The two European sales and distribution companies plan to merge, forming a European “super-indie” in the fields of production, sales and distribution. The merger doesn’t come out of the blue as the pair already operate a joint venture, Central Film Distribution.
The deal requires the buy-in of Senator shareholders, who will be asked to increase the company’s value threefold to raise enough capital for the deal to go ahead.
Wild Bunch was established as a division of Studio Canal before becoming independent in 2002. Over the years Wild Bunch has picked up rights for a small number of NZ films, including The Devil Dared Me To and, earlier this year, What We Do in the Shadows. It’s a regular shopper at Cannes and this year picked up rights to several in-competition titles, at least three of which are screening in the NZIFF.
The new company will benefit from some economies of scale, Germany-based Senator’s position in its domestic market and Wild Bunch’s VOD platform. The European appetite for discs is dying more slowly than is happening in some other parts of the world, but it’s still dying.
In a statement, Senator’s chair Max Sturm said, “We will create a unique and compelling multi-national and pan-European player, ready for growth in a promising emerging market.” One assumes the “emerging market” is VOD, not Europe.