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Other Angle Plays For More Than Just Laughs With 3rd Edition Of French Comedy Club in L.A.

Nov 29, 2023 7:40 am | entertainment

L.A. French cinema lovers were deprived of their annual fall fix of Gallic film culture this year with the cancellation of the American French Film Festival due to the Hollywood strikes.

A handful of the titles originally slated to play at that event will now screen at the third edition of the French Comedy Club, running this weekend at the Lumière Cinema in Beverly Hills.

The two-day showcase opens with The Midwife (Sage-homme) which grossed $4.6 million at the box office in France for Warner Bros. France earlier this year.

Newcomer Melvin Boomer stars opposite Karin Viard as a young man who decides to try out midwifery after he fails his medicine exams.

The program also features A Difficult Year, the latest film from Untouchable directorial duo Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. Pio Marmaï, and Jonathan Cohen co-star as two swindlers opposite Noémie Merlant as an eco-activist.

The film, which made its international premiere in Toronto, released in France on October 18 and has grossed some $6.5 million at home for Gaumont.

The line-up is rounded out by Albert Dupontel’s presidential election comedy Second Tour, which has grossed around $7.1 million in France for Pathé since its theatrical launch on November 1, and Tarek Boudali’s kidnap caper Only 3 Days Left, which has grossed $13.3 million for Studiocanal, also from November 1.

The French Comedy Club showcase is the brainchild of Olivier Albou and Laurence Schonberg, co-heads of Paris-based sales and production house Other Angle, who are currently based L.A. as they attempt to expand their activities in the U.S.

“One thousand people attended each of the first two editions with sold out theatres.” says Albou. “It a mix of professionals and public. That’s a nice turnout for French comedies that didn’t really have any p&a and was based mainly on word of mouth.”

The thinking behind the event was never to be a full-blown festival, but rather showcase French comedies with the aim of paving the way for ancillary or remake deals.

“The Comedy Club is a good test to see if a film has potential in the U.S.,” says Albou.

“The first two editions generated sales of U.S. remakes, and there are other remake deals in the works. Now that the strike is over, the projects are going to start being written and produced,” he says.

“The value of a French comedy in the U.S. is not really in the cinema, but rather in VOD, SVOD and AVOD… A small technical release helps the film exist,” he says.

Other Angle has experience of this having previously sold Spoiled Brats and action picture The Last Mercenary to Netflix, which then went on to clock up five million views between them.

“There is an audience for those films in the U.S. They’re just never distributed theatrically because U.S. distributors are more interested in arthouse or genre films,” says Albou.

The Comedy Club screenings feed into Albou and Schonberg’s larger U.S. ambitions to break into the U.S., with a focus on remake activities and bringing their European film sales knowledge to bear in the U.S. indie market.

“We want to position ourselves as producers or executive producers, which makes it much more interesting that just selling the films,” says Albou.  

“We think we’re in a good position to acquire French material which we then set up in the U.S. There’s a great need to content now that the strike is over, and projects can finally move forward.”

Albou says they have learned valuable lessons about the financing of English-language projects during their time in L.A.

“It’s different from France, where it’s more reliant on pre-sales to TV. There’s no such thing for independent films in the U.S., which rely instead on foreign pre-sales, equity investors, tax rebates and gap financing,” he says.

Albou and Schonberg want to fuse their knowledge of international sales and distribution with the U.S. ways of financing.

“We think this will help to grow our business into more the international projects that we need to go beyond our French boutique operation.”

The French comedy club runs December 2 and 3.

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