Canal+ signs agreements with Universal and Sony for new film releases

Canal+, the leading French pay-TV group, has signed distribution agreements with Universal and Sony to accelerate its programming of American films.

As part of the pact, Canal+ now has access to new films from studios six months after release, a spokesperson said. Variety. Sony’s “Spiderman: No Way Home” is currently broadcast on Canal+’s linear pay channels, as well as on its transactional VOD platform, My Canal.

The news was teased by Maxime Saada, President and CEO of Canal+ Group, during the company’s upbeat press conference on September 14, held at their swanky Paris headquarters. Saada, who recently joined the board of Vivendi, the parent company of Canal Plus Group, said the company already has partnerships with Fox, Disney and Warner, as well as Paramount.

Canal+ also has a six-month window on French films. The company previously had to wait 9 months after movies hit theaters and was able to cut that by three months under new windowing rules last December.

Sadda pointed out that Canal+ had been authorized to show the “best of French cinema” just six months after its theatrical release after having “signed a historic agreement with French cinema corporations to invest nearly 200 million dollars a year in French and European films”. He cited as an example Cedric Jimenez’s hit crime thriller “The Stronghold” which began airing on Canal+ in February.

Canal+ is positioned far ahead of Netflix, which has a 15-month window on new releases in France. Windowing rules will soon be renegotiated and Netflix, like Disney and other platforms, is pushing for faster access to movies. Disney went so far as to forgo the French theatrical release of its animated film “Strange World” in protest at France’s strict windowing guidelines.

During the press conference, Saada said “we are pretty much the only group defending theatrical releases (…) and what we want is fairness”. “The contribution of the platforms is around 40 million euros ($39.9 million) per year and that of Canal+ is around 200 million euros per year, so we believe that each must have the place that reflects his contribution,” he continued. Saada said that if platforms wish to have shorter windows, “Canal Plus+ also goes up, if not more.”

As it clashes with streamers on windowing in France, Canal+ has become a major platform aggregator thanks to deals signed with Netflix, Disney+ and Starzplay. Paramount+ will be the fourth American platform to be launched on Canal+ by the end of the year.

Saada said Canal+ was looking to sign with three other platforms. The executive was referring to AppleTV+, Amazon Prime Video and the HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming platform which is expected to launch in France in 2024.

The packed press conference was held at the company’s new headquarters called Canal+ One, which Saada says brings together teams that produce and distribute content for the first time, bringing together Canal+ and Studiocanal.

During the press, the banner showed excerpts from its upcoming original Canal+ shows, for example “Désordres”, the first television series by Florence Foresti, one of France’s best-known stand-up comedians. Foresti, who was at the event to pitch her anticipated show to reporters, plays a semi-autobiographical version of herself on the show. In the clip released during the presser, Foresti pays homage to “Sex and the City” with a hilarious French parody. On stage, she said she wanted to make people laugh and also explore a wide range of topics, from loneliness and anxiety, to bi-weekly parenting and struggling to find love. Canal Plus’ Original Creation unit, now led by Olivier Bibas (Head of Fiction), also presented a teaser of “Marie-Antoinette”, a lens-rich period drama created and co-written by Deborah Davis ( “La Favorite”), with Emilia Schüle who was also on the pitch during the Canal+ event.

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