Launched in 1998, Dutch FilmWorks produces and distributes 25 films each year, and has built up a library of over 900 Dutch and international films, including the popular family franchise “The Claus Family.” The acquisition of Dutch FilmWorks is part of Studiocanal’s aim to consolidate its pipeline of premium European content with international potential.
Owned by Vivendi-backed Canal+ Group, Studiocanal already operates in all four major European markets — France, U.K., Germany and Spain — as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The banner also produces more than 200 hours of TV series each year at an international level, either in-house with Studiocanal Original, or through its network of European production labels, including Germany’s Tandem Productions, the U.K.’s RED Production Company, the U.K.’s Urban Myth Films and SunnyMarch TV, Spain’s Bambu Producciones or Scandinavia’s SAM Productions.
Dutch FilmWorks will benefit from Studiocanal’s international network, distribution capacities and wealth of content. The banner’s management team and operational structure will remain unchanged with CEO Willem Pruijssers, co-CEO Marcel De Block and COO René van Turnhout on board.
“I am proud to welcome Dutch FilmWorks to Studiocanal. Our values align across production, acquisitions and distribution, as well as through a shared creative vision,” said Anna Marsh, CEO of Studiocanal.
“Together we will realize our ambition to produce first-class European content out of Benelux, which will captivate audiences worldwide,” added Marsh.
“We have nearly 24 million subscribers within more than 50 countries on all continents through Canal + Group, so we’re looking to strenghten this global strategy,” she continued. Marsh also said Dutch FilmWorks was a great match for Studiocanal because they have known each other for over 10 years, get along well and think alike.”
Recent local hits handled by Dutch FilmWorks include “My Best Friend Anne Frank,” “Pirates Down the Street” and “Banker of the Resistance.” The company has also been releasing Hollywood movies such as “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” “Midway” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“Dutch FilmWorks and Studiocanal are a perfect match to strengthen each other in business and creativity. We both work with the same vision in the field of production, acquisition and distribution of films and series and very important: we operate from the same values,” said Pruijssers. “After 25 years working as an independent, it is an exciting step but with many opportunities for growth, including more possibilities to bring Dutch and Flemish content to an international audience.”
Pruijssers said the banner represents a third of Benelux’s market share and local films do on average around $35 million at the B.O. “We’re not as strong as French films, but we’re getting there. Local films are representing about 15% of the B.O. in Benelux, so we’re interested in homegrown production but we’re also looking at properties that have an international appeal,” said Pruijssers.
“Studiocanal will give us the resources to keep producing local content with high production value and budgets and be in a strong position to deal with streamers,” he continued.
Marsh said the partnership with Dutch FilmWorks will indeed be much more than a distribution deal. “This alliance with Dutch FilmWorks is also part of our production strategy. We will work together on productions and we can come up with ideas, as well as fully finance,” said Marsh.
While Dutch FilmWorks will remain focused on movies, the company has recently made inroads into TV series and is looking to ramp up its slate of scripted shows.
“Going forward, Dutch FilmWorks will play a greater role in TV series than in the past,” said the exec. “The Netherlands has a very high penetration rate and all the streamers actually started in Holland so there is a high demand for premium content,” he continued.
Dutch FilmWorks is currently collaborating with Studiocanal Germany and its German subsidiary on the film adaptation of Anna Ruhe’s fantasy book collection “The Magical Pharmacy.”