International movie sales and finance house WestEnd Films has launched a brand aimed at female audiences called WeLove, with new projects from Agnieszka Holland and Alexis Zegerman forming part of its launch slate.
By launching WeLove, WestEnd aims to meet demand from what it sees as an under-served female audience for high-quality commercial projects in a variety of formats, including feature films, TV and web series, and documentaries.
“It’s an endeavor that answers a real need. The ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Trainwrecks’ of this world are too few and far between,” WestEnd managing director Eve Schoukroun said.
WestEnd points out that the majority of moviegoers are female — 52% in the U.S — and that since 2006 in the U.S., movies about men have made an average of $80.6 million, while movies about women have made an average of $121.6 million. Female-led movies have made more on average than male-led ones for nearly every year in the past decade, WestEnd says.
WeLove will develop and produce female-specific content and in doing so hopes to promote female talents as well.
“WestEnd has been seen as a female company doing female audience movies since it started. We’ve long defended ourselves from being only that. Now, we’ve decided to embrace our specificity and own taste,” Maya Amsellem, WestEnd’s other managing director, said.
WestEnd will continue to represent and/or finance elevated genre and male-skewed pictures such as “Green Room” by Jeremy Saulnier, “The Duel” by Kieran Darcy Smith and “Joe” by David Gordon Green, as well as more generalist features such as Oscar-nominated animation “Song of the Sea” or Cannes Film Festival darling “A Perfect Day.”
WeLove will focus on developing and producing “female auteurs-led projects, distinctive voices, director-driven features offering a clear brand aiming at women of all ages,” WestEnd stated.
“There is a content frenzy right now: Everybody is so afraid of not coming up with the right content at the right time and place. When the offer for content is so scattered on so many media platforms, it seemed important to become a distinctive name that can build and keep a loyal and identifiable audience. While WestEnd is known for cross-over arthouse pics and Oscar contenders, WeLove will be known for its female-skewed content and ultimately, we hope, audiences will watch, just because it’s WeLove. What WestEnd and WeLove have in common is quality,” Schoukroun said.
WeLove is developing its first two productions. One is “All Inclusive,” which is an all-out female comedy written by Alexis Zegerman (who won best supporting actress at the British Independent Film Awards for “Happy Go Lucky”), adapted in English from the 2014 Danish blockbuster of the same name.
“Nearly 10% of the population of Denmark went to the cinema to see the original. We believe that if you give women what they want, they’ll come out in numbers,” Sharon Harel, WestEnd’s chairman, said.
Zegerman’s film will hit the marketplace toward the end of this year.
“The characters are far from stereotypical and clichéd female roles behaving as expected. Here, the girls have relationships and family issues one can identify with. The jokes are irreverent but also full-hearted,” Harel said.
Also in development is “Sylvia,” from the true story of Mossad agent Sylvia Raphael and adapted from the book of the same name. The project is produced and developed by Harel, Eitan Evan and Ewa Puszczynska, who won an Oscar with “Ida.” Agnieszka Holland, who was Oscar-nominated for “Europa Europa,” will direct.
“This compelling story and fascinating lead character have already attracted such creative and inspired talents. It’s all very exciting to be a girl right now,” Harel said.
WeLove said it is partnering with a pool of female talents, and is sealing “meaningful relationships with like-minded companies to grow the production and development side of its activities.”