Exclusive: In a rare double interview, Sidoni Dumas, CEO and Vice CEO of Gomante, France’s oldest film company, Christophe Riandi, tells us about the transformation of the floor-to-ceiling drama business into a major TV player in Europe and beyond.
Gaumant, co-producer of the international program Lupine (One of Netflix’s biggest hits), Narcissus (Streamer’s first worldwide foreign language success), Uncivilized And President, Currently has TV outposts in Paris, LA, London, Berlin, Cologne and Rome. The pair discuss corporate growth, their recently announced slate deal with Paramount + and what lies ahead for their hit franchises.
The company, which continues to produce and distribute films, is working on four foreign language series for Paramount +: Horror-Thriller. Signal Led by Franোয়াois Ujan of Shorna (Lupine); Dystopian thriller A deserted future From Argentine filmmakers Lucia Puyenzo; German drama Anywhere From the Creator Jana Barbach (Bad bank); And French thrillers Effect From Jean-Xavier de Lestred (Stairs), Antoine Lacamblage (Letitia) And Severin Warba (Spiral).
This is when the original comes Gaumant There are already 40 TV projects in various stages of production Narcissus Season Six (USA) Uncivilized Second Season (Germany), Lupine Third Season (France), Loss (UK) For Netflix, President (US) and Totem (France) For Amazon, Emperor Carl (France) for Disney, and the animated series Still water (US) for Apple.
End date: Tell us, how did the Paramount deal come about? Why did you choose them over Netflix or another streamer for this deal?
Christophe Ryandi: Okay, we didn’t pick them. They have chosen us. Paramount contacted us about six months ago. Given that they are launching around the world, they are looking for partners who have a very good understanding of streamers and have a limited pool of companies like ours who create shows in Europe, Latin America and the United States.
Sidoni Dumas: Of course it is very important for us to work with everyone. We started working with Netflix and will continue to do so. There is no exclusive element in the Paramount Agreement. We’re creating shows with linear broadcasters like Netflix, Amazon, Paramount, HBO, Disney, Apple and BBC, Sky, TF1, ZDF and more.
End date: How are dramas with Paramount getting greenlit?
RIANDEE: Each of our offices has its own commissioning powers and Paramount has an adversary with whom to negotiate. Paramount greenlight the show internally.
End date: How profitable is this deal for you?
RIANDEE: Significantly more profitable, I would say.
End date: Transformationally so?
RIANDEE: I wouldn’t say that because we have 40 shows in prep and production with different streamers in many countries.
End date: What is your level of confidence in Paramount + in light of the current competition in the streaming space?
RIANDEE: This is a new player so I think they are learning from all the other existing platforms. I guess their coordination will be faster because there have been several platforms before them.
End date: Lupine is by far one of the biggest budget French shows, if not the biggest. You’re reuniting with Lupine’s co-producer Franোয়াois Ujan in the thriller The Signal. What about the scale of that show and the other contracts?
RIANDEE: Paramount contacted us because we have a history of worldwide hits Narcissus And Uncivilized (It has two seasons in the post and we are writing Season Three now). Like any other streamer, they want local shows mixed with global hits for their local countries. This is what we want to produce with them. Signal This is going to be a pretty big project if it is shot in French. There is still a conversation about whether it can be made in French or English because the story takes place on an island. It will be big because there are lots of effects, set-pieces, monsters and so on.
End date: I noticed that the slate leaned towards horror and thriller but there is no comedy in it. Looking for more French TV comedy after the success of Call My Agent?
RIANDEE: Like many others, we want to create light shows and light movies, because that’s the big trend in the market these days after two years of lockdown. We’re doing a lot of comedy towards theater in France and we aim to do more comedy on TV. Four or five years ago there was no such trend in the market but nowadays everyone wants comedy so we are working on it.
End date: Lupine’s next season is shooting. How repetitive is the show and can we see the spinoff?
RIANDEE: There are spinoffs in the work but we can’t say much about them. After we finish the third episode we will see how it goes and whether we are going to move on. Of course we would welcome more, but Netflix will make that decision in the end.
End date: And how long can Narcos last?
RIANDEE: Six Seasons is something to be proud of already. We are in talks because we want to move forward but no decision has been made yet. We want to continue as producers, but that decision will depend on Netflix.
End date: Can we see Narcos spinoff?
Dumas: Everything is possible for the great success that it has got but nothing is going to be confirmed at the moment.
End date: Gaumont is the oldest film company in the world. The exhibition business has been a major part of your life for decades. You moved away from it a few years ago to focus on TV and film production and focus on creating shows for streamers. How much business is in charge of TV today?
Dumas: TV is becoming the most important aspect of the business. This is normal because we are only doing theater in France.
RIANDEE: Many more of our countries work on TV. We will also make movies for platforms and other companies but we are not currently making theater movies in other markets.
Dumas: What we are doing in France, we will maintain what we have been doing for almost 130 years. We have a tradition that we want to maintain. Our passage was not about forgetting theater or traditional broadcasters.
RIANDEE: We want to integrate into the market we have entered. Our size in the UK and Germany may be a little bigger because we want to do more We have many developments that will be announced in the coming weeks and months. In the UK we are just starting a drama series Loss There are multiple developments for Netflix and in our place and we are hiring people.
End date: Where does it mean the next opening?
Dumas: Spain. It was not done but it is a logical next step. We want to be systematic and we want a general level of expertise in all our areas.
End date: Would you like to sign a production contract with talented and creative people?
RIANDEE: Anything makes sense for creatives. Last fall, we signed an agreement Birdman Co-author Armando Bo with whom we created President. This is to develop series and movies together.
End date: A few years ago there was an uncomfortable ride with the sharp departure of Katie O’Connell Marsh, the former head of Gomant US. How is it today
RIANDEE: It’s going well. We announced a restructuring last year to keep all American divisions under one roof, with one leadership led by Nicholas Atlan: US Live Action, Latin American content, animation, and more. We are expanding and hiring people and want to do more to follow the success of Latin America Narcissus And President.
End date: The company’s overall balance sheet was challenged a few years ago. Until December 2021, your results looked pretty good. What’s the point?
RIANDEE: Our annual results have recently been published. After two years of hard work due to Covid (movies have been canceled, shows postponed, extra costs, etc.), our results for the end of 2021 have shown a positive P&L. So, we are happy about that. It was a tough six months at the beginning of Kovid but we made a lot of progress during the epidemic.
End date: And you continue to have an international sales team, don’t you?
RIANDEE: We have an international sales team to sell movies and TV but many of our shows are made with streamers who want the world so our team is comparatively smaller than the likes of BBC Worldwide and Sky.
End date: Hollywood continues to search Europe and beyond for acquisitions and investment opportunities. You have always been a family business. Do you see that continuing?
Dumas and Riandi: Yes.
Deadline: This is certainly a fertile time for international companies. French and French companies are a big part of it.
RIANDEE: I think it’s important to remember that we are not just a French company. We are a British company, a German company, an Italian company, an American company. We have French roots but we see ourselves more global than that. We are very proud to be French and we are big supporters of French talent but we are proud to have spread to the rest of the world. We also support German talent, Italian talent. Frontiers are disappearing and the show is traveling more and more. We’re at the beginning, I think, of another big change.