PARIS – Orange Studio, the film division of the French telco group Orange, has signed a distribution deal with UGC Images, a subsidiary of Europe’s second-biggest cinema circuit, to kick off direct-distribution operations in France.
Under the partnership, Orange Studio will use UGC’s distribution platform to release its biggest films – a minimum of five per year – under a new label, Orange Studio Distribution, starting in 2017. The two companies will also have a first-look option to team up on French co-productions and acquisitions of foreign films, including U.S. pics.
The first two movies to be released under the new Orange Studio Distribution label are Jonathan Teplitzky’s “Churchill” and Danny Strong’s “Rebel in the Rye,” a duo of U.S. indie movies co-acquired with Jean-Philippe Tirel’s Selective.
The alliance with Orange Studio will also be beneficial to UGC as it will feed the company’s pipeline and expand its scope. UGC Image previously had a deal with TF1 under which UGC distributed TF1 movies in theaters and TF1 sold UGC movies worldwide. Since the pact ended in October 2015, UGC needed to ramp up its slate of releases.
“This association will enable our two companies to build and develop synergies,” said Brigitte Maccioni, managing director of UGC Images.
Up to now, Orange Studio, which bowed 10 years ago under the name Studio 37, had been working with distributors on a case-by-case basis. Joining forces with UGC rather than launching its own distribution vehicle makes financial sense, said Orange Studio’s boss, David Kessler, because it allows the outfit to limit its overhead and allocate resources to P&A to promote its own movies.
“Orange is a key partner for films. A decade after launching and [with] more than 100 films co-produced, Orange Studio pursues its development and will strengthen its distribution activities,” said Kessler.
Orange Studio will continue working with third-party distributors on smaller releases, according to Kessler.