EXCLUSIVE: Former Alliance exec Xavier Marchand segues into production role at eOne; Suite Francaise due to shoot in June.

Indie giant eOne’s move towards full integration continues apace as former Alliance Films president of worldwide distribution and Momentum managing director Xavier Marchand has assumed a role spearheading the company’s production push.

“There is a will on both sides to capitalise on what we started at Alliance,” Marchand told ScreenDaily. “We have a number of great territories we can make movies with so there is huge potential to be unleashed.”

eOne president of filmed entertainment Patrice Theroux, who spent 18 years at Alliance Films, eight of them as president of the film distribution unit, told ScreenDaily: “We want to find more opportunities to nurture Alliance’s production activities, which can complement our local distribution business and our international licensing business. Xavier’s role will be as producer/executive producer and he will lead that push.”

Describing eOne’s production potential, Theroux expanded: “Our role will vary depending on each project. We’ll tend not to generate a project by optioning books and plays and buying scripts, but we’ll be more active in packaging, financing and casting.”

Marchand added: “The beauty of eOne is its large distribution network and its sales company. Patrice and I are working out how to capitalise on all those building blocks.

“With all those options we should become more of a turnkey solution for producers to come and make movies here.”

New opportunities

Marchand will develop existing Alliance ties on both sides of the Atlantic, with the likes of Jason Blum, Hammer, Exclusive and See Saw, but will also look for new opportunities.

“We’ve got Insidious 2 in post-production in the US and we’re exploring a sequel to Sinister at the moment,” he said. “We’d also be happy to find other ways to work with IM Global and Automatik on financing films.”

“We have started pre-production on Suite Francaise, which we’re co-financing with TF1,” he continued. “With Hammer and Exclusive we’re doing Woman in Black: Angel of Death, which we hope to shoot later this year, and we distributed all of Iain Canning’s films at Momentum so we’ll continue to work with him.”

Marchand said he also has a lot of time for UK producers Ben Pugh and Rory Aitken, with whom Alliance worked on Welcome to the Punch.

eOne also has a first-look financing and distribution deal with 1984 Private Defense Contractors, whose slate includes gangster thriller Corsica 72 from the Skyfall writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Sinister 2

While local-language productions may be a possibility further down the line, Marchand will be focusing on English-language projects with major international appeal after the likes of Insidious, Sinister and The Woman in Black all grossed north of $100m.

James Wan’s Insidious sequel is due out later this year in the US, while Marchand confirmed that a different cast is likely on Sinister 2, but that the writing team will remain intact and Scott Derrickson could return as director, depending on his schedule.

Suite Francaise

In Europe, buzzed about war romance Suite Francaise, starring Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas is due to start shoot on June 24. Saul Dibb directs, Michael Kuhn also produces. TF1 handles international sales, while eOne will distribute in Canada, UK and Spain.

eOne’s distribution network now encompasses Canada, the UK, Benelux, Australia, US and Spain, with additional sub-distribution agreements in France, Germany, Korea, Scandinavia and South Africa.

As a result of the $230m acquisition of Alliance last year, eOne inherited relationships with Lionsgate in Canada, Summit and Lionsgate in Spain and Relativity in Canada and the UK, which complement eOne’s own output deals with Summit, Lakeshore, Lava Bear and Morgan Creek, among others.

Among those to depart as a result of the acquisition were Alliance CEO Victor Loewy, Alliance president Charles Layton and Alliance svp worldwide acquisitions and productions, Robert Walak.