Bac Films has announced the departure of its founder and managing director, Jean Labadie. The board of holding company Bac Majestic, of which Bac Films is a 100% subsidiary, revoked Labadie's mandate on September 12 and also put an end to his employee contract as of September 24.

Labadie, who founded Bac 21 years ago, told that he learned of the board's decision via BlackBerry whilst attending the Toronto Film Festival. Roch Lener, CEO of animation studio Millimages, which took a majority stake in Bac Films in 2003, now becomes Bac's president.

In a Bac press release following Labadie's ejection, the company said it had been conducting an internal audit which has forced it to revise its 2007 objectives. Those revisions include delaying the release of certain films until 2008 - with 17 films released in 2007 in total - and a reduction in revenue objectives from $33m-$27.6m (Euros 23.5m to Euros 19.5m). Further, an analysis of the catalog has led the company to re-evaluate the value of certain films which will result in a $2.8m (Euros 2m loss), said the statement.

For his part, Labadie, who retains 14% of Bac Majestic and who is the largest individual investor in the group, said he would contest the decision 'by all legal means.'

In a statement, Labadie said that he believed his demise at the hands of Bac Majestic's board had been planned for some time. 'These decisions come following major dissention with Roch Lener regarding the strategic and economic orientation of Bac Majestic-Bac Films.'

Responding to the Bac Majestic press release of Sept, Labadie said that he felt that the revenue and catalog revisions - which he contended were decisions that were made after his departure - 'seem intended to retroactively justify my eviction. The revenue for 2007 had just been confirmed by (Lener) in an Aug 31 press release.'

Further, he said, 'no new element since the capital that was added in spring 2007 - which gave rise to an in-depth analysis of the group's situation by recognized professionals - justifies a revision of the value of the catalog, which on the contrary has since been enriched with the last Cannes Palme d'Or winner - the eighth under my direction.

'These measures are dictated neither in the interest of Bac Majestic nor the group of small shareholders who today hold two thirds of the company's capital, but an awkward attempt to resolve a conflict between the two principal shareholders.'

Lener could not be reached for comment.

Labadie told Screen that while he intends to fight his ejection from the company, he is considering his options and will be back in business soon. There are two possible scenarios, he said. He is currently seeking out a partner who could help him to raise his interests in Bac, thus taking control of the board - Millimages currently holds 20% of the shares - and/or he will create a new distribution outfit.

The goal, he said, 'is to be distributing films as of January 1.' Regardless, Labadie said he would hold onto his current 14% in Bac and if an increase in capital is not immediately possible, he will see where the company is at the mid-point of 2008 and perhaps enlist the individual shareholders - who maintain a 66% share of the company - and who Labadie says are 'very mobilised' in his favor.

Labadie said he has received support from myriad directors, producers and other colleagues who have worked with Bac over the past several years. 'All of their next projects will be proposed to me and if I can find a way they will go with me rather than elsewhere.'

Labadie has come close to losing his beloved company before. After a misstep into exhibition, the company suffered heavy losses while also losing its output deal with Miramax in 2002. Bankruptcy rumors swirled for a year following until Millimages brought its $4.2m (Euros 3m) investment in late 2003.

Still, Labadie and Bac have been steadily coming back to form over the past few years. Notably, the company created an international sales arm which has had success with such films as nature documentary The White Planet and this year's Cannes Jury Prize winner Silent Light from Carlos Reygadas.

Labadie maintains that the past three and half years have seen increased revenues with debt tumbling from $78m (Euros 55m) to $4.5m (Euros 3m). 'Today the company is very healthy financially and has found restored faith from the industry. It would be sad to see this episode call all of that work into question.'

In its 21-year history, Bac has seen 8 Palme d'Or winners and box-office success with such films as Life Is Beautiful, Le Bonheur Est Dans Le Pre, The Pianist, Broken Flowers and, recently, Hoodwinked.