CANNES — Just when most French companies are doing their best to get involved in English-language projects, Warner Bros.’ French film topper Francis Boespflug wants to step up the studio’s push into Gallic film production.
Boespflug wants to set up an inhouse production team to develop Gallic pics that could be fully financed by the studio’s Paris-based operation.
WB is currently co-producing Cedric Klapisch’s $13 million futuristic “Maybe” with Paris-based Vertigo.
Klapisch has clicked with a string of low-budget projects, including box office smash “Un Air de Famille.” “Maybe” is by far his most ambitious and expensive project to date.
The pic stars Jean-Paul Belmondo, Romain Duris and Jean-Pierre Bacri, who worked with Klapisch in “Un Air de Famille.” “Maybe” is currently in post-production, and international sales are being handled by Flach Pyramide Intl., with the French release set for November.
WB has also pacted with producer Thierry de Navacelle, web M6 and Gallic pubcaster FR3 to co-produce Jean-Marc Longval’s $5 million “Recto Verso.”
“Last year was our startup year, which helped establish our credibility. This year I want to establish financial credibility,” says Boespflug.
Not so great
That’s a passing reference to disappointing results for the first Gallic pics to be released locally by Warner Bros.
Claude Miller’s “La Classe de Neige” won critical plaudits, but alongside “Les Kidnappeurs” and “Comme Une Bete,” it did not set the box office on fire.
Boespflug admits that, although he’s well known in Paris film circles, some Gallic directors are still reticent to knock on the door of what they see as a U.S. studio. Klapisch is known to have tried several other companies before going to WB.
“With ‘Maybe’ and ‘Recto Verso’ we came in when the scripts were written. I’d like to be involved in the development stage,” Boespflug said, adding that WB could be able to produce or co-produce up to three Gallic pics per year.