×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

French Trio Launches Digital Cinema Service (EXCLUSIVE)

While Netflix has sparked a heated debate at Cannes with its two competition titles, “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” a new French steaming platform, ecinema, is being launched with the ambition to premiere 52 world cinema titles per year, rolling out a new title every Friday.

The platform is being launched by Frederic Houzelle, who runs production company Atlantis; Bruno Barde, the artistic director of several film festivals, notably Deauville, Marrakech and Beaune; and Roland Coutas, a former producer who became an investor in e-business and created the online travel agency Travelprice.

The idea behind ecinema is to showcase a wide range of films, from crime thrillers to fantasy films and dramas, with a strong emphasis on genre — 99% of which will be non-French films. Documentaries and TV series will not be part of the offering.

The service’s acquisitions are being handled by Daniel Preljocaj, who previously headed TF1 Intl. Preljocaj has already acquired nearly 40 films from the AFM and Berlin. Some of those films will be part of the platform’s library, which will comprise approximately 100 movies.

Houzelle, the president of ecinema, who has produced the French version of “Top Chef” and “Dancing With the Stars,” pointed out that “in 2016, about 700 new feature-length films were released in theaters, but on average people only went to the movie theater three times.”

Barde, a film buff who serves as artistic director of the service, concurred: “So many brilliant movies don’t make it into theaters or if they do, they get lost in the clutter and get pulled out by exhibitors after a one-week run.”

That analysis prompted the ecinema service to keep each new movie for 12 consecutive weeks. “That’s enough time to allow the film to reach its full potential and for the buzz to build,” said Coutas, who is VP of ecinema.

“In France, local institutions are placing too much emphasis on theatrical distribution but audiences want to consume films anywhere, anytime and on any device, and we strive to feed into that building trend,” added Coutas, who also mentioned that premiering films digitally was an effective way to counter piracy in France, which has been on the rise for the last few years.

Barde, meanwhile, said the French box office is dominated by local pics and American movies, leaving world cinema films behind with a 5% market share. And even for American indie films, the competition in France is tough.

Set to officially launch on Sept. 8, ecinema.com will be available for a monthly rate of 9.99 euros for unlimited access to the platform, or 5.99 euros for a five-day pass. The first 100,000 users of ecinema will get a special rate of 5.99 euros for an unlimited pass.

The trio said they are working hand-in-hand with France’s National Film Board (CNC) and are in the process of securing distribution agreements with Universal, TF1 and Wild Bunch to acquire second-window rights to their films.

Whereas Netflix has been at odds with the CNC and French film orgs because it isn’t part of the French film industry, ecinema intends to play by the rules. The service will, for instance, be involved in producing French pics, giving them a budget ranging from 1.5-2 million euros and a significant editorial freedom to create original movies.

“Many talented and visionary filmmakers, such as Wim Wenders, Abbas Kiarostami and Nicolas Winding Refn and Park Chan-wook, were discovered in France and we want to perpetuate this tradition,” said Barde.

More Film

  • Jimi Hendrix sound check Monterey Pop

    Film Constellation Adds ‘Show Me the Picture’ to Berlin Market Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    London-based sales and financing house Film Constellation has added Alfred George Bailey’s feature documentary “Show Me the Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall” to its Berlin market slate, ahead of the film’s SXSW premiere. Submarine Entertainment is handling distribution in North America. The film charts the life of American photographer James Joseph Marshall, whose work [...]

  • 'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race

    'Sink or Swim,' 'Custody' Lead Race for France's Cesar Awards

    French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director. “Sink or Swim” (“Le Grand Bain” in France), a star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, world-premiered at [...]

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off Monday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best picture favorite “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Stars, Entertainment Companies Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes

    Chinese film and TV stars and entertainment companies have forked over an additional $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) in taxes in the wake of last summer’s scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing and a subsequent government crackdown. The figure was announced late Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the tax affairs [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content