Suggesting once more that audiences are underserved by high-quality independent animation, Studiocanal has closed multiple major territories to “Samsam,” the latest movie from Folivari, headed by Didier Brunner whose producer credits include the Academy Award nominated “The Old Lady and the Pidgeons,” “The Triplets of Belleville,” “The Secret of Kells” and “Ernest & Celestine.”
A departure for Folivari – it’s first full 3D feature, and a pre-school sci-fi adventure – as the company, run by Didier Brunner and Damien Brunner explores ever more upscale TV and talent from outside France and multifarious combinations 2D and 3D animation, without sacrificing its auteur-empowering philosophy and striving fir artistic excellence, the Folivari-Studiocanal co-production has closed licensing deals for China, in a banner deal with Wingsight, South Korea (Joy N Cinema), Scandinavia (Svensk) and CIS and the Baltic states (Volga).
In further deals, also often with frequent Studiocanal partners, Studiocanal has pre-sold Switzerland, a country which punched above its weight as a cinema market, with Impuls, Greece with Odeon and Portugal with major independent Lusomundo, former Yugoslavia with Megacom, Turkey with Bir and Lebanon and the Gulf states with Salim Ramia.
In Asia, Shaw has purchased Singapore, Blue Lantern Vietnam and Caichang Taiwan. Latin America, a key territory for family fare, is in negotiations, said Anne Cherel, Studiocanal head of international current movies sales.
Studiocanal will release “Samsam” in France. Of its other direct distribution territories – the U.K., Australia/New Zealand and Germany, talks are ongoing as to whether to distribute directly or via a third-party distributor, Cherel added.
Whichever way it goes, Studiocanal now has distribution guaranteed in 60% of major territories in the world, with more to close shortly. That marks spirited sales for a title which has yet to be finished – just excerpts played at the Annecy Goes to Cannes showcase last month and which was brought onto the market at the Berlin Festival.
Why “Samsam” has sold so fast is another question.
Turning on a plucky tiny-tot in another cosmos who has a red face mask, stick-up ears and a dinky flying saucer capsule, “Samsam” is already a brand – immensely important for both Studiocanal and Folivari, which want to grow European brands and take them to the world. The results have given Studiocanal its biggest global hit ever, the David Heyman-produced “Paddington,” which earned $268.1 million worldwide. SamSam comic books, created by Serge Bloch, are available in 11 languages with one million copies sold worldwide; its Gulli-aired TV series, sold by Moonscoop and directed like the movie by Terguy de Kermel, has been broadcast in 50 territories, with an audience of 250 million and notched up 65 million views on YouTube; and a third season, produced by Folivari, is coming out in 2021.
“‘Samsam’ is a brand that is already known in many territories, thanks to the TV series,” Cherel said. A Samsam movie can prove attractive to broadcasters, helping to keep the brand alive. The series, with two seasons and a total 91 episodes broadcast to date since 2007, can help power up licensing opportunities as well, Cherel pointed out.
When buyers’ looked at “Samsam,” “they also considered that it is Folivari,” said Cherel. Very few production houses can match its reputation for artistic excellence on films which are theatrical propositions.
Despite being a departure, “Samsam” is not that far from Folivari’s wheelhouse, addressing, if obliquely, the issue of diversity, as in “Ernest & Celestine” and “The Big Bad fox and Other Tales.”Samsam struggles in the movie with what he believes are the expectation his parents, both super heroes, have of hm.He just can’t wait for his own super-powers to kick in. He has to learn that other things are as super, as friendship and courage. “Samsam” also has the sense of fun adventure of some other recent Brunner productions, such as “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales.”
“‘Samsam’ has amazing production values, the music will be amazing, the story, the humor, the characters – everything is well done. There are not so many producers who work with not only such expertise but also passion, which is necessary when you’re working on such projects,” Cherel concluded.