Louis de Funes starrer “Oscar. “”We want to show that classics can also be popular films that appeal to wide audiences,” says Du Plantier.

Next up, Gaumont will restore films by Louis Malle.

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