Canal Plus talks distrib’n with Bac

Balian brought on board as consultant

PARIS — France’s paybox Canal Plus, which has ambitions to become a major European film studio, has entered into partnership talks with film distributor Bac Films.

Although neither Canal Plus nor Bac would confirm the discussions, Daily Variety understands that Canal Plus initially offered to buy a majority stake in Bac, but that the distrib’s president, Jean Labadie, nixed the idea.

Key territories

As part of its film studio ambitions, Canal Plus intends to set up theatrical distribution in the key European territories. Although it’s not a strategy they favor, well-placed Canal Plus sources say that setting up local distribution outlets from scratch will be considered.

In Germany, former Polygram distribution exec Haig Balian has been brought on board to consult for the French group. Canal Plus has a 20% stake in distribution outlet Tobis there. Whether or not the French continue to use Tobis remains to be seen, but a decision is expected before the end of the year.

Canal Plus is also believed to be putting out distribution feelers in the U.K. Traditionally it has been thought that Canal Plus’ pics went through Pathe Distribution, but the only current concrete agreement between Canal Plus and Pathe involves films such as “Sleepy Hollow,” which was acquired by the duo’s C+P joint venture and which Pathe will release in Britain.