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Gaumont Bows U.S. Film Division, Poaches Working Title’s Johanna Byer (EXCLUSIVE)

Gaumont, the vertically integrated French studio that is the world’s oldest film company, is launching a U.S.-based feature film division and has lured away Johanna Byer from Working Title to run it.

Byer will be VP of creative affairs for the new division. She will be in charge of sourcing Gaumont’s library of more than 1,100 titles to develop and produce internationally driven English-language films.

The new division already boasts a development slate made up of U.S. remakes of South Korea’s “Train to Busan,” French films “Point Blank” and “Dead Tired,” and a new version of “Barbarella.”

Gaumont scooped up English-language remake rights in December to Yeon Sang-ho’s thriller “Train to Busan,” which premiered at Cannes in the Midnight section and earned strong reviews. “Point Blank” and “Dead Tired” are based on movies previously co-produced by Gaumont: Fred Cavaye’s 2010 thriller “A bout portant” and Michel Blanc’s 1994 dark comedy “Grosse fatigue,” respectively. “Barbarella,” based on Jean-Claude Forest’s graphic novel and Roger Vadim’s cult movie adaptation starring Jane Fonda, was initially conceived by Gaumont as a TV series in 2012 and is now being developed as a feature film.

The launch of the U.S. feature film division and appointment of Byer was unveiled by Gaumont’s vice CEO Christophe Riandee, who works alongside Gaumont CEO Sidonie Dumas and who launched Gaumont in the U.S.

“The creation of this division, with four top-notch projects already on the slate, fits perfectly into Gaumont’s ambition to expand our global footprint with English-language movies, tapping into the network of talent and producers we have established these past few years in the U.S.,” Dumas said.

Dumas praised Byer for her “refreshing, entrepreneurial spirit,” and described her as “a trailblazer for the next generation of Hollywood.” Prior to joining Gaumont, Byer was VP of development at Working Title Films, where she started working in 2010. Her co-production credits include Max Joseph’s “We Are Your Friends” with Zac Efron.

Based in Los Angeles at Gaumont’s U.S. headquarters, which currently house Gaumont Television and Gaumont Animation, Byer will collaborate with Cecile Gaget, Gaumont’s Paris-based head of international production, and Adam Fishbach, who oversees creative affairs at Gaumont Television (“Narcos,” “Hannibal”) in Los Angeles.

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