Other Angle Keeps Banking on Mainstream French Comedies

Other Angle, the French sales and co-production company founded by Olivier Albou and Laurence Schonberg, is looking to forge stronger ties in North America.

The company, which is celebrating its 15th edition of the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris with six market screenings, is preparing the second edition of an L.A.-set French comedy event scheduled for April 1 at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. The first edition of the French Comedy Club, which screened popular titles such as Philippe Lacheau’s “Super-hero malgré lui” and Kev Adams-starring “Retirement Home” (pictured) with English subtitles, was a success, said Albou, who began his career in Los Angeles and notably worked at Warner Bros.

“These movies are not often sold to U.S. distributors who tend to favor movies that play at festivals and have awards potential, but judging by the enthusiasm of the people who filled the theater during our event, we think there is also an audience for comedies in theaters because moviegoing is a collective experience and people love to laugh with others,” said Albou.

Unlike most other French sales companies, Other Angle hasn’t been pursuing high-brow movies from renown auteurs, but rather mainstream films, mostly comedies, that may not be reviewed by critics but tend to do well at the local B.O. Perhaps not as well as they used to, but results are still strong. Case in point: Thomas Gilou’s “Retirement Home” sold about two million tickets and ranked as the fourth biggest local hit at the French box office in 2022.

Although these pics don’t always travel well in some territories, Other Angle has been able to sell them to streaming services, or sell remake rights, pointed Albou, citing again “Retirement Home” whose remake rights have been sold to the U.S., Germany, Italy and Spain.

The film, which stars Kev Adams and Gérard Depardieu, also sold to Belgium, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Canada and Brazil.

Over the last 15 years, Albou and Schonberg, a colorful couple with three children, have sold worldwide some commercially successful movies, including “On the Other Side of the Tracks,” a buddy comedy starring Omar Sy whose sequel was made by Netflix; “Full Speed,” and “The Bouncer.” It’s also sold a bunch of movies to Netflix that were some of the most watched on the service in France, for instance “The Last Mercenary,” which Other Angle produced, and “Spoiled Brats.” Other Netflix titles from Other Angle include “Budapest,” “The African Doctor” and “Blind Date.”

Other Angle has other expanded its scope beyond comedies on several occasions. The company for instance handled Olivier Dahan’s “Simone, a woman of the Century,” the third biggest local language hit at the French B.O. in 2022. The movie, which was acquired by Samuel Goldwyn in the U.S., delivers an intimate portrait of Simone Veil, a Auschwitz survivor who became health minister of France and championed the 1975 law that legalized abortion in France. Veil is played convincingly by Elsa Zylberstein and Rebecca Marder at different ages. Besides the U.S., Other Angle has sold the critically acclaimed film to Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Latin America, Japan, Taiwan and Australia. Other Angle is now hoping to complete sales in several key territories such as Germany and Italy at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous.

The banner is also aiming to start repping more films made in the U.S. Recent North American pickups include “Alone At Night,” a stacked ensemble erotic horror directed Jimmy Giannopoulos starring Ashley Benson, Pamela Anderson (“Baywatch”), rapper A$AP Nast and Paris Hilton. As with its mandate for French movies, Other Angle isn’t looking at prestige U.S. indies but rather American movies with commercial potential abroad, whether on streaming or theatrical.

The company’s current roster of new films include Christophe Offenstein’s “Mission Vega,” a spy comedy Audrey Fleurot (“HPI”), as a famous French singer who gets lavishly paid to give a private concert at the villa of Boumir Perdozan (Ramzy), the son of an out-of-control dictator (Josiane Balasko).

Among the six films Other Angle is screening are “The Midwife” with Karin Viard, and “Sweet Little Things” with Julia Piaton (“Serial (Bad) Weddings”), “Hawai” with Benenice Bejo (“The Artist”) and “Hands of Gold” with Lambert Wilson.

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