Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest film production-distribution force, is introducing to buyers six new titles at next week’s American Film Market that play to its privileged talent relationships and content fortes, led by prestige European drama “Louis Wain,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Further market premieres for Studiocanal, owned by Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, are “Long Story Short,” starring Rafe Spall and directed by Academy Award-nominated Josh Lawson (“The Eleven O’Clock,” “The Little Death”) and “Night Shift,” toplining Omar Sy (“The Intouchables,” “Two Is Family”) and Virginie Efira (“Sink or Swim,” “Elle”) and directed by Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Channel”).
Among other new market titles: “The Wolf and the Lion,” a follow-up to“Mia and the White Lion”; and buzzed-up Spanish genre movie “42 Malasaña Street.”
Leading what may well be Studiocanal’s strongest slate ever in terms of strength in depth, the market premieres will bow in Santa Monica as Studiocanal looks to sell out on banner title “Gunpowder Milkshake.” Of major territories, only the U.S, Latin America and Italy remain unsold, said Anne Cherel, Studiocanal’s head of international current film sales.
Saving up images of “Long Story Short” for Berlin, Studiocanal will unveil a promo reel with first footage from the other five new titles in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, on the eve of this year’s American Film Market.
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Underscoring Studiocanal’s talent relationships, “Louis Wain” is produced by Benedict Cumberbatch’s London-based SunnyMarch label, producers of “Patrick Melrose,” in which Studiocanal holds a minority stake. It is directed by Will Sharpe – with whom Cumberbatch has wanted to work – who broke out with the 2016 Bafta- nominated sitcom “Flowers.”
“The Wolf and the Lion” reunites Studiocanal with Gilles de Maistre and Galatee Films and Jacques Perrin (“Microcosmos,” “Winged Migration,” “Oceans”), director and producer of “Mia and the White Lion,” which Studiocanal helped nurse, via direct distribution and sales, to an standout global box office of $32 million.
Set to be released by Warner Bros. in Spain and already sparking good word of mouth, “32 Malasaña Street,” directed by Albert Pintó – whose credits include Sitges Audience Award winner “Killing God” – “32 Malasaña Street” is produced by Ramón Campos at Spain’s Bambú Ptoducciones, another Studiocanal co-owned company that, though famed for its milestone TV series – “Velvet,” “Gran Hotel” – is pushing ever more into film.
“We always say this, but it is even truer with the new films, that we always try to have the strongest titles in multiple film categories, in terms of screenplay, cast, directors and producers,” Cherel said.
So, underscoring its broad gamut, Studiocanal’s lineup is topped by “Louis Wain” starring Cumberbatch in the title role as an inimitably English artist, inventor and entrepreneur dazzled by his imagination whose lifelong inspiration and needed mental stability were forged by two events: Meeting Emily (Claire Foy), the love of his life, and adopting Peter, a stray kitten.
Also produced by Shoebox Films and financed by Studiocanal, Channel 4 and Amazon, which has acquired U.S. rights, “Louis Wain” wrapped production in mid-October.
“The Wolf and the Lion,” in contrast, is a classic family adventure title which kicks off with 20-year-old Alma (Molly Kunz) rescuing two helpless cubs. a wolf and a lion. Taken away by a forest ranger, the cub brothers embark on a treacherous odyssey across Canada to be reunited with each other and Alma.
Produced by Jamie Hilton (“The Little Death,” “Breath”), Australian production “Long Story Short,” is – again in marked contrast – a fantasy romantic comedy in which a man, Teddy, a serial procrastinator, wakes up the morning after his wedding in a parallel life where every few minutes he leaps forward an entire year.
As his life fast-forwards, he desperately tries to regain the love of his life. “Long Story Short” is a “high concept romcom which is truly hilarious and heart warming,” said Cherel. She added: “We haven’t read a romantic comedy script this strong for a long time. We will start introducing the screenplay at AFM then the promo in Berlin.”
From renowned French producers Philippe Carcassone at Cine@ and F Comme Films’ Jean-Louis Livi, “Night Shift” sighs in as a French-language drama thriller in which three police escort a deportee from central Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport – only to realize he will be executed if he returns to his home country. They have one night to decide his fate.
Broadening still further Studiocanal’s slate range and based on real events, “32 Malasana Street” is a story of paranormal terror.
Rebuilding from mid last decade, Studiocanal plowed into family entertainment, under-serviced by big European producers.
That still remains a large focus. Its 2019 AFM slate, for example, also features the market premiere of “10 Days Without Mum,” the French remake, starring Franck Dubosc (“Rolling to You”), of the Argentine original, and, of films already presented – and in yet another example of talent relationships – “The Secret Garden,” from “Harry Potter” and “Paddington” producer David Heyman; Omar Sy starrer “The Lost Prince,” directed by Oscar winning Michel Hazanavicius; animated feature “Around the World in 80 Days,” produced with Cottonwood Media; and pre-school toon feature “Samsam” from multi Oscar nominated producer Didier Brunner (“Ernest and Celestine,” “Triplets of Belleville”).
In the past few years, however, Studiocanal has opened up its slate to a large eclecticism, something not every sales force can afford. It means that Studiocanal is not dependent on an often now highly limited number of distributors plying specific genres.
What Studiocanal films do have in common, Cherel argued, is that “they are all made for an identified audiences.”
Taking in French movies “My Dog Stupid,” starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Melancholia,” “Nymphomaniac”), and psychological thriller “The Perfect Nanny,” from “A Prophet” producer Why Not Productions, all Studiocanal titles sell,
Top movies can sell out worldwide. “The Secret Garden,” for example, has just Benelux and China to be licensed. Cherel aims to sell out at the AFM on “Gunpowder Milkshake.”
A market trend at large, Studiocanal feature films also key into hot-button bedrock values for many spectators, YAs and beyond.
“The Wolf and the Lion” is, for example, “a brilliant mix of adventure and emotion, a film that calls for a respect of natural wildlife and keys into today’s rise of ecological awareness which we know is important for buyers with family titles,” Cherel said.
Produced by Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman at The Picture Company (“Non-Stop,” “The Commuter“), and directed by “Big Bad Wolves’”Navot Papushado, “Gunpowder Milkshake” weighs in as a female empowerment action thriller, described by Cherel as “cool, modern and commercial with true franchise potential. It will surprise us in a similar way to ‘Kingsman,’ ‘Baby Driver’ and ‘John Wick.’”
Just before May’s Cannes Festival, Michelle Yeoh and Carla Gugino were announced as joining fellow-leads Lena Heady (“Game of Thrones,” “300”), Karen Gillan (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Angela Bassett (“Black Panther”) and Paul Giamatti (“Billions”).
“We’re a 100% female sales team,” said Cherel. “When we read ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’s’ script something like a year-and-a half ago, we were fascinated by how modern it was with its near totally female main cast. We are very proud to bring it to the market.”