London-based financier and producer Anton, which already fully finances a slate of its own feature films and short-form content, as well as co-financing big-budget TV shows like HBO/BBC’s “His Dark Materials,” is moving into the development and production of its own scripted series, Anton founder Sebastien Raybaud tells Variety.
The 8-year-old company, named after Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, established its reputation with a film co-production pact — now concluded — with Studiocanal, encompassing titles like the “Paddington” franchise, “Non-Stop” and “Shaun the Sheep.”
In 2017 Anton entered a co-production partnership with the BBC, with an initial investment of £150 million ($193 million), to greenlight premium British drama with international appeal, such as “McMafia,” “Les Misérables” and “His Dark Materials,” which launched this week to stellar numbers.
Last year, Anton signed a sales, financing and production pact on the $40 million animated movie “Fireheart,” from Main Journey’s production team Laurent Zeitoun and Yann Zenou (“The Intouchables”), producers of “Ballerina.” Anton is representing worldwide sales outside of eOne territories and France.
Earlier this year Anton bowed its own feature film production arm, and already has four pics on its slate, which Anton is producing, fully financing and selling. In post-production are “The Night House,” starring Rebecca Hall, directed by David Bruckner; “Greenland” from the “Angel Has Fallen” duo director Ric Roman Waugh and star Gerard Butler; and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Prods.’ “Naked Singularity,” starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke and Bill Skarsgard, directed by Chase Palmer. David Slade’s “Come Closer” is in pre-production.
Summarizing what type of projects Anton is looking for, Raybaud says: “Director-driven, authored, commercial film.” In terms of what Anton can offer talent and creative producers, Raybaud says it is a “fully integrated studio.” “We can go from development to distribution,” he says. “We can buy IP, develop a script, package it, fully finance it, oversee the production as the studio, in partnership with creative producers, and sell.” Anton also acquires sales rights to third-party projects, such as music documentary “Laurent Garnier: Off the Record,” which it is selling at AFM.
Raybaud says he is “very optimistic” about the state of the independent film market, but recognizes that the impact of streaming platforms has changed the market. “It is a market that needs to be understood differently than three years ago. The quality of the films has to be much higher, but for the right film a lot of distributors will be interested, and it is good business for them if the films are well-priced.”
Now Raybaud is turning his attention to establishing a slate of series, which will exist outside of the co-financing deals he has with BBC, TF1’s Newen and Federation Entertainment. “We want to replicate what we do in film in TV. It is about controlling material. In TV, we are not a distributor like we are in film, so it is more about packaging, developing well and bringing [the series] to market,” he says.
Earlier this year, Anton set up an L.A. office, headed by John Zois, to be close to Hollywood talent, agents and buyers. Having established a creative hub in L.A., Raybaud now intends to do the same in London, where the company is headquartered. He says he wants talent to know that Anton is a company “that is well-capitalized, that is aggressive commercially, that is fast.”