PARIS– Lagardère Studios, a leading French production and distribution group comprising 35 companies across three continents, has ramped up its biz in Africa.

Within the last year, Lagardère has doubled its catalogue of African programs to 1000 hours with an increasing number of films coming from the continent.

“Our catalogue of African movies is extremely rich and diversified — it encompasses 70 producers coming from 24 nationalities,” said Christophe Thoral, who succeeded Takis Candilis at the helm of Lagardère Studios.

Lagardère Studios has also been repping the catalogue of Orange Cinema in Africa and developing its presence in Africa’s booming feature film landscape.

“We’re seeing the emergence of a contemporary cinema in Africa and we’re looking to play a role in these movies by giving minimum guarantees, handling their distribution, and selling them worldwide,’ said Thoral.

Lagardère Studios for instance co-produced “Adama Roamba’s La forêt de Niolo” which won best script at Fespaco Film Festival.

Upcoming African scripted series on Lagardère’s slate are the second season of “C’est la vie” which is shooting in Dakar, and “Popenguine,”a low-budget show that will also shoot in Dakar. Both series are produced by Lagardère Studios-owned Keewu Production.

CFI (French agency of media cooperation) is supporting the series. “Africa is an emerging market and we’re focusing on enabling the training of authors, directors, crews and executives to make them as autonomous as possible,” explained Thoral.

The company is also teaming with leading African banner Urban Brew to produce a telenovela that will lense in both French and English in South Africa.

Lagardère Studios is set to make a push into original non-scripted formats with the creation of a transverse dedicated R&D unit that will cover all of Lagardère’s production outfits. “Going forward, we will be investing more resources into formats in various ways: either by creating original concepts and owning IP’s or scouting for great formats from around the world and adapting them for the French market,” said Thoral.

Lagardère is for instance developing “Safari Go” an original format produced by 909 productions and “Simplissime” adapted from the book of Jean-François Mallet, produced by FiftyCats.

In terms of fiction, Lagardère Studios remains one of France’s most prolific producers with about 20 new series that are currently being co-developed with broadcasters and digital services, including Netflix and Amazon. Lagardere Studios’ subsidiaries include Atlantique Productions (Tom Fontana’s “Borgia”), Kelija (Vincent Lannoo’s “Trepalium”) and Imagissime (“Elles ont toutes une histoire”).