You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

StudioCanal extends global reach

Mini-major a force in production and distribution

StudioCanal chief exec Olivier Courson has altered the DNA of the Gallic mini-major since he took the reins 2½ years ago. It has been transformed from a subsid of pay TV channel Canal Plus, mostly dedicated to co-financing and distribbing French movies, into a leading indie player on the global stage, albeit still part of Canal Plus Group.

With the acquisition of the U.K.’s Optimum and Germany’s Kinowelt, it gained a distribution network that gives it access to 50% of the European market.

“It is a big, big change,” Courson says — “not just a corporate change, but also a strategic and cultural change.”

To emphasize the company’s new cosmopolitan makeup, Courson points out that a majority of the managers on its exec committee are not French. For example, Ron Halpern, head of international production and acquisition, is American.

The execs also have a mix of backgrounds. Some, like Optimum Releasing CEO Will Clarke, are entrepreneurs. Other come from U.S. majors, like StudioCanal France COO Camille Trumer, who was formerly chairman of Paramount Pictures France.

Although Optimum and Kinowelt are wholly owned by StudioCanal, they have a high degree of autonomy and each has its own production slate.

Leonard Glowinski, StudioCanal’s head of co-productions and acquisitions for France and Europe, is also developing a slate of projects.

“We are now completely open to the world,” Courson says, pointing out StudioCanal gets only a third of its revenue from France and just 5% from Canal Plus.

But all films, although they may appeal to local audiences, must also travel. “We are, on the one hand, developing international productions; on the other, we are developing local films with an international potential,” Courson says. The perfect example of this is Optimum’s “Brighton Rock,” which is a co-production with BBC Films and Kudos. Kinowelt CEO Wolfgang Braun, who as head of Buena Vista Intl. Film Prod. Germany oversaw the production of “The Lives of Others,” will push forward similar projects in Germany.

StudioCanal also has a strong slate of international pics that Halpern is driving, including co-productions with Hollywood producers like Neal Moritz at Original Film, which is remaking “Cliffhanger” and “Escape From New York.” StudioCanal also has bonded with Gary Barber at Spyglass and Joel Silver’s Dark Castle.

“We have strong ambitions in production, but they are ambitions shared with partners,” Courson says.

StudioCanal additionally has an international sales arm, which was kept busy at Cannes selling stereoscopic 3D toon “Around the World in 50 Years” and Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe,” among other pics in its large slate.

StudioCanal is looking to collaborate with other parts of parent conglom Vivendi. Universal Music, through its film and TV unit, is distribbing “Around the World” Stateside, and StudioCanal may work with games division Activision Blizzard on some of its actioners.

Although this flurry of activity may suggest that StudioCanal has moved away from its auteur roots, Courson says this isn’t so. “We are developing more entertaining movies, but we also keep the link we have with auteurs. We are very director-oriented,” he says, citing “Chloe,” which it produced with Ivan

Reitman and Thomas Pollock’s Montecito Picture Co. “What we try to do is work with auteurs, but make movies for a broad audience.”

There is also room for up-and-coming talent. “We give young directors new challenges and the chance to develop more important and international projects. We want to give them access to the world audience.”

More Film

  • Captain Marvel

    Box Office: 'Captain Marvel' Shatters $900 Million Milestone

    Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel” continues to do heroic business. In its latest box office milestone, the female-fronted superhero tentpole zoomed past $900 million in ticket sales worldwide. “Captain Marvel” brought in a mighty $87 million globally this weekend, including $52 million from international territories. It has now generated $589 million overseas for a global haul [...]

  • Us - Lupita Nyong’o - cr:

    Box Office: Jordan Peele's 'Us' Stuns With $70 Million Opening Weekend

    Talk about scary good. Universal’s “Us,” the second directorial effort from Jordan Peele, pulled off a stunning debut, generating $70 million from 3,741 North American locations. That haul is enough to land it the second-best opening weekend of the year behind just Disney’s “Captain Marvel” ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by [...]

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content