M6 Interactions, the trading offshoot of the French broadcaster, has been discreetly building a major theatrical and home video distribution operation that will market such high profile recent acquisitions as Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty and Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York in France.
The outfit, under Thierry Desmichelle, M6 Interactions' deputy general manager in charge of film, teamed up with CLT-Ufa to co-acquire Scorsese's $100m period gangster film that will then be put out CLT-Ufa's French distribution offshoot SND.
The fact that an affiliate of M6 should handle a title that is said to be prohibitively violent for free TV is a testament to the division's relative autonomy from its parent operation. M6 Interactions does not have to take the channel's programme-scheduling needs into account.
Althougth CLT-Ufa is one of the two main shareholders along with Suez Lyonnaise in M6, there are no formal ties between M6 and SND even though in the case of Gangs there are sharing the risks and revenues.
With Nurse Betty, and all other films that it acquires alone, M6 Interactions will behave like a completely independent distributor, putting up minimum guarantees, covering the P&A costs and controlling the release.
It will open Nurse Betty in September or October, through Lolistar, a department of French distributor CTV International, which will handle physical distribution.
Desmichelle started buying all rights in 1997, mostly smaller US action titles until now, but is now stepping up the division's activities in this domain.
He also recently picked up Hugh Hudson's Chill Factor from Morgan Creek and is under negotiations for another major US picture.