DEADLINE PARIS: The French pay-TV giant today unveiled a slate financing deal worth €150 million ($203.9 million) over the next three years. The money will cover 30% of the budgets of all Studiocanal’s international productions. This means that Studiocanal will now be spending €200 million a year on movie production. London-based finance house Anton Capital Entertainment (ACE) has raised the money through a mixture of U.S banks and undisclosed European financial institutions. Union Bank and Bank of America are among the U.S. lenders involved in the deal. Today’s announcement is intended to establish Studiocanal’s spot as the first port of call outside the U.S. for intelligent upmarket movies like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which is fully financed. Olivier Courson, chairman/CEO of Studiocanal, says it is the first time a European mini-major has used the kind of slate funding which got Wall Street into such trouble five years ago. Some U.S. investors lost their shirts throwing millions of dollars at Hollywood.
Asked how he would reassure investors burnt by previous Hollywood slate fund deals, Courson said the difference this time around is that Studiocanal is producing a much more diversified slate and not just a handful of blockbusters. Courson says most Hollywood studios have operating profits of less than 10%, partly because of the ballooning cost of production, “crazy” marketing spends, and limited slates aimed at teenagers. Studiocanal, on the other hand, is on track to make a 14% profit this year on sales from a diversified slate of E400 million. “The deal means we will be able to increase our investment capacity, and we don’t have to find partners for each new film. To date we have not had to borrow money to fund our films,” says Courson.
Courson says Studiocanal is interested in financing the next Black Swan or The Social Network: “the kind of films which the studios have largely abandoned”. Paris-based Studiocanal is already riding high on the UK success of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Courson also wants to make more animated family films, and upmarket genre films such as the just-announced The Last Exorcism 2.