LYON, France — Leading Italian restoration company L’Immagine Ritrovata’s acquisition of renowned film lab Eclair Cinéma, announced last month, is expected to be approved by the French Commercial Court of Nanterre, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Eclair Cinema is a subsidiary of the Ymagis Group’s Eclair business unit. It oversaw post-production and restoration activities in France before being placed in receivership in 2018.
L’Immagine Ritrovata’s French subsidiary, L’Image Retrouvée, last month signed a binding letter with the Paris-based Ymagis Group, a key European player in digital technologies for the film industry, to take over Eclair Cinema.
Since entering receivership, Eclair subsid Eclair Cinema has undergone major restructuring and is now focused solely on content restoration, an area of expertise in which it is a leader in France, boasting more than 750 feature film restorations. The subsidiary generated €2.32 million ($2.55 million) in revenue from its core restoration business in the first half of 2019.
The agreement is specifically for Eclair Cinema and does not include any of the 21 other companies doing business under the Eclair brand in France or other countries, including the U.K., Germany and Spain.
“It is an agreement between two companies, which play a major role in film restoration and which have already worked together on joint projects in the past,” said L’Immagine Ritrovata managing director Davide Pozzi.
He added: “This continuation plan is part of a desire to secure the long-term future of operations and achieve the highest possible quality work. The Eclair brand, of which Eclair Cinema is a part, is a significant actor in the history and tradition of the major French laboratories, and it is an immense honor for me personally to now be able to play an increasing role in film restoration in France.”
Ymagis President and CEO Jean Mizrahi added that the agreement was “the culmination of our efforts to find a positive outcome to the difficult position in which Eclair Cinéma found itself.” The deal “ensures the long-term future of these highly technical restoration activities which are key to the valuation of France’s cinema heritage,” he stressed.
With the vast majority of Eclair Cinéma’s workforce retained, the agreement would also ensure the continuity of service for the company’s clients.
L’Immagine Ritrovata is present at the Lumière Festival in Lyon, France, with more than 10 feature films and a number of high-profile shorts that it has restored for various distributors and rights holders, among them Jean Renoir’s 1935 “Toni,” for Gaumont; André Cayatte’s 1949 “The Lovers of Verona,” for Pathé Films; Philippe de Broca’s 1962 “Swords of Blood,” for Studiocanal; and the Charlie Chaplin shorts “The Immigrant,” “The Floorwalker” and “The Adventurer,” for the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Lobster Films.
A highly specialized film restoration lab, L’Immagine Ritrovata was founded as part of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, with which the laboratory is in continual close collaboration.
The group’s other restorations unspooling at the Lumière Festival include:
*Abel Gance’s 1923 “The Wheel,” for Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé in collaboration with Pathé Films, Cinémathèque Française, Cinémathèque Suisse;
*Vittorio De Sica’s 1951 “Miracle in Milan,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Compass Film;
*Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s 1998 “Flowers of Shanghai,” for the Shanghai Film Festival, in collaboration with Shochiku Co. and 3H Production;
*Marco Bellocchio’s 1965 “Fists in the Pocket,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Kavak Film;
*Marco Ferreri’s 1963 “The Conjugal Bed,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and TF1 Studio;
*Maurice Tourneur’s 1919 “The Broken Butterfly,” for The Film Foundation, in association with Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé;
*Forough Farrokhzad’s 1963 “The House is Black, for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir Productions, in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan;
*Ebrahim Golestan’s 1963 “The Hills of Marlik,” for Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Ecran Noir Productions in collaboration with Ebrahim Golestan;
*Emile Cohl short films, for Gaumont.