Newen Studios hires former WBD exec Pierre Branco, with Romain Bessi exiting

Pierre Branco

Newen Studios has hired former Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) exec Pierre Branco to lead the French company, with incumbent Romain Bessi stepping down.

Branco, who was previously country manager for WBD in France, Benelux and Africa, will take on his new role at the TF1-owned company in April.

Rodolphe Belmer, chairman & CEO at TF1, will become chairman of Newen Studios as part of the reorganisation.

Branco left WBD last year after 18 months in his most recent role, and more than 17 years with the company and its predecessors.

He had previously been country manager for WarnerMedia in France, Benelux, Middle East and Africa and head of affiliates & ad sales for EMEA, and before that led the MENA region for Turner.

His new remit includes making the company “the go-to partner for traditional broadcasters and media platforms in France and internationally”, said Newen, which has a footprint in 11 countries and is home to 50 labels.

Bessi, who has been in charge at Newen Studios for six years, will work with Belmer during the transition over the next few months. His next move is not yet known.

Background & context

Newen Studios has been in expansive mode over recent years, most recently extending its activities in Germany by acquiring a majority stake in The Gryphon producer Dog Haus and consolidating its operations in the country under a new outfit named Spark Films.

Spark Films is being led by Martin Heisler and Eva Kemme, founders of Flare Film, which Newen acquired in 2021.

It will become home to Newen’s German operations, which now include Berlin- and Munich-based Dog Haus, which was launched in July 2021 by producer André Zoch, scriptwriter Erol Yesilkaya and director Sebastian Marka.

The Gryphon (Source: Gordon Timpen/SMPSP/Amazon/W&B)

The company also owns more than 50 production companies and labels across Spain, the UK and France. It has most recently been focusing on expanding its interests in Spanish-language countries and late last year increased its stake in Kubik Films, the producer behind La Zona and Crematario, to a majority position.

Newen also owns Izen Group, which it bought in 2021. Izen produces more than 2,000 hours each year, hosting labels including Zebra Producciones, BocaBoca, EuroTV Producciones, Hill Valley and Proima Zebrastur, IndaloYMedia, Capa Espana and Newco.

Belmer said: “I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Romain Bessi for building a studio of European standing, in a particularly tough competitive environment.

“The proliferation of content providers, the rise of streaming, and competition between global players are creating new opportunities for exacting and innovative production and distribution companies. So I am delighted to welcome Pierre Branco to lead a new phase in the development of Newen.

“During a brilliant career at one of the leading US studios, Pierre has acquired unrivalled knowledge of the global content, broadcasting, production and distribution market. That experience, coupled with his business acumen and strategic capabilities, mean that Pierre is ideally prepared to meet Newen challenges, with the support of talented colleagues in France and internationally.”

Newen is home to around 4,000 hours of content, from soaps and TV movies to cartoons and feature films, plus documentaries and magazine shows. Its sales firm has a 12,000-hour sales catalogue.

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