Abstracted from this week's Screen International

France's StudioCanal has tightened up its production policy, and is putting a fresh accent on popular comedy films.

Former concert promoter Frederic Sichler - who replaced Studio Canal chief executive Richard Lenormand in February - has made a number of key changes since taking over.

In house producers Alain Sarde and Richard Granpierre have gone independent, while Alain Goldman, whose company Legende Entreprises was partially bought by StudioCanal in 2002, is no longer an exclusive partner. Going forward StudioCanal will act solely as a co-producer rather than primary producer on the films it handles.

The company continues to turn out interesting high-quality fare including documentary Riding Giants, which will open the Sundance Film Festival in January.

International sales on films like the upcoming sequel to Crimson Rivers have also been very healthy. StudioCanal now works with roughly 25 to 30 films per year and Sichler notes that "Our objective is not to invest in small films, but if we find one we like we say 'why not'' " pointing out the upcoming Sophie Marceau vehicle Tout Le Plaisir Est Pour Moi.

Among the bigger films to come are Alain Chabat's RRRrrr!!!, Crimson Rivers 2: Angels Of The Apocalypse from Olivier Dahan, Patrice Leconte's Confidence Trop Intimes which is hoping for a Berlin spot and three potential Cannes films: Agnes Jaoui's Comme Une Image, Emir Kusturica's Life Is A Miracle and an untitled Mike Leigh project starring Imelda Staunton.

Sichler says the company is looking to work with films that answer to the public. "We have the same editorial line that all big production companies should have nowadays," he says, "We must put an accent on popular comedy along with ambitious genre and auteur films without forgetting about international."

StudioCanal's deal with UK producer Working Title will soon come to term after five years and Sichler says the two companies are currently ironing out a renewal.

Still, the days of StudioCanal developing wide-scope international projects are perhaps behind it. "We'll do a certain number of international films from time to time if they have true value," says Sichler.

While Sichler will not divulge StudioCanal's production budget he will allow that the company has an envelope within which it will work and notes that in 2002 StudioCanal invested between $50m-$60m.

For more details, see this week's Screen International feature on Canal Plus