European film-makers in new bid to challenge might of Hollywood

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The Independent Online

It has a strong UK cast, a Swedish director, is financed in France and premieres next Monday at the Venice International Film Festival. As such, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is perhaps the biggest among a new crop of films with one thing in common – they have never touched the Hollywood hills.

In a major industrial shift away from the home of movies, the Venice festival, which starts today, is screening the world premieres of a few high-profile films financed and produced in Europe. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the eagerly awaited John Le Carré adaptation, was fully financed by major French company, StudioCanal.

"This is a movie with strong appeal for European audiences and with European talent. That includes producers Working Title, the (Swedish) film-maker Tomas Alfredson and this fantastic British cast [Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy]. The domestic market for this is Europe, not the US. The US is an upside," StudioCanal boss Olivier Courson told trade paper Screen International.

His remarks underline the hope of European producers that they can get big international movies off the ground without the help of Hollywood.

Roman Polanski's new film Carnage, adapted from the Yasmin Reza play and starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, is produced and financed in France and put together as a French-German-Polish co-production.

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, about the rivalry between Freud and Jung, was largely European financed. But it lacks British investment despite being produced and written by Brits and full of UK actors.

For generations, setting up a Pan-European "super studio" with the financing, marketing and distribution power of Hollywood, has been the holy grail for European producers.

Invariably, they have come unstuck. European producers now think they knows how to beat the US studios. The StudioCanal business plan is based on having companies in three major countries: France, the UK and Germany which, together, represent 60 per cent of the European market.

StudioCanal produces local films in all of these countries but has the scope to make big international projects.