‘Shaun the Sheep 2,’ ‘Madame,’ ‘Guernsey’ Proved Hot AFM Sellers for Studiocanal (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy
Variety

PARIS – One of the rare European companies to have scored a large volume of pre-sales at this year’s AFM, Studiocanal fared best with Aardman Animations’ stop-motion feature “Shaun the Sheep 2,” Amanda Sthers’ Paris-based dramedy “Madame” and Mike Newell’s adaptation of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

Richard Starzak’s “Shaun the Sheep 2,” the sequel to the Oscar-nominated feature based on the British Wallace and Gromit spinoff series, pre-sold in many territories even though it is still in very early stages and is expected to be released no sooner than in 2019.

Deals were closed for Italia (Koch Media), Svensk (Scandinavia), Switzerland (Impuls”), Baltics (Acme), Iceland (Myndform), Portugal (Lusomundo), Turkey (Fabula), Greece (Spentzos), Lebanon (Salim Ramia), Taiwan (Caichang), EIM for airlines, Ex-Yugoslavia (Blitz), Poland (Monolith), Israel (Lev), Czech Republic (Bohemia), Benelux (eOne), Singapore (Shaw), India (Pictureworks) and Hong Kong (Edko).

On top of earning an Oscar nomination, “Shaun the Sheep Movie” grossed $19.3 million in the U.S., where it was released by Lionsgate, and $106 million worldwide.

A U.S. deal is currently in negotiations.

“Distributors who handled ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ love the brand. They have a passion for it,” said Anna Marsh, head of international sales at Studiocanal.

Pitched as “Shaun the Sheep” in “Farmageddon,” the animated feature follows the adventure of Shaun and the flock facing an alien invasion.

Studiocanal hosted sessions with Aardman Animations creatives on hand to pitch the project to buyers in broad strokes at the AFM.

“The imagination, humor and creativity of the project clicked immediately with distributors,” said Marsh, who added that when handling animated films, Studiocanal was looking to bring distributors on board early on to strategize the marketing campaign.

Meanwhile, “Madame,” a well-polished dramedy starring Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Harvey Keitel (“Youth”) and Rossy de Palma (“Julieta”), pre-sold to Spain (Dea Planeta), Latin America (California Filmes), Greece (Feel Good), Hong Kong (Edko), South Africa (Times Media), Japan (Kinoswiat), Iceland (Myndform), Switzerland (Impuls), Portugal (Lusomundo), Turkey (Fabula), Israel (Forum), Middle East (Salim Ramia), Poland (Kinoswiat), Ex-Yugoslavia (Blitz) and Penny Black for Airlines.

Now in post-production, “Madame” stars De Palma, a regular actress in Pablo Almodovar movies, as a housemaid who works for a couple of American socialites (played by Collette and Keitel) living in Paris and embarks on an unlikely romance with a dandy British art broker.

Produced by LGM Films, “Madame” marks the English-language debut of Amanda Sthers, a screenwriter-turned-filmmaker.

“‘Madame’ pre-sold because it knows its audience. Its pitch is very clear and it embodies in many ways the glamour of Paris. It’s a feel good movie that has a strong emotional undertone,” said Marsh.

Another hot title on Studiocanal’s AFM slate, “Guernsey” was picked up for Singapore (Shaw), Portugal (Lusomundo), Ex Yugoslavia (Blitz), Switzerland (Impuls), Benelux (Belga), Spain (A Contracorriente), Scandinavia (Svensk), Japan (Kino Films), Greece (Spentzos), and Captive for Airlines.

Based on Mary-Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ book, the movie stars Lily James (“Cinderella”) as a free-spirited journalist who starts writing about an extraordinary and eccentric book club that formed during World War II. The film is produced by The Mazur/Kaplan Company and Blueprint Pictures.

“The sales success of ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ proves the huge popularity of the book, a New York Times bestseller published in 37 territories with sales 7.5 million, and it shows once again the international potential of quality chick lit,” said the exec.

Studiocanal is also selling the 3D version of James Cameron’s action classic “Terminator 2” which Marsh says has a “modern look and feel,” underscoring the “genius of James Cameron.”

Studiocanal is preparing an ambitious release for “Terminator 2” early next year.

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