Orange Studio, the revamped film and TV arm of France’s leading telco operator Orange, is rolling into the UniFrance Rendez-Vous With French Cinema with a new international sales team and a first slate including Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Maya” and Sophie Marceau’s “Mrs. Mills.”
The newly launched international sales division is being led by Andreï Kamarowsky, who joined Orange Studio from EuropaCorp at the end of 2017, and Emilie Serres, who’s just joined the company from Wild Bunch, where she had worked since 2014 and handled such movies as Palme d’Or-winning “I, Daniel Blake,” “Dheepan” and jury prize-winning “Loveless.”
Serres said she and Kamarowsky had complementary backgrounds and Rolodexes, as they come from two of France’s biggest sales companies, EuropaCorp and Wild Bunch, which are known for handling very different movies.
Set in December 2012, Hansen-Løve’s “Maya” is a drama following the journey of two French reporters who were released after months of captivity in Syria. One of them, a young man in his 20s, tries in vain to rebuild his life in Paris before returning to his childhood home in Goa, India.
“Hansen-Løve is a talented filmmaker who’s been able to make films which play at A-list festivals and sell well abroad,” said Kamarowsky, who added that “Maya” is Hansen-Løve’s most accessible film so far.
“Mrs. Mills” is directed by and stars Marceau as a lonely writer of sentimental novels whose orderly life is turned upside down by the arrival of a new neighbor, an eccentric old American woman (Pierre Richard).
David Kessler, who runs both Orange Studio and Orange Content, told Variety that the telco group’s CEO, Stephane Richard, who took the helm of the company in 2011, has been driving the push into content and has encouraged synergies between different divisions, including Orange’s pay-TV channels Orange Cinema Series and its thriving SVOD service.
“We cannot limit our role to distributing content. Our prime objective is to produce and own quality content which will boast our brand, give it a color,” said Kessler.
“All the major telecom operators in the world now have a foot in content. Deutsch Telecom is investing in series and its SVOD service; Telecom Italia and Telefonica are also investing in premium series,” Kessler said.
He said the company invested €750,000 in content in 2017 and has vowed to invest €100 million in ambitious drama series within the next five years, starting with its first series acquisition, “The Name of the Rose” with Rupert Everett and John Turturro. Orange Studio acquired all French rights to the series, which means it will air on Orange Cinema Series and gives the company the opportunity to sell free-to-air rights to a third-party channel. The banner has poached Thomas Triboit from Wild Bunch TV to run drama acquisitions.
The vertically integrated banner signed a deal last year with UGC Images, a subsidiary of Europe’s second biggest cinema circuit, to do direct distribution in France under the label Orange Cinema Distribution. The deal was later expanded to allow Orange to start distributing and selling UGC films starting this month. Upcoming UGC titles on Orange Studio’s roster include “Gaston,” the big-budget adaptation of the cult comic book “Gaston Lagaffe.”
New titles on Orange Studio’s distribution slate include José Padilha’s “7 Days in Entebbe” with Rosamund Pike and Daniel Bruhl. The banner will be looking for select high-profile English-language films to feed its pipeline of international sales and distribution.
Kessler said Orange Studio and UGC are jointly negotiating rights to two of three English-language films.
Kamarowsky previously told Variety that Orange Studio’s international sales lineup would comprise “local films from UGC, as well as upscale, festival-friendly French and English-language films, ambitious directorial debuts and some genre films.” He added that Orange Studio would be looking to board projects at an early stage.