Film-TV powerhouse Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest film production company, is powering up key talent relations in France – cast and producers – acquiring worldwide rights to four new Gallic titles –“Down By Love,” “Kalinka,” “Five” and “French Cuisine.”
Move marks part of Studiocanal’s drive to consolidate its position as a top distributor in France, one of the world’s biggest international markets. A top-echelon European sales agent whose recent line-up Liam Neeson starrer “The Commuter,” an untitled James Marsh Project with Colin Firth, Nick Park’s “Early Man,” and “Mon Roi,” a 2015 Cannes best actress winner for Emmanuel Bercot, Studiocanal is also positioning as a prime source for international markets of more commercially-skewed French movies – some prime festival fare, some straight-to-market – as it brings on a new generation of French directorial talent.
Studiocanal distribute all four titles in France. In early deals, Studiocanal U.K. – and it’s not a given – has acquired U.K. rights to the four titles. Frenetic will distribute the quartet in Switzerland.
Boasting a top-notch recent break-through cast, “Down By Love” stars Adele Exarchopoulos, a Cannes Palme d’Or winner for “Blue is the Warmest Color” who stars in Sean Penn’s upcoming “The Last Face.” She plays opposite actor-director Guillaume Gallienne, whose “Me, Myself and Mum” was a double-prize laureat at 2013’s Directors’ Fortnight, winning him French Academy Cesars for best actor and screenplay.
The romantic drama relates an amour fou between a model prison director (Gallienne) and a beautiful inmate (Exarchopolous). Pierre Godeau, who debuted with young French generation portrait “Juliette,” a 2013 Wild Bunch Distribution succès d’estime, directs his second feature outing, from Florent Goncalves’ novel, “Defense d’aimer.” Producer is Pan-Europeenne, a prominent French production outfit, (“The Burma Conspiracy,” “Romantics Anonymous,” “Mr Nobody”), which also backs new French B.O. hit “The Roommates Party,” punching a first-two-week $6 million.
“Adele Exarchopolous, as usual, eats up the screen and Guillaume Gallienne is one of the leading young actors trained in the tradition of the Comedie Française. We’ve never seen him in this kind of role coming out of his comfort zone playing a viral, macho lover,” said Anna Marsh, Studiocanal head of international film sales.
Toplining revered Gallic thesp Daniel Auteuil, a Cannes best actor winner for “The Eighth Day,” and Marie-Josee Croze, who took Cannes best actress plaudit for Denys Arcand’s “Barbarian Invasions,” “Kalinka” marks the latest title in a film-by-film production-financing relationship between Studiocanal and top Gallic shingle LGM’s Cyril Colbeau-Justin and Jean-Baptiste Dupont, the producer duo behind a clutch of market-driven more upscale features released and sold by Studiocanal, such as comicstrip-based family comedy “Billy and Buddy” and bio “Cloclo.”
“Kalinka” is helmed by Vincent Garenq, who has carved out a reputation in France for his exacting chronicles of real-life miscarriages of justice, whether in the judicial system itself (“Guilty”), or involving high-finance skullduggery (“The Clearstream Affair”). He returns to the theme in the true story of a man (Auteuil) who sacrificed 30 years of his life attempting to prove the guilt of his daughter’s murderer.
“Vincent Garenq is highly talented at portraying father-children relationships and extraordinary acts of human perseverance,” Marsh said.
The first feature of Igor Gotesman, actor and co-scribe of Canal Plus’ “Casting,” “Five” ia an anticipated comedy co-stars Pierre Niney, with a san-pareil Cesar count – twice breakthrough actor, in 2012’s“18 Years Old and Rising” and 2013’s “Just Like Brothers”) and best actor for “Yves Saint Laurent,”
Though Niney has done comedy – as in romcom “IT Boy,” “Five” reps a change of register from most of his films – “a Parisian-set version of a story where ‘The Hangover’ meets ‘American Pie,’” per Marsh. Produced by Les Films du Kiosque, which backed Cannes 2015 opener “Standing Tall,” it weighs in as a friendship comedy of five middle-class friends who, in order to pay for an ultra-cool apartment in the heart of Paris, are forced to rally round one of the group who has a week to sell a huge quantity of marijuana to come up with the rent.
A feel-good comedy, said Marsh, “French Cuisine” (“Pension Complete”) turns on a woman who wants her first child while her chef second husband wants a Michelin star. The reappearance of her first husband, a cunning Casanova believed a victim of the 2004 tsunami, throws a new curveball into their relationship. Siri’s biopic “Cloclo” ran up €11.3 million ($12.5 million) in 2012. Toplining Gerard Lanvin (“A Gang Story,” “Mesrine”), Frank Dubosc (“Asterix at the Olympic Games,” “Barbecue”) and Pascale Arbillot (“Little White Lies”), “French Cuisine” notched €1.1 million ($1.2 million) on its first week in release in France from a Dec. 31 bow.