French production duo set up partnership

Joinville Productions to produce French comedies

PARIS -- French director Fabien Onteniente has joined forces with local producer Laurent Brochand to bring Gallic audiences laughs with a new comedy-based production partnership at Joinville Productions.

As other Gallic producers are setting their sights overseas with U.S. production outlets or English-language films in development, Onteniente and Brochand are keeping their work at home.

"We want to maintain a typically French spirit and focus on popular and traditional French comedy," Onteniente said of the new partnership.

The duo plan to develop between three and five projects a year, starting with "La Night," a humorous look at the world of Parisian nightlife that the producers hope to make with Pathe, though no deal has been signed.

Onteniente saw tremendous boxoffice results for Pathe release "Camping" in 2006 with more than five million tickets sold in France. The director formed his own production shingle Joinville Productions, named after the studio where Pathe used to make films years ago and an apt title for Onteniente who wants to focus on traditional French cinema, particularly comedy.

Pathe is banking on similar success for "Camping" sequel "Camping 2" with a major promotional campaign in the works for the €23 million ($31.4 million) comedy that hits Gallic theaters on April 21.

Onteniente has also recently helmed popular big-budget French comedies "Disco" in 2008 and "People Jet Set 2" in 2004, the sequel to 2000 film "Jet Set."

"I don't even attempt to make movies like the Americans do because I simply don't have the same mentality," Onteniente said. He added: "We have to do what we know how to do. If the film is bought for a U.S. remake, great. But I'm not trying to please the U.S. or Asian markets necessarily."

The Onteniente-Brochand duo are hoping to take advantage of Onteniente's star director status and Brochand's savoir-faire of the Gallic film biz to become a comedy production powerhouse.

Onteniente has three more projects in various stages of development at Pathe, starting with equestrian comedy "Turf" with Alain Chabat (Chez Wam productions), then "Camping 3" and another untitled project in development.

Brochand is currently head of Outsider Productions, whose recent titles include last year's comedy "The Coach" and 2005 hit "Sky Fighters."

Outsider also produced upcoming Bertrand Tavernier film "The Princess of Montpensier" with an all-star cast including Gaspard Ulliel, Lambert Wilson and Cesar-winner Melanie Thierry, rumored to be a front-runner for selection in May's Festival de Cannes.

Brochand has also launched Easy Films, a low-cost movie-making production house targeted at projects with budgets of less than €4 million ($5.5 million).

"We're looking to make French comedies that are films of quality," Brochand said of Joinville Productions. The duo is hoping that the new shingle will become the reference house for homegrown traditional comedies and are currently on the lookout for new projects.
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