Canal Plus OKs pic funds

Gallic conglom deal still sketchy

PARIS — After months of drawn-out negotiations, Canal Plus has reached an agreement with the French film industry that will guarantee its central role in Gallic movie funding for several years to come.

The deal, according to the paybox and industry orgs, “renewed their partnership while adapting it to take account of the changes in the sector and Canal Plus’ perspectives.”

Company refused to go into further details until the pact is rubber stamped in the next few days, but it is likely to give Canal Plus greater flexibility over what movies it buys and when and how often it airs them.

While the paybox has been and is still obliged to spend 9% of its revenues on French film production, its relationship with the Gallic film biz had been on shaky ground ever since the Vivendi Universal merger in 2000.

Back then, Gallic industryites were convinced that with its new clout in Hollywood, the media conglom would try to sidle out of its commitments back in France at the earliest opportunity.

Those fears reached their zenith when Jean-Marie Messier, newly settled in New York, publicly denigrated France’s “cultural exception.”

Later on, concerns about the state of Canal Plus finances — and its capacity to keep on supporting Gallic production — became the big issue.

But earlier this year Canal Plus’ new management said the paybox still needed French cinema and vice versa.