StudioCanal and Red Production Company are joining forces with producer Spencer Millman, The Inbetweeners star Simon Bird and actor-writer Jonny Sweet to launch Guilty Party, a new film and TV production company. The new banner will operate under the creative supervision of RED exec producer and founder Nicola Shindler.
It is the latest move into TV for Euro film player StudioCanal. In 2012, the company, which is owned by French pay TV giant Canal Plus, acquired a majority stake in Tandem and followed that a year later with a stake in UK-based company Red. In 2014, StudioCanal launched SAM, a joint venture with Nordic Noir leading lights Adam Price (Borgen), Soren Sveistrup (The Killing) and Meta Foldager (A Royal Affair) to develop, produce and finance TV series with international appeal.
StudioCanal will have a 25% stake in Guilty Party, and will also handle worldwide distribution.
“There is a fantastic opportunity for StudioCanal to become the main house for European talents in TV series, so we are very happy to have Spencer Millman, Simon Bird and Jony Sweet join our family,” said StudioCanal COO, CFO and head of TV series Romain Bessi. “We really believe that together we can create series that will reach a global audience. This is the beginning of a nice European journey.”
The move to consolidate its UK footprint comes in the wake of the biggest shake-up at StudioCanal and its corporate parent Canal Plus in a generation. Only a fortnight ago, StudioCanal announced it had acquired 30% of French distributor Mars Films, with Mars’ respected Stephane Celerier becoming a StudioCanal VP as a result of the deal, which also saw chief exec Olivier Courson exit and replaced by Canal Plus’ film division president Didier Lupfer, the former head of production and development at its Ubisoft Motion Pictures arm. Lupfer himself had only recently replaced Canal Plus’ former head of cinema Nathalie Coste-Cerdan as president at the film unit, too. There has been a revolving door of top execs this summer as Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore consolidates his grip on the company and begins to shape its future direction. Over the course of the summer, French film and TV professionals have looked on as Canal Plus chief exec Rodolphe Belmer, chairman Bertrand Meheut and a number of other execs have left in rapid succession.
Vivendi chairman Bollore and his board are believed to be very happy with the manner in which the Red acquisition has played out thus far for StudioCanal and are keen to replicate that elsewhere as it seeks to turn StudioCanal into the major pan-Euro content provider across film and TV. StudioCanal’s UK film operations have also been spectacular under UK chief exec Danny Perkins, with the likes of Tom Hardy gangster epic Legend and Michael Fassbender-Marion Cotillard starrer Macbeth outperforming expectations thanks in part to the UK team’s savvy marketing campaigns. Perkins has been at the forefront of aligning StudioCanal with A-list producers Working Title- who produced Legend– and David Heyman, with whom the company has financed and produced Paddington, with worldwide grosses in excess of $270 million.