Vivendi Universal's European film and television production and distribution subsidiary StudioCanal has posted a 20.3% hike in revenues for the first half of 2001, mostly due to revenues from new films, which grew by 51% compared to the same period last year.

StudioCanal's consolidated revenues reached Euros 179.9m, (including Euros 165.2m from film-related activities, which represent 95% of the outfit's operations and were up 37.8%) in the first half.

Successful first-half releases included the Sophie Marceau-starrer Belphegor (2 million French admissions) and Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room (725,000 French admissions and also an international best-seller for StudioCanal's specialty division Wild Bunch).

The company also co-produced and had international sales rights for Christophe Ganz's period thriller The Brotherhood Of The Wolf (5 million-plus French admissions). StudioCanal's German distribution arm Tobis, for its part, scored with Mathieu Kassovitz's Crimson Rivers (800,000 admissions).

Earnings from television production and distribution operations represented only Euros16.9m. However, StudioCanal, which in the process of acquiring a controlling stake in French television production powerhouse Expand ($25m in sales in 2000), will fully consolidate the latter's revenues in the second half of 2001.

With a view to better integrate Universal Studios' and StudioCanal's film and television activities, Groupe Canal Plus (the holding company which also controls 49% of French pay-tv channel Canal Plus) is currently in the process of acquiring the 18% of StudioCanal floated on the French stock market in May last year.

Group Canal Plus, which no longer reports separate financials since the merger with Vivendi, has indicated in its filings for the takeover bid, which opened August 10 and will be completed by September 14, that it had incurred a Euros 378m loss last year.