M’max buying in at France’s Bac

Distrib brings with it cinema chain, film library

PARIS — Miramax will take a stake in French indie Bac Majestic and has renewed a three-year deal with its distribution banner Bac Films.

Miramax will acquire 1.9% when the company floats up to 25% of its stock in an IPO on July 4.

Praising Bac’s success with films like “Scream 2” and “Scream 3,” which together earned more than $26 million in France, Miramax’s Rick Sands described the company headed by Jean Labadie as “the leading independent distributor in France.”

Labadie said he was “thrilled and very proud.”

Distrib Bac Majestic also owns a Parisian cinema chain and has a sizable library of films. In addition, Labadie is partnered with Studio Canal, distributing its films in France via joint venture Bac Distribution. It is one of many Studio Canal partnerships that could be affected by the Vivendi-Seagram deal announced last week.

Universal, acquired in the deal, already distributes its films in Europe with UIP and has recently renewed with the company for another five years.

But the sheer volume handled by Bac Films and its sister company, arthouse distributor Mars Films — some 50-60 films a year — is well in excess of the 30 or so films handled by UIP’s existing structure in France, and Labadie insists business won’t be harmed by the Vivendi-Seagram deal.

“Bac Distribution is the same kind of arrangement as the one between UGC and Fox: It is a way to share costs. But my primary aim is to distribute films which go in my library,” he said.

The chipper Frenchman went further, saying that the all-out pursuit of content by so many communications groups is a very positive sign for groups like Bac.

“If anything, the fact that the valuation of Universal went so high proves the absolute need for content companies like Bac, and that is good news.”

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