Europe Doubles Down on Remakes (EXCLUSIVE)

Move represents a growth industry for some of Europe's biggest players

Europe is revving up its remake business. As in the U.S., where Lionsgate launched local production-distribution outfit Globalgate in 2016, the companies leading the remake effort in Europe are among those producing the continent’s most commercially aggressive international titles: Dimitri Rassam’s Chapter 2, Germany’s Constantin, Italy’s Medusa and Spain’s Telecinco Cinema.

Paris-based Rassam is a producer on “The Little Prince” and the upcoming “Playmobil,” a $75 million animated feature film based on the iconic toy brand. He is working on a French retread of Eugenio Derbez’s fading-gigolo farce “How to Be a Latin Lover,” sourced from Globalgate and set to star Kad Merad from “Welcome to the Sticks.” Richard Grandpierre co-produces; Olivier Baroux (“Les Tuches”) directs.

Rassam has also optioned “This Crazy Heart” from Germany’s biggest independent producer-distributor Constantin, a comedy about a rich 30-something made to care for a 15-year-old heart patient. The movie has grossed $19.3 million to date. Mars Film will co-produce. Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patelliere, writers of “What’s in a Name?”, one of Rassam’s earliest big hits, are penning the screenplay.

Constantin, the company behind the internationally successful “Resident Evil” franchise, is also doing its own remakes, working on a German version of “Perfect Strangers,” which originally came out of Italy (Medusa), and a British remake of “This Crazy Heart,” a German hit in the vein of “All About A Boy.”

Later this year, Constantin will release a German take on French comedy “What’s in a Name?” (“Le Prenom”), from Rassam. It has also bought Rassam’s “Le Brio,” a drama about a student and a university lecturer, the original version of which starred Daniel Auteuil and was released in November.

Once an endeavor confined to specialists, remakes are now going mainstream. Why is another question.

Their numbers can be impressive. The original Italian “Perfect Strangers” and Telecinco Cinema’s Spanish remake together earned $43.3 million. That means only eight of the top 20 biggest independent hits in the U.S. last year made more from their entire international rollouts than “Perfect Strangers” did in just two territories.

“‘Perfect Strangers’ shows very specifically how the world is changing. Local product is huge the world over,” said Constantin’s Martin Moszkowicz. “American mid-sized movies are getting rarer and less successful. This seems one of the ways to go: Remake other European ones.”

U.S. exports aren’t the only ones being challenged. Films from one European country don’t necessarily perform well in another. “There were times where you had more volume of export or co-production between European territories,” Rassam said. “French movies had a much larger market in Italy and Germany than [they] currently [have].”

Also, at a time when distributors are increasingly wary, remakes provide a sense of security. “Remakes allow you to go faster and also to make a better picture,” said Telecinco Cinema’s Ghislain Barrois. “If the original has any flaw – ‘Perfect Strangers’ did not – you can correct them.”

The logical move is for companies to remake their own films for other territories. Constantin teamed with Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films to produce the Mexican remake of “Fack ju Goehte,” which earned a combined $23 million in Mexico and the U.S.

Pietro Valsecchi, whose TaoDue shingle is owned by Italy’s Mediaset, recently opened a Paris-based outfit called Medset, which will produce a French adaptation of Medusa’s “Quo Vado,” a comedy about job security. “Quo Vado” went on to become Italy’s all-time highest grosser.

Nick Vivarelli contributed to this article.

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