You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French pics have laughs, will travel

Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous 2013

Comedies can sell as well as dramas. The 15th Unifrance Paris Rendez-vous kicks off with Daniele Thompson’s “It Happened in Saint- Tropez,” from Pathe. And over the next four days, a score of other laffers are set to unspool at the market with some of France’s biggest film companies rolling out their top comedy picks.

These include Gaumont’s “The Brats,” starring Alain Chabat (“Houba! On the Trail of the Marsupilami”), and Michael Youn’s high-concept laffer “Vive la France.”

Plus, EuropaCorp will shop David Moreau’s romantic comedy “Hit Boy,” Philippe Lellouche’s “Almost Charming” and Gerard Depardieu starrer “World Petanque Tour”; SND will push Gerard Lanvin starrer “True Friends,” centering on three friends facing each other’s white lies; Studiocanal will roll out comicbook-based retro-style comedy “Billy and Buddy”; and Films Distribution is showing “Queen of Montreuil,” a dramedy from Iceland’s Solveig Anspach, and bowing Brigitte Rouan’s Greece-set ensemble comedy, “A Greek Type of Problem.”

As Pathe’s Muriel Sauzay points out, “In a crisis, everybody’s looking for brighter, funnier subject matter, to be entertained. It’s very comparable to the ’30s.”

“It’s actually a bit easier these days to export comedies than many straightforward dramas, unless they’re big Cannes titles such as ‘Amour.’ The market is looking for more light-hearted titles,” says Charlotte Boucon, SND head of international sales.

Also, “The Intouchables,” a €9.5 million ($12.5 million) movie that grossed $420.7 million worldwide, continues driving up the biz, per Regine Hatchondo, managing director at Unifrance. “Buyers don’t want to miss out on another gem,” she says.

“One of the things ‘Intouchables’ underscored is the know-how we have in France to produce well-made comedies with reasonable budgets that can click with mainstream audiences,” says Marie-Laure Montironi, international sales topper at EuropaCorp. “Foreign distributors now come to French sales agents looking for well-polished comedies budgeted under $16 million.”

The surge in comedy appeal is goosed by domestic factors. Gallic laffers with known cast tend to be better-financed than other French movies : They often command large auds in Gaul so are backed to the hilt by local broadcasters, Boucon says. TV backing ensures fulsome budgets and top-notch production levels.

Plus, France and the French-speaking regions of Belgium and Switzerland now play like one single market for mainstream fare, meaning French comedy juggernauts go gangbusters in Belgium and Switzerland. Over 2003-11, French film sales revenues from Benelux skyrocketed 279% to $9.2 million, according to CNC stats.

However, “Comedies, like other genres, require us to put a large emphasis on marketing in order to facilitate the work of distributors at every stage,” says Cecile Gaget, Gaumont Intl. topper, who sold “Intouchables” worldwide. For “Vive la France,” Gaget says Gaumont Intl. is even prepping a jokes adaptation guide for distributors. “We did it for ‘Intouchables’ and it worked well.”

French comedies that travel best aren’t necessarily the straighforward gag-ladden laffers, which tend to be too culturally specific to cross borders, but rather the dramedies and romantic comedies. For instance, Gaget describes “The Brats” as a “romantic, funny, yet touching comedy,” while Sauzay suggests “Saint-Tropez” is a sort of French twist on Woody Allen’s dysfunctional family tales.

The Rendez-vous’ love affair with comedies goes back a few years. Some of the biggest breakouts — “Welcome to the Sticks,” “Heartbreaker,” “Change of Plans,” “The Players” and “Love Lasts Three Years” — sneak-preemed at the RDV.

“The RDV is a good launch-pad for light-hearted and commercial movies,” says Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, co-topper at Films Distribution. “Comedies seldom fare well even with film critics when they’re screening at festivals.”

Plus, Berlin creams off top Gallic arthouse titles and dramas, often leaving out comedies. So sellers say there’s less reason to keep them back.

Other notable RDV players include road movie “Rendez-vous in Kiruna,” from Pyramide, which is Anne Novion’s follow-up to critically well-received debut “Grown Ups,” and Jean-Paul Lilienfeld’s thriller “Arretez-moi,” starring Sophie Marceau.

Exports fuel gaul biz

More Film

  • General Delegate of the Cannes Film

    Cannes Reinstates Advance Press Screenings, But Favors TV, Radio Journalists (EXCLUSIVE)

    Following last year’s backlash by film critics over changes to its screenings schedule, the Cannes Film Festival has decided to reinstate morning press screenings for movies having their gala world premieres in the evening. But there’s a catch: Only a few hundred journalists — mainly from TV and radio outlets — will be admitted, and [...]

  • Someone Great

    Film Review: ‘Someone Great’

    There simply aren’t enough modern romantic comedies that cherish the merits of female friendship in the aftermath of a romantic breakup. There are even fewer that feel like a personal, lived-in experience. Female-driven raunchcoms (like “Girls Trip”) have explored this territory to a certain extent, though many stop short of delivering genuine poignancy (like “Rough [...]

  • Actresses take part in the #metoo

    Cannes Grows More Inclusive, Boosts Number of Female Filmmakers

    In 1946, the inaugural year of the Cannes Film Festival, Barbara Virginia’s surrealist film, “Tres dias sem Deus” debuted in competition. Over the subsequent seven decades, as it has grown in stature to become one of the world’s premier film gatherings, Cannes hasn’t matched that early promise in highlighting female artists. Finally, the powers that [...]

  • Rocketman

    Cannes: 2019 Lineup Includes 'Rocketman' and Films by 13 Women

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival has announced its lineup, unveiling an official selection that includes 13 female filmmakers, a number of genre movies, more American titles than last year and an opportunity for Elton John to make a star turn on the Croisette. Twelve of the 47 films announced Thursday are directed by women (one [...]

  • Cannes Unveils 2019 Official Selection (Watch

    Cannes Lineup Announcement: How to Watch

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival is announcing the films chosen for “official selection” — including those competing for the event’s coveted Palme d’Or prize — in a press conference Thursday starting at 11 a.m. in Paris. The livestream of the press conference is available here. (Please note that the broadcast seldom starts on time.) Last [...]

  • Godzilla

    'Godzilla' Owner Toho Poised for Expansion in Hollywood

    Toho, the largest movie group in Japan, is expanding a subsidiary in the U.S. with a view to working more with Hollywood. The company said that its existing Toho International Inc. subsidiary has been injected with $14 million (JPY15.4 billion), through a share issue subscribed to by the parent company. The subsidiary has existed since [...]

  • View Conference Opens Registration for 2019

    2019 View Conference Opens Registration, Calls for Short Film Competition Entries

    Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the View Conference in Turin, Italy. No speakers have been announced yet, but past conferences have featured some of the world’s top creative talents in visual effects, animation, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Last year’s edition featured composer Hans Zimmer, Paramount Animation topper [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content