Vivendi-owned pay TV group Canal Plus has signed a pact with France’s film guilds on Thursday to invest €600 million ($680 million) in French and European films from 2022 to 2024.
Under the agreement, Canal Plus will have to dedicate 85% of the $680 million to French films over the next three years. The pact, which took six months to come to fruition, was signed by Canal Plus CEO Maxime Saada and France’s main film unions, the ARP, BLIC and BLOC, representing everyone from authors to directors, producers, distributors and exhibitors.
The group has been considered as France’s biggest backer of French movies for the last 30 years and has been bound by investment agreements, as are all French TV groups. As a pay TV company, Canal Plus has had to invest 12.5% of its annual turnover on French and European films. But as the group took a hit from the launch of global streaming services such as Netflix, the amount invested by Canal Plus in movies has been fluctuating for the past five years. This year’s pact marks a milestone because it sets a flat amount which will not be dependent on the market’s volatile evolution.
The agreement also includes a diversity clause to prevent Canal Plus from concentrating its investment on bigger movies. Canal Plus will therefore have to dedicate a portion of the €600 million on films with budgets under €4.3 million ($4.8 million).
Saada previously told Variety that movies remain the primary hook to recruit new subscribers. Over the past several years, the company has pulled out of bidding wars for pricey sports rights to focus more on series and movies on which it can own the IPs.
Canal Plus benefits from having this deal in place by gaining an access to fresh movies six months after their release in theaters and having an exclusive nine-month window minimum for acquired content which could be extended to 16 months, if a second window has been bought.
While Canal Plus was able to obtain this six-month window from the main film guilds, the country’s windowing rules for all players, including free-to-air channels and streaming services, have been up for renewal since July 1 and are now in the hands of the French government which could either approve or reject them. These new rules will complement the guidelines over local content quotas established in the French application of the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS).
Under the decree of the AVMS, streaming services have to invest at least 20% of their French revenues in local content. But since the windowing rules have not yet been changed, they still have to wait three years to add theatrically released French movies on their platforms. French originals, like Netflix’s “Stuck Together” (“8 rue de l’humanité”) by Dany Boon, are not bound by this restriction and can be launched simultaneously across multiple territories.
“Netflix had been hoping to access films after 12 months but they will most likely get them at 15 months, or 17 months if they don’t sign an agreement with film guilds,” explained an industry insider, adding that the “agreement would be similar to the one signed by Canal Plus as it would include a diversity clause and the number of movies which must be invested on.”