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Canal Plus Renews Funding Agreement With French Film Industry

Leading French pay-TV group Canal Plus has renewed its contract with French film guilds to invest up to €180 million ($205 million) per year in local and European movies from 2019 to 2023.

The Vivendi-owned French paybox agreed to invest whichever is the greater of two amounts: 12.5% of annual revenue, or between €2.38 ($2.70) and €3.61 ($4.10) per subscriber (depending on the subscriber package).  The maximum investment will be capped at $205 million per year – the first time a cap has been put in place.

Although the amount of Canal Plus’ investment has fallen over the past few years – from €211 million in 2013 to an all-time low of €142 million ($240.4 million) last year – because of declining revenues, it’s still one of the biggest commitments of any European broadcaster to funding local movies.

In addition, Studiocanal, the film and TV division of Canal Plus, will now be allowed to produce, in house, four feature films per year. Nicolas Dumont and Dominique Farrugia will head the new production business. Earlier this year, Canal Plus also announced the launch of an in-house TV production division.

The agreement was greenlit Tuesday, then signed Thursday by Maxime Saada, Canal Plus Group’s CEO and chairman; France’s new culture minister, Franck Riester; and several French film organizations.

The deal also clears the way for new windowing regulations – long in the making – to be passed. The regulations will set the pay-TV window at between six and eight months after a film’s theatrical release (compared with the current 10 to 12 months). Other changes include the transactional VOD window, which will be set at between three and four months and which will no longer be interrupted by the pay-TV airing.

SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon, meanwhile, will have access to films 15 to 17 months after their theatrical roll-out if they invest in French production. Otherwise, their window will remain set at 36 months.

The new regulations should take effect starting Jan. 1.

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