In bumper Cannes dealing, Paris-based European film-TV powerhouse Studiocanal has nearly sold out worldwide on Andrew Garfield-Florence Pugh romantic drama “We Live in Time,” executive produced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Owned by Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, Studiocanal has also closed half the world on both James McAvoy’s “Control” and Thomas Cailley’s Un Certain Regard opening film “Animal Kingdom,” a critics’ favorite at this year’s festival.
The banner sales news, replicated across other titles on Studiocanal’s broad sales slate, follows quick on the heels of two signature deals at Cannes: A24’s U.S. pickup on “We Live In Time”; a pact with Sony Pictures for the U.S., Canada and much of the world for “Paddington in Peru.”
In further dealings, Studiocanal has seen first break-out sales on action comedy “Only 3 Days Left,” and smart genre slasher “Wake Up,” plus noteworthy additional sales on the Berlin-launched “King of Algiers” and “Strangers Night,” a Paris UniFrance Rendez-vous standout in January which closed Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
Studiocanal’s sales slew suggests that the international theatrical market is back, at least for a highly select group of top-echelon companies from the U.S. and Europe able to cherry-pick partners and talent and guarantee that projects will get made, despite current climbing production and financing costs.
“It was an extremely positive and dynamic market for Studiocanal. You could feel this beyond Studiocanal – the general atmosphere felt like the Cannes markets of old. What you might say ‘the good old days’; big projects with cast and significant budgets,” said Anne Cherel, Studiocanal EVP Global Sales & Distribution. A sales drill down:
“We Live in Time”
The big one. Closing 12 of the 15 world’s big markets, “We Live in Time” has Pugh (“Don’t Worry Darling,” “Little Women”) and Garfield (the “Spider-Man” franchise, “The Social Network”) play Almut, “a witty, unstoppable chef” and Tobias, “a recent divorcee seeking his way in the world,” whose surprise encounter changes their lives. “Through snapshots of their life together – falling for each other, building a home, becoming a family – a difficult truth is revealed that rocks its foundation,” the synopsis runs.
BAFTA-winning director John Crawley (“Brooklyn”) helms. With major territory sales to the U.S. (A24), Japan (Kino Films), Latin America (Imagen), Scandinavia (Scanbox Ent.), South Korea (First Run), Spain (Beta Fiction) and, as reported, Canada (Sphere Films), one of the best-selling star-laden titles at Cannes.
Studiocanal will release in direct distribution territories:
France, U.K., Germany, Poland, Benelux, Australia-New Zealand.
A Studiocanal development with the participation of Film4, the film is also sold to Adriatic countries (MCF MegaCom Film), Greece (Spentzos Film), Hong Kong (Golden Scene Co.), Israel (Forum Film), Portugal (Lusomundo Audiovisuais), Iceland (Myndform) Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Turkey (Mars Production) and airlines (Echo Lake Ent.).
“This is such a strong package for us; an immersive love story with the stellar cast of Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield following their Academy Award appearance together this year – the internet asked and we somewhat delivered!” said Marta Monjanel, Studiocanal VP sales.
“This incredible cast is directed by the profoundly talented John Crowley, from a strong and emotional script. Just ahead of the market we confirmed that A24 is on board for domestic and with cameras rolling in London we were able to close many deals given the film is truly forthcoming,” she added, noting still some ongoing discussions in other territories.
Set to star James McAvoy (“Wanted,” “X-Men”), directed by “Red” helmer Robert Schwentke and backed by Studiocanal and The Picture Company, in which Studiocanal has just acquired a minority stake, ticking clock action thriller “Control” is set to go into production this summer in Berlin.
Scandinavia (Scanbox) and Spain (Youplanet Pictures) have closed. Again, Studiocanal distribute in all own territories: Prorom has taken Eastern Europe excluding Poland and Adriatic countries in ex-Yugoslavia.
Also licensed are Adriatic Countries (Investacommerce AG), Turkey (Chantier Films), Iceland (Myndform), South Africa (Empire Ent.), Vietnam (Mockingbird Pictures Co.), Taiwan (Moviecloud), Greece (Spentzos) and Portugal (Lusomundo). Discussions are ongoing for multiple territories,” said Monjanel.
“This very entertaining thriller has seduced a lot of buyers simply on a script basis, and following our investment in production partners The Picture Company. It feels very exciting,” she added.
“The Animal Kingdom”
Tender but bold French sci-fi and a coming of age story of father François (Romain Duris, “The Three Musketeers”) and teen son Emile (Paul Kircher, “Winter Boy”) facing inevitable distancing – here as Emile transforms into a boy wolf – “The Animal Kingdom,” from Thomas Cailley (“Love at First Fight”), opened Un Certain Regard to near unanimous upbeat critical reception. First sales take in Italy (I Wonder), Japan (Kino Films), Latin America (Gussi), South Korea (Studio DHL), Spain (Youplanet
) and Baltics (A-One Films), Benelux (O’Brother Distribution), Adriatic Countries (MCF MegaCom), Taiwan (Catchplay), Turkey (Mars) and the Ukraine (Arthouse Traffic) with “ongoing” U.S. discussions, said Monjanel. “Launched as a completed movie, ‘Animal Kingdom’ has won over many buyers thanks to its originality, the brilliant actors’ performance and its inspiring execution,” she said, adding that “The Animal Kingdom” has “so many invitations from Festivals around the world.”
“Only 3 Days Left”
From France’s Axel Films and the creative team and stars behind “Babysitting” 1 and 2 and “Alibi.com” 1 and 2, the latter grossing about $32 million off 4.2 million admissions in France just before Cannes.
In “Only 3 Days Left,” director-star Tarek Boudali delivers a bathetic action comedy tipping its hat to multiple blockbusters in which Rayane, a disaster prone cop, has just the titular time to rescue his grandma from a Mexican cartel.
Set for release in France on Oct. 25, “Only 3 Days Left” has closed Benelux (Alternative Films), the Adriatic (Investacommerce AG), Poland (Kinoswiat), the rest of Eastern Europe, (Prorom), Portugal (Lusomundo), Spain (Youplanet), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Turkey (Chantier). Said Monjanel: “Launched at Cannes via a promo, we felt that buyers liked it very much thanks to its humor and all its tributes to the greatest and most recognisable action films. This filmmaking team will always deliver on comedy which has the ability to travel.”
A group of young environmental activists set out to vandalize their local home store after it closes, only to be trapped inside by a deranged security guard. Featuring a “sizzling young cast,” said Studiocanal, led by Turlough Convery (“Ready Player One, “Belfast”), “Wake Up” has secured sales to the Baltics (GPI Cinema), Latin America (Imagem), Poland (Kino Swiat), Scandinavia (Scanbox), Taiwan (Catchplay), Turkey (Mars Production) and Vietnam (Husky Films).
“This very straight slasher genre movie was also launched on a promo and has piqued buyers’ curiosity with its strong and contemporary concept. We are confident in closing additional deals once we screen the completed movie” said Monjanel, noting “ongoing discussions in Eastern Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia.”
Why Studiocanal’s Bumper Cannes?
Many markets look to be well and truly coming back. France’s first quarter box office was just 12% down year-on-year.
Regarding the WGA strike, Studiocanal is in a good position, said Cherel: Titles are already written (“Paddington in Peru,” “Control”) or shot (“Back to Black,” “Wicked Little Letters,” “We Live in Time”).
The sales swathe cuts several other ways, however.
As theatrical buyer numbers have contracted in individual territories – a process accelerated by the pandemic – Studiocanal is pursuing “an ever more eclectic lineup, which can interest a range of buyers,” Cherel observed, citing Studiocanal’s bringing “The Animal Kingdom” and “We Live In Time” to the same market.
Several hot sellers are genre or enrol genre tropes – “The Animal Kingdom” is in a way a reverse creature feature where the hybrids are cast in an ultimately positive light.
Yet, beyond a reach for breadth, Studiocanal choses its productions and developments with real heart, belief, vision and with potential partners in mind,” said Monjanel. These take in the best of their class. “We Live in Time” is produced by Cumberbatch’s Sunny March (“Patrick Melrose,” “The Mauritanian”) and Shoebox Films (“Spencer”).
“Control” is the latest production from The Picture Company, with an outstanding and longtime track record, producing movies that sell out worldwide and see real traction at the box office – “Non-Stop,” Studiocanal’s second highest-grossing movie ever, with $222 million worldwide – or on streaming platforms such as Netflix hit “Gunpowder Milkshake.” “Paddington in Peru” is backed by Harry Potter producer Heyday Films. “Wake Up” is a smart slasher directed by the heavily rated Canadian directorial trio RKSS, propelled to fame by cult ‘80s sci-fi tribute “Turbo Kid.”
Studiocanal’s best sellers also featured four French titles. That’s no coincidence.
In December 2021, Canal+ inked with French industry orgs to plow €600 million in French/European films over 2022-24, with 85% French movies. In return, the theatrical window was been shortened to just six months.
Traditionally, eight or nine of the most popular movies on SVOD systems in international hail from the services’ county of origin.
As the presence and power of national movies helps forge ever more its parent’s brand – each French film carries logline “Canal+: Premier Partner of French Film Creation,” Studiocanal’s volume, scale and artistic ambition of French movies will impact all the more. Emerging as a national champion, it was France’s biggest film distributor in cinema theaters last-year.
“Across the French slate we try to be ambitious now more than ever,” said Cherel, citing “The Animal Kingdom” which buyers at Cannes didn’t treat as a French movie. “It is so much more,” she recalled.
Posting €100 million ($107 million) revenues over Jan.-March 2023, up 13.6% on 2022, Studiocanal was crucial for making the film a reality, given budgets can be a barrier on fantasy, because fantasy films demand more time and resources than other type of movies, Cailley told Variety.
Studiocanal brings more to the table than money, however.
Running distrib ops in now six territories, “it’s really reassuring to our local clients to know that our movies will happen, because we need to feed our own local lineup with films that will deliver,” said Monjanel.
Running distrib ops in now six territories, “it’s really reassuring to our local clients to know that our movies will happen, because we need to feed our local lineup,” said Monjanel.
Giving buyers a sense of how movies could work in their own markets, Studiocanal also shapes its own marketing campaigns, presented, for example, at Cannes’ popular eve of market sneak peek session.