Studiocanal has brought two new, high-profile films onto the market at Cannes. Both pics say much about the strategic choices that Studiocanal, which handles the biggest movie production budget of any company in Europe, is now taking.
James Watkins (“Woman in Black”) will direct “Bastille Day,” a Paris-set action thriller starring Idris Elba, above, (“Luther”) and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”). Philippe Rousselet’s Vendome Pictures (“Source Code”) will produce along with Steve Golin’s Anonymous Content (“Babel,” “True Detective”).
Unveiling a promo-reel on May 14 at Cannes, Studiocanal also confirmed that Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Matthias Schoenaerts (“Rust and Bone”) will topline the first English-language fiction feature from Italy’s Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love”). Former Sony and Scott Free exec Michael Costigan will produce.
Written by Dave Kajanich, and set on the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, south of Guadagnino’s native Sicily, the untitled project was described as “a sexy and glamorous thriller” by Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson.
It is set for a summer shoot in Italy. Studiocanal is financing both pics and looks set to distribute them in France, Germany, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, and selling the rest of the world on the duo.
Studiocanal will announce a major U.S. distribution deal with a wide release by the end of the market.
As announced last November, when “Bastille Day” was first unveiled, sans Watkins, Exarchopoulos or Studiocanal, the action thriller turns on a U.S. operative who is tasked with interrogating and eventually making a young American man “disappear” in order to avoid embarrassment to the U.S. government after the American is linked as the prime suspect to an attack on the Paris metro.
After several more attacks, the operative realizes the young American is innocent and may be the only link to the person actually orchestrating the attacks.
“Bastille Day” will have big action scenes, but also be character-driven,” said Courson, likening it to another action hit. “Even in ‘Non-Stop,’ Liam Neeson’s character has his weaknesses.”
The aim is to shoot in Paris in summer, he added.
“We like making action thrillers with good directors and significant European elements,” said Courson. Both Elba and Watkins are British.
Guadagnino’s next will be “beautifully crafted, intense, passionate, more of a psychological than action thriller targeting adult audiences Courson said. Pic is scheduled to initiate production by the end of July.
Teaming with Joel Silver, Studiocanal has ploughed a highly successful line in action thrillers, such as Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Unknown,” which it co-produced, and “Non-Stop” and now Pierre Morel’s “The Gunman,” one of Cannes 2013’s best sellers. “Unknown” grossed $130.8 million worldwide, “Non-Stop” was on $191.9 million through Sunday.
“Both ‘Bastille Day’ and Guadagnino’s next film have great European talent and great European actors,” Courson said. “I would like Studiocanal to become a major, making if possible, 10 significant English-language films a year. But we should be a European major. Our domestic market is Europe, attracting the best European talent, a lot of which does not want to move to the U.S.”
The challenge, he adds, is to “secure a regular volume” of talent-driven movies.
Meeting that is setting part of Studiocanal’s roadmap for the future.
Local-language production remains “highly important,” Courson said.
On the cusp of Cannes, Studiocanal announced it was teaming with Nordisk Film Production to produce thriller ”A War” from Tobias Lindhom (“A Hijacking”).
At Cannes, Studiocanal is selling Daniel Monzon’s “El Nino,” with Luis Tosar, Sergi Lopez and Ian McShane, a scaled-up drug trade action thriller straddling the Gibraltar Straits; Julien Neel’s family comedy “Lou!” which adapts the director’s own comic books; and “Elle l’adore,” the feature debut of Jeanne Herry, an Alain Attal-produced dramedy toplining Sandrine Kiberlain a fan willing to go to any length for her idol.
“They’re not English-language movies, but obviously we are mainly targeting, even on French movies, films with international appeal,” said Courson.
They also create relations with key talent that may one day want to make the move into English.
Studiocanal has also set its rights on China. Growth there could be via co-production.
Said Courson: “We have a huge library with lots of comedies, which could yield remakes, and properties such as ‘Cliffhanger,’ which would be very appealing to Chinese partners.