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Benedict Cumberbatch’s fast-rising film and TV banner SunnyMarch — which recently saw its latest feature The Electrical Life of Louis Wain world premiere in Toronto to solid reviews — has attracted an investment from one of Europe’s fastest-rising film financiers.
Sébastien Raybaud’s production and financing company Anton has taken a minority stake in SunnyMarch, it said on Tuesday, and will partner on a development slate of high-end features that it will finance, co-produce and handle sales on. Financial details, or the size of the stake, weren’t disclosed.
Anton now joins StudioCanal as a backer of Cumberbatch’s company, with the European mini-major having taken a 20 percent stake shortly after SunnyMarch was launched in 2016.
Alongside The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, which stars Cumberbatch alongside Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Taika Waititi and Andrea Riseborough, SunnyMarch’s Cold War spy drama The Courier (starring Cumberbatch and Rachel Brosnahan) has earned more than $22 million since its release in March, while The Mauritanian, starring Tahar Rahim as a real-life Guantanamo detainee (alongside Jodie Foster and Cumberbatch in a smaller role), won a Golden Globe for Foster and landed five BAFTA nominations. On the TV front, SunnyMarch’s 2018 mini-series Patrick Melrose became a major success for the company, amassing two BAFTA TV awards (including best actor for Cumberbatch) and five Emmy nominations.
Meanwhile, Anton has racked up a considerable amount of deals in just a few years, most notably a now-concluded film co-production pact with StudioCanal that included hit titles such as Paddington 1 & 2, Non-Stop and Shaun the Sheep. In 2017, it entered into ongoing partnership with the BBC that saw it help bankroll major dramas such as His Dark Materials, Les Miserables, McMafia, Gentleman Jack and The Pursuit of Love. In late 2020 it teamed with Brit sales and production banner WestEnd Films to finance a slate of high-end television series, while last month it formed a partnership with Warp Films for a slate of TV series and feature films. It also has multi-financing agreements with European TV groups Federation Entertainment and TF1-owned Newen, and helped produce and finance the Gerard Butler action-thriller Greenland and its upcoming sequel, and produce The Nighthouse, starring Rebecca Hall, which is currently in worldwide distribution from Searchlight
The agreement with SunnyMarch was negotiated by Raybaud and Anton’s head of business affairs, Katie Geraghty, with SunnyMarch’s company principals and producers Cumberbatch and Adam Ackland, and producer and head of film Leah Clarke.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Anton as we look to this next phase of growth for SunnyMarch. Together we plan to bring audiences ambitious, cinematic and original work from an eclectic range of filmmakers,” said Ackland.
Added Raybaud: “SunnyMarch’s outstanding creative instincts and ability to identify first class material is central to its successful track-record, and we look forward to supporting the team to further expand its development of exciting original productions.”
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