Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest movie production group, is setting up in Los Angeles, tapping Shana Eddy-Grouf as its first creative executive to be permanently based out of Los Angeles.
A former senior agent at United Talent Agency, Eddy-Grouf — who has been appointed Studiocanal senior vice president, international production and development — will report to Ron Halpern, Studiocanal’s Paris-based executive VP, international production and acquisitions. Halpern made the announcement Monday.
Owning one of the largest film libraries in the world, with 5,000-plus international titles, Studiocanal has, over the last near-decade, risen to prominence under chairman-CEO Olivier Courson, with Halpern a key architect of its U.S production relationships. It’s the only independent movie company in Europe to launch direct film distribution operations in the continent’s three biggest markets: France, the U.K. and Germany. It also directly distributes in Australia and has a top-flight international sales department.
As it diversifies into TV, Studiocanal has, in film production, carefully targeted categories with a clear audience appeal, especially in its “home” market of Europe: family fare, such as “Paddington,” produced by “Harry Potter’s” David Heyman, and the upcoming “Shaun the Sheep,” an animated feature from Aardman; smart genre suspense action-thrillers: Liam Neeson-starrer “Non-Stop,” “Gunman,” with Sean Penn and Javier Bardem, and “Bastille Day,” with Idris Elba; adult-targeted director-driven fare, true stories and literary adaptations — the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” as an example.
Rather than signaling Studiocanal’s plunge into U.S. popcorn fare, Eddy-Grouf’s appointment will build Studiocanal’s global footprint as it furthers ever more its targeted production strategy making films that not only have to work in Europe, but also travel over the rest of the world. That means moving in a highly competitive environment, competing not only for A-listers who can drive pre-sales and sometimes open a film, but production talent relationships: As one of her mandates, Eddy-Grouf will support Studiocanal’s U.S.-based producing deals with Andrew Rona’s the Picture Company and Eric Newman’s Grand Electric Entertainment.
Eddy-Grouf twins a long experience of the Hollywood system with a passion for international: The producer of “Drive, She Said,” which wrapped Dec. 3, Eddy-Grouf spent 15 years at UTA. There, she was instrumental in starting its independent packaging department, represented award-winning writers, directors, producers, and actors in the feature literary department and — crucially — expanded UTA’s presence internationally.
“I am so happy to welcome Shana. She has such great talent relationships in Los Angeles and elsewhere and a perfect understanding of the types of film Studiocanal would like to make. She is a great addition to Studiocanal,” said Halpern.
He added: “It’s really important to have someone in Los Angeles for testing a movie, to be part of the creative process, to be able to call a producer and say: ‘Let’s meet and try to push this project forward.’”
“There are a lot of very good companies out there, and we haven’t worked with all of them. There’s are opportunities for Shana to bring in new relationships and to help to explain in the L.A community why we’re an interesting company to work with even if we’re based far away. It’s good to be communicating with both sides.”
Prior to producing “Drive, She Said,” Eddy-Grouf served as exec VP of business development for online video platform PlutoTV, developing and launching product and overseeing content partnerships with Scripps, AOL, Maker Studios, Funny or Die, among other companies.
She said: “I am thrilled to contribute to Studiocanal’s ambitions in the U.S., and expand upon the exceptional strategic growth they have experienced under Olivier Courson and Ron Halpern’s leadership. They are making high quality, skillfully produced films, which benefit from an extraordinary international distribution and sales network.”