M6 Group Acquires ‘Belle and Sebastien’ Production Outfit Epithete Films

M6 Group, the second biggest commercial network in France, has acquired Epithete Films, a Paris-based production company boasting a catalogue of 25 feature films, including the hit family adventure franchise “Belle and Sébastien.”

The banner’s library also includes Gilles Legrand’s “Malabar Princess,” “Tu seras mon fils” and Patrice Leconte’s “Ridicule.” Epithete Films is headed by Frédéric Brillion and Legrand.

“With this targeted acquisition, M6 Group continues the consolidation of its activities of distribution of audiovisual rights by extending its catalogue, which now contains more than 1,300 feature films,” said M6 Group in a statement.

Like other TV networks in France and elsewhere, M6 Group has been badly hit by a drop in advertising revenues due to the pandemic. The company saw its ad revenues fall by 50% after March 15, when France went into full lockdown, and has announced a plan to save €100 million ($112 million) in programming, which represents 20% of its total programming budget. During the first three months of 2020, the ad revenues of M6 Group were €235 million ($265 million), compared with €259 million ($292 million) in 2019.

While M6 Group plans to trim costs significantly, the acquisition of Epithete Films will give the network access to upscale scripted content and an attractive library of films. Ratings for scripted, especially films, have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Producers have also been weakened by the crisis, which caused theaters in France to shut down, as well as filming, for more than three months. This acquisition of Epithete Films by M6 Group is likely one of several acquisitions of production banners to come.