Entertainment One, once a leading actor in the Canadian theatrical distribution market, will cease film distribution operations in Canada and Spain, the company announced Tuesday to staff, a move that also includes the closure of theatrical operations for the subsidiary of eOne Les. Films Séville, one of the largest film distributors in Quebec.
Although it is unknown how many staff members were affected by the decision, it has been confirmed that Les Films president Séville Patrick Roy is no longer with the company, as his contract expired this week. (Roy was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Globe and Mail, but told Le Journal de Montréal on Tuesday that he is “still in discussion” with eOne and hopes to be able to announce “some good news very soon.”)
Faced with challenging market realities, namely the difficulty of successfully pushing the acquisition of titles through the increasingly narrow theatrical distribution pipeline, eOne’s decision comes as no surprise, at least from an English-language market perspective. The company, which has offices in the US, UK, Spain, China and Brazil but whose television and film operations are based in Toronto, has gradually reduced its theatrical distribution presence in Canada since it was was acquired in 2019 by US toy giant Hasbro Inc. for $ 4 billion.
While eOne once released dozens of films a year in the country, including Hollywood indie hits such as If Beale Street could talk, Molly’s game, La La Terra And Sicario, plus a reliable wave of Canadian cinema from prominent homegrown directors such as Philippe Falardeau, Xavier Dolan and Kim Nguyen – the company’s theatrical production has since slowed to a trickle, even serving the pandemic. Last year, the company released just six films in theaters, with just one English-language title. Clifford the great red doghitting the big screen.
The news from Les Films Séville, however, is a more surprising and devastating blow to the Quebec market. Founded in 1999, the Montreal-based company is highly regarded as a consistent provider of top-tier French-language cinema, offering films by acclaimed Quebec directors such as Denys Arcand, Ricardo Trogi, Daniel Roby and Anne Émond. Under Roy’s leadership, Les Films Séville’s notable success stories include the Good cop, bad cop franchise and the comedy by Émile Gaudreault Liarwhich was the highest-grossing Canadian film in any language of 2019 and has just been remade in France.
On Wednesday, the Quebec Media Production Association (AQPM) released a statement lamenting the “priceless loss” of Séville Films’ theatrical businesses.
“Though [the company] had reduced its distribution activities since eOne was acquired by Hasbro and in the context of the pandemic, it has nevertheless remained an essential reference for the distribution and promotion of the films that have marked the history of Quebec cinema, “said the AQPM. “Feature film producers are losing an important partner and a talented team led by a true love for Quebec cinema and its creators.”
Les Films Séville will continue to distribute the seven films for which it has already made theatrical commitments, including the drama by Miryam Bouchard and Catherine Chabot lines of flight, which is scheduled to open on 6 July; Denys Arcand’s new satirical drama Will; and Robert Budreau’s crime drama Delia is gone, with Stephan James and Marisa Tomei. It’s unclear what will happen with its prized list of catalog titles.
Meanwhile, eOne will maintain its direct theater operations in the UK, as well as its content licensing activities in Canada and Spain. It will also continue to manage its content development and production branches, having reduced its film and television teams in multiple territories by 10% last year.
Under Hasbro, eOne’s content portfolio, which prior to the 2019 acquisition included internationally recognized brands such as Peppa Pig And Pajamas – includes the Transformers, Power Rangers And My little pony franchising.
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