Leading producer-distributor Studiocanal, which boasts one of the biggest film libraries in the world with more than 5,500 movies, is gearing up for a slew of major theatrical and DVD releases sure to titillate fans of classic cinema, among them Jean-Luc Godard’s beloved 1960 film “Breathless.”
The company has enjoyed recent successes with re-releases of such classics as David Lynch’s 1980 Victorian drama “The Elephant Man,” Volker Schlöndorff’s 1979 Oscar-winning “The Tin Drum” and Mike Hodges’ 1980 sci-fi extravaganza “Flash Gordon.”
Studiocanal is expecting similar success with its newly restored reissues.
“Breathless” is “one of our biggest upcoming catalog releases,” said Juliette Hochart, Studiocanal’s executive VP of library.
The film will be released in theaters in France on Oct. 28, in Germany the following day and in the U.K. on Nov. 13. It will also be reissued in other territories, such as Italy and Japan, in 2021.
A new UHD collector’s edition that includes brand new bonus features (such as Martial Solal’s original soundtrack on a 33 rpm vinyl) will follow the theatrical reissue in Studiocanal territories.
Another big autumn release is Paul Verhoeven’s “Total Recall,” in a new 4K restoration supervised by Verhoeven himself, Hochart added.
“The film premiered at the Deauville Film Festival in September in 4K and has been in French cinemas since Sept. 16. Last Saturday, the movie had an exceptional theatrical release in the U.S., thanks to our long-term partner Rialto Pictures, during a Fathom event. The movie was launched in 256 cities across the country.”
The “Total Recall” theatrical campaign will feature an exclusive new poster designed by Kyle Lambert, who created the key art for “Stranger Things.” Studiocanal will release a special UHD collector’s edition in November in its direct distribution territories and in the U.S. through Lionsgate.
“We can already expect excellent results in France according to Amazon and FNAC pre-orders,” Hochart noted. Outside Studiocanal’s territories, the movie will also be released theatrically in the Benelux, Japan and Spain.
Also coming to French cinemas on Nov. 4 is the Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece “Le Cercle Rouge,” which will also be released as a UHD collector’s edition at the end of November in France, the U.K. and Germany.
Studiocanal’s biggest re-release this year in France was Mathieu Kassovitz’s 1995 drama “La Haine,” which boasted some 33,000 admissions this summer, making it the country’s second best 2020 re-release, followed by “The Elephant Man,” with more than 20,000 admissions via distribution partner Carlotta Films. “La Haine” will also be released in a UHD collector’s edition on Nov. 25 and Studiocanal is already expecting to sell some 4,000 units.
“We are also thrilled with the successful theatrical release in Germany of the 4K restoration of ‘The Tin Drum’ to celebrate its 40th anniversary,” Hochart said. The special event release included 100 cinemas in Germany and Austria with live 45-minute Q&A sessions with Schlöndorff. Studiocanal released DVD and Blu-ray collector’s editions on Oct. 8.
“’Flash Gordon’ was also a great summer hit in the U.K. and in Germany,” Hochart said. Studiocanal re-released it for its 40th anniversary in UHD collector’s editions in all of its markets.
“It was No. 1 in the German DVD and Blu-ray charts and No. 2 in the U.K. charts in August. In the U.K., where ‘Flash Gordon’ is an absolute cult movie, physical sales have now exceeded 14,000 units and box office is up to £46,000 [$59,226]. These examples illustrate that with good marketing the home entertainment market remains buoyant for cult movies.”
For 2021, Studiocanal has several high-profile re-releases planned, including “Basic Instinct” in May and several titles that have yet to be scheduled, such as Joe Dante’s 1981 “The Howling”;
Joseph Losey’s 1976 wartime drama “Monsieur Klein,” starring Alain Delon, and his 1963 drama “The Servant”; Michael Powell’s 1960 horror thriller “Peeping Tom”; and Jacques Becker 1945 French classic “Paris Frills” (“Falbalas”), all of which will receive theatrical releases in at least one of Studiocanal’s territories.
The company is also planning a special event next year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – if circumstances surrounding the pandemic allow for it, Hochart added.
Also among Studiocanal’s 2021 releases is Ousmane Sembène’s 1968 Senegalese classic “Mandabi,” the first feature-length African-language film from West Africa. A restored version is premiering this week at the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, with global releases planned for early 2021.
“Studiocanal is proud to include this lesser known, though great film from Senegal in its 2021 line-up,” Hochart added.
Studiocanal titles screening this year at the Lumière fest also include Robin Hardy’s 1973 horror thriller “The Wicker Man”; Georges Lautner’s 1981 “The Professional,” starring Jean-Paul Belmondo; Juliet Berto and Jean-Henri Roger’s 1981 drama “Snow” (“Neige”); Bertrand Tavernier’s 1984 drama “A Sunday in the Country”; Carol Reed’s 1949 film noir classic “The Third Man”; Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” (1957) and Jean Renoir’s “The Grand Illusion” (1937).
The distributor has significantly increased the number of its restorations in the past three years, Hochart stressed. “In 2017 we restored 55 movies, versus 30 on average in previous years, then 143 in 2018, 223 in 2019 and we will get close to 150 in 2020. So restoring is part of our release strategy. Hence, we work closely with a variety of partners.”
Studiocanal works with a number of leading film restoration specialists, including VDM and Hiventy in France, Italy’s L’Immagine Ritrovata and Silver Salt and Filmfinity in the U.K.
“Breathless” was restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata, “Le Cercle Rouge” by Hiventy, “Mandabi” by VDM and “Flash Gordon” by Silver Salt.
In France, a very strong network of arthouse cinemas screen heritage films on a regular basis throughout the year, so re-released classics and cult films can have long lifespans in theaters across the country, Hochart noted.
“Heritage films are usually screened in about 10 theaters in France during opening weeks in Paris but also in other big cities, such as Lyon, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Rouen, Lille, etc. Sometimes it can be more if it’s a big reissue.”
Indeed, while “La Haine” screened in 18 theaters and “Total Recall” on 14, “The Elephant Man” screened in 60.
The growing number of SVOD platforms is also offering greater opportunities for catalog titles, Hochart noted.
“The fragmentation of the SVOD market, with its growing number of players, allows us to optimize the exploitation of our catalog. As an example, in France you’ll not license the same titles to Universciné, Netflix, Filmo TV or La Cinetek.
“Even the emergence of AVOD platforms in this streaming space, especially in the U.S. and the U.K., is a new opportunity to exploit our catalog even further.”
To that end, Studiocanal is now working on AVOD channel projects with Dailymotion and YouTube.