In a recent interview at San Sebastian’s Creative Investors Conference, the head of Wild Bunch International, Vincent Maraval, discussed the risk he is willing to take by backing the upcoming Netflix period drama Jeanne du Barry, starring Johnny Depp.
The film will be the actor’s first role since the Depp v. Heard trial, which took place from April until June earlier this year. Jeanne du Barry has been co-written by French actress and filmmaker Maïwenn, who will also star in and direct the French-language film.
Detailing further, Maraval discussed the risks that he believes should be taken in the film industry, saying: “The film is that sometimes we need to take a risk, and this risk is much higher. We are doing Johnny Depp playing Louis XV. People said don’t do a movie with him, but we liked it. I remember the discussion we had with the producer behind it who said: ‘Do you think we are doing something stupid?’ I said: ‘Probably, but what’s left if not?’”
After a theatrical release in France, Netflix is set to share the film on SVOD, with Wild Bunch International handling international sales. Maraval expressed his joy in working with the streaming platform, stating: “Netflix is a real force for us. Of course I work with them, and I think their chance to survive is cinema. The studios controlled 90% of the market. For the first time in history, there is an independent company that has control. We know it won’t last, and that it will be a parenthesis in history that the independents controlled the business. People complain about them but I think it’s our chance.”
Detailing further, Maraval continued: “We need to be able to take advantage of the streaming business to get stronger. I think that cinema distribution will survive for sure but it will be different.”
Described as a “big risk taker” by interviewer Roeg Sutherland, Maraval stressed that the company hasn’t always made the right decision, most notably passing up Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, which ended up grossing more than $329 million worldwide. He stated: “If I had made that film, I would have been incredibly rich and have been able to finance independent films forever.”
Regardless, Maraval believes that taking risks had led to their company’s survival, which managed to get through the pandemic a lot easier than some other companies. “We never realise when we take risk which is why we take risk,” he said.
Adding: “By doing something we should not have done we got somewhere. I don’t individualise the losses. If we lost money on say Enter the Void, it leads to us doing other films.”