It’s vive le France at AFM

French companies walking the walk in Santa Monica

A sudden burst of activity over the weekend at the American Film Market saw Seagal/Nasso Prods. ink three international output deals and set up a $90 million banking facility; Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group acquired a string of territories on titles such as “Disturbing Behavior” and “Arlington Road”; and German distrib Kinowelt finalize a 10-pic co-financing and distribution deal with Alliance Pictures.

But the main trend developing at the market, industry observers said, was the aggressive North American dealmaking by French film companies.

This AFM shows how French sales companies are broadening their output — and their acquisitions policies — to embrace the needs of the international market.

Paris-based TF1 International, for example, has sold MGM domestic rights to its English-lingo romantic comedy “The Misadventures of Margaret.”

Conversely, TFI picked up international rights to Troy Beyer’s chat film “Girl Talk,” which is being distributed domestically by Fine Line Features, and worldwide rights, excluding Germany, Japan, U.K. and France, to Peter Greenaway’s next film, “Eight and a Half Women.”

Forceful move into U.S.

The “Talk” pick-up signals the beginning of a forceful move into U.S. and international acquisitions by TF1, company sources said.

It also marks a boffo deal for Beyer and producer Deborah Ridpath. Combined sales to Fine Line and TF1 for the film, which cost under $600,000 to make, were slightly over $4 million, sources said.

Meanwhile, a clutch of U.S. studios (Sony, Disney, Fox and Paramount) are interested in taking U.S. rights and select international territories to Luc Besson’s upcoming English-lingo “Jean D’Arc,” according to Gaumont’s president of international sales, Hugo Bergson-Vuillaume.

Gaumont’s future projects “will be either English-lingo pictures or French pictures made with the international market in mind,” said Bergson-Vuillaume.

He adds that Gaumont’s two top draws at the AFM, both French-lingo pics — “The Dinner Game” and “The Visitors 2: The Corridors of Time” — have concluded major territory sales deals following screenings in Santa Monica.

“French companies are becoming more international,” agreed Le Studio Canal Plus chief Daniel Marquet. “Canal Plus is also in an expansive mode. We are now interested in backing many non-French language pictures.”

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