Distributors Struggle Despite Thriving Film Biz in France

On the surface, France’s film industry is living la vie en rose. The country recorded its third-largest box office haul in 50 years in 2017, following an even stronger performance in 2016. More than 60 French productions or co-productions have been selected for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. French sales agents represent more than two-thirds of the films in the festival’s official competition.

But look a little closer, and the cracks start to appear. Although France is continental Europe’s biggest film market, many distributors are in dire straits. Major companies like Wild Bunch and EuropaCorp are seeking white knights. Some banners have consolidated, including Mars Films, which sold a 30% stake in the company to Vivendi. Others — such as MK2, which is focusing more on exhibition and international sales — have shut down their distribution businesses or, like La Belle Co., called it quits entirely.

The distribution sector’s woes stem from an ultracompetitive environment,

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