French films make their way abroad in an unconventional way


PARIS – With a record of 41 French films shown in Toronto, Gallic cinema will be the most present among foreign language films at the festival. Meanwhile, Luc Besson’s blockbuster “Lucy” is sure to boost this year’s French film export figures, with $ 218 million in worldwide revenue so far. But in reality, films in French jargon struggle to access cinema screens, pushing local sales agents to seize different and non-traditional opportunities.

This has certainly been the case in recent cinema markets, where sales agents are increasingly making deals with certain digital platforms that open up to European arthouse prices. And while full rights deals prove more difficult to strike, French films are becoming a favorite material for foreign language remakes in markets with strong local film industries. That’s life.

“Foreign language remakes are becoming increasingly popular in markets like South Korea, India, Argentina and Brazil, which are dominated by local films and Hollywood films, and where, as a result, non-English speaking films have a hard time reaching audiences, “said Yohann Comte, deputy sales manager at Gaumont, which has five films showing in Toronto, including” The Connection “with Jean Dujardin and Eric Toledano and” Samba “by Olivier Nakache.

“In these territories, production costs are lower than in France, so it makes more sense for a producer or distributor to buy remake rights rather than paying a minimum guarantee for distribution rights,” adds Comte, who sold the remake rights to “The Untouchables” to Indians Guneet Monga and Karan Johar, among other pacts, earlier this year.

At EuropaCorp and Studiocanal, the respective sales managers Marie-Laure Montironi and Anna Marsh also cite China, South Korea and India as the leaders of this foreign language remake trend.

Italy is another territory where French film remakes flourish, according to Isabelle Giordano, general manager of the Gallic film promotion organization. The success of “Benvenuti al sud”, the cover of Dany Boon’s hit soundtrack “Welcome to the Sticks”, which topped the Italian box office in 2010, is a big boost behind this trend in Italy.

Other Italian remakes in the works cited by Giordano include “Serial (Bad) Weddings”, this year’s hit comedy which sold over 12 million tickets, and “What’s in the Name”, sold by Pathé.

“Serial (bad) marriages” have also been offered as an option in Israel.

Billed as a Gallic version of “Project X”, “Babysitting”, sold by Other Angle, is another high profile French comedy that was a hit in France and has sparked remake interest.

As with makeovers, VOD deals are more and more frequent but remain mostly focused on local box office hits, films with an identifiable director, or a genre or action film.

Indeed, the United States is still ahead of the digital curve thanks to players like IFC, Magnolia, Lionsgate Roadside Attractions and TWC / Radius. And even if foreign language films do not yet yield significant profits in VOD, this does not prevent digital platforms from opening up to European prices, as long as they meet the criteria. TWC / Radius, for example, pre-purchased the Danish werewolf film “When Animals Dream” in Berlin, ahead of its world premiere at Cannes Critics’ Week, and paid significant market guarantees for it. ‘to acquire.

VOD is also a new option for French arthouse toonpics, since so few distributors, apart from GKids, pick them up. EuropaCorp, for example, sold “A Monster in Paris” and “The Boy with a Cuckoo Heart” to Shout Factory.

“The deals we made with Shout Factory included minimum guarantees and royalties and we’ve already made money with ‘A Monster in Paris’,” says Montironi.
Daily encounters are also gaining traction outside the United States, according to Marsh. “There appears to be an increased appetite for date and date content with more and more players using this method as a means of marketing foreign films with minimal risk,” said the executive, whose list of Toronto offers high end photos such as “A Bigger Splash” and “We Are Your Friends”.

Marsh says that VOD offers become more lucrative “because we have a better understanding of the business model and are able to fine-tune the terms of the offers accordingly.” However Camille Neel, sales manager at Le Pacte, which peddles the Cannes entries “Timbuktu” and “Salt of the Earth”, affirms: “Author films do not always bring in mg and have so far never reached high levels.

“In China, however, where reaching theaters can be difficult, VOD could represent a viable alternative to cinema and DVD for arthouse films,” adds Neel, citing the acquisition of participation in the film. Cannes competition “Timbuktu” by Lemon Tree Media.

As Europe produces around 900 films per year, VOD is an avenue for these films which do not have access to the traditional distribution circuit, explains Alexis Derendinger, co-founder of Under the Milky Way, an American aggregator of European films. which releases them on multi-territory platforms.

Derendinger points out that VOD deals can be more attractive than full rights deals for small European arthouse films. “Sales agents get frustrated when they get minimum guarantees between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 and have their rights blocked for 10 years.”

Derendinger adds, “When salespeople deal with us, they pay between $ 1,000 and $ 1,500 to encode their movies and in 90% of cases, VOD sales, which can range between $ 1,000 and $ 30,000, cover that expense. . Over the past four years, prices have increased, slowly but steadily, he says.

As for the fate of French films abroad, Giordano points the finger at the new generation of local producers such as Charles Gillibert (“Eden”), Clément Miserez (“Belle et Sébastien”), Dimitri Rassam (“Paradise lost”) and Mathias Rubin (“Mobius”) who deliver films for the French and international market.

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