Gaumont Scales Down U.S. Operations, Anticipates Big Losses (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety | 1/24/2020 | Elsa Keslassy
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Gaumont, the once thriving French studio behind “The Intouchables” and “Narcos,” is set to rejig its film and TV strategy as it anticipates heavy losses in 2019.

Variety can reveal that the company has all but shut down its TV distribution operations in the U.S., recently axing 12 employees, including Vanessa Shapiro, president of worldwide distribution, and her team.

Shapiro - Gaumont - Christophe - Riandée - Gene

Shapiro was hired in 2017 and reported to Gaumont vice-CEO Christophe Riandée, and Gene Stein, who took over as president of Los Angeles-based Gaumont Television U.S. in 2015, following the exit of Katie O’Connell Marsh, whose latest venture, TV outfit Platform One Media, was acquired by Canada’s Boat Rocker Media in September.

Shapiro was in charge of spearheading sales of the Gaumont Television catalogue, including drama and animation series, as well as French shows. She was also in charge of international co-productions.

Variety - Executive - Film - Co-production - Distribution

Variety understands the executive has now set up film and TV-focused co-production and distribution business Nicely Entertainment out of Los Angeles.

The Sundance Film Festival is the first stop for many of the year's award-winning films. Variety's Matt Donnelly and Daily Variety anchor Audrey Yap give us a primer on what to look forward to at the 2020 festival.

Shapiro - Exit - Gaumont - Television - Pivots

Shapiro’s exit comes as Gaumont Television pivots to focus increasingly on streaming partners – a move that has lowered its commercial prospects for international distribution.

The company is believed to have around 12 shows in various stages of production set up at streamers, said a senior source. However, of this batch, only one stems from the U.S. operation: “El Presidente,” a true crime series exploring the FIFA corruption scandal produced with Fabula (“A Fantastic Woman”).

Shows - Netflix - Arsene - Lupin - Omar

Other shows, including Netflix’s “Arsene Lupin” with Omar Sy, originate from the company’s European outpost.

Gaumont’s drastic cuts out of the U.S. are set against a troubling financial period for the business.

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