The dream of aEuropean major to match the Hollywood studios should now be back on the agenda,according to Wild Bunch CEO Vincent Grimond.
He told ScreenInternational's European Film Finance Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel thatmarket conditions were moving in favour of a pan-continental distribution andproduction centre.
Last October, Wild Bunch took steps towards such a goal when the French production and sales house unveiled a new $145m joint-venture dedicated to acquiring and co-producing feature films. The joint-venture will also release the films through a new pan-European distribution network that Wild Bunch is setting up.
"I'm notgoing to tell you that Wild Bunch has a miracle solution," he said, "but the European studio concept makes strategic and financial sense andis culturally and politically legitimate."
The inclusion ofcountries of Eastern Europe meant the potential audience for film was muchbigger than the US - 237 million households, compared to 112 million.
Equally, thenumber of productions remained consistently high. Grimond, who was previously chairman and CEO of StudioCanal, believes that anystudio would need a clear set of objectives rather than trying to take on theUS studios at their own game, which damaged the previous European studio, Polygram.
Crucially, itwould also need to be investor-led, rather than subsidy-led.
The missing ingredientin the pan-European vision may be self-confidence, suggested keynote speakerJans Meurer, partner of German producer Egoli Tossell Film, which producedinternational films such as Russian Ark and the forthcoming Shooting Dogs.
"We needmore of the slightly arrogant self confidence of the French in Europeancinema," he urged. "You need confidence against the Hollywood system.
Instead, Europeremains too bureaucratic. "We have a bureaucracy that is meant to help butcan also stand in the way. The co-production system was difficult 10 years agobut it has not changed, in fact it has got worse."