StudioCanal SAS (formerly known as Le Studio Canal+, Canal Plus, Canal+ Distribution, Canal+ Production, and Canal+ Image and also known as StudioCanal International) is a French film production and distribution company that owns the third-largest film library in the world. The company is a unit of the Canal+ Group, owned by Vivendi.
The company was founded in 1988 by Pierre Lescure as a spin-off of the Canal+ pay-TV network. The original function was to focus on French and European productions, but later made strategic deals with American production companies. (Carolco) StudioCanal's most notable productions from its early years include Terminator 2: Judgment Day, JFK, Basic Instinct, Cliffhanger, Under Siege, Free Willy, and the original Stargate movie. In those days, it was known as either Le Studio Canal+ or simply Canal+.
Other films the company financed include U-571, Bully, and Bridget Jones's Diary. StudioCanal also funded the last third of David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive. StudioCanal also financed French-language films, such as Brotherhood of the Wolf (which became the sixth-highest-grossing French-language film of all time in the United States) and Intimate Strangers (which is being remade by Hollywood-based Paramount Pictures). The biggest box office hits for StudioCanal have been Terminator 2: Judgment Day which grossed US$519 million, Basic Instinct which grossed US$352 million and The Tourist which grossed US$278 million worldwide.
StudioCanal acquired film libraries from studios that either became defunct or had merged with it over the years; as a result, the company's library is one of the largest in the world, with over 6,000 titles.
StudioCanal currently owns the rights to over 30 television series, mostly produced by TANDEM Productions and Red Production Company, including The Avengers, Rambo: The Force of Freedom, Paranoid, Public Eye, Crazyhead, Take Two, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Adventures of Paddington (2019), and international rights to The Big Valley.
StudioCanal acquired British distributor Optimum Releasing in 2006 as their first expansion into an international market. Two years later, their second expansion into the international market took place with StudioCanal's acquisition of German distributor Kinowelt, who had distributed their films up to that point. Kinowelt also owned the DVD label Arthaus. Both Optimum and Kinowelt have since been renamed StudioCanal. StudioCanal's acquisition of Australian distributor Hoyts Distribution took place in 2012 and was StudioCanal's third expansion.
In June 2016, StudioCanal acquired the intellectual rights to the Paddington Bear brand, along with the Copyrights Group, the franchise's merchandise licensing agent. StudioCanal then announced that it would be producing three more Paddington films, including a show on Nick Jr. in 2020.
Outside France, the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand and Central Europe, StudioCanal does not have a formal distribution unit per se, instead relying on other distribution studios and home video distributors to handle their titles. In North America for example, The Criterion Collection, Rialto Pictures, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Image Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal Pictures distribute StudioCanal's back catalogue on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (in addition, Anchor Bay Entertainment previously owned several of their titles). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has handled distribution of StudioCanal/Hoyts Distribution films in Australia and New Zealand on DVD and Blu-ray since early 2015.
In the 1990s to early 2000s, Warner Home Video formerly handled distribution of StudioCanal titles through the Canal+ Image label in the United Kingdom on VHS and DVD until 2006 when StudioCanal opened its own distribution unit in the UK, with titles distributed through Optimum Releasing.
Since January 2021, StudioCanal has been distributing Paramount Home Entertainment's releases and sales in the British Isles under its Elevation Sales joint-venture with Lionsgate UK, after Paramount's deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment ended.