Netflix acquires French thriller ‘Bac Nord’

Netflix has swooped on worldwide rights to Cédric Jimenez’s French crime thriller The Stronghold from Studiocanal, ahead of its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

The deal with the streaming giant excludes France, where Studiocanal will release the film theatrically under its original title Bac Nord on August 18. It is set to world premiere out of competition at Cannes on Monday (July 12) and Netflix plan to release the feature on its platform this autumn.

The film stars Gilles Lellouche as the commander of a tough police brigade operating in Marseille’s notoriously crime-ridden northern neighbourhoods. It is inspired by a real-life scandal in 2012 in which 18 officers from the city’s anti-crime brigade were charged with drug trafficking and racketeering.

The cast also includes François Civil, Karim Leklou and Adèle Exarchopoulos

It marks the first Cannes premiere for French filmmaker Jimenez, who is well-known as one of France’s premier thriller directors, with credits including Paris Under Watch, The Connection and The Man With The Iron Heart.

The Stronghold is produced by Hugo Selignac, whose credits include Sink Or Swim and The Wolf’s Call, for Chi-Fou-Mi Productions.

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Paris-based Studiocanal marked its 30th anniversary at Cannes yesterday with its traditional pre-festival showreel event, which included Paddington 3, Retribution, Baghead and Role Play.

Group Acquires ‘Bac Nord’ Producer Chi-Fou-Mi

Mediawan Group has acquired a majority stake in Hugo Selignac’s Chi-Fou-Mi, the thriving Paris-based outfit behind Cedric Jimenez’s “Bac Nord” which world premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

The deal follows Mediawan & Leonine Studios’s joint acquisition of Drama Republic (“The Honorable Woman,” Doctor Foster”), a major U.K. TV production banner, which was announced the start of Cannes by Mediawan’s co-founder Pierre-Antoine Capton and Leonine Studios CEO Fred Kogel.

The acquisition of Chi-Fou-Mi underscores Mediawan’s drive to become a major purveyor of premium content; and will solidify Mediawan’s footing in the French film business.

Chi-Fou-Mi is a 10 year-old company boasting an access to A-list French talent and a track record with popular and ambitious French films such as Gilles Lellouche’s “Le Grand Bain,” Antonin Baudry’s Omar Sy starrer “Le chant du Loup,” Jeanne Herry’s “Pupille,” Romain Gavras’ “Le Monde est à toi” and more recently Quentin Dupieux’s “Mandibules” which opened at Venice. These films were all commercial and critical hits. “Le Grand Bain” had also world premiered out of competition at Cannes. It will be released in theaters on Aug. 18.

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Under the deal, Chi-Fou-Mi will now join Mediawan Pictures, which is headed by Elisabeth d’Arvieu and regroups all businesses related to film, animation and international. Launched five years ago by Capton, Mathieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel, Mediawan is now the parent company of some of France’s most successful production banners, from Dimitri Rassam’s Chapter 2 (“The Three Musketeers”), Radar Films (“The Deep House”), ON Kids & Family (“The Little Prince,” “Miraculous), Mon Voisin Production (“Call My Agent!”), Palomar, Black Swan, Lagardere Studios and Black Dynamite, among others.

D’Arvieu said Mediawan Pictures strived to “bring together the best creative talent and create internationally appealing IP’s.”

“We love Hugo’s work and we have seen through the years his ability to deliver films that are not only box office hits in France but also travel around the world, for instance ‘Le Chant du loup’ and ‘Bac Nord’ which Studiocanal sold to Netflix for global rights,” said D’Arvieu. The executive said Chi-Fou-Mi and Mediawan were a “great match because they have a similar DNA.”

Selignac said the alliance with a powerhouse such as Mediawan will “allow Chi-Fou-Mi to fast-track its growth and allow the company to pursue even more ambitious films, as well as venture into upscale TV drama.”

“It’s always been my dream to produce TV series and continue working with talented directors, such as Gilles Lellouche or Cedric Jimenez, on their television debut,” said Selignac, who pointed out that both helmers were developing series at Chi-Fou-Mi. “Being part of Mediawan will give me the resources to be even more ambitious but beyond any financial consideration, I’m very excited about the creative partnerships and opportunities that will emerge as I’ll be joining such a great team of producers,” said Selignac, who added that he was already co-producing a documentary with Troisieme Oeil, another Mediawan banner.

“Mediawan is more than ever a leader in European creation with a lineup including ‘The Three Musketeers’ produced by Dimitri Rassam with Pathé; as well as the adaptation of Sylvain Tesson’s bestseller ‘Sur les chemins noirs;’ and Emma Becker’s ‘La maison,’ produced by Clément Miserez and Matthieu Warter with Radar Films; Donato Carrisi’s ‘I am the Abyss,’ adapted by Palomar; or ‘Miraculous the movie’ and the next Sylvain Chomet film produced by Aton Soumache with ON kids & family,” said Capton.

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