PARIS — Romain Le Grand and Vivien Aslanian, the co-heads of production and distribution at Pathé, are set to exit Jerome Seydoux’s vertically integrated and venerable French studio, Variety has learned.
It’s unclear whether Le Grand and Aslanian are being laid off or are leaving on their own terms.
Pathe is having a particularly strong year at the French box office, boasting the only two French movies showing up in the top ten: “Les Tuches 2,” which so far ranks as France’s highest-grossing film for 2016 (with $32.5 million), and “Camping 3,” the third installment of the comedy franchise (with $24.2 million).
The company, however, is facing some foreseeable challenges as Seydoux, who is now 81, hasn’t yet found a successor. Thierry Fremaux, Cannes’ general delegate and artistic director, was offered to take over and come on board as president of Pathe after the next edition of the festival which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2017. Seydoux’s leadership style has also been criticized by industry sources for being too monarchal, leaving little room for the outfit’s top management to select projects. In terms of global strategy, Pathe also seems to lag behind other French mini-majors.
Unlike EuropaCorp, Gaumont, TF1 and Studiocanal, which have been diversifying and/or expanding their geographical footprints abroad, Pathe is not involved in TV. While Pathe’s international sales department has been thriving under Muriel Sauzay, the banner’s global strategy needs to be revamped, according to industry sources.
The company’s U.K. division, which delivered the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire,” nevertheless continues to deliver some high-profile English-language productions, such as Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” Stephen Frears’ “Florence Foster Jenkins” and Amma Asante’s upcoming “A United Kingdom” with Rosamund Pike which will world premiere at Toronto.
Under Le Grand and Aslanian’s helm, Pathe has been tightening its purse strings, restricting budgets on French movies with limited international potential, taking into account the volatility and competitiveness of the French distribution market. The outfit has been focusing on franchise-based French comedies, such as “Les Tuches,” “Camping” and “Aladin” and feel-good dramedies that have clicked with local audiences, including “Back to Mom” and “One Man and His Cow.”
The company has also been splitting rights with other outfits such as Wild Bunch to broaden its scope. Pathe for instance has French rights to Michael R. Roskam’s “The Racer and the Jailbird” which is being sold by Wild Bunch and “Playmobil” which is being sold by Lionsgate.
One of Pathe’s most senior employees, Le Grand joined Pathe in 1997 after working at Walt Disney France.