You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Studiocanal COO Romain Bessi Exits the Vivendi-Owned Group

PARIS — Romain Bessi, who was COO of Studiocanal — the film and TV production/distribution arm of Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group — is leaving the Paris-based company, Variety has confirmed.

Bessi is the latest in a string of high-ranking executives who have exited the company, both voluntarily and involuntarily, in the year since Vincent Bollore took full control of Vivendi and became chairman of Canal Plus Group’s supervisory board, in June 2015. Bollore has come under increasing scrutiny by French journalists and analysts who are questioning his strategic vision for the company and his management techniques.

Bessi is expected to depart in mid-July. For many years, he worked closely with Olivier Courson, the former chairman and CEO of Studiocanal, who was axed last September.

Speaking to Variety, Bessi said that “after 19 years working for Canal Plus, I just feel ready to move on and take on new challenges elsewhere.”

Added Bessi, “I had never worked so long for a company and now is the right time to close that chapter and do so in good terms.

The exec said he was fielding some job opportunities but hasn’t made up his mind yet.

Bessi’s resignation comes on the heels of the departure of another senior executive, Manuel Alduy, who left last month. Alduy was head of Canal Plus’ OTT and digital-creation division and previously head of the film department.

Just this week, Canal Plus lost two of its most prominent TV hosts, Maitena Biraben and Ali Baddou, though whether the pair were fired or left voluntarily is unclear. Yann Barthes, the pay-TV group’s most popular host, who presents the primetime talk show Le Petit Journal, is also departing, apparently to go work at commercial network TF1.

In July 2015, Rodolphe Belmer, the managing director of Canal Plus Group, was given his walking papers.

Bessi resigned on his own terms, according to the company’s spokesperson. One of Canal Plus’ most senior employees, Bessi joined the company in 1997 in the sports management division and moved up through the ranks until he was tapped managing director of Studiocanal. Since September 2015, Bessi reported to Studiocanal’s chairman and CEO, Didier Lupfer.

While Canal Plus’ pay TV channels have been losing money, Studiocanal has been the financial powerhouse of the paybox group. But its closer integration with Vivendi has made decision-making more unwieldy than in the past.

Bessi concurred. “It’s not a secret that we’re now less autonomous at Studiocanal than we’ve been. But if I had found it unbearable I would have left earlier.”

Bessi played a key role at Studiocanal as he also served as CFO and head of TV series. He spearheaded the expansion of Studiocanal’s TV biz across Europe with the acquisition of a 20% stake in Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company Sunny March TV and Urban Myth Films, both in the U.K., plus a 33% shareholding in Spain’s Bambu Producciones (“Refugees”). The strategic pickups were announced at MipTV, in Cannes, by Bessi and Lupfer.

Under Bessi’s watch, Studiocanal also launched U.K. television and film banner Guilty Party with RED Production Company, producer Spencer Millman (“Harry Hill’s TV Burp”), actors and writers Simon Bird (“The Inbetweeners”) and Jonny Sweet (“Chickens”).

Bessi’s departure was first reported in Satellifax, a French media newsletter.

Henry Chu in London contributed to this report.


More Film

  • Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in

    Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in Berlin Festival Film 'Sargasso Sea'

    After a sudden suicide turns a small eel-farming town upside down, an investigation unearths troubling secrets about the town’s past. Those discoveries will bring together two women trapped in solitary lives, offering each a chance to find salvation. “The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea” is the third feature by Greek director Syllas Tzoumerkas. Starring frequent [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    France's Cesar Awards Leads the Way for the Oscars

    Since 2011, France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma has steadfastly held its annual awards ceremony the Friday before the Academy Awards. And if launching the Césars two days before the Oscars holds a real, practical benefit — allowing those walking both red carpets time to linger over their last flutes of Champagne before [...]

  • Australian Director Gameau Challenges Audiences to

    Australian Director Gameau Challenges Audiences to Improve the Planet

    Bright-eyed Australian director Damon Gameau set out in his previous movie, “That Sugar Film” to challenge everyday thoughtlessness about the dangers of our modern lifestyle — and became profoundly sick while doing so. In his new film “2040,” which plays in Berlin’s Generation Kplus section and which he styles as a “hybrid feature documentary,” Gameau [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    Writers Guild Sends Hollywood Agents Proposed Code of Conduct

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent Hollywood talent agencies a proposed “Code of Conduct” with tough new restrictions on how they operate as agents for writer clients. The WGA made the disclosure Thursday night in an email to its 12,000 members, a day after announcing that it will hold a March 25 [...]

  • Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat Is

    Best Score Nominee Alexandre Desplat to Skip Oscar Ceremony

    Best score nominee Alexandre Desplat will be unable to attend Sunday’s Oscar ceremonies because of recent throat surgery, a rep for the composer confirms. The French native, already a two-time Oscar winner (for 2014’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” and 2017’s “The Shape of Water”), is nominated this year for his Japanese-flavored score for Wes Anderson’s “Isle [...]

  • Space Jam

    'Space Jam 2' Gets Summer 2021 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has set a July 16, 2021, date for its live-action/animated sports comedy “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James. Terence Nance, creator of the HBO show “Random Acts of Flyness,” is directing the sequel. His credits include “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “Swimming in Your Skin Again,” and “Univitellin.” The movie marks James’ first [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content