LYON, France – Continuing its devotion to heritage film in Germany, Studiocanal is bringing classic movies back into cinemas while also releasing newly restored DVD/Blu-ray collections of beloved titles.
The leading producer-distributor enjoyed a major hit this summer with the one-day re-release of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now: Final Cut,” which scored 12,000 admissions in 166 theaters across the country, boasting the highest per-screen average on Monday, July 15.
The special big-screen presentation drummed up plenty of publicity for Studiocanal’s Aug. 29 release of the film on Blu-ray, DVD and digital (including a limited 4K UHD and Blu-ray Steelbook Edition), yet the film continues to play in selected theaters around the country.
Opportunities for classics in theatrical exhibition in Germany are growing, Torsten Radeck, Studiocanal’s head of home entertainment marketing in Germany, tells Variety.
Indeed, last years’ re-release of Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” and this year’s one-day event releases of “Apocalypse Now: Final Cut” and Luc Besson’s “Léon: The Professional” have been among Studiocanal’s biggest classic film successes, says Radeck, who attended this year’s Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market in Lyon, France.
“There are theaters that screen classics regularly and have series for heritage movies. Though fewer than in the U.K. or France, the market keeps on growing.”
Studiocanal is proactively offering classic content to cinemas from its Arthaus Classics line, part of its prestige Arthaus label, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. To mark the event, Arthaus launched a new theatrical event series this year that invites renown filmmakers to introduce their favorite films in cinemas. Volker Schlöndorff kicked off the series in June, introducing Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1962 classic “The Eclipse,” starring Monica Vitti and Alain Delon, at the legendary Babylon cinema in Berlin.
On the home entertainment front, Studiocanal continues to tap its vast library of film and TV series and is set to release several newly restored, high-profile DVD/Blu-ray collections in Germany in the coming weeks.
The lineup includes the “Cary Grant Gentleman Collection” and “Charlie Chaplin Complete Collection,” both set for release on Dec. 5; the “John Carpenter Collector’s Edition,” out Nov. 28; and the “Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone / Complete Edition,” which collects all the seasons of the 1960s British spy series “The Avengers,” starring Patrick Macnee, on Nov. 7.
While Germany’s DVD/Blu-ray market for classic films is not as big as it was a few years ago, it’s still “a vital market,” Radeck says. “There are two reasons for that. Classics are very underrepresented digitally and there is quite a number of enthusiasts who collect those products. So this segment is still alive and well.
“Our main target group consists of collectors who appreciate a well curated box set, as well as those who like to own the hidden gems, those films that are hard to find elsewhere. In terms of age, this group varies from an audience of 45-plus to the many younger arthouse fans, whom we find in our social media community.”
Radeck notes that on Facebook, Arthaus boasts the biggest following of any film label in Germany with almost half a million followers. “Instagram is growing as well and we have just started our own online film magazine for further interaction with the community. This shows us how the approach of the Arthaus label is hitting a nerve with film lovers across the board and as a brand, among film fans it stands for quality and attention to detail.”
Studiocanal is set to release a number of new collections next year. “The upcoming 75th birthdays of German filmmakers Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder will be big events for us,” Radeck says. “We are planning new and collectible collections of their works.”
A similar collection is planned for the 100th birthday of Eric Rohmer. “On top of that we are working on box sets for Jacques Demy, Jean Cocteau and hopefully Yazuiro Ozu,” Radeck adds.
Studiocanal is likewise continuing its 4K restoration effort in 2020.
Among the company’s most successful classic and heritage releases have been its “Best of Charlie Chaplin” and “Laurel & Hardy” box set collections as well as its Fellini, Godard, Jaques Tati and Truffaut sets.
“If you include recent classics, the ‘Jim Jarmusch Complete Collection’ and ‘Best of Werner Herzog Edition’ were appreciated a lot. And then, of course, there is the ‘Tarantino XX’ box set,” Radeck notes.
Studiocanal additionally offers special theme-related editions, such as its “Patricia Highsmith Crime Edition,” devoted to the bestselling writer and filmed adaptations of her works. The set includes René Clément’s 1960 “Purple Noon,” starring Delon and Maurice Ronet; Anthony Minghella’s 1999 “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” with Matt Damon and Jude Law; and Hossein Amini’s 2014 “The Two Faces of January,” starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.
“If we feel that we can offer our customers something special and worth putting on their shelves, something that will pique the interest of an enthusiast, we will create it,” Radeck explains.
He points to Studiocanal’s “Mein Jahr” (“My Year”) series. Intended as ideal gifts for movie lovers, the “My Year” editions include a top film and music CD from a specific year, spanning from 1950 to 2000. The “68” edition, for example, offers Anthony Harvey’s “The Lion in Winter,” starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn, plus a CD of some of 1968’s most memorable songs.
“The goal is always to create something more than just a collection of discs, something worth owning and collecting, created by film lovers for film lovers,” Radeck says. “And to be able to do this in itself is very much a privilege.”