Contemporary French Civilization

Channeling globalism: Canal+ as transnational French genre film producer

Contemporary French Civilization (2021), 46, (3), 285–307.

Abstract

This article examines Canal+’s contribution to the recent or contemporary consolidation of three genres traditionally excluded from the French filmmaking landscape: romantic comedies, horror films, and teen movies. The many films from these emergent French genres funded and in frequent cases also more indirectly supported by Canal+ speak to the organization’s status as a transnational, transmedia production entity. Moreover, analyzing the new French genre trends in whose burgeoning the company has been instrumental suggests the difficulties of unpicking geo-cultural allegiances and influences in an ever more multidirectional, multiplatform, cross-hybridizing mediasphere. This article considers the case study films Alibi.com (2017) and Grave (2016) to illustrate the fact that, like the European audiovisual mainstream as a whole, French genre films are bound up in an increasingly transnational and complex intertextual web - a state of affairs promoted by multinational conglomerates such as Canal+. It nonetheless suggests that such French iterations of US-originated genres appropriate and transform rather than merely citing, echoing, or emulating existing models. What is more, drawing on theorizations of aesthetics and affect suggests that these processes can foster new identities.

Cet article examine la contribution apportée par Canal+ à la consolidation contemporaine ou récente de trois genres traditionnellement absents dans le paysage de la production cinématographique français: les comédies romantiques, les films d’horreur et les teen movies. Les maints films relevant de ces genres naissants qui ont bénéficié du financement de Canal+ - et souvent d’autres soutiens moins directs - évoquent le statut transnational et transmédiatique de l’organisation en tant que fabrique de production. Par ailleurs, l’analyse des nouvelles tendances de genre dont le succès se doit considérablement à Canal+, indique la difficulté de dénouer les allégeances et les influences géo-culturelles dans une médiasphère qui ne cesse de multiplier les voies de distribution, les directions des échanges et communications et la promiscuité des références. L’article focalise les cas d’étude Alibi.com (2017) et Grave (2016) pour illustrer que les films de genre français, tout comme la culture audiovisuelle grand public européenne en général, font partie d’une toile intertextuelle chaque fois plus transnationale et complexe - situation encouragée par des organisations multinationales telles que Canal+. Il soutient néanmoins que de tels exemples français de genres d’origine américaine s’emparent des modèles existants pour les transformer, et non pour les citer, les copier ou en faire l’écho. Qui plus est, en s’appuyant sur la théorie esthétique et affective, l’on suggère que ces processus ont la capacité de nourrir de nouvelles identités.

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Harrod, Mary