MK2 wants Chaplin deported

Changing pix status would nab coveted programming slots

In a move to circumvent restrictive European TV programming regulations, MK2 Films, which controls rights to the Charlie Chaplin film catalog, has asked the French audiovisual watchdog organization to change the origin of the films to European from American.

“We absolutely want these films to air in primetime,” MK2 veepee of international Olivier-Rene Veillon tells Variety. “But the prejudices are very strong.”

If the films are granted Euro status, they are more likely to nab coveted primetime programming slots as the majority of those slots are reserved for European works.

Chaplin, who made most of his films in Hollywood, was born in London and lived in Switzerland for a large part of his life.

In Europe, a film’s nationality is determined by a point system with each creative element — director, screenwriter, star — assigned a value. The country with the most points may claim national ownership of the film.

MK2, which is planning theatrical releases of the Chaplin films beginning with a 200-print launch of “The Great Dictator” in France in October, is adamant about getting maximum exposure for the pics, and recently pacted with Warner Bros. Home Video for the films’ worldwide DVD releases.

“This is our way of proclaiming our passion for Chaplin,” Veillon says.