Ciby exits distribution

Downsized French co. still looking for buyer

PARIS — Ciby 2000, the production, distribution and sales company which was founded by construction magnate Francis Bouygues in the early 1990s, is shuttering its distribution activities.

The company, which has picked up a wad of Cannes Palme d’Or prizes with such pics as “Secrets & Lies” and “The Piano,” has been up for sale for more than a year and its respected London-based sales team, headed by Wendy Palmer, recently departed en masse to join MGM. Ciby head Jean-Francois Fonlupt, having failed to find a buyer for the company, ankled after the summer.

With the company on the block, acquiring product to feed the distribution arm has been virtually impossible. Now Ciby will turn to indie distributors to release its upcoming slate, which includes Arthur Joffe’s “Que la Lumiere Soit,” Jacques Monnet’s “La Femme du Cosmonaute,” Wim Wenders’ “The End of Violence” and Emir Kusturica’s “Chat Noir, Chat Blanc.”

Although several American companies are reported to have kicked the Ciby tires, nobody has yet stepped up to take it off the Bouygues group’s hands. Without Ciby Sales and with distribution now wound down, Ciby’s chief asset is its library of around 100 pics, although rights to many of those don’t become available again for several years.

Private network TF1, which is controlled by the Bouygues group, has been in talks to buy, but apparently TF1 chairman Patrick Le Lay found the asking price too high for his liking.

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