You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French films a hit on U.S. cable

On-demand sales make domestic TV a key place for foreign titles

PARIS — The U.S. has emerged as by far the biggest growth market for French film exports, moving distribs in France to declare, “Vive les Etats Unis!”

Gallic sales agents are increasingly bullish on U.S. video-on-demand, which is coming of age not only for U.S. films — “Arbitrage” took in $11 million on VOD, and “Bachelorette” grossed $7.3 million on the platform — but also for select foreign-language titles, too. French sales agents’ revenues out of North America soared 114% to €44.7 million ($58.6 million) in 2011 over what they were in the beginning of the decade. Meanwhile, in that same period, returns from Western Europe edged up just 3%, to $86.7 million.

One of Kino Lorber’s biggest 2012 hits was Jane Fonda later-life dramedy “All Together,” a French-German production lead-produced by Paris-based Les Filmes de la Butte. (The pic is in French, in which Fonda is fluent.) Kino Lorber and Tribeca Films released the pic theatrically in 50 markets and on all U.S. cable systems, grossing about $1 million from VOD.

That’s an excellent return, say Kino-Lorber’s Richard Lorber, noting that French-language specialty distributors are lucky if films gross more than a few hundred thousand dollars theatrically. (Lorber cites as a success “The Well-Digger’s Daughter,” which made $400,000 for the shingle from theatrical in a limited 50-market release.)

EuropaCorp recently sold VOD and DVD rights for Luc Besson’s “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” and Bibo Bergeron’s toon “A Monster in Paris” to Shout! Factory.

EuropaCorp’s Marie-Laure Montironi says the company likes to work with U.S. distribs who release films day-and-date, either theatrically or on VOD, in order to optimize revenues from non-linear rights and new media on French-language films.

SND’s Lionel Uzan reports growing revs among the company’s U.S. VOD releases, and says that the sector helps distribs limit marketing costs, which enables more risk-taking, and higher minimum guarantees per pic.

Lorber also cites marketing costs as a theatrical bugbear: “To release a French-language film that will gross $50,000-$500,000 at the box office, most speciality distributors spend about $50,000-$150,000 on P&A. But distributors’ net rentals are about a third of the box office result.”

One industry insider says that major distribs can spend up to $5 million marketing select high-profile French releases that have a large B.O. potential.

Internet VOD also presents a growing opportunity for distribs. According to Richard Cooper at IHS-Screen Digest, U.S. Internet VOD consumer revenue on Netflix, iTunes or Vudu-style subscription systems (as opposed to cable’s pay-per-view model), more than doubled in 2012 to $2.3 billion. And Dave McIntosh, at U.S. distributor Shout! Factory, says digital VOD players like Apple and Neflix are particularly pushing foreign-language titles.

In fact, with the sector’s growing Stateside popularity, the challenge for French films aiming for a U.S. VOD presence is exposure.

“Compared with two years ago, films’ availability on VOD platforms has quadrupled,” says IFC’s Ariana Bocco. “It’s gotten very competitive; films can get lost in the shuffle.”

Lorber says that a big plus for U.S. cable VOD is that it covers 90% of TV markets.

“On-demand programs are constantly being promoted on cable systems. You get push-through exposure,” he says. “You don’t find that on Internet.”

With a promise of potential returns from U.S. VOD that can outstrip their local B.O., French films will continue to find their way across the Pond. Pathe Intl.’s Muriel Sauzay says U.S. VOD has become a significant part of the business.

“It’s growing fast,” Sauzay says. “And it’s a very good market for smaller films.”

More TV

  • Longtime '60 Minutes' Producer Alan Weisman

    Longtime '60 Minutes' Producer Alan Weisman Dies at 68

    Alan Weisman, a longtime producer for “60 Minutes” known for his work with Morley Safer, died Thursday at his home in New Jersey of natural causes. He was 68. Weisman produced some of Safer’s most memorable “60 Minutes” segments, including the 1984 profile of Jackie Gleason and the 1989 jailhouse interview that brought national attention [...]

  • Khloe KardashianKhloe Kardashian, Emma Grede and

    Khloe Kardashian To 'Bachelor' Creator: 'Stop Or You Will Be Hearing From My Lawyers'

    UPDATE: Khloe Kardashian slams “Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss’ claims she could be the next “Bachelorette.” And her sister Kim Kardashian West has her back. I’m not fucking clickbait right now. Stop or you will be hearing from my lawyers. How insensitive!! https://t.co/vTKi83nLUJ — Khloé (@khloekardashian) February 24, 2019 The time has come to choose a [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content