Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group Creates Film Division

Key appointments aimed at accelerating drive into content ownership in France, as Studiocanal readies a film-TV production unit

Maxime Saada Canal Plus Group

BERLIN — Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group, Europe’s second largest pay TV operator and owner of Studiocanal, the European production-distribution powerhouse, has made key promotions and appointments in a drive to ramp up its premium content production and ownership,.

Maxime Saada, CEO of the Canal Plus Group, has been appointed chairman of Studiocanal. With Studiocanal CEO Didier Lupfer already reporting to Saada, and Studiocanal a fully-owned CPG affiliate, the promotion is more a question of clarifying oversight and responsibility with Saada directly taking up the reins of Studiocanal.

Remaining CEO of Studiocanal, Lupfer has been named Group SVP of Cinema, handling all movie activities at Canal Plus and Studiocanal. Again, he reports to Saada. Meanwhile, movie and TV sales for France will now be handled by the team led by Anna Marsh, Studiocanal EVP international distribution.

In further moves, Nicolas Dumont is joining Studiocanal as head of film production and distribution in France. He previously served as head of French film acquisitions at Canal Plus. Laurent Hassid, currently head of foreign film acquisitions, will take on the extra responsibility of heading up French film acquisitions, remaining based out of Canal Plus but reporting to Lupfer.

The moves not only streamline decision-making as Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré insists on more synergies between Vivendi companies, but are preparation for the launch of a film-TV drama production unit in France, under Studiocanal umbrella, which will produce for both Canal Plus and third-party buyers in and outside France and, crucially, allow Canal Plus and Studiocanal to own far more of what it broadcasts or sells.

Currently, Studiocanal co-produces films outside France, such “Paddington 2,” but has traditionally co-financed inside France. Canal Plus commissions to an independent company, finances up to 90% of budget and airs prestigious Creations Originales series. But in the past it can own very little of their IP. Vivendi’s mantra under Bolloré is, however, to produce and own more, acquire less.

Lupfer, Dumont and veteran director-producer and comedian Dominique Farrugia, named co-managing director of productions at Studiocanal look set to play key roles at the production unit which in TV, looks likely to focus on producing in-house drama.

Canal Plus will continue – and indeed is required by law – to commission to dramas to independent production companies but will attempt to retain a larger share of their ownership, which has become a Vivendi mantra.