Philippe Desandre • Distributor
The right balance between enthusiasm and realism
by Fabien Lemercier
- Interview with the head of distribution at StudioCanal who are launching Il Divo in French theatres on December 31
Cineuropa: How did Il Divo [+see also:
interview: Nicola Giuliano
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
interview: Philippe Desandre
film profile] come to be in your line-up?
Philippe Desandre: We bought the film long before it won its award at Cannes, which was the icing on the cake. The film is part of an agreement we signed with the production company Babe Films. But it’s not the first time StudioCanal has distributed Italian films. Last year, we released Daniele Luchetti’s My Brother is An Only Child [+see also:
interview: Daniele Luchetti
interview: Riccardo Tozzi
film profile] and for a while we’d been following the work of Paolo Sorrentino, who has a highly personal universe, style and touch.
What is your strategy for launching the film in France?
Since the film’s screening at Cannes, we’ve presented it at many different festivals and events. We think the film’s fantastic and we’re very enthusiastic, whilst remaining realistic about its commercial potential. In France, the story of Giulio Andreotti doesn’t mean much to people and we’re aware of this.
We had originally planned to release the film on 50 screens, but today (start of December) the number stands at 60 because there’s a demand from exhibitors. We pay careful attention to the way we release films and in which theatres. We can’t distribute Il Divo in a multiplex as we would with Gad Elmaleh’s Coco or Welcome to the Sticks [+see also:
film profile]. It requires a specialist release.
Il Divo will have a superb launch in very, very good theatres and that’s what the film needs. We’ve also had very good feedback and real press interest, which will be great at the time of the launch. Paolo Sorrentino came to Paris last week and worked hard like the major US directors when they come to do “press junkets” on an awfully tough schedule. This will translate into a great deal of visibility. This year, with Gomorrah [+see also:
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile], we’ve already seen a true box office phenomenon in France and we’re surfing to some degree on this revival wave.
StudioCanal has recently redefined its distribution policy.
We’re very selective. Up until two years ago, StudioCanal distributed 30 films per year. In 2008, we’ve distributed 16 and we seem to be headed for around the same quantity in 2009. We pay careful attention to the number of films we release for we want to guarantee we can do the best job on each one. We have to strike the right balance between the number of films and the economic reality. But this doesn’t stop us from falling in love with titles such as Il Divo.
Do you think the current Italian film revival will take root over time in French theatres?
It’s difficult for Italian films to take off in France even if certain distributors, such as Jean Labadie, do a remarkable job. It’s strange. It’s perhaps down to a lack of curiosity on the part of French audiences. For it’s not due to a lack of financial means; the French press are generally enthusiastic about Italian films. There are some incredible talents, extraordinary actors with a magnificent young generation (such as Riccardo Scarmacio and Kim Rossi Stuart). However, the number of distribution windows cannot be increased on the highly competitive French market, where almost 600 films are released every year.
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