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Cannes: China’s Hishow Buys Gaumont’s ‘Gaston’ and ‘Christmas & Co.’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/21/2017 Patrick Frater
© Provided by Variety

China’s Hishow Entertainment has picked up mainland Chinese rights to “Christmas & Co.” and “Gaston.” Both films were acquired from France’s Gaumont.

“Christmas & Co.” stars comedian Alain Chabat and Audrey Tautou, who is pictured above, and directed by Chabat. Mixing live action and animation, the film tells the story of Santa Claus’ attempt to cure his sick reindeer in time to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve.

“Gaston,” produced by Gaumont and UGC, is a film adaptation of Andre Franquin’s cult comic strip franchise Gaston Lagaffe. “Gaston” will be mostly shot in live action with some animation, provided by French VFX studio MacGuff.

Pierre Francois Martin-Laval is directing the picture on a budget of $21 million (19 milion euros), making it one of the biggest-budget films from France for 2018. Martin-Laval also stars in the film as Gaston, alongside Theo Fernandez (“The Tuche Family”) and Alison Wheeler (“Going to Brazil”).

The deals stem from the continuing relationship between Hishow and Gaumont. Hishow previously acquired Gaumont’s “Ballerina.” It was released in China in January as the only foreign-language title allowed in the normally Chinese-films-only period of Lunar New Year.

“With these two new titles, Hishow keeps on bringing more diversity to Chinese audiences and strengthens its partnership with Gaumont again,” a Hishow spokesman said.

Earlier during the Cannes Film Festival, Hishow announced the acquisition of mainland Chinese rights to European animated feature “Tall Tales,” from PGS and ON Animation.

Based in Beijing, with offices in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Bangkok, Hishow positions itself as an international film investor and co-producer, not simply a local distributor.

In Berlin, it paid some $10 million for Chinese rights and investment positions in two Nu Image/Millennium Films, “Hunter Killer” and “Escobar.” Hishow was previously involved with “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and 2015’s Franco-Chinese drama “Night Peacock” (“Le Paon de Nuit”), directed by Dai Sijie and produced by Hishow’s Wang Haiyi.

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