When journalists, commercial agents and acquisition managers from the main territories come to the Rendez-Vous d’Unifrance in Paris, which takes place from January 10 to 17, international growth will be on everyone’s mind. While Gallic exports never reached pre-pandemic heights in 2022 – the first year, it should be noted, in which many theatrical markets operated without interruption – the local industry still hung on.
At home and abroad, franchises and feel-good dishes have led to theatrical returns. The comedy “Serial (Bad) Weddings 3” achieved 2.4 million local admissions, ending the year as the highest-grossing national title in France and notching an additional 1.3 million admissions in neighboring countries , while Studiocanal’s family title “The Wolf and the Lion” opened in more than 50 territories.
In the United States, art house stalwarts Kino Lorber, Cohen Media Group and Sony Pictures Classics have released gems from the festival slates, with Kino Lorber set to open Pietro Marcello and Sony’s Directors’ Fortnight “Scarlet”. Pictures Classics to release the Cannes-acclaimed Mia Hansen-Løve directed “One Fine Morning” in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Super – a boutique label run by hip distributor Neon – won France’s international Oscar submission “Saint Omer” shortly after the film won the Silver Lion at Venice, and will be released on title directed by Alice Diop on January 13 – right in the heart of the vote for the Oscar nomination.
“The continuing evolution of the market requires constant monitoring,” says Charlotte Boucon, head of sales at Orange Studio, which negotiated the deals for “Serial (Bad) Weddings 3” and “Scarlet”, among others.
“French family films are widely recognized around the world and continue to do relatively well, and at Orange Studio we aim to have at least one strong film actor per year. Obviously, we are happy to have more, but such films need a lot of support, especially in terms of international distribution.
Calling such pricing “part of Orange Studio’s DNA,” the head of sales believes audience-pleasing comedies can leave a substantial global footprint. “Internationally, there’s always an appetite for great concepts,” continues Boucon. “And it remains a genre capable of launching franchises.”
Orange Studio will launch the family adventure “Une vie de chat” at this year’s Rendez-vous Unifrance, joining a gang of Gallic outfits who use the annual showcase to flex more commercial muscles.
“[The Rendez-Vous] does not compete with Berlin, Cannes or Venice, and that is not our objective at all”, declares Daniela Elstner, managing director of Unifrance. “We are a market, with films that don’t necessarily go to these festivals, but which do well in theaters and which sell very well.”
However, as the Rendez-Vous celebrates its 25th anniversary and will welcome a larger delegation in person than in the two previous editions – this year’s showcase is all the more about the weight of the industry – the event will signal such seriousness by opening with the world premiere of “The Crime Is Mine” by François Ozon.
“For the past few years, we’ve been asked to open with a giant premiere,” says Elstner. “We will welcome buyers from all over the world, and we want them to leave the screening knowing the promise of French cinema, alongside the very artists who will be present.”
Directed by rising stars Rebecca Marder and Nadia Tereszkiewicz and backed by Isabelle Huppert and Dany Boon in supporting roles, “Crime,” set in 1930s Paris, involves a film producer and a murder, and recalls the effervescent treble of the “8 women” of Ozon. and “Potiche”. ‘The Crime Is Mine’ could very well break the international record for last year’s opening, ‘Simone: A Woman of the Century’, which has seen more than 2 million admissions in France and sold in the United States to Samuel Goldwyn Films.
“We want to present films that bind and connect,” says Elstner. “François Ozon’s films are known for their success and their performance at the box office, which corresponds to our mission. We have to satisfy our buyers, so that they leave thinking how wonderful French cinema can be.
The best of variety
Subscribe to the Variety newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.