‘CODA’ backer Pathé talks growing TV crew, streamer collaborations and French media timeline as Euro Cinema giant looks to the future — EFM

EXCLUSIVE: European cinema giant Pathé, which has more than 1,000 cinema screens across the continent, will always be a first in theaters. That doesn’t mean it can’t also evolve over time.

The French major, whose engine is the exhibition, production and distribution of films, is at the top of the three Oscar nominations this week for CODA. But the company is also hiring several employees in its fledgling TV division and lining up content collaborations with streamers as it seeks to diversify its portfolio in a rapidly changing media landscape.

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Aude Albano, TV manager for Pathé in Paris, are joined by the head of series development, Gauthier Foll, formerly of WeMake, and the legal manager of commercial affairs for the series, Lise Bouley, formerly of Lagardère and GMT. “We are structuring the team now”, explains Ardavan Safaee, president of Pathé.

Executive vice-president of commercial affairs Thibault Demaison, who joins the local production company Elephant, also joins the group on the cinema side in Paris.

The plan is to start shooting TV productions next year. As previously revealed, the slate includes a series based on Napoleon by Jean-François Richet (Mesrine), and a drama about a black musketeer, one of the rare Pathé projects based or derived from the universe of Alexandre Dumas.

Television is a long game. For now, Pathé is basking in the light of his three Oscar nominations for CODA, including a nod to Best Picture. Pathé financed the film, which is based on the French comedy The Aries Family.

This week, the company is also busy talking to film distributors about its plans on the Virtual European Film Market, where Pathé offers a generally robust slate of French and English feature films.

Main on the French list is Jean-Jacques Annaud’s big-budget film Our Lady Burnt [budgeted around $30M], about the fire that ravaged the emblematic Parisian monument. The film is set to be Pathé’s widest release in France this year, hitting theaters March 16, with a healthy IMAX component. The film’s local partners include TF1 for free-to-air TV, Orange’s OCS for the first paid window, and Amazon Prime Video for the second paid window. International buyers will be able to see the film this week, and deals are expected in the US, UK and other major territories.

Pathé will face a few Notre Dame projects this year, including a Netflix series with Roschdy Zem.

Also on Pathé’s Francophone EFM program are Alice Winocour See Paris again with Virginie Efira and the star-studded Riviera comedy-drama by Nicolas Bedos Masquerade with Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani, Marine Vacth, François Cluzet and Emmanuelle Devos. Both projects are in post-production (with footage available this week) and are seen as strong Cannes potential.

Pathé’s big budget Musketeers films, starring Francois Civil, Eva Green, Vincent Cassel and Vicky Krieps, began filming last summer and are expected to wrap in the spring. The long shoot will lead to two films, the first which will be released locally by Pathé in April 2023 and the second scheduled for December 2023.

Three Musketeers - Credit: Pathe

Three Musketeers – Credit: Pathe


During this time, Farewell Mr. Haffmann – from CODA collaborating producer Philippe Rousselet — and family photo King will seek to close deals.

“In the coming months,” says Safaee, we should hear about another Pathé collaboration with French comedy icon Dany Boon after their recent Netflix release link. glued together. Pathé has a long history with Boon, but the project marked the company’s first tie-up with Netflix. Pathé oversaw development and production, and Netflix fully funded and retained all rights.

Netflix has strongly penetrated the French market in recent years. How transparent was the collaboration on glued together? “They shared some numbers in France and in some international markets,” says Safaee, a former Bonne Pioche and Memento executive. “What I can say is that they were very happy. It was a French family comedy and it found its audience.

He continues: “It was a very good experience working with Netflix. We think about intellectual property, books and ideas that we can develop with streamers. After the experience on glued together it’s something we’d love to do again.

CODA also represented a first. The film was sold to AppleTV+ in a record-breaking $25 million deal at Sundance last year. The pact was controversial as existing theatrical distribution deals were to be reworked. Redemptions have become a tough new reality in a streamer-driven world.

It’s a world in which Pathé itself must rethink its model, especially after the pandemic.

“Pathé is not going to make 15-16 films a year like before,” Safaee says of the world’s second-oldest film studio. “We’re going to do 8-10 and they have to be event films. They have to be films that will bring people back to the cinema. We have work to do to bring people back to the cinema after the lockdowns. Maybe on some of the smaller quality projects it will make more sense to work with a streamer.

He continues: “We are witnessing a concentration of the box office towards a few big titles. Mid-range films (200-300,000 admissions) struggle. It is unclear whether these films will be feasible in a few years. I know people have a lot of options in their homes right now, which means we need to provide an experience and content that they don’t have in their homes.

Ardavan Safaee - Credit: Pathé

Ardavan Safaee – Credit: Pathé


France’s strict media chronology laws mean operators like Pathé enjoy a good level of protection from streamers. But these strict windowing laws are finally changing. A new deal with the local industry last month means Netflix will have access to films 15 months after their theatrical release, versus the market’s lengthy 36-month SVOD wait period. The streamer has pledged to produce at least 10 local films per year, investing around 40 million euros ($45 million). Disney+ and Amazon weren’t among the signatories to the new model, so they still have to wait 17 months.

“I’m sure people outside of France look at the media timeline here and think we’re crazy, but there’s also some logic given the contribution of traditional TV networks here to the whole ecosystem. cinematic,” says Safaee.

“It’s about finding the right balance between the window and a Netflix’s contribution to the market. Hopefully streamers like Disney in the years to come will put more money on the table for French films and in turn their window will shrink.

Amid the proliferation of platforms and their growing PR onslaught, Pathé recognizes the need to shout a little louder to be heard. The company has for the first time hired an English-speaking communications company, Premier PR, based in London. “We thought maybe in the new world of streamers, we were undercommunicating,” Safaee admits. “We thought it was time to share more. So far we haven’t communicated about ourselves because it’s not necessary. From our films, yes, but not from ourselves. But it’s our job to make ourselves known too and not to let others take over.

Meanwhile, despite the success of CODA, the French office of Pathé does not develop a list of film projects in English. The English-language slate continues to be run by the company’s successful London division headed by Cameron McCracken. Current projects for the top-notch UK arm include Stephen Frears The lost king Drama by Judi Dench Alleluia and Michael Caine photo The great escapee. It was McCracken’s division which, two years ago, brought Pathé its last Oscar victory for Judy. Hopes are now high that CODA could reply.

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