Metropolitan FilmExport at 35: Hadida Brothers Use Savvy to Sell Big European Pics

Metropolitan Filmexport has been involved in some of Europe’s biggest international co-productions over recent years, ranging from genre franchises “Silent Hill” and “Resident Evil” to more auteur-driven pics such as “Perfume,” “Railway Man” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”

“We’re a distributor, so we have to find what audiences are looking for,” says Metropolitan’s co-prexy, Samuel Hadida. “We don’t just want blockbusters, we also want to work with renowned auteurs such as David Michod and Martin Scorsese.”

Hadida views co-productions as a natural extension of his distribution activity: “If the underlying property and the package are right, instead of just paying the minimum guarantee for the distribution rights, we put up equity because we want the movie to happen and support the director’s vision.”

Many of Metropolitan’s co-production projects involve long-term partners, the most prominent being those with Lionsgate and Germany’s Constantin Film.

“We like to co-produce with trusted partners who share the same vision and with whom we can build together. If the script, cast and director is right, we can then work out the right equity and tax structure for the movie.”

Popular on Variety

A key aspect of co-production is to structure the project in order to maximize access to local financing sources, in particular tax rebates.

“There’s always a financing gap to be filled, so you have to explore local tax funding,” Hadida says. “It all depends on the underlying property. You have to find the right locations that serve the script and also offers the best financing mix.”

He nonetheless tries to avoid the so-called Euro pudding scenario.

“When you do co-productions, this can sometimes involve compromises between different local producers, especially in terms of including local cast, and this can sometimes undermine the film.”

Via inhouse production company, Davis Films, the Hadidas increasingly focus on developing international projects with franchise potential, such as TV spinoffs from their “Silent Hill” and “Solomon Kane” films, plus vampire pic, “House of Night,” based on P.C. & Kristin Cast’s bestselling novels, and an upcoming adaptation of Japan’s longest-running manga, Golgo 13.

“We want to try to bring Golgo 13 to the world, a bit like how the James Bond character was brought to the world,” says Hadida, who foresees lensing in 2015, in a variety of locations in Asia, North America and Europe.

But financing possibilities for setting up major international co-produtions have tightened since 2010. Average co-production budgets have fallen by 30% over the past three years — per data from France’s national film org CNC — with particularly severe drops in the mid-budget range of $10 million to $15 million.

“It’s a little bit more difficult now,” Hadida says. “Homevideo is down and broadcasters are much more selective, so you have to focus on projects that will work theatrically.”

In the tighter financing climate, the total number of English-language co-productions in the top 20 Euro films at the European B.O. has slumped from nine in 2011 to four in 2013, per data from the European Audiovisual Observatory.

By contrast, record-breaking national comedies have come to the fore, such as Italy’s “Sole a catinelle,” Germany’s “Fuck You Goethe” and Spain’s “Spanish Affair.”

More Film

  • Disney's MULAN..Mulan (Yifei Liu)..Photo: Film Frame..©

    'Mulan' Is Disney's First Live-Action Remake to Get a PG-13 Rating

    “Mulan” may not be for very young children, as it’s become the first Disney live-action remake to receive a PG-13 rating. The new take on the Disney classic got the rating from the Motion Picture Association of America due to the “sequences of violence” apparently depicted in the film. All previous live-action remakes from the [...]

  • They Call Me Dr. Miami

    Berlin: Cargo Film's Plastic Surgery Doc 'They Call Me Dr. Miami' Unveils Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety can exclusively reveal the trailer for “Playing Hard” director Jean-Simon Chartier’s feature documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami,” which is being shopped to buyers at the EFM this week. Commissioned by Documentary Channel and set to bow at the Miami International Film Festival next month, the film follows Dr. Michael Salzhauer — also known [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' Battles 'Sonic the Hedgehog' at Box Office

    “Sonic the Hedgehog” will have to worry about more than just a waxy mustached villain this weekend. Paramount’s family film will face box office competition from another kid-friendly adventure, Disney and 20th Century’s “The Call of the Wild.” Harrison Ford and a dog named Buck star in “The Call of the Wild,” the latest big-screen adaptation [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    'Call of the Wild' Composer on How Music Became Protagonist Dog's Voice

    Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” ranks as one of the most famous books about a canine ever written. So director Chris Sanders knew that the composer of his film adaptation simply had to be a dog lover. Luckily, Sanders’ “How to Train Your Dragon” composer, John Powell, has two standard poodles. And when [...]

  • Terms and Conditions

    YouTube Drives Into Feature Doc Space With Brian Hill's 'Terms and Conditions' (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube is driving into the feature documentary space with a bold new film on drill music from one of the U.K.’s most celebrated documentarians. The controversial genre represented in the Brian Hill-directed “Terms and Conditions: A U.K. Drill Story” has become inadvertently associated with violence and knife-crime in the U.K., and marks a daring step [...]

  • Jennifer Lawrence Adam McKay

    Jennifer Lawrence to Star in Adam McKay's Netflix Comedy 'Don't Look Up'

    Jennifer Lawrence will star in Adam McKay’s upcoming film “Don’t Look Up,” a comedy set to debut on Netflix later this year. The movie, also written by McKay, follows two low-level astronomers who embark on media tour to warn mankind of an approaching asteroid that will destroy planet Earth. “I’m so thrilled to make this [...]

  • UK Producers Roundtable co-founder Loran Dunn

    Why the U.K.'s Struggling Indie Film Business Is Only Getting Tougher

    A startling one-two punch of new statistics from the British Film Institute and industry body U.K. Producers’ Roundtable have revealed the stark challenges facing the country’s independent filmmakers.  After a BFI study published in late January revealed that spending on U.K. independent film production fell by 45% to £175 million ($228 million) in 2019, a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content