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Pierre-Antoine Capton and Fred Kogel have established their respective companies, Mediawan (“Call My Agent!) and Leonine (“Dark”), as European powerhouses in only a few years. With their new joint vehicle, Mediawan & Leonine Studios, they’re now ready to gear up to the next stage with the acquisition of the award-winning U.K. production company Drama Republic (“Doctor Foster,” “The Honorable Woman”).

The acquisition allows their new outfit, which is financially backed by New York-based private equity firm KKR, and Mediawan to make its first foray into the U.K. and more broadly into the competitive English-language market. But that’s only the beginning, as the execs said they will look to make one or two mergers and acquisitions per year and are looking at markets such as Germany, France, Scandinavia and the U.S.

The two executives sat with Variety during the Cannes Film Festival to discuss their plans, their hands-on approach and talent-driven strategy following their acquisition of Drama Republic.

Drama Republic was one of the rare indie banners of that caliber left on the market. How significant is this acquisition for you? 

Kogel: It’s a major step in getting into the U.K. and English-speaking territories. This business is all about people, so it made total sense because we wanted to work with talented producers like Greg Brenman, Roanna Benn and Jude Liknaitzky. Together, we can build a European international studio that could push things further and grow.

Capton: Our ambition is to create a European answer to a Hollywood studio. And that’s why the alliance with Drama Republic is significant. We’ll now be able to collaborate together on co-productions and co-finance with several countries where we’re established. We want every talent to have the opportunity to create something unique because Fred and I are first and foremost producers. We want to nurture strong talents and help them deliver award-winning scripted content.

It was a bold move to make your first joint acquisition in the U.K.

Capton: Yes, that’s because we already have market leading positions in France and in Germany. Altogether, we have 61 production companies now. So the U.K. was missing. English-speaking territories are very important for us. Mediawan has become a hub for talents, ranging from screenwriters to directors and producers, and it’s crucial for us to be able to partner with them wherever they want to work. For instance, three years ago, we worked with Florian Zeller on a TV series and it was a huge success, and now he’s working in the U.K. on his films (including his Oscar-winning “The Father” and now “The Son”) with other partners.

Kogel: We’re an independent group, which is really important today because we don’t belong to any major media corporation. So those talents can feel totally free to do whatever they want in our group. We believe it’s one of the reasons why Drama Republic were enthusiastic to join our company. We are offering our partners and talents a chance to have creative freedom.

Will you look to work together mainly on TV series or on films as well? And how will you cooperate? 

Kogel: The areas we look to collaborate on with Mediawan & Leonine Studios are European and international co-production, theatrical production, licensing and animation. Together, we already produce 500 to 600 hours of fiction productions per year, on top of 2,000 hours of non-fiction production. And we have more than 500 creatives in all areas working. So it’s already a big group.

Capton: We would like to launch our first productions in 2022 and hopefully we’ll be able to announce our first projects together this fall. Right now we are developing a few series as co-producers through Mediawan & Leonine Studios. With Drama Republic, we will also look to team up on co-production or even co-financing so with us on board they will ramp up their slate with projects in addition to what they’re already doing on a daily basis which is creating the next big hit.

Can you give me an example of something that you would like to remake in each other’s libraries?

Kogel: I could give you a lot German comedies like, for instance the movie “Welcome to Germany.” It was a big success in Germany. We’re also talking to a lot of producers at Mediawan about remakes of French films to be done for Germany.

Capton: And it goes both ways. Boomerang, which is part of Mediawan, has acquired the non-fiction format “Small vs. Tall” (“Klein gegen Gross”) from Leonine.

What about animation? 

Kogel: Yes, animation is another area of opportunity because Mediawan has a lot of talents working in animation and some powerful IPs. It always starts with the IP and we have discussions at the moment on two interesting properties that we can bring into the group.

Capton: We’re also thinking of launching a German animation studio as we did one in Italy with our company Palomar for the production of “Pinocchio.” In terms of internationally renowned brands we have Miraculous Ladybug, for instance. We’re also actively looking for strong German IP that we can also use and make our own animation series out of it and then bring it into the group.

You mentioned the U.S. as a market that you were interested in, along with Germany, France and Scandinavia. Why are you looking at the U.S., which is such a competitive market and where other big European companies have failed? 

Kogel: The U.S. is a territory of interest, even though it’s super competitive, because it’s a key market when it comes to packaging ambitious projects with international potential. And I happen to have a long history with he U.S. in terms of licensing and trading. Leonine Studios is a big German distributor, we are buying 15 to 20 Hollywood movies a year. I’m talking to a lot of people, great companies. But of course, it always has to be an organic process and we will seize an opportunity when we’ll know that we can do it right and with the right talents.