Gaul’s MK2 expands its ambitions

Art-house shingle adds commercial films to slate

Gallic mini-major MK2 is taking its production and exhibition ambitions to the next level.

Once celebrated for its art pics as a producer, distributor and exhibitor, MK2 is building a diversified production slate catering for a full range of audience tastes and pioneering new concepts in exhibition.

MK2 prexy Nathanael Karmitz unveiled his plans Wednesday on the Lido, as Abdellatif Kechiche’s MK2-produced “Black Venus” screened in competition.

MK2’s €19.6 million ($25 million) film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road,” helmed by Walter Salles and starring Kirsten Dunst, Kristen Stewart and Sam Riley, began production Aug. 2.

Produced by Karmitz and Charles Gillibert at MK2, which also handles international sales, and Francis Ford Coppola via American Zoetrope, “On the Road” added Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams and Alicia Braga to key cast last month. Salles’ Videofilmes, the U.K.’s Film4 and Rebecca Yeldham co-produce.

Medusa has taken Italian rights; “Road” has now struck multiple territory sales — 15-plus springing from Cannes in May — including deals with Concorde for Germany, Icon for U.K. and Australia, and Cineart for Benelux.

Right for more territories, including the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Scandinavia, are now under negotiations, Karmitz said.

It is symptomatic of MK2’s current production range, however, that filming also began Aug. 2 on contempo fairy tale

“The Fairy,” from Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel and Bruno Romy, budgeted at $4.5 million.

Also broadening MK2’s spectrum, it is teaming with France’s Method Animation to produce a toon series featuring Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp character travelling the world.

“It’s taken us a few years to get back to producing four to six films annually,” Karmitz said on the Lido. ” ‘On the Road’ is unique. But we want to announce more ‘On the Road’-type projects next year.”

Also, he added, as an exhibitor, MK2 would be announcing new theater projects. One pioneering concept is set to open next Tuesday — the Germain Paradisio.

The Paradisio, located in Paris’ St. Germain-des-Pres district, is a luxury, 3D-equipped, 24-seat theater-come-screening room open to rent by non-industry clients. Karmitz calls this retail approach “cinema on demand.”

The Paradisio is 50% booked through to year-end, Karmitz said.

A Gallic digital cinema pioneer, MK2 will complete the digitization of its main theaters by Oct. 15, and all of its venues by year-end.

“The Paradisio is only possible in a digital age,” said Karmitz.

MK2 has also revamped its DVD-book store at its 14-screen flagship theater, the MK2 Bibliotheque, which will open before the end of the month.