Montreal-based TVA Group will merge the administration of its distribution arm, TVA International, with that of fellow Montreal distributor, Christal Films, breathing new life into an organisation TVA Group had considered abandoning.

Under the terms of the service agreement, the new entity will operate under the name Topaze Communications. Both companies will continue to direct the marketing of their respective catalogues while dividing administration expenses and increasing their booking clout.

TVA International, which will be renamed TVA Films, has an output deal with StudioCanal that has delivered pictures including The Brotherhood Of The Wolf, David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and the French-language version of Amelie. Upcoming pictures include Roman Polanski's The Pianist and Jet Lag, featuring Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche.

The two companies expect significant savings following a reduction in staffing at the merged distribution operations. TVA International head Pierre Lampron will head TVA Films supported by newly appointed executive vice-president Marie-Claude Poulin, a former executive at Lions Gate.The Toronto office of the company will retain a staff of 10 to handle the forthcoming release of Canadian film Red Green's Duct Tape Forever.

Poulin told Screendaily that the company has no plans to close the Toronto office; however, Dan Lyons, who headed up the office, has left the company.

Christal Films, was launched in April 2001 by Christian Larouche, a former executive at Lions Gate in Montreal, and handles Lions Gate's films in Quebec.