French film producer and distributor StudioCanal has acquired a majority stake in Red Production Company as part of its drive to move into UK TV production.
The deal will allow the indie TV production outfit, set up by Nicola Shindler, to move into producing larger-scale international dramas in addition to global versions of scripted formats such as Scott & Bailey and Last Tango In Halifax.
StudioCanal did not disclose how much it paid, but Red turned over £24m in 2012 with £3m profit, a 60% revenue rise from 2011. Some 98% of Red’s 2012 revenue was generated in the UK, and the indie believes the deal will help it bump up its income from overseas.
Shindler told Broadcast she had been talking to a number of companies about different investment options, but quickly clicked with StudioCanal, run by chairman and chief executive Olivier Courson, who was able to offer her a high degree of creative control.
“Equally, we’ve been looking at producing bigger dramas for the international market. Having a major company behind us will help when we need to invest.”
StudioCanal produces and distributes feature films such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, and it moved into UK film distribution (and later production) by acquiring Optimum Releasing in 2006; in 2011, Optimum was rebranded StudioCanal.
Last year, it acquired Tandem Communications, the German TV production company behind series such as Ridley Scott exec-produced The Pillars Of The Earth, which aired here on Channel 4. Red, which also makes Pat & Cabbage for ITV and Bedlam for Sky Living, has won a number of major commissions this year, including Russell T Davies-penned Cucumber and Banana for Channel 4, and John Simm-fronted crime drama Prey for ITV.
Shindler said she was keen to build Red’s scripted format base, with international broadcasters previously showing interest in remaking series including Scott & Bailey.
StudioCanal is part of the conglomerate that owns French premium network Canal+, which could lead to future partnerships. “In an ideal world, we could develop more with them,” she added.
Red has been linked with US buyers in the past. It had previously negotiated a US deal for Last Tango In Halifax – at one point Diane Keaton and HBO were reportedly keen to remake it – but Shindler said the US was no longer a priority for the company. “My main concern isn’t the US, it’s the UK, and StudioCanal is okay with that,” she added.
StudioCanal’s Courson added: “Partnering with Red is a step forward in positioning Studiocanal as a European leader in content production. Nicola Shindler’s strong track record of developing acclaimed and popular British TV series is the perfect fit for our ambition to develop British and international content out of the UK.”
This story was originally published by Broadcast.