CANNES – Linking three of the Europe’s biggest film-TV companies, Studiocanal has acquired international sales rights to Olivier Marchal’s “Section Zéro,” one of France’s most-anticipated high-end TV dramas, which is produced by Luc Besson’s France-U.S. studio EuropaCorp and France’s Canal Plus, forming part of its original programming lineup.
Set in 2024, as an elite cop squad battles big corporations and their droids, “Zéro” marks the comeback as a showrunner-director of Marchal, whose hard-boiled cop skein “Braquo,” another Canal Plus original series, proved a milestone for Gallic TV production, taking it to U.S. cable terrain.
Described by Rodolphe Buet, Studiocanal’s new president of international marketing and distribution, as “a mix of ‘Fargo,’ ‘The Returned,’ and ‘The Mad Max Trilogy,’” “Section Zéro,” Canal Plus’ first futuristic skein, looks in other ways toward the future.
On March 10, Studiocanal announced the launch of its own TV sales operation, headed up by former Shine Intl. exec Katrina Neylon. In a move that marks increasing synergies between Studiocanal and its parent, the Canal Plus Group, Studiocanal will also now sell wherever possible Canal Plus’ original programming, such as “Section Zero” and “Spotless,” also on its Mip TV sales slate. Doing do, Studiocanal taps into the extensive high-end drama lineup of one of Europe’s two biggest premium pay TV operators.
Studiocanal is already Europe’s largest film-TV production-distribution-sales force. Thanks to the strategic Canal Plus-Studiocanal agreement, in one fell swoop Studiocanal looks set to get significantly bigger.
“Braquo” sold to over 100 countries. Brought onto the market at Mip TV, ‘Section Zéro’ is an ambitious TV series. ‘Braquo’ approached French TV production in a new way. With ‘Section Zéro,’ the aim is to achieve an authentically unique style in TV for which Marchal is renowned,” Buet said.
Written by Marchal and Laurent Guillaume, and shooting from Jan. 13 through July, the eight-hour “Section Zéro” stars Olla Rapace (“Wallander”), Pascal Greggory (“La Vie en Rose”) and Tchecky Karyo, one star of Marchal’s “A Gang Story.” Thomas Amargyros and Edoaurd de Vésinne produce for EuropaCorp, in co-production with Bad Company and UMedia.
Toplining Marc-André Grondin (“C.R.A.Z.Y.”) and Denis Menochet (“Inglorious Basterds”), London-set crime comedy “Spotless” marks the first series produced for Canal Plus by Tandem, and indeed Studiocanal, which bought a majority stake in Tandem in January 2012. Miranda Raison (“24: Live Another Day”) and Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) co-star. Bowing on Canal Plus to effusive critical praise, “Spotless” is by Ed McCardie (the U.K. version of “Shameless,” “Tinsel Town”), who features as head writer, and Corinne Marrinan (“CSI”).
Actors Elisabeth Mitchell and Goran Visjnic, the new co-leads of “Crossing Lines,” a Euro-set action crime drama, will be at Mip TV Monday morning to present the series’ third season, which is co-exec produced by Frank Spotnitz and Tandem’s Rola Bauer.
At Mip TV, Studiocanal will also sell Harlen Coben’s “The Five,” produced by the U.K.’s Red Production Company for Sky Living. A new Harlan Coben story written exclusively for TV, “The Five’s” screenplay is by BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning writer Danny Brocklehurst.
From January 2012, when it bought a majority stake in Germany’s Tandem Productions (“Spotless,” “Crossing Lines,” “World Without End,” “Pillars of the Earth”), Studiocanal has driven hard into TV production, also acquiring a controlling stake in the U.K.’s Red Production Company (“Queer as Folk,” “Scott & Bailey,” and “Last Tango in Halifax”) and co-creating Scandinavia’s SAM Productions ApS, a four-way joint venture with writers Adam Price (“Borgen”) and Sorein Svelstrup (“The Killing”) and producer Meta Louise Foldager (“Melacholia”).
The announcement of at least one new first-look deal with another TV producer now looks imminent.
“The challenge we had some years ago in film was to become the strongest non-U.S. studio in the world, and definitely the leader in Europe. We achieved that challenge.” In TV, as a production-sales operation, “Th next step is to bring Studiocanal to the same level,” Buet told Variety. He added: “From some years ago, television has been identified as a huge part of the growth of the group.”
With dedicated film, TV and catalogue teams, Studiocanal integrated sales-marketing operation has multiple advantages, Buet argued.
One: “It makes sense to be a one-stop shop, and be able to discuss potential partnerships on films, TV and catalogues,” he said, pointing out that executives at SVOD operators such as Netflix, Google or Amazon are operating in that way.
The Canal Plus-Studiocanal sales arrangement comes as Canal Plus Group parent Vivendi, in its 2014 results, pointed to revenue growth factors going forward such as Universal Music Group streaming, SVOD service Canal Play CPG’s overseas pay TV operations in Vietnam and Africa, Studiocanal movies –such as “Paddington” and “Non Stop” — and its increased TV production.
Tandem Production used to handle its own sales. The creation of a Studiocanal TV sales operation frees up Tandem prexy Rola Bauer to focus all the more on the international co-development and co-production of properties with U.S. and European anchor partners.
Announcing March 10 the creation of a TV sales operation, Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson said it aimed “to increase our number of really international TV series productions, including dramas co-produced or co-financed out of the U.S. as Studiocanal extends the number of top-level partners it works with.”