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NBC U-Studio Canal extend pacts

Re-up on Gallic vid j.v. and int'l library sales

MADRID — NBC Universal and StudioCanal, one of Europe’s biggest film companies, have reupped two distribution pacts.

One, a sales agreement running since 2001 and now renewed two more years to the end of 2012, will see NBC Universal Intl. Television Distribution continue to license the international TV and video rights to StudioCanal’s 5,000-plus feature library.

The biggest film library in Europe, and one of the largest in the world, it includes “About a Boy,” “Billy Elliot,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Nanny McPhee,” “Apocalypse Now” and “Total Recall” among its thousands of titles.

Previously working with NBC U for TV sales in the U.K., StudioCanal will set up its own direct TV distribution operation in Blighty for its library, said Rodolphe Buet, StudioCanal exec VP of international distribution and business development.

StudioCanal and Universal Pictures Intl. Entertainment, which is part of NBC U, have also extended their Gallic home entertainment distribution joint venture, Universal StudioCanal Video GIE, for another three years to the end of 2013.

StudioCanal will continue to handle technical work, such as subtitling, and define marketing strategy on its movies channeled through USCV.

With the French vid market bottoming out, USCV can look forward to sizable biz tapping films from Universal Pictures France and StudioCanal, including “Robin Hood,” French B.O. phenom “Heartbreakers,” last weekend’s U.S. chart-topping release “Despicable Me” and “Sammy’s Adventures.”

Both distrib pacts offer large upsides to StudioCanal, Buet said.

“On international TV sales, the agreement allows StudioCanal titles to be fed through NBC U output or volume deals abroad, and library and current titles get the same benchmark prices as NBC U back titles,” Buet said.

For international video sales, StudioCanal’s revenues roughly double that of licensing homevid titles to third-party distributors, he added.

Operating a standalone video operation in France “would not give us such a strong strategic position toward the market or major retailers,” Buet said.

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