French studios “Emily in Paris” sell to Tarak Ben Ammar

Les Studios de Paris, the sprawling studio for the hit Netflix show “Emily in Paris” on the outskirts of the French capital, has been brought to market by its shareholders, including “Valérian” director Luc Besson .

After several large offers from American funds such as Oaktree Capital Management and TPG Real Estate, the Franco-Tunisian businessman Tarak Ben Ammar – who co-founded the Studios with Besson and has a 25 percent stake – decided that he did not want to sell his stake and preferred to use his right of pre-emption as a shareholder to take full ownership of the Studios de Paris, Variety confirmed. The news was first reported in French magazine Capital, based on a court document obtained by Variety.

Under the terms of the shareholders’ agreement, Bleufontaine de Ben Ammar, chaired by his son Jad, had the right to make an offer corresponding to the terms and conditions of the offer of 30.5 million euros from TPG Real Estate. .

Besson, who designed Les Studios de Paris a decade ago to compete with Britain’s Pinewood, German Babelsberg and Italian Cinecitta, owns a 9.9% stake in the complex through its Frontline holding. EuropaCorp, the former Besson production brand now majority-owned by Vine Alternative, holds 40% of the studios’ capital. Euromedia, a broadcasting equipment supplier which holds a 25% stake. In March 2020, the Studios de Paris were placed under legal protection for its debt, which will be paid by the acquisition.

Bleufontaine will fund the deal with Eagle Pictures of Ben Ammar, Italy’s leading independent distribution company, which has a library of 2,800 titles and has distribution agreements with MGM, Paramount and Sony. Eagle is also involved with Spyglass, which has partnerships with Lionsgate and Warner Bros.

With nine sound stages over 120,000 m², the Studios de Paris have not been profitable for most of the last decade, mainly due to its high prices, insufficient tax incentives and the financial woes of EuropaCorp. However, Paris Studios have a positive cash flow in 2021 as they have started hosting the shootings of a flurry of series and films, an insider said. Over the past two years, streaming services have started to ramp up the volume of original content shot in France, including notable titles like “Emily in Paris”. A key factor behind this hike is the French tax rebate, which has been significantly increased in recent years, in part thanks to intense lobbying from Besson. Even during the pandemic, up to 56 projects took advantage of the international tax regime in 2020, 36 of which were produced for streamers, according to the CNC (National Film Board).

It’s not just streamers. “The total volume of French content shot in Paris this year has increased by 30% compared to 2019 and we lack studios to meet the demand,” said Hélène Dudragne of Film Paris Region, the organization that coordinates all the shoots. . in the French capital. About 70% of all filming in France takes place in Paris, but the city has only two facilities large enough to accommodate such filming: Bry-sur-Marne Studios and Paris Studios.

Ben ammar said Variety that he and his American partners predict that this production boom will continue to grow, as streaming services must now invest 20% of their annual turnover in France in local content under a new decree resulting from the European Directive on Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS). Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus have recently signed a pact with the CSA to start investing a fifth of their annual income in French content. The CSA expects the investment to be between 250 million euros (282 million dollars) and 300 million euros (330 million dollars) on average per year.

Ben Ammar pointed out that France was the first country to establish these new regulations, but other countries in the EU, including Italy – where Eagle operates – are following the course, which will inevitably lead to increasing demand for content. non-American across the continent. . Owning the French studios will give Ben Ammar’s company the advantage of attracting filmmakers, of co-producing and co-financing the content that is shot there and, ultimately, of co-owning IPs.

Saint-Denis, the suburb where the Studios de Paris are located, is also preparing to undergo a major overhaul. The region was chosen to host the Olympic Village during the Paris 2024 games, with the Cité du Cinéma as the main backdrop. That means the facility won’t be able to run there for about a year, but Ben Ammar, who sees the Olympics as a fabulous marketing opportunity, isn’t worried. “Paris will always be Paris, and the filmmakers will be back when the games are over in fall 2024.”

In fact, sources tell Variety this next to shoot at Studios de Paris is a large-scale Apple series about a famous French designer. The show, with a prestigious showrunner and American stars, will begin filming in May 2022.

Comments are closed.