PARIS — Creating a new drama series force in France, Studiocanal, owned by Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, is launching its own Paris-based TV drama series production company. the move reinforces its European network of seven productions companies in the U.K., Germany, Spain and Denmark.
In early formal moves, Arielle Saracco, head of Canal Plus’ Création Originale – its original programming operation – has been appointed to chair the unit, which will focus on developing and producing in-house TV fiction series. Saracco will retain her position at Canal Plus.
Dominique Jubin, executive creative VP at Studiocanal’s TV unit, will serve as the new company’s deputy general manager.
An editorial committee is being created which will combine the know-how of Studiocanal and Canal Plus’ Création Originale. Françoise Guyonnet, Studiocanal executive managing director TV Series, has been tasked with ensuring the overall editorial and commercial consistency of Studiocanal’s TV production with that of all its Europe-wide production units.
Studiocanal’s new production unit will focus on co-developing in-house leveraging the expertise and ideas at Canal Plus and Studiocanal. It may also be open to co-developing with outside partners, said Maxime Saada, the CEO of the Canal Plus Group, who was formally named as Studiocanal chairman this week.
The new unit’s focus will “definitely be on French-language dramas,” he added.
Combining the talents of Studiocanal and Canal Plus in a French production company will “increase our capacity to offer series firmly-anchored in European culture with strong international appeal,” said Saada, The development is “part the overall plan to create within Vivendi a global leader in the production and distribution of European movies and series,” Saada added, describing Studiocanal as “spearhead” of this drive.
Studiocanal’s new production company will allow it produce and own more, acquire less, as IP ownership becomes a mantra at Vivendi. In the past, Canal Plus has financed up to 90% of its Original Series budgets. Currently, regulation restricts Canal Plus to owning rights to just 15% of the number of series it commissions. Otherwise it must license shows from independent producers and loses any rights to a series in a short number of years. That limits Canal Plus’ ability to stack series for binge viewing – it has to repurchase rights on series it near fully-finances, Saada said.
The regulation “also makes it difficult to develop the export of our culture worldwide because we don’t own the rights,” he added.
Given Canal Plus’ yearly output, even with the regulation still in place, Studiocanal can go straight into development on “one-to-two series a year,” looking to retain rights on what it produces, Saada said. It can also retain rights to series it produces for third parties beyond Canal Plus.
Canal Plus will continue to commission Original Series as before, Saada said. That makes a lot of sense given their success. On average Saada said, Canal Plus’ Original Series are sold to 80 territories worldwide.
Canal Plus Créations Originales take in such French premium dramas as “Spiral,” the first French-language show to be aired on the U.K.’s BBC4, “Bracquo,” a sometimes brutal violent cop show, far from the politesse of French Agatha Christie redos; trenchant political satire “Baron Noir”; “Midnight Sun,” a Lapland-set crime thriller co-produced with Sweden’s SVT.
Via its European network, Studiocanal has also produced shows aired on Canal Plus, such as “Spotless,” from Germany’s “Tandem,” and Harlen Coben’s “The Five, from U.K. company RED Production Co.
With Canal Plus continuing to produce original series, Studiocanal’s new production unit will also allow Vivendi to achieve a larger production capacity: a major challenge at continental European TV companies.
“French TV series are among the most appreciated by global audiences,” added Didier Lupfer, Studiocanal CE, also named CPG SVP for cinema this week.
“As a French company and a leader in our business in Europe, it was only natural to launch production operations in our country.“