Mediawan Plans Rejig Post Lagardere Takeover, Buys Stake in Spain’s Weekend Studio (EXCLUSIVE)

AFP/Joel Saget

Mediawan, one of Europe’s most thriving independent production-distribution groups, is looking to expand its leadership further into Europe with the acquisition of Lagardere Studios and a minority stake in Madrid-based banner Weekend Studio.

Following last month’s clearance by the anti-trust board, Mediawan has finalized its takeover of Lagardere Studios, an expansive French TV producer-distributor comprised of 27 companies, including the Spanish banner Boomerang, whose hit series include “The Time in Between” and “Mum detective;” Atlantique Productions, whose credits include Damien Chazelle’s Netflix series “The Eddy”; and Imagissime, the documentary producers behind hit Netflix documentary series “Who Killed Little Gregory?”

Pierre-Antoine Capton, chairman of Mediawan, said the company is now getting ready to integrate Lagardere Studios’ talent and labels into the org and is preparing to reorganize in order to create more synergies.

“With these new acquisitions we are going to strengthen our footprint in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland, and ultimately we are reaching a size and weight that allows us to be best-positioned to be in business with global streaming services, as well as attract and nurture a young generation of producers,” said Capton, who cited Banijay as another example of a French independent powerhouse with big ambitions.

In four years, Mediawan has become a key player in animation, cinema, fiction and non-scripted programming in Europe with ON Kids & Family, Storia, Mon Voisin Production, Making Prod, AB Group, Palomar, Radar, Paiva, Scarlett Productions, Black Dynamite, Good Mood and French Kiss, among others. Some of its best known credits include “Call My Agent.” Last year, Mediawan Originals delivered more than 140 hours of programming. The company was founded by Capton, Matthieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel.

Under the new reorg, managed by COO Delphine Cazaux, the company will set up production hubs in Spain and Italy. Mediawan Studios Spain, to be headed by Monica Galer, will bring together Grupo Boomerang, Good Mood (“El Accidente,” “Estoy Vivo”), a production company acquired in June, and Weekend Studio.

Launched in 2018 by veteran producer Tomas Cimedevilla (“The Other Side of the Bed”) and director-producer Jorge Iglesias, Weekend Studio soon scored with a Netflix original series order for “Hache,” a 1960s-set drug smuggling drama series. Weekend Studio targets primarily streaming platforms and has a large development slate including “Chained,” a period espionage thriller which was one highlight at early September’s Conecta Fiction TV forum in Spain.

“The creativity and dynamism of the Spanish production market is impressive, as well as the quality and know-how of its producers. This hub is opening key opportunities for the Group not only in the booming Spanish market but in all Spanish-speaking regions,” said Capton, who highlighted that Spanish-language programming figures prominently in Netflix’s library.

“We’ve seen with ‘Casa Del Papel’ that Spanish producers have the ability to create global brands, and we are looking to industrialize this model to tap into the opportunities and talent pool of this growing market,” said the executive.

Meanwhile, Mediawan Studios Italy, managed by Nicola Serra and Carlo Degli Esposti, will host Palomar, the thriving film and television banner behind the drama series “The Name of the Rose,” “Detective Montalbano” and the Berlinale Silver Bear winning film “Pirhanas” (“La Paranza dei Bambini”). The company recently launched an animation division.

While each production company will retain its brand, they will be brought together under the same roof and the Mediawan Studios umbrella. As such, the Lagardere Studios brand is expected to disappear.

Mediawan Productions will bring together Lagardere Studios’ non-scripted activities and will be headed by Thierry Langlois and Justine Planchon, in charge of content, and Guillaume Wanneroy, as COO.

Capton’s production vehicle Troisieme Oeil, now part of Mediawan, has been delivering some of France’s highest-rated daytime magazines such as “C’est à Vous,” and the executive said the group will ramp up its output in unscripted. “We think that, today, there is room to grow in the non-scripted field, the audiences are excellent and we can sell programs not only to broadcasters but also to streaming services,” said Capton.

Mediawan Pictures, to be spearheaded by former Studiocanal and Lagardere exec Elisabeth d’Arvieu, will focus on internationally driven content and co-productions with foreign entities.

Mediawan Animation Cinéma will continue to be headed by Aton Soumache (“Miraculous”) with Julien Borde set as managing director, while Mediawan Studios France will continue to be headed by Thomas Anargyros.

In Germany, Mediawan will also be gaining ground with its studio partner Leonine, with whom it launched Mediawan Alliance a few months ago. Leonine’s boss Fred Kogel serves as co-CEO of Mediwan Alliance. Together, the two groups, whose combined annual revenues reach $1.2 billion, according to Capton, are developing several projects and will be launching new brands within two years.

“Today, there is a race for talent and IP so it’s crucial to reach a critical size and have enough financial muscle to play on an even playing field with U.S. groups. Content creation is a vector of economic strength and building a strong library of IP that we own is our priority,” said Capton.

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