Lagardère Studios, the production and distribution arm of Lagardère Group, is about to strengthen into the light entertainment format segment by setting up a dedicated R&D unit.
The division will work in a “transversal” way with Lagardère’s affiliate production companies. According to CEO Christophe Thoral, talking at an informal meeting with the press at MIPTV, the unit will be charged of “identifying, creating, developing, marketing and selling formats better than what we used to do before”.
Charlotte Toledano-Detaille, who was formerly in charge of sourcing and identifying international formats, will work more closely with in-house producers to boost original creations.
“We accelerate and invest to strengthen into this genre so as to be able to provide more original creations to our clients, and not only import formats into the French market,” said Thoral (pictured).
With more French formats coming to TV screens, Lagardère Studios is also aimsing to muscle up its format distribution capacities,and also sign international first-look distribution deals with partners. It will mostly target English-speaking territories.
Thoral pointed to family adventure game Safari Go! from 909 Productions, which is about to launch on DTT channel Gulli, and a format based on easy cooking book Simplissime, which has been turned into a short-form format produced by FiftyCats for TF1.
A similar move is ongoing at Spanish subsidiary Boomerang, which is creating low cost formats unit targeting smaller nets.
While Lagardère Studios is eyeing to boost its distribution activities by opening new offices in Europe, with a first opening in Poland soon, Thoral said Africa was a key continent for driving new revenue streams. “Our production and distribution activities are pulsing there,” he said.
Lagardère’s African content distribution subsidiary, Diffa, has doubled its catalogue volume from 500 to 1,000 TV and cinema hours in the past two years, representing 70 prodcos from 24 countries. The company is also near to signing an agreement to sell Orange Studio’s movies on the continent.
Local subsidiary Keewu Production, meanwhile, is in production on season two of soap C’est la Vie. It is also is developing Popenguine, a low-cost €10,000 (US$12,000) per hour series, and is prepping shooting of a telenovela-like long-form series. This 180x26mins project will be coproduced by South-African company Urban Brew Studios, and shot both in French and English as two broadcasters are involved.